She Can Get Some Satisfaction

It was snowing on Saturday when I left my apartment to catch the downtown train. I’ve been aching for a change and for the temperatures of Spring, so naturally my hair became a prime canvas. I’m not sure where this craving for transformation grew from — I’ve felt really settled and comfortable lately.

In fact, I haven’t desired much lately at all. With many amazing things spattered about my calendar in the months to come, I’m impressed with the life I’ve made and the days that I have to look forward to.

But that hunger. The fight. The work… To meet someone. Well, it’s gone.

Sure, I’m checking online dating profiles and if a guy wants to buy me a drink, I let him. I send flirty text messages and from time to time, I sext with Mr. Smith.  But nothing is really piquing my interest or encouraging the flight of butterflies and bumblebees. I haven’t felt their gentle and intoxicating stampede for nearly two years now.

And the thing is, I’m kind of satisfied.

Sure on nights like last night when the sleet beat against my air conditioning and the air was so cool I took two trains to get home, just to avoid being outside for an avenue longer than I needed. When I watch my beautiful best friends fall in love with men who have a promising twinkle in their eyes, I wonder when my turn will come. Sometimes I question if it will ever arrive at all — or if a girl with a heart as big as mine ca ever find another one to love in return. Sometimes, as my parents age and things don’t work as well as they once did, I feel guilty for leading a selfish existence instead of producing the grandchildren they keep telling me they look forward to spoiling.

I get down on myself, but I’ve been happier by myself than ever before. There’s something nice about solitude and those Saturdays I get to spend at the salon and the dog park, running in Central and treating myself to a $6 latte just because I want it. Or booking a trip to Mexico with my best friend because we want to celebrate being sufficient and young — and in need of some serious sun. And if I feel like going out on a Friday, the city is my playground with it’s men just pawns in a game that I’m good at playing, even if I’ve yet to win. But if I want to stay in, there is no harm, no guilt from a partner who wants to do something else, the only harm, really, is in my fear of missing out.

Lots of my friends who mastered being single a lot faster and earlier than I did used to tell me about these perks – of never having to consider another person in any decision. Or being able to date around to see what feels right, right now and what may feel right later on. They used to talk about how good it felt to be free and to have endless options, opportunities — from travel and finances to dining and sex.

I never understood it, though.

I wanted to factor in a man into the plan. I wanted him to figure out what we were cooking for dinner, what we were doing next weekend, what we wanted to do about that lightbulb in the kitchen that keeps going out or where we should take the dog to get her yearly vaccinations. I craved those discussions. I needed to meet him so I could go ahead and start thinking about the rest of my life.

But why wait for my life to begin when I’m already living it? Why linger to get satisfaction instead of doing things to satisfy myself?

When 2013 started, I had a feeling in my bones that it would bring about positive change and personal growth. I just knew that something big — something incredible — was in my cards this year, and the romantic in me convinced herself it had to do with love.

And maybe it still does. Or maybe not.

Sure, I might meet that man — who is as elusive and imaginary to me as he’s always been — but I think I’d rather meet a better version of myself. I’d rather become a woman I’m proud of. One who doesn’t need a man … and that’s why she meets him. Not because she’s doing all the right things and working hard to be available and open, but because she’s herself, leading a life she’s proud of.

 And most importantly, she can get some satisfaction… with or without him.

Five Down, Many To Go

Terrified that having a puppy (as lovely as she is) would ruin my social life as I know it — I’ve been quite the busy dater this past month. I can’t blame Lucy entirely for my new-found interest in getting back into the scene — it’s also the chilly weather that reminds me of cuddling under covers with no clothes except socks, the smell of pumpkin spice that remind me of home, and just how handsome men look with rosy cheeks and scruff that’s a little too out grown.

And also, the fact that I’ve been single for over a year now…

Given, I spent some time (okay, maybe a lot of time) hung up over Mr. Possibility. And even, yes, sleeping with him far longer than I should have. But now that my past is both figuratively and literally miles and months behind me, I have the urge to meet someone. Doesn’t have to be my forever-and-ever guy, but just a guy….would be nice. It’d be comforting and exciting — and hopefully, it’d spread some of my natural optimism into my romantic relationships, instead of the negativity that consumes them recently.

So, with a few clicks of my mouse on three online dating profiles (yes, three!), enticing friends to set me up with the eligible bachelors in their lives and throwing some flirting glances across practically each room I graced, I somehow managed to have five first dates in the past four weeks. For me — who walks a dog three times a day, works 40+ hours and runs three miles at least five days a week — dating can sometimes be difficult to budget into my time. But, with as much hope I could muster without making my eyes blush, I jumped head (not heart) first into the scary Manhattan pool of singleness.

