When Will Loses its Way

They say where there is a will, there is a way. I’ll agree — but what if there is no will? Then is there a way? Or are they mutually exclusive?

I almost always have a will to do something — even if it’s just to have that Champagne-infused brunch or to see a discounted show for Broadway week. My wills are bigger too –I willed to live in New York, to be an editor, to have the things people come to visit in my backyard. I’ve willed to be better and stronger, more independent and sufficient, and here I am financially, emotionally, adult-ally all on my own. And I’ve willed myself into overcoming an obsession with men and their presence (or often, their absence) in my life. Though I’m teetering between possibility and impossibility, I’m still standing firmly and finally, not compromising what I need to feel needed by a man.

All of this willing has always found me a way to something, to someplace, to someone. It is rarely the something, someplace or someone who I crave – but whatever it is, it’s always there. But what happens when it’s not anymore? What would happen if I lost my will?

My life bloomed when I stopped waiting for it to change and changed it for myself. I was stuck in a pattern that I had made inevitable: meet a guy, fall for him, ask for commitment, be denied, cry, moan, whine, obsess, think I’m the ugliest thing ever, blow my confidence and money away on exercise and Ben & Jerry’s, then meet someone new….and start all over again. My oh my, did I find it exhausting. But I willed to find love and love was what I wanted, so there would be a way, right?

A year and 12-steps later, I wouldn’t say that will is gone but it has most certainly lessened. I don’t long to get married or to start a family. I don’t need an engagement ring to feel settled and secure. I’m not crawling into bedrooms, looking for remarkable sex because I know I’ll most likely just find a heartache hangover the next morning. I don’t feel the pressure to rush down an aisle as my cousins and my childhood friends have done, and when it comes to wondering if the stranger on the next cart is my mate – that curiosity has mostly killed the Tigar.

But does that mean I’ve lost my will? Do I not hope for love anymore? Do I not value how wonderful, how overpowering, how incredible it can feel when it’s right? When the man is right? If there is a man that’s right, that is? If I have indeed lost my will, will love still find its way to me? Or without that will, is there surely no way to one day stumble across holding-hands-in-Central-Park-while-raising-babies-in-a-brownstone-in-Brooklyn bliss?

I’m still willing to be successful, willing to find happiness in my single shoes, willing to make New York more of my home than it already is, and most importantly, willing to just be myself and be okay with that. So a will for love is still there, it’s just not in the spotlight. It doesn’t get front-and-center attention because it’s not at the forefront of my attention. It’s still there in something, in someplace with someone I haven’t met — but it hasn’t disappeared. My love will hasn’t lost its way, it’s just found a new way to exist.

It’s found a way to exist without being all-consuming so that I could do more than just exist. So I could really, remarkably, beautifully, live.

The Great Compromise

While everyone else was updating their Facebook about Shark Week, I was counting the days until Mob Week would end. After the rest of his species, Mr. Possibility, the late-bloomer discovered The Godfather. And all of its sequels. Over and over again for seven days.

He wasn’t doing anything wrong per se – he was acting like any other dude acts when in the presence of Al Pacino. You know – repeating quotes, analyzing the dynamics of the mob, asking me what I thought about “mob wives” and in almost every conversation we had with anyone else, The Godfather or the mob would ultimately come up. While The Godfather ban wagon passed a while ago, Mr. Possibility apparently just got on and now realizes why so many teenage, college-aged and middle-aged bachelors have posters on their wall.

I realize that by deciding to spend the night at his place, in his space, with his television, I’m subject to watch whatever he wishes. If I would have asked, I’m sure he would have changed the channel – but I never requested the favor. Though I’ve seen the movie(s) several times due to my father’s taste for the films, I found other ways to preoccupy myself while he sat mesmerized at the television. I even entertained conversations and made mob jokes with him, attempting to participate in something he found that he liked. But all of that went out the window yesterday when we laid around after a long night out celebrating my recent success, watching The Godfather…

…for four hours. Foooour.

