The Girl Who Changed It All

Once upon a time in a far-away land called Manhattan, there lived a man.

He was a favorite at his firm, the comedian of his group of friends and the best uncle he could be to his nephews. He was attractive in the most all-American of ways, chiseled and fit, and blue-eyed with hair that curled at the ends. He had no trouble courting and finding women to share his bed, and several tried to claim his attention too. But that — that was the one thing he couldn’t do. As wide as his mind would open as he traveled the world and as big as his checks grew over the years to the charities he admired, the one part of his life that wouldn’t grow was his heart. It had grown weary after a bitter breakup right after college, and as he approached the big 3-0, he was happy and satisfied with all he had made for himself, but love just wasn’t in the cards. Sure, he thought about it occasionally — when he had one too many whiskeys with his colleagues or when he suffered through an unimpressive date with another tall, thin-someone from somewhere, who didn’t do much more than turn him on with her looks. He remembered the days when he wanted a family, and sometimes finds himself jealous of his siblings who seemed to of mastered the home life without much consideration for their career.

He was smarter, he thought. He had focused on the right things and didn’t let something as silly, as transitional, as fleeting as an attractive broad shake his priorities. He made the right choice  — if it had been a decision at all, that is — and without a doubt, he’d be running the company before the next decade was over. And that soft-something to come home to? It’d be a nice blanket of cash to rest easy on, and to give those around him all the monetary needs to be happy. He’d be a great uncle. He’d be a game-changer in his industry. He’d have an amazing apartment in midtown. He would always have incredible sex. But love? He could do without it.

Or at least he thought.

She was always the odd one of her group of friends. A little distracted by her dreams instead of living in the here-and-now. She didn’t realize her beauty or depend on it to get her where she wanted to go, as many women do. Loveliness drenched through her body, all the way to the soul — she always captivated those who knew her by the depth of which she cared. She was successful in her own right, but in a way that wasn’t typically considered remarkable. She didn’t fret though – she had come a long way and if she made any difference in the world, she hoped it was by helping someone else. She loved to draw and missed the girly-girl gene, often sporting casual attire that suited her lifestyle, but wasn’t what most would call trendy. Independent to the bone, she went backpacking through Europe, spent a year in Australia just because she could, and skipped the Ivy League college to study art via the streets of Venice. But she was brilliant. She soaked up the energy of those around her and men often fought to win the upper hand. She never let them – while she believed in love and knew one day she’d wed, she was in no rush and felt like it should just work itself out. It would be easy. She knew what she was worth and that she would know when she met someone who knew it too.

For him, she was the girl who changed it all.

They met in an ordinarily, extra-ordinary way — by chance. The chemistry was unmistakable, those passing by would have sworn the couple had known each other for years. They felt it, too. Instantly. She was careful not to give too much away and he hungered after the chase because he finally felt alive. That spark that had blown out so many moons ago, started to ignite and he couldn’t deny it. If there was to be love, if he was to love, if there was such a thing called fate after all, it had to be with her. Because she arrived, he could arrive at a different decision. His entire life changed course – now things like family, romance and nights-spent-in cooking and making love throughout the early hours of the morning were far more enticing than working longer or going in on the weekends. Her art had never been better – she felt inspired and warm, almost in a constant state of awe that she had found him. He counted his blessings every night she fell asleep in his arms, naked and entranced that he really could be one of those guys who found the girl who made him a better man. A girl who changed everything.

This is a storyline you’ve heard before. It’s one you’ve watched, one you’ve read in books with pages you couldn’t stop turning. It’s the story you’ve believed with all your heart from the first time you heard it. It’s the same story you tell yourself when you’re unsatisfied with your relationship but really want it to work out. So you wait. Because you can be the girl who changes the man. You can be the sparkling, captivating, irresistible woman who changes a darkened man into a lighting bolt. Who can change the one who refuses love into the one who seeks it. The gal who can not only mend a broken heart that’s been down for years, but you can give it a new life. You can make it better than it was before. We all want to be the one who changes a toxic bachelor into a hopeful romantic, simply because we are so wonderful.

Because if we can do that – if we can be that girl we’ve watched and read about then we must really be something. We must be glittering with golden specs, eliminating the black-and-white and bursting with color. If we can be that intoxicating, if we can break the mold and break in the man, then we’re really that remarkable.

