Less is More

A month has passed since Mr. P and I officially parted ways. While he doesn’t quite remember the choice between coming home with me and working things out or going to Brooklyn and ending our relationship, I do — and I’ll probably never be able to return to that corner because it reaps of bitterness currently.

That was the Saturday night following my birthday and on Monday, the day I ended the daily-post regimen of this blog, I met him at a sushi restaurant after work. I dressed particularly attractive for the occasion — determined that if I felt good about myself, I’d be strong enough to stand my ground. We took our seat and he instantly grabbed for my arm and started apologizing for the weekend. Where he was 30 minutes late to my birthday dinner, and an inexcusable three hours late for his own friend’s party, leaving me alone with his family without anyway to get a hold of him. It wasn’t about his tardiness or his decision to not go to my apartment that night and try harder, really. It was just the tip of the iceberg, the final act where I realized the man I had been falling for may just be a figment of my imagination, not the actual man behind a clever mask.

I could barely look at him and I remember focusing so intently on a poster displaying different types of a sashimi, I could probably recite it if I tried. He wanted to take some space and some time, but stay together because he loved me. Tears welling up in my eyes, and Seal’s “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” ironically playing in the background, I set the key to his apartment on the table, along with a notebook I had kept our entire courtship, even dating back to when he was Mr. Unavailable. I told him that I’d either give it to him when we married or when we broke up. The latter just seemed to be our fate. As far I know, he hasn’t even opened it once since that day.

I meant business then and I knew I had to do the right thing, even if it felt wrong and it was extremely difficult. We had been fighting relentlessly, feverishly for six weeks and I couldn’t take another night where my eyes stung from tears, or worse, we were both so silent because there just wasn’t anything left to say. The only way to salvage any type of anything — and to build my own self-worth back up — was to end the relationship. In some sort of odd way, I felt like I was breaking up with a part of New York because he’s been part of my life here for nearly as long as I’ve lived here. He wasn’t just my lover or my first Manhattan boyfriend, but my best friend. And having that constant consistency is an awkward thing to wean yourself off of — especially since there wasn’t a big fight that transpired or some huge awful thing that either of us did that was entirely unjust. It just wasn’t working and we both knew it.  I didn’t want to have to be the one to walk away, but I knew I’d be angry if he got to it first. It’s a petty thing to admit — but aren’t we all a little shallow when our hearts are breaking?

Even so, I didn’t fully remove those rose-colored glasses. Maybe it’s because I know him so well or because the way I got to know him was through a grand gesture for another girl (who happens to now be more of my good friend than she was ever his ex-girlfriend) — but I expected a parade. I thought I would be showered with gifts and kind, reassuring words. I was convinced there would be an email waiting in my inbox that declared his passion and his commitment to me, regardless if he felt passionless himself. I didn’t want to believe that he’d just let me go, just like that, and that would be…that.

But when you part from someone because they aren’t meeting your emotional needs, aren’t falling for you at the same rate you’re falling for them, and can’t give you what you want right now — why would you expect them to step up to the plate once you bruise their ego, hurt their feelings, and walk away? It’s a terrible double-standard but one I was led to believe was the standard for him: a woman is pushed to her limits and he can’t allow her to disconnect because he realizes how much he cares.

But there haven’t been flowers or love letters. No box of chocolates or lilies at my door. No sweet sentiment that makes me wonder if there is still possibility blooming between us. No wonderful anything, no declaration of love, no paramount change to change my mind. Instead, there have been a handful of emails, a dozen calls, some text messaging, and lunch delivered to my office. Oh and a pumpkin. I’m not sure why I expected more — but in some sort of odd way, I’ve started to tell myself that in this case, in the case of our relationship, less is really more.

If someone sees that they are only hurting you by being in your life, that they’re disappointing you, that they can’t give you that love that you want and that you deserve, if they can’t do the gesture to win you back because winning you back would only result in more trouble for both of you — isn’t the greatest gesture of all…no gesture…at all? If you can’t love all the way, why settle for meeting in the middle? If you’re not ready for va-va-voom, there’s not reason to keep all that room open in your heart.

Maybe he realizes that and so instead of dragging out the conversation, making a play that he can’t follow-through with, even if he wanted to, he’s releasing me to find someone who can go the distance. To find someone who won’t need to make a gesture because they’ll see what they have when they have me. Someone who can meet my needs and even surpass them.