In this time, I managed to clear out my email, do a load of my own laundry, take a shower, fix lunch, go for coffee, tidy up a bit, and write a blog or two. He did a few things, but mainly remained glued to the television. There was some snuggling and some talking, but when it came time to leave to make a party in the Hamptons for his friend, it was suddenly important that we rush out the door. However, I needed to drop by my own apartment before heading away for the evening. This was fine with Mr. P until we hit traffic on the bridge and he said, “Well, you had all day long to go home, why did you wait until now? We’re never going to get there on time.”

I’m usually pretty calm tempered, easy to get along with – but this comment brought out the sassy in me. “Didn’t you ask me to stay over today? To hang out with you during the day before going out?” I calmly asked. He nodded, rolling his eyes at the cluster of automobiles in front of us. “And didn’t I offer to go home and get things while you relaxed?” He sighed and nodded again. “And didn’t you ask me not to?” He looked at me, obviously annoyed. “And didn’t we watch The Godfather for the 100th time this week?” “It hasn’t been 100 times! It was on today, so we watched it. You watched it too.”

I think you can probably guess where this conversation went.

After he realized I was right and properly apologized, I thought how relationships are all about the great compromise. They’re about developing a deeper understanding for someone else. They require at least a form of unconditional love and to work, you need to trust and nurture one another. They’re about learning to forgive and being there as a supportive force for your partner in the good times and in the bad. In sickness and in health, in every last stinking situation, no matter how much you’d like to smack them across the face, stomp all over their things, slam the door, and throw in the towel. Or throw something forcefully at them while driving down the Long Island Expressway.

Relationships sound fine and dandy from the outside, but on the inside they sometimes require a lot of work. And the ability to be patient with someone who can infuriate you easily. Maybe it’s that thin line between love and hate, or the difficult task of being mature enough to keep a level head when someone you care about has moments of insincerity. We all have them, we’re all human, so why do we expect our lovers to be perfect? Arguments happen, differences are important to compatibility, and if you have the ability to overcome the tiffs, then your relationship has a chance. Especially if you can forgive someone for making themselves late because of a silly movie and then blaming you for having needs, too.

He made up for it today though – sweetly changing the channel to a Sex & the City marathon, handing me a glass or orange juice, and asking me what the hell Carrie was wearing.

A Single Snowflake and a Single Girl

Yesterday morning, as I frantically hurried out of my apartment to catch the train that probably had already left, I stopped dead in my tracks as soon as my face hit the outside air.

It smelled cold.

Now, for some this distinctive scent doesn’t mean much, but for this Southern girl it brings back a whirlwind of loving, romantic memories and hopes. I’ve fallen in love in all different seasons, but there seems to be something unique about the days that transcend November through March.

While everything that nature bore is withering, something more inviting is always growing inside the buildings that protect us from all the conditions beyond the front door. People are gathered together around something – a fireplace, a Christmas tree, o’dourves and champagne, or a table. And regardless if it is literal warmth – there is something about winter that illuminates electricity. Somehow, when it’s cold outside, there is no better place to be than as close as possible to those you love.

In year’s past, I remember being in my one-bedroom, peering out to the falling snow, wondering when I would have the chance to be hand-in-hand with a man who adored me. I could imagine him, whoever he may be, with this passionate look in his eyes, smiling back at me as I picked up a handful of snow, ready to play with him, and instead, he knocks it out of my hand, wraps his arms around me and steals a kiss. And this Mr., in my dreams, will view me as the single most beautiful woman he’s ever seen, and he will not be able to control his fervor to touch me, to be part of an essence that only belongs to me. And he would be thankful that we’re sharing the simplicity of snow, rosy-cheeks, and hot chocolate together.  Cheesy and completely idealistic? Absolutely. Desirable? Utterly.

Will it happen this season for me? Probably not. But for a reason unknown to me and possibly credited to this blog and journey – I’m okay with it. And not just okay, really, but happy and satisfied.

