Just Fine With Just Me

I’m rather fond of my name – particularly my middle name, Aurora. It means “the dawn” and my parents found it rather amusing that I would be “AuROARing Tigar”, but the idea to scribble it on my birth certificate came from my dad. He claimed to have an Aunt Aurora on his mother’s side but later discovered he didn’t. So, I’m named after an aunt I don’t really have.

Never bothered me though, I was more excited as a child that I had a royal name – Sleeping Beauty’s official title is Princess Aurora, and therefore she instantly became my favorite. I knew all the songs, had a dress that switched from pink to blue, and wanted more than anything for my prince to come.

Funny thing is – probably up until I moved to New York, I still roughly knew the songs, had pink and blue dresses and still badly wanted my banker-doctor-lawyer prince to find me. To rescue me even from the exhaustion of going on yet another date with another guy who I ultimately wouldn’t be interested in or would be and it would be unrequited. Though I was barely 21 wen I packed up and left the South, I had been on what I thought were enough dates and just wanted to wake up from the deep sleep of loneliness I felt like I was in.

If I’m being honest, I didn’t shake that feeling of wanting happily ever after until I really starting focusing on this blog and this journey. And then I started meeting women I admired – women who were older than me and wildly successful and….single. It didn’t seem to faze them, though – they were focused on other things. Things that brought them tremendous happiness, things that they created for themselves, thing that made up a lifestyle they loved.

And it didn’t involve men. They weren’t against men, but dudes certainly weren’t necessary either. There was no need to be rescued. Evil stepmothers could be tamed with distance and financial independence. If they wanted to live in a whole other world, they could get there by taxi or train, no need for a magical rug that would probably need to be dry cleaned, anyway. They weren’t held captive under the ocean or a castle, and if they were under any spells, it was merely the curse of being beautiful, successful and independent.

They weren’t princess and neither am I. Sure there are some modern-day fairytales (enter Kate Middleton) but those are very few and far between. Even Ms. Duchess didn’t need to be rescued, she just happened to fall in love with someone who happened to be a prince. And these women who I’ve developed strong friendships with, some have since gained a plus-one but they haven’t lost themselves in the process. They have given me the confidence and the knowledge to stop looking for someone charming to free me from singleness. To never depend on a man for anything and to count his presence as a blessing if he’s a good one, or his absence also a a blessing if he’s a bad one. To realize that really, the best kind of happily ever after we can find has absolutely nothing to do with a guy.

In fact the best happy I’ve felt has always come from accomplishing something on my own. By finally getting that dream job (yes indeed!), by severing any dependence from my parents, and living in a city I love.  No man made those things a reality, I did. And should a man never come into my picture or Mr. Possibility bite the dust like the others, I know I’d still have something quite powerful to depend on. Something unstoppable and relentless. Something that took a long time to find, something that took hard work to develop, and something that brings me peace in the places I need it the most. Something that regardless of what happens or where my life goes or who I marry or don’t marry, what job I find or what job I lose, will always remain a constant.

Something that I’ve always loved, even if at times I couldn’t find confidence in it. Something that’s most simply – me. And if I happen to live happily-ever-after alone, then I’ll spend my life helping others, having incredible sex with lovers who won’t offer me a diamond, building an empire, adopting babies like I’m Angelina sans-Brad, and realizing that I’m just fine with just me.

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The Bravery of a Fool

There are not many late-night, frantic, and ridiculous phone calls between women discussing the unpredictability of the typically predictable male that don’t involve questions concerning being a fool.

The adages are plentiful – only fools fall in love and everybody plays the fool without an exception to the rule. And the negativity behind this term is not just in a noun, but also a verb – fool me once, shame on you – but fool me twice, shame on me. While women may want to be beautiful and irreplaceable, a vixen, and maybe an officially official girlfriend – one phrase they never like to adopt is being the fool of a man.

Maybe I’m being too cliche in my perspective of this definition. But to me, a fool is someone who knows there is a chance for destruction with a man who has a reputation or has warned you of his troubles, and yet, against any recommendation or any red flag waving in the vast unknown – they willingly pursue and maybe even commit to such a character. Perhaps it is a lack of judgement or an inability to be prudent with those they date or open their legs for – either way, I think it’s a title we’ve all claimed at some point. Most of us, probably well knowing the role we were accepting before we took the stage.