I’ve wanted to be that girl.

I’ve believed I could love someone so much that they would change their heart and love me just as much in return. I knew if I could do anything, it was being kind and understanding. It was being so alluring, so entrancing, that no matter what – a man would come out of his shell, out of his own standards and see that he had to believe in love, because he believed in me. If I could get a man – a man I loved – to see me like that, then maybe I really was something special. I was determined to be the one who could make everything  sensible for someone else until I realized I was already the girl who changed it all…for me.

I have been brave enough to try things that truly terrified me – from moving to New York to falling madly in love. I have been strong enough to change my mind, even when I didn’t know where my new direction would take me. I have changed my style, my opinion, my home and my attitude time-and-time again, without worrying if it was right or wrong. I have healed my own heart so that love can find it again. I have opened my eyes to see the truth, instead of getting lost in make-believe. I have become something special, without any validation or any approval from any man, or anyone.

I have been the best me that I could be, without ever needing a man to change me or to prove to me that I’m great. So while my life may one day become even more of a romantic comedy than my friends say it is — if I do happen to meet someone who decides to give love another go, just because of me – then I’m happy I could help. But I don’t need a man who needs me to change it all for him to make me happy with the path I’ve picked and the me I’ve become.

I’ve already become the girl who changed it all, by changing myself.

A Little Veruca-Like

After hearing some disappointing news recently, I set out to walk a few avenues and call whoever would listen to my fretting and rambling. The unluckiest of my friends who picked up my call happened to be R, who listened intently and calmly, letting me finish my obsessively inappropriate freak out.

As I neared the end of my story, over exaggerating, and emphasizing the disappointing facts more harshly than I highlighted the good, I concluded with: “It’s just I want it! I want it now! I don’t want it to be complicated! I just want time to go faster.” Pushing the tantrum to the extreme, I went as far as to stomp the pavement, and glare up at the sky in despair, regardless of the flocks of people on either side. Bringing my stance back to street view, I happened to be right in front of a candy store in Chelsea, and in that instance, I channeled a character that’s not a positive person to relate to.

Veruca Salt.

You know – the brat from Willy Wonka? Who says the same words to her father that I happened to slip to R, and is as intolerable as it gets. She’s the gal who wants the world, the whole world, and demands to be given it…now.

Am I Veruca-like?

I don’t come from money and I’ve never dated men for their money – being rich isn’t a qualification to grab my attention. I’m not a child, though I may act like one from time-to-time, as all well-adjusted adults allow themselves to do. I really don’t want a magical squirrel, though I’ve convinced myself I’ll name any animal I get “Henry,” no matter what it is, which perhaps is more irrational than wanting a rodent, anyway. On the surface, I don’t have the fundamentals of Ms. Salt, but in my actions and in the words I use – sometimes I’m impatient and demanding, and perhaps, I may even have a sense of entitlement. I mean, I am a Gen Y-er, right?

It isn’t so much that I think I should get things because I’m me, Lindsay Tigar. My name isn’t significant or noteworthy; it is just another byline in the hundreds of thousands of budding journalists and bloggers who write to be heard and to give, not to be famous. I don’t usually jump up and down, complaining and whining that my life isn’t going as planned or I’m not receiving all the things I believe should be coming my way. But I do think that if I work hard, if I’m positive, if I’m a basically a good person, everything I’ve dreamt of will surely be mine one day. As long as my visions aren’t magically and lofty, or my commands unappreciative and rude, like Veruca.

But sometimes, what I see for myself is probably unrealistic. I can be overly demanding of what I find myself deserving of, and if the mood strikes me wrong, I can be a bitch just like the next cranky New Yorker.

Once I hung up with R, I walked the 30 blocks back to my apartment, deciding fresh air would be better for me than a crowded cart. Annoyed with myself for overreacting, for getting my hopes up, for getting down on myself for things that are sincerely out of my hands, I thought about the Willy Wonka character I so enjoyed watching as a child.