Like the seasons change, so much of life is an ever-cyclic transition. I’m going through so many firsts the longer I live here: from the first time I about died from the summer heat, to seeing Fall arrive in every brilliantly-colored leaf and wrap-sweater, to seeing trees light up and candy canes line the street corners.

Soon, I’ll feel the first flake fall from the New York City skyline–and for the longest time, I always dreamt of experiencing that moment, that silence that only comes with snow…with a man. But somehow, my feelings have changed. I’ve decided that if I’m not alone when the atmosphere breathes what I used to call “cotton from the clouds” – then the moment will be ruined.

Because as I’ve discovered being a single woman and learning to embrace the solitude that comes with that title – there are some instances where being alone can bring just as much magic (if not more) than being with someone else. And especially if that other person isn’t the person that you really do want to share such a cherished memory with. Sometimes, you’d rather just be a single girl with your single snowflake.

I have so much to do, so much to see, so many places to go, mistakes to make, books to read, articles to write, jobs to accept, plans to break, rules to dispose, and I can’t have every single little thing I’ve wanted in Manhattan within the first year I get here. If that was so, the city that never sleeps would lose its luster. If I can make it here so easily, where would the challenge and mystery be?

I look forward to a winter season that I don’t make lonely or depressing due to my singledom and I’m crossing fingers and toes that when I do see snow for the first time, I will get to be just in the company of myself. Does this mean that I’ll forget those wishes and dreams of romance on the ice or under the gray ambiance? Of course not.

When I see couples kissing in front of NYC landmarks that I’ve always idolized as inexcusably romantic in the winter like Rockefeller Center, Bryant Park, Fifth Avenue, Central Park, and so on – a small part of me still aches.

But instead of entertaining the longing, I’ve recently learned to dwell in the possibility.

In the opportunities that I’ve been able to take, the blessings that I’ve been lucky enough to experience, and the love that I’ve shared with some pretty incredible men. And without a doubt, the relationship I’m developing with me, myself, and I, and with this dream city that is finally my reality.

And one day, there will be a man who stands by my side in the sweltering days of summer, in the crispness of fall, and the blistering yet beautiful days of winter. Just because he isn’t here, I know my life isn’t to be put on hold. It isn’t to be spent lingering. I’m not to be a lady in waiting.

But a lady in the embracing, a lady who opens her eyes as wide as she opens her heart – to not only the snow and cold that’ll flush her face, but to the self-love that’s flourishing…and to the love who is surely on his way.

Tempted By the Fruit of Moving Forward

One of my best friends, R is having a hard time getting over her ex-boyfriend. For the sake of this blog, we’ll call him Mr. Bail.

I was a big fan of Mr. Bail when R and him started dating. He was so incredibly in love with her, always supportive, and he broke her out of this protective shell she kept herself in. Generally speaking, even though he’s younger than me, he’s an attractive guy and most importantly, R was very happy and as long as she’s smiling that lovely grin of hers, I’m satisfied.

However, when R and Mr. Bail started running into complications and some terribly dramatic situations – he did what his name suggests: he bailed. It seemed like when the fantastic turned to the detrimental or difficult, instead of stepping up to the plate to face his (or their) problems, he tucked his tail and ran away. While it is never a stand-up choice to make, at the specific time he chose to be a coward, R was going through a time in her life that no woman should ever have to experience, especially at 19-years-old.

Though R has handled all of the many surprises and transitions with beautiful grace, because of the rollercoaster that’s defined her life for the past year-or-so, she’s had a tough time cutting the final chord from her relationship with Mr. Bail. She doesn’t want to be with the kid (and I use the word “kid” because of his lack of maturity) anymore and her romantic inclinations have declined, but she wants this settling peace of closure. And possibly, a friendship. Because we often rely on each other to handle our freak-outs (they get a little messy), she sent me a text yesterday that asked: “Will it take dating someone else to fully get over everything I went through with Mr. Bail?

And without even thinking, I replied with: “Yes,” and gave her an example. Of course, because she’s just as inquisitive as I am (and I love her for it) – she said, “Why does it always take someone else? I want to be able to do it on my own.”