But why would anyone want to be a fool for anyone? Wouldn’t we rather stay logical and collected, calm, and in control of the love we decide to share with only a someone who is willing to offer us the same? Isn’t being in a relationship only worth the wager if you know that while the stakes are high, there are two players playing on an even-playing field?

Call me crazy – but I agree to be in love, you must be a little foolish. It is not an easy task to openly offer up your heart, your emotions, and your hope to a person who may or may not handle such precious things with care. With a simple slip of the mouth, slip of the pants, or slip into a stranger’s bed – a man who you once trusted with your most intimate self could leave you waiting in the wings, covered in not just the dust of his speedy exit, but the residue of his countless lies. Sure,  all of these things are possible and no, they don’t always happen. But they could and they do. If such pain is plausible, we’d have to be irrational to rationalize love. Right?

Or is it that the thinnest line isn’t between faith and fortune. Or between flattery and fumbling.  Or loving and lusting. Or what we want and where we are. Or the beginning and the ending. Or  making love and making the dirty. Or exclusive and free.

But rather – the most blurred connection is between being a fool and being brave.

And if I follow the absurdity of fairytales or the blatant reality of my parent’s example of a relationship that can endure the test of time and health – being brave is the quality that made the dues payable. But to be courageous, one must always be a little asinine, or we wouldn’t realize what we were risking. And really, the largest investment we make in a relationship isn’t even in the person – however dreamy he may be – but the liability is in ourselves.

We must be brave enough to fall in love and absurd enough to trust someone other than ourselves with our most valuable assets. Because once they are out in the open, in front of the court to see and ridicule, there is not always a guarantee that a prince charming will ride our way. More often than not in times that are Millennial instead of Medieval – the knight’s armor is less than shining and more shunning. After all, the fool is not the princess or the lady in waiting or even a maiden of the most prestigious court. This character is rather the one who entertains, the one who hides their own face in an effort to bring joy to the lips of others. But the fool is no fool to her antics or her charm, to her words, or to the price she could pay for being honest or sarcastic. She knows the chance she takes, she knows the pieces that could shatter – but she does it anyways.

Because what we forget about being a fool is that to be one, you must realize your own value. And you have to know that if the crowd doesn’t take to what you present, you know there is safety and shelter in your own care. And in that power comes the ability to accept being a fool and knowing that though we get a wild card to play a prank on a friend on this day each year, there is never a holiday for deceiving ourselves.

Rather – it is something we do constantly, time after time, man after man. We convince ourselves he will be different. That it will be easy and just as we imagined. He will do those things we always wanted him to do. He will surprise us. He will love us unconditionally, if such a love is reasonable. We fool ourselves into falling in love again. And again. We accept the burden it carries when it doesn’t work out as anticipated and we bow to our audience, to the fates who tricked us again, and we go backstage to prepare for the next show.

For the next brave attempt at the foolish ways of love.

I Could Have Been Cinderella

Once upon a Tuesday morning in Manhattan, I was greeted by the angry call of my alarm clock, demanding I rise earlier than any darling cares to do. Irritated that my sweet dreams in slumber town had been interrupted, I groggily tiptoed across the wood floor of my studio, and submerged in a steady stream of almost-too-hot water.

A stubbed toe and curse word later, I found myself riding the downtown train to the Southern part of the island I hardly visit. But when your job demands you arrive on Fulton Street in the wee hours of the A.M. to listen to bloggers and agents discuss the healthcare reform, you have no choice but to oblige. Maybe free coffee and breakfast help make the trip worth the long haul and the bright-and-early start time.

Like anyone who lives anywhere, I’ve found myself set into a routine of taking the same trains to the same places during the same hours of the day – with a few crazy weeks, here and there. And even if I don’t recognize the reoccurring faces, there is some sort of energy that remains static with repetition, or maybe I just get used to the route. Nevertheless, the trip to the business threshold of New York had far different inhabitants than the subway I usually take.