Confessing to myself for the first time, I realized Veruca had been my favorite to watch. She was so over the top, so awful to her old man and Mr. Wonka and the other kids, that she eventually was declared a “bad egg” and sent down a garbage chute. I liked her though – even though she didn’t have refined qualities like respect and patience, virtue, and understanding – she just wanted what she wanted when she wanted it, end of story.

And that’s the truth of the matter – we’re all a little Veruca-like at times.

But if we learn from the sugary-sweet factory she played in, we know the one who finishes the race isn’t the one who skips ahead. It isn’t the one who rushes Father Time or gets everything they want. It’s not the person who overindulges or decides to cut corners and not fight fair.

The one who eventually finds that golden ticket – in whatever form it takes that means the most to us – remembers to be honest. Not only with the world, but with themselves too. Even if that means admitting Veruca is a part you play more often than you’d like to admit.

It’s the Little Things

My apartment smells like cardboard and glass cleaner. I’ve been sneezing for the last twenty minutes and if I squint my eyes and look intently, I think I can see my floor. I can’t tell if my throw-away pile or my climbing mound of packed boxes is higher, and I really never noticed how white my walls were until right about now, sitting and wondering if this room was always this big, or if it somehow grew in the last few hours.

I’m moving to a different part of New York and I couldn’t be less prepared. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve moved in my life and unlike other things, it never gets easier. In fact, I’d like to think it gets harder because I continuously accumulate more and more stuff. But like an evening following a stressful day and cooking in a tiny kitchen – I prefer to pack alone.

So, with a discovered airplane bottle of Grey Goose in the back of my fridge and orange juice, a green masque from the dead sea (thanks Mr. P), and the Best of the 80’s with some Sean Kingston and Adele mixed in (no judging of my musical eclecticness) – I started pulling apart and piecing together the contents of my tiny studio.

Admittedly, I’ve only given my apartment a thorough and heavy-duty cleaning once or twice in the entire time I’ve lived here. As my life become increasingly fuller and I found myself distracted from my address, I let things sit around and I forgot my in-the-moment organizing habits. I collect antique cigar boxes for decoration and occasionally for storage, and such a collection usually leads to random discoveries as well as many searches that leave me empty-handed. In a rush and without a conscious thought, I’ve tucked away things for safe-keeping and then kept myself away from them for months.

But maybe that’s the fun with boxes anyways, you open them and never know quite what you’ll find. Luckily for me, the surprise has never been a cockroach in an empty wooden container, but some findings I found yesterday were almost as scary.

Or at least, when I first saw them, I thought they’d be.

Unknowingly, we all attach emotion and sentiments to objects. It is why we started having “ex-boxes” in high school, to keep us from lingering over a lost love. Or the reason why as children, we grow attached to a blanket, a teddy bear, or a doll and carry it around to give us the comfort a sippie cup or bottle simply can’t. It’s why the engagement ring is something so many lust after – the symbolic meaning that you’re taken, that someone wants to love you forever, that someone gave you such an expensive, beautiful, or historical thing that tells the world you’re to-be-wed.

But as time passes, our attachment to things changes. Or maybe, it just lessens.

As I was going through my jewelry, safely placing in padded pouches the ones that meant the most to me, I came across a necklace Mr. Faithful gave me, nearly a decade ago. Still in good condition and still the same mini spec of a diamond it was then, it glistened in the light of my lamp and I just smiled. When we first broke up, I couldn’t look at it,  but by the time college was over, I found myself wearing it without even thinking of him. When I packed up my pajamas, I came across a pair I threw on the night my mother and I had to rush my father to the hospital when he was ill. After a night from hell, spent worrying and pacing, and attempting to get some sleep on uncomfortable waiting room chairs, I almost threw away the cotton pants out of disdain. Once my dad recovered and returned to the same adoring man I always knew, the pants stopped being so difficult to wear, and eventually, I grew quite fond of them and even took them with me to New York.

I stumbled across all sorts of things, frames that have seen a cascade of photos, from boyfriends and friends to family and pets, year after year as new friends, men, or experiences changed. Outfits I bought for a specific purpose, ones I bought with the intent to be ripped off of me, sweaters I bought for the first day of school that somehow still fit, and jeans that will no longer fit, no matter how much weight I lose or miles I run.