To release the most recent boyfriend who lingers in our minds and our hearts, no matter how hard we try, do we have to meet a new man to erase the after-taste of an ex?

My dad hasn’t really given me a lot of relationship advice other than “You’re so beautiful, so wonderful, so amazing, so incredible and there will be a perfect man who will be everything you ever needed. And he’ll have to ask my permission to marry you!” If you can’t tell, I’m the apple-of-his-eye, and he would say anything to bring a smile to my face. Since I started this blog (which he reads every single day) – I’ve had to correct and him and say, “Now, Dad, it isn’t about finding love from a man, but finding love for myself as a single woman!” He usually mumbles something that has the word “grandchildren” and “true love” and we move on to another topic.

However, one thing he has always said other than threatening to call the “mafia” on my ex-boyfriends, is: “To stop crying about one, you should find another.” To heal your heart, according to my pops, you just move onto another guy. When R texted me, I got to thinking about how I’ve honestly moved on from guy-to-guy in my dating history, and it occurred to me that I’ve been following my father’s advice…without even knowing.

When Mr. Curls and I broke up, it took until meeting Mr. Faithful to let go of him completely. When Mr. Faithful and I broke up it took Mr. Rebound for me to fully release his 3-year-old hold on me. And then when Mr. Rebound became well, just a rebound – it wasn’t until Mr. Fire that I stopped beating myself up for allowing Mr. Rebound to trick me. And then when the embers burnt out with Mr. Fire, Mr. Buddy went back to my friend, and Mr. Fling stopped flinging me up against walls – I met Mr. Idea. And I fell in love with him. If I’m honest, I still have feelings for him, and in some strange sort of way Mr. Unavailable is helping me to let of Mr. Idea, even though Mr. Unavailable is romantically unattainable.

Whew.

While it seems like they were right after another, my dating history is nearly 10 years long and even though I had so many wonderful travels, uncountable adventures, massive accomplishments, a few moves, and excelling health – at every point in my life, I have always been getting over or starting to fall for a guy. Of course, I’ve consumed ungodly amounts of Chardonay, danced with strangers at bars, downed Ben & Jerry’s, and obsessively cried and talked to my best friends to release the strings of love-gone-astray – but I never fully let go until I had a man to let me lean on him. Does moving to another dude help because all of those loving, initmiate moments that you once shared with another, are now replaced with someone new? Or because then you feel validated by capturing the interest and intrigue of a new man?

R proposed a very reasonable question that I never considered: How do we do it on our own? How do we get over someone without depending on another hand to hold, lips to touch, or body to graze? Without a rebound or the next-relationship?

Well, I don’t know. I admittedly haven’t done it.

I think though, it starts with taking a step back from emotions, from the heartache, from the projections of what I thought the love would be, and start looking at the relationship (and its demise) at face-value. Instead of turning moving on into a competition like I usually do (who meets someone new first? Who is smiley and unaffected first?) or spending time dwelling in the coulda-woulda, and looking for a new flame – why not focus on ourselves? Spend time alone. Do things solo. Take a trip without anyone else in tow. Stop looking for a man to feel the gap that another one left, and fill it up with admiration for yourself and your many beauties and gifts.

And practically speaking, think before leaping. Sure, as I’ve experienced, being tempted by the fruit of another can be a great tool to escape from pain – but it never really heals those wounds fully. The minute we are actually single in between the last guy and the guy who will be next – we’re left thinking of every boyfriend, lover, or jerk there ever was.

If we took that time to really figure ourselves out, and dare I say – love ourselves without thinking of the past or future companions, maybe we’d actually own that leading leading lady role in our own lives. Without all the drama and love triangles that come up. And we surely wouldn’t be that annoying supporting actress who jumps from heart to heart, bed to bed, never recovering from the one who was there before.

No, we’d just look at ourselves for all the scars and bruises we have, and realize that it is really just self-love and a precious thing called time, that helps us to mend…instead of the guy we’re going out with on Friday.