There is pain in the silence and a lot of frustration, but if you’re brave enough to not blame yourself for the lack of a chase, you’ll see there’s actually more peace without the persistence. Having a grand gesture can be grand, but not unless it’s the one you need. And sometimes the one you need is simply…nothing.

Peaceful, Easy Feeling

I lay in bed, alone; listening to the rain hit the streets below. It is the middle of the night and the slight light from the tall lamps below peek through the shades, creating squared shadows across the blanket covering me.

He couldn’t sleep, so he retired to the living room to catch up on some paperwork for his job. It isn’t one he cares for or one that brings him happiness, but it dictates the majority of his thoughts and nearly all of his worries. Before he left the bed close to 3 a.m., he rolled over and kissed my forehead, thinking I was asleep and trying to be careful not to wake me.

But I couldn’t sleep. I haven’t been able to for days.

It isn’t him. Everything about what we share is ideal for where we are in this relationship. He is gracious and kind, funny and inviting. He stands by me, and while life may be ripe with complication, there is nothing complicated about the time we spend together. It is fluid, gentle, and unhurried –similar to the way we continue to connect. I’m happy in a way I haven’t been happy in a long time, and for the first time, I haven’t defined myself by my relationship status. I’m proud of myself and committed to investigating all that could be…but something is missing. Something in me, not in us.

I haven’t been able to find peace. I’m not seeking it in his arms or in this bed that I’m laying unaccompanied. I’m not looking for it in my bylines or in my success. I’m not asking my friends how to find it or where true peace comes from or if it is even possible.

But isn’t it possible?

I’ve met those people – those who are just satisfied and content. There is no better word to describe them than peaceful: they exude an energy that is intoxicatingly calming that you crave their company because it puts you at ease. They are the ones who were called a “breath of fresh air” on their elementary report cards, and the ones who were so comfortable being who they are, it made you wondered why you doubt yourself at all. They are the ones in the working world who gracefully cascade through the office in seamless outfits; pairing the most mismatched items into something so beautiful you can’t help but watch them as they walk. And when they talk, their sentences are soft and subtle, not loud enough to hear from far away, but enough to make you lean into them, as to not miss a word.

Peeking out the window, hoping he didn’t come to check on me as I sat in his windowsill, pressed up against the glass with his Ralph Lauren sheets wrapped around me, I wondered how I could become that person. The type of person that doesn’t make excuses for herself, who is calm and confident, collected, and true to herself. Someone who isn’t full of worry and anticipation, who is always hungry for change, and desperate to be more, to be better. Being driven and ambitious has its perks, but it often leaves me disappointed when what I think is mine, doesn’t turn out to be. Or what I work so hard for, doesn’t come to be when I want it to.

If I was more peaceful, maybe I’d accept life for what it was, instead of what I want it to be. I’ve accepted peace can’t be found in any man, including the one I can hear attempting to be quiet, though not succeeding as well as he thinks he is. I’ve accepted it can’t be found in my job, though fulfilling, will never be all that I am, nor should it be.

I keep accepting, but I’m still not sleeping. I keep believing I will find freedom from being too hard on myself or not giving myself enough credit or valuing what I have instead of continuously desiring more, but I’m still anxious.

I keep praying, but I’m not finding my peace. Where are you, peaceful, easy feeling, and why can’t I feel you?

Can You Channel Peace?

I haven’t really breached the surface of my career. I feel lucky to be employed doing what I want to do in a market that’s undeniably competitive and difficult to penetrate. I enjoy the freedom I have to write this blog and freelance occasionally, and that while it is a small contribution to the world, it is my own, and I stand by it happily. I’m young and I see my future as limitless and ripe with opportunities and chances that I can’t even imagine, but will shape my life in ways I’ll never understand.

Though I’m pretty set on the path I’d like to take – I don’t have tunnel vision so severely that I would never think of doing something else. I’m not blind to the fact that sometimes the things you least expect or the choices you never thing you’ll face, are the ones that fundamentally change you into the you you’re meant to be.