I came across dresses I wore frequently when I very first moved, but now can’t bear the thought of wearing in public, much less in Manhattan. Books that I read while riding the subway to my internship or laying in the Great Lawn in Central Park or the quad at my college. Notebooks from interviews I can barely remember conducting and quotes from sources I can’t picture in my head anymore. Shoes with a half-way broken heel I meant to get fixed and a skirt I loved that ripped at the seam and I swore I would learn to sew for the simple fact I badly needed to wear the skirt again (that’s still on the bucket list of skills to master). Notes from Mr. Idea I saved because they meant something to me, the pennies I found in my window seal of this apartment, and to-do lists I never finished.

All of these things, in significant or insignificant ways, meant something to me at one point. Some words in books I read or places I went while wearing specific shoes, or people I met while sporting a tight number – changed my life. But it wasn’t the book or the shoes or the dress that made an impact, those are just reminders of the experience. And while those memories stay with us, the emotion we attach to objects that really didn’t matter too much to begin with, fade away. We pack them up in boxes to donate or to sell. We decide to give some things a second chance and we forget how good we looked in shorts and tights. We stop seeing items as things that hold meaning and see them for what they are: just things.

And like us, they will go on to someone else. Someone who picks it up at the library or bookstore when we donate books, or someone at a consignment shop who sees potential in an old scarf we couldn’t see. Not just stuff, either, transforms in the hands for a new person – my apartment will gain a different inhabitant in a few weeks. They will make this space their own, they will bring their own meaningful things, and set up shop differently than I did, and in a manner diverse from the dozen or more people who have called this place their home before me. In a brownstone that’s nearly 100 years old, there is no telling how many residents have made a home in the very place I’m sitting as I type this blog, in 2011 at an antique desk, someone else has sat, too.

But things don’t need emotion, really. Nor do apartments. They just need people to use them, to fill them up with life, to give them a purpose, and then to let them go. Onto to the next person or the next use or maybe put an end to their functionality. Even then, trash often turns into Earth that molds into something new decades later – but I digress.

The point is, the cycle continues. People come and go, and so do things – but won’t people always continue to collect things? Collect memories attached to those things? And then let them go as easily as they came? Of course. It is the little things that matter, but keep in mind, the little things will always change.

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.

The Anonymous Dater

The ironic truth about living in a densely populated city is though you are surrounded by people, it is easier to go unnoticed than residing in a small Southern town just West of the Tennessee line. You see, unlike those tiny towns I grew up in, in New York, people realize they could know your business if they asked, but most of the time,they  just don’t care.

Though we may never realize it – any place we decide to go and grow roots – there will always be more strangers than friends. There will always be people coming and people leaving, and even if we travel the same route or road the same way, every single day, there will always be someone new who shows their face. And the reality of it is, if we’d like to not display ours for the world – we don’t have to. Especially here.

If you want to be anonymous, the second you take a step out of your apartment, you can put iPod buds in your ear, raise the volume on a song with a beat to wake you up, and off you go. To the subway, of course, if you’re trying to lay low – after all, if you ask the monetarily blessed of Manhattan, they feel sorry for the “poor people” who have to take the train. Down the stairs you’ll ascend into the darkened transit and there you will sit alone, with a very rare chance you’ll recognize anyone at your stop. After bravely leaning against a pillar or walking the track to pass the time, your chariot will eventually arrive, but there will be no Prince to lend his hand as you step up. (You don’t need his help anyways). As you ride uptown or downtown (the direction never quite matters), you’ll sit to yourself, music still playing (but probably lowered), as you read the latest magazine or yet another Vampire-inspired novel that I still can’t jump on the bandwagon for. When the doors open to your destination, you’ll exit, without slipping a word to anyone or touching anything. Out onto the street you’ll rush, walking past people eying an underground performer, a foreign family unsure of which colored-line to take, and a man who thought your blue scarf looked stunning on you. But did you notice? No, you were lost away in whatever playlist you picked, thinking about getting to instead of living in. And then, just as one could predict, your feet touched the glimmering pavement and you blended into the crowds, bumping your way through elbows, and mumbling “excuse me” only when absolutely necessary.

It is one thing to be an anonymous New Yorker – the city is actually quite ripe with them. They are those people who’d rather not be bothered by the things you can’t predict or the chance conversations that can actually be the very thoughts hat turn your perspective. They are the ones who simply don’t want to be interrupted as they go from point A to point B, they just want to leave and arrive, without experiencing anything between.