The first date, the guy upped his height by six inches, which isn’t really fudging on your online dating profile, it’s just flat-out lying. And while I know how tall a dude is shouldn’t affect my taste too much — it really does. Maybe it’s my own personal hangup or my need to feel small and protected around someone I’m dating, but it’s not something I’ve been able to compromise. I prefer 5’10” and above, but if I met the man I’d been waiting for and he was 5’9″ — I betcha I could get over it. This particular guy arrived before me and was already sitting down, so I didn’t know his 6’0″ claim wasn’t true until after the drinks had been drank and the bites had been nibbled, and we stood up to leave that I realized his very white lie. I wasn’t wearing heels and at 5’4″, he wasn’t even a head above me. The conversation hadn’t been intriguing enough to entice me for another date and his shortness in character and in height made it easy to respond with, “Let’s be friends!” when he texted the next day. Of course, no response.

The second guy was interesting enough — but mainly because he reminded me of my gay husband, J. He was flamboyant, incredibly social and made some joke about how he psyched his parents out at Christmas one year by saying he may bring a guy home (Red, red flag!). He talked more than I did, insisted on walking me home and didn’t attempt to kiss me goodnight (which I didn’t expect, either) — and still texted the next day. I did the same routine as I did with the first guy and this one quickly stopped contact, too.

The third date was the best of them all — over sushi and some wine, I chatted it up with a friend of a friend. The rapport was fast and clever, the shared glances were subtle and enticing, and I understood why my friend thought we’d get along. However, as I’m prone to picking up on what could be deal-breakers way sooner than I have in past courtships, I noticed that the majority of the conversation wasn’t targeted at me, but about him. He was the classic one-upper (which would be his Mr. title if he actually made it into this blog for more than a paragraph), and by the time the check came and left, I was ready to not compete in the conversation anymore.

The fourth date was my first date, and I was excited to see how powerful their magical matching brew really is. I showed up earlier and caught up on reading, while waiting for him to arrive. I could tell from the first smile that he was shyer than most men I date. He was looking forward to going to Comic Con, came from a good family and lived on the Upper East Side. (Which frankly when you’re on the West Side, is nearly too much distance to handle.) I was attracted to him and his politeness was overwhelming, but I didn’t feel that thing. I know sparks don’t always fly in the very beginning and they sometimes take time to flicker, but I think you know if the flame can be ignited, even just a little bit, from the start. He walked me to the bus stop and kindly hugged me goodbye. We haven’t spoken since, and I haven’t noticed.

The fifth date was on Saturday, and is still a little too depressing for me to share in vivid detail. What I will say is that I now know that some preferences are set in stone. Like, I don’t care for someone who checks the score of the game — and talks about it — more than once at a dinner table. On the first date. Or someone who gambles or plays pokers… a lot. Or who doesn’t have respect for animals. Or is sexist about the toilet seat. But mostly, if they think voting for Mitt Romney is a vote for women. Nope, not interested. But proud of myself for walking out of a date for the very first time. I have a feeling it surely won’t be the last.

Needless to say, I haven’t really found someone I’m interested in, even after making a whole new commitment to putting myself out there. I always try to find the lesson in everything — the silver lining that will make it all make sense, that will make it all seem part of a grand scheme, or some predetermined fate that I can’t even begin to visualize yet. But really the only thing I’ve become convinced of the past month is…

…dating can suck. It can honestly, really, really suck.

It’s constant disappointment. It’s something being off even if you’re not quite sure what that something is. It’s trying to avoid the wolf underneath the sheep, and to find the sheep that’s hidden by your mesmerization with the wolf. It’s hoping for a someone you’re not entitled to meet just because you’re you. It’s a lot of scheduling and work, compromising and wondering when it’s all going to fall into place. Frankly, it’s so exhausting, I’m tired of writing about it — but…

…I still want to do it.

Even if five not-so-great dates turn into hundreds of bad dates. Even if I have to endure Republicans and receding hairlines, guys who are in denial about their height, ones who aren’t out of the closet yet. Even if I have to meet all of the very, very wrong guys that aren’t a great fit for me — I’d rather do it. I’d rather suffer through and keep going. Keep dating.

Because you can’t find the right one if you don’t know how to spot a bad one. And you can’t get what you want if you refuse to go