Part of the reason I feel confident that I could sincerely do anything I put my mind to is because I’ve learned not to define myself by what I do. Sure, editing and writing are a huge part of my day-to-day and pastimes that not only bring me joy but money, too. But I’m not the only talented writer. And I make mistakes as an editor (I’m sure there are dozens across this blog but I forgive myself, I hope you do, too). The beautiful truth about the career I’ve chosen is that even if it wasn’t my career – I could still write. I would still seek out ways to be published. I could be anywhere in the world and have a byline in New York. They aren’t really mutually exclusive of one another.

Where I live, what I do, and who I am isn’t dependent on being an author, a journalist, or a blogger – if that was the case, WordPress and the other platforms wouldn’t be successful. Online magazines wouldn’t attract readers from all regions of the world and no one would lust after the rare travel writer who is paid to have lavish globetrotting adventures, dining at the finest, and staying in the room with the best view and service.

I’m not afraid of not being a writer or not having the dream job I’ve wanted for literally decades now. In fact, when it comes to my career or my ability to string together sentences, I have no doubts. Being a writer is part of who I am, but not the entirety of what makes me function. After all, if a writer leads no life, if they don’t read others, if they don’t find new people and experiences to observe, if they don’t make themselves into a modern-day anthropologist of some subject matter – what would there be to write about anyway? I’d imagine their stories would be quite boring.

Perhaps as boring as I feel my blog is becoming.

I’m not looking for compliments or reassurance – I know a good thing when it’s good and I know a once-sweet thing when it turns sour. In a lot of ways, this space has been a place for me to handle my own identity crisis as a 20-something. It has been a place for me to answer the tough questions in my own language, on my own terms, and in my own time. And now, over six months later, with less than six to go, I find myself at a crossroads.

I started this blog unhappy, dissatisfied with my life, and unable to enjoy my life as a single gal. I was not a mess but I wasn’t together, I wasn’t closed off, but I wasn’t incredibly open. I wasn’t syncing as well as I wanted to with the rhythm of the streets and New York was still idealized instead of realized.

But that’s not exactly who I am now, on a rainy May 4 afternoon, frantically writing this post while attempting to eat a leftover burrito, chat on Gchat, and enjoy my lunch break before getting back to work. No, this Lindsay is different.

She’s not that much older, but she’s wiser. She isn’t exactly single, but she isn’t consumed by it. She has found comfort in the ways that matter: in her relationship status, in her city, and most importantly, in herself. She ventures into the heartbeat of buildings and the people and the sounds that surround her, and instead of worrying about money or worrying about moving up or worrying about things that don’t quite matter right now – she’s settled in today. She’s found a confidence in herself that isn’t defined by links and published posts, by boys and boo-hooing over them, by being the most beautiful or the most sought after.

So what’s next? What now? With still four more steps to go and a personal commitment to write daily for a year – where do you turn a niche blog when your niche changes? Or expands? When what you love to do, who you want to love, and where you love to be are all working in a loving cohesion with one another, where do you seek more love?

Or is love really the answer to all of those questions left unanswered in my heart? Or do I have that many questions that pester me at this moment, anyway? Or maybe it is just one simple question that’s plagued me for months now: why does it become difficult to write about love on a blog about dating and self-love, when you’re dating and you’ve found love within yourself? Shouldn’t it be easier?

Could it be that the best fodder comes from…pain? Struggle? Outright, irrational despair? How do you channel peace to get your groove back?

And the Storm Will Rise

There are certain things people say that you’ll never forget: the first time a man tells you he loves you (even if he’s merely a boy at the time), when someone ridicules you publicly, or when you have a heart-to-heart with your mom, not as your mother, but as your friend. I remember each of these moments in my own life, but if someone were to ask me my favorite, most memorable phrase anyone ever said to me, it’d be:

“Well you’re like a Southern summer storm in the middle of August, aren’t ya, now?”

I can’t tell you the woman’s name, but it was a friend-of-a-friend at some family reunion I attended in North Carolina when I was 17. Having only been in my presence for about ten minutes, this older lady decked out in pearls and with nails so perfectly manicured you’d think she lived in a salon, literally nailed who I am in fifteen words.