But what they don’t realize is so much of the best of life is in the in between. And like one of my friends always says, “If I’m going to pay this much to live here, I’m going to get my money’s worth!” She’s right – if you’re ignoring the characters and the connections that  your address entertains, what’s the point?

After all, if you’re anonymous on the streets, do you really expect to meet anyone captivating? As much as we all complain about our single status and how we are never noticed by the type of guys we like, are we making ourselves available for someone to approach us? As lovely as it sounds that a man was so astonished with our beauty, that from across a crowded subway cart, he battled the straphangers to simply ask our name, and then vowed he’d find us again (maybe through Craigslist’s Missed Connections) – don’t you think that’s a little far-fetched?

Worse than being an anonymous resident is being an anonymous dater – but more often than not, they are one in the same. I’m lucky to not be a shy type of person, but even with as outgoing and normally fearless as I am in the dating market, I have to push myself. I don’t always feel my very best or my most attractive, but I also know that confidence is more important than anything – zits and bloated tummies aside. Anyone, man or female, is intrigued by someone who is intrigued by themselves. And if your eyes are peering toward the pages of a book for ten stops or at your drink for thirty minutes, how will anyone see that fire that only belongs to you?

They won’t.

There are times that call for anonymousness. Sometimes it is refreshing to ignore the rest of the world and go at your own pace, without worrying about what someone else prefers. It is a nice cloak that New York offers to its inhabitants – as if it is saying, “I know I’m tough on you, so every once in a while, I’ll let you disappear.” But remember, that robe is only meant to be momentary -not permanent.

Because the longer you engage the anonymous title and make yourself more into a stranger than a person, the more difficult it is for someone to remember youR name. Or even worse, the more you lose touch with who you are, drowning in a sea of people you’ve never seen and have stopped noticing. Take the chance – take the dive – and try looking up, instead of looking away. Remember to love yourself and know that that love will translate into conversation and give you that energy you need to be alluring. Notice the unnoticeables, listen to the city instead of the Biebs, read the lines on someone’s face instead of the WSJ, and give yourself more credit than just a statistic in this city’s census. Make yourself someone who lives in your own life, in this city, or wherever you are- not just someone who is passing by, anonymously.

Finding (and Un-Defining) a Faith for Me

Coming from a ruthless, unforgiving Southern Baptist background in the heart of the infamous Bible belt – once my mom was old enough to leave the church, she went as fast as she could in her early 80’s up-do and pumps.

Wanting to find a religion that would not only suit the words she read, but the spirituality she craved, she tried all sorts of different options as a 20-something. She dipped her toes into all of the waters her past congregation would have found unholy, and submerged herself into learning what she could about what other people believe and why it means so much to them. By the time she met my father, she was active at the Unity Center of Christianity – where they would eventually marry – and a few years later, when I made my grand entrance into the world, she wanted to place some structure on my faith. And so, like she always had before, she prayed for a sign from God about where to go to find that open-minded, yet not too liberal, mindset she craved.

As the heavens always seem to do, they delivered an unspoken guidance to my family.

And so, I was raised in a tiny-church-that-could on the winding back roads of Western North Carolina. My mother swears the first time we went to look at what would be our home, she drove past this hidden chapel and her bones told her this was the place to give her blue-eyed little girl a proper upbringing. Or as proper as one can get with my low-key parents, anyways.

This Methodist church taught me the basic fundamentals of good and bad, guided me through adolescence, and hosted my piano recitals during my childhood. It was there that I met my very first best friend, became a Girl Scout, learned how to make (and appropriately destroy) sloppy Joe sandwiches, and how to jump rope. The backyard of this church, along with the basketball ring I never grew tall enough to touch, is as familiar to me as the address I still write on my tax returns.

Once I passed my driver’s test, my mom stopped forcing me to attend church. She encouraged me to seek out my own beliefs, figure out who (or what) I wanted to worship, and what morality I wanted to base my life upon. Trusting I was mature enough to handle the exposure of diverse religions and ideologies, she suggested a few different places to give a shot. She even offered me gas money.