Mainly, there was a fresh plethora of beautiful men. And not just attractive, but ones without wedding bands. (A single gal has to look out for the married ladies, in case their man is tempted by her fruit, and she must remind him the only place his low-hangers are welcome.)

Though I noticed their Armani suits, Cartier watches, and Burberry briefcases, I was busily preparing for the event I was heading toward and had little-to-no-time to pull out The Look or place energy into smiling cleverly. And truth be told, since the start of this journey, I’ve relaxed a bit on the ogling and let the gentlemen (and the jerks) come my way, all by themselves. I mean, they are big boys, grown men, with jobs that triple (or more) my salary – surely they can approach a lady in a black mini blazer and pencil skirt. Right?

Yep, they sure can. Kind of anyways.

As I’m sitting, writing away, looking at notes, and planning what I could suggest to my publisher to add to the conversation, a guy of my type shifted in front of me. With a packed train, I watched his bag go right above my notebook and since it disturbed my flow, I quickly looked up to give the glare I never had until I moved to the city. But when I met his eyes, I let go of a little of the sleepiness-induced temper, and grinned. He did too. And he had dimples.

With only a few stops to go, I began to pack up, and kindly asked him to move over if he could at all in the crowded tiny cart. He obliged and replied, “Anything for you.” Catching on to his sarcasm, I thanked him and threw my bag over my shoulder. Not willing to put a move on him (as I would have six months ago), I waited for him to say something, since he obviously had an easy-in to a conversation with me.

“So where do you work?” He finally asked matter-of-factly. A little thrown off by his harshness, I let him know my position at the magazine, and the moment “editor” can out of my mouth – his face went from concerned and nervous, to smugly assured. “A writer, eh?” He said with a smirk as he cut his eyes across the train before looking back down at me. I nodded and shortly defended my job title – though I wasn’t sure why it was in question. “Well, I’m a senior vice president, at 30, at Blah Blah Blah Bank. When is your event over?” Confused by what my morning committment had anything to do with his job, I blankly said, “It ends at 11.”

Out of some sort of misguided and overly arrogant sense of self, he offered, “If you’re interested, I can have my secretary buzz you up and I can show you a good time you’d love to write about. ” Stunned he would have the nerve to make such a proposition to a woman he’s known a measly three minutes – not to mention, he didn’t even know I was a dating blogger, or my name, I dropped my jaw without even moving. Then the train stopped. I excused myself to get around him and confidently hurried away from him and up the stairway.

A few steps away from daylight and complete freedom from the businessman who thought he was more bad ass than what he really is  – I literally stepped right out of my high heel. I was in such a rush that it took three steps for me to stop, turn around, and realize I had actually lost one of my Jimmy’s. Flustered and fearing I would be late because I was so irritated with the dude – I went to reach for it and there he was.

Both of us seeing the undeniable irony of the moment, he smirked that annoying little smirk that for a split-second, seconds ago, I had been blinded by the accessorized dimples. As he was leaning to retrieve my shoe and probably go back to the office calling himself a prince, I snatched it up before he had a second to think. Placing it back on my hosed-foot, I sharply looked into his eyes and said, “No, really. That’s okay.”

Maybe I’ve stopped looking for happily ever after and perhaps I’m not even sure what “after’ indicates, anyways. But when given the opportunity to be banker’s princess, instead of being crowned worthy for an afternoon of delight, I would have rather talked healthcare for the rest of my career than dignify anything he said, jokingly or not, with any sort of recognition.

Walking to meet my boss and dive into a discussion that was surprisingly engaging, I thought about how many times I had imagined that exact moment. How many times during college I had been criticized (in the newsroom, go figure) for believing in fairytales. How at one point, my ringtone was sadly and embarrassingly “Someday My Prince Would Come.” How much I had wondered if, with my love for high heels, and a dreamy population of men who look like my image of a prince, I would indeed, have a completely idealistic interaction just like that.

And then when it happened, when I could have been Cinderella, I didn’t want this so-called Charming to come in on his white ride, or with his bulky bank account and sweep me away to a penthouse on Wall Street looking over the river. Instead, I’d rather steal his horse and make a run for it – once I made sure he gave my shoe back, that is.