For those of you who have not had the privilege to experience a thunderstorm in the Southern region of the United States – I hope you do someday. They are beautiful. Out of nowhere, unforgiving gray clouds encircle the endless sky, enticing bursts of sound and light in every direction. The rain with a scent so intoxicating, so vibrant you yearn to step outside to inhale as deeply as you can. But, if you’re educated by the ways of the countryside, you dare not step off of your porch, but allow the storm to capture your attention from afar. Leaving the security of your steps would be quite risky and with the aging Oak trees swaying helplessly in the sweeping winds, you can only imagine what they could do to you, the barefoot and sticky with sweat observer you are.

And then, almost as easily as the storm came, it leaves. Its noise, its electricity, its saturation, and its perfume trail off into a space beyond the Blue Ridge mountaintops you’ve never crossed. It is only then, when the branches rest from their dancing, the daffodils face the sun as it breaks through the clouds, that the real beauty reveals itself.

As everything comes back to life and still at the same time, and the color returns to the fields and the atmosphere…an echoing silence that’s as vivid and consuming as any sound on the Earth, captures the Southern afternoon. It’s simply quiet.

Perhaps the lady didn’t know what she was saying to me when she called me a summer storm, but something tells me that with her accent and the way she sipped her sweet tea – she did. When a relationship comes to a close, when a man leaves me before I’m ready to be left, when I don’t hear from a guy who I was convinced was intrigued by me, or when I feel like I failed at something I thought I deserved, I hear her words ringing loud and clear in my head.

Am I really as messy as a summer storm? Or is love the storm we all chase after, but never quite catch?

When I’m falling in love, I see myself enveloped in a tornado, shaking around aggressively, feeling the rush of lust wash away all of my fears, all of my insecurities, and capture me in a breeze I can’t (and don’t want to) fight. Instead of hiding behind a door, I dodge through it. I tease the storm with my laughter, with my ever-believing, ever-childlike spirit, and I feel unbreakable, unstoppable, and full of a fire I know could never be drowned with rainfall.

Until of course, I hear the thunder.

Or it shakes the ground so violently that mud splashes up against my calves. And lighting strikes a breathless few feet away from me, and though they say it never strikes twice, I start to remember what it’s like to feel the sting of heartbreak, to have that feeling in places you didn’t know existed that tells you “It’s over. It’s just so over.”

And like the same sweet child who ran to escape the unexpected summer rain and the disaster that often followed it, I dive back into my safe place with my hair and my cheeks damp, my mascara creating paintings on my face, and as if I wasn’t soaked enough – I cry. As if I wasn’t messy from the outside free-for-all I just came from, I shield my eyes with my grimy-hands, smearing the wetness even deeper. So deep it feels like it becomes ingrained in my blood and pours out of the hole that I hoped wouldn’t be put in my heart…again.

When I love, I love intensely. I love powerfully and profoundly. I make no excuses for how I feel and I give away pieces I should probably keep to myself – but I do it willingly. I do it with the rush of a hurricane, the destruction of a tsunami, and the intensity of a volcano erupting.

And I do it over and over again. With each and every single man who is lucky enough to be loved by the likes of a Southern summer storm.

In going through this journey, as raging and unpredictable as it seems to be, I thought I may lose some of my splendor. Some of that unyielding optimism that makes me believe my Mr. Right (who may be a Mr. Northern Storm, perhaps) exists, of that passion that helps me string together words and fight my way out of any disaster. I thought maybe, that tailwind that so many men, so many friends, so many people have often said they get mesmerized by…would leave with the addiction.

But then I realized, the best part of the storm isn’t the storm itself, but the calm that follows it. As much as a mess in a dress I am at times, especially when I’m drowning in a flood of new love, being a little cyclone means I find my peace eventually. I accept that no voyage, where it be one I travel alone or with a first (or fifth) mate, is ever safe from rocky waters. That while the storm will always rise, it will also fall – and it is there, you test your lungs and your legs out for size. And with the same strength that made the winds blow, the rain fall, and the leaves rattle and shake in all of the relationships I’ve experienced, I’ve been just as sturdy to stand after they were over.

To stop being a hot mess for a hot minute. To ring the water out of my hair and wipe away the stains on my knees, in between my toes, and on my fingertips. To step out of the drenched clothes and slip into something dry and warm. To open that backdoor and feel the summer breeze float through my ringlets.