And so I started on a pilgrimage to find an undefined faith that fit me.

I attended a Catholic mass, where I learned the art of rising and standing (over and over) and how to respectfully decline communion because I was not confirmed. I tried out a Pentecostal church, where though they seemed incredibly passionate about their faith, I found myself a little frightened by the use of a language I couldn’t understand (and wasn’t convinced they could as well). I visited a Synagogue, where while beliefs are slightly different, they have a certain majesty to the depth of commitment and tradition that other fundamentals do not have (or at least express). I took a shot at meditation in my mother’s meditation room and my youthful, easily-distracted nature kept me from falling into any realm of anything. Unless Ancy Land counts, that is.

Now quite some years later, I find myself unsure about religion. I’m not Catholic. I’m not setting snakes free, unafraid of their poison. I did not convert to Judaism. I have yet to figure out how to meditate, even at the yogi-endorsed locations of the Lower East Side. I am still, technically, a member of the Methodist community- but I do not go to church regularly. Sometimes I feel like I should and I love hearing the bells on my walk to the gym Sunday mornings. At some point, I will attend one of those Gospel services around my Harlem neighborhood  -the fire eluding from them is simply intoxicating, not to mention they gave me free cake last summer.

To be honest, I’m not sure what I consider myself. I hear people toss around words like “spiritual” and “religious” over cocktails and o’dourves constantly, without giving it a second thought. Maybe a byproduct of my mother’s curiosity, but I’ve read countless books and asked people the ideas behind their belief systems and as adults who are not forced into stockings, socks-with-bows, and Sunday-best dresses, how we decide about a being above.

This blog is not about religion. But it is about love. I’m not a theologian, I’m not ordained by any church, or accredited by a university – but if there is one central theme I discovered in my quest to find my own ideology, it is love. The name of their savior or where or how its followers practice their rituals shouldn’t be a question, but rather if they are leading a life that’s based on a belief of an unconditional love. If they have a dedication, an honor, a profound respect, and continuous committment to a love they trust will never turn its back on them. That even when relationships fail, wars are declared -in our homes or around the world, when jobs are lost, when money is tight, when disasters strike that we can’t understand, we can trust in a higher power to be present.

When no one else will listen, when no one else is around, when no one else proves dependable, when no other sentence can ease our troubled mind – something we can’t see, but we can somehow hear and feel, appears.

I do believe in God. But I’m probably not the best devotee and I certainty don’t visit his blog everyday. I feel awkward praying and usually end up writing instead of speaking. I’ve always been more loyal before a test, when I’m scared, or when I anticipate the departure of someone or something I’d like to stay. But on days like today, where I commence in the rules of Lent, regardless of the lack of my Catholic-ness, I can’t help but feel a sense of connectivity. In an odd way I’ll explain at a later date, I think he/she (not sure which gender I’d like to assign to God, if any at all) has a gentle way of guiding my life -through things I stumble upon, from pennies that seem to fall from the blue abyss, and by giving me who I need, when I need them. I’ve felt alone, I’ve been depressed, I’ve wanted to find a man to give me love – but I’ve never felt abandoned  by a power beyond myself.

I’m not sure it is a relationship I can define or one where I give more than I take, yet it soothes me when other efforts do not. I believe that something, more dynamic than a human, and in a place away from this planet, has my best interest at heart. And while I don’t always get those things or those people who I want, I am challenged with accepting the simplicity of my needs that always find themselves met. And the strength I derive from a silent plea or praise in the middle of a busy New York train that lets me know I’m heading in the right direction, and I’m safe.

My sacrifices for Lent – no more Diet Pepsi and cutting back on the makeup – have the intention of making me a better, healthier person in the spirit of Christian traditions. And while I can never be guaranteed the way I lead my life, the decisions I make, or the company I keep will grant me a happy afterlife or an upgrade in my second life – I’m at least going to do this act of love. Not only in the honor of the holy-whomever, but in the name of the better me it is helping me to become.

PS: Jennifer from Cincinnati, OH completed Love Addict’s survey and won a fabulous glass from Lolita and perfume set fromPacifica. Love Addict will be doing another giveaway soon, so make sure to take the survey for your chance to win! Congrats Jen and thanks for reading!