And let myself inhale not only the end of the storm, but the colorful promise illuminating the sky. The one that makes you remember no matter how much hell a storm gives you or how much hell you are – there is always something waiting in the horizons you can’t see, in the cityscapes you always wished were in your view, but never quite were.

That somehow, no matter how detrimental the raging waters or how threatening the daunting clouds were – we’d never trade them for anything. Because without the storm, we can’t appreciate the sweet stillness that comes with the sun.

P.S. Confessions of a Love Addict is making Valentine’s Day more about the single ladies and less about flowers that’ll die in a day. Submit your Valentine here.

The City of Love

Manhattan is coined as a pretty dirty place -full of grime and crime, thugs and lugs –and everything in between. The streets are aligned with trash, and the city changes with the wind –one block can be completely high-rise and luxurious, while the next will make you hold your bag a little closer.

I’ve been asked (mainly by my Southern relatives) why “on God’s green Earth would you ever move to New York City?” In fact, why did I decide to move away from North Carolina in the first place –away from the back winding roads, the calm nights with fireflies, and miles away from my alma mater, making it impossible for me to come to homecoming?

Why didn’t I, like all of the other girls in my family, settle down, find a good country boy, and get married? Why did I decide to go to this huge, scary, and dangerous place…alone?

To them, I reply, “I love New York.” They will smile, tell me they are praying for me, and then whisper amongst themselves about my absurdity.

Eh –maybe I’m a little crazy. I think to willingly choose to move to NYC, you’d have to be a tad out of your mind. But, the city draws in the crazies, the out-of-the-boxers, the strange-and-the-beautiful, the very-talented and the overly ambitious.

But if you look closely, slow down, pay attention, and examine everything going on around you –you’ll find the city is full of love. It’s not just that I adore the city –it’s that the city itself provokes kindness.

 

Written on the street outside my office :)

 

When you cross the street –you’re never alone. There’s always someone on one side of you, if not on both. When you sit down on a subway car, leave it, or enter it –there are always people near you. When you go grocery shopping, buy new shoes, pay for deodorant, or even just wipe your nose -you’re always surrounded by someone else. Even riding home in the taxi after a night of drinking –the cab driver sits right in front of you.

And while it’s not typical to speak to strangers (unless you’re from NC, like me) –you will catch yourself leaning up against the person on the subway, or find them lingering on you a while longer after the initial jolt of a stop. Or when you cross the street, sometimes, you’ll notice someone step with you –a little cautious of the cars that may forget to stop. Or when you’re sitting alone reading a book, it’s not uncommon to notice someone looking at you, caught in their own world of thoughts –only using you as a focus point.

You’ll find people helping each other by carrying heavy bags up stairs or opening doors or waiting for you to pass by. You’ll find an old woman bring her husband lunch to his office on the same block they’ve lived and worked for 50 years. You’ll find children kissing their parents and running through the streets like it’s their playground. You’ll find a couple you just know are on their first date –completely awkward, but somewhat enthralled, drinking a few beers, and wondering what’s next.

Sometimes you’ll pass friends comforting  each other on the side of the street, as one cries, and one remains strong –looking around to make sure no one messes with them. You’ll find yourself sharing glances with someone else who is responding the same way you are to a strange occurrence, a sudden sound, or a funny conversation.

The city makes you interact with other people –regardless if you want to or not. It forces you to come out of your shell and see what’s going on around you. It shows you that even in the most ordinary and most random of places –there is friendlessness and love all around.

I’ve been worrying that this process would somehow make me stop believing in love. It would make me cool and confident, but not warm and loving. However –as I wondered the streets today, both with a friend, and then alone –I realized that New York would never let that happen.

Gaining faith in myself and relaxing about being single doesn’t mean that my faith in love goes away. It doesn’t mean I have to stop enjoying seeing examples of love in everyday life or be inspired by seeing real love exist. Being okay single doesn’t mean I have to stop dreaming.

It simply means that the constant quest for love, the constant search, and longing for a relationship needs to fall later in my list of priorities. It means that I just let go of pushing and pulling for happily ever after, and allow something bigger than me take care of things for me. For now, watching love in the city fills my heart up with so much hope and peace –I can’t even put it into words.

I always knew I loved you New York, but I didn’t know you loved me this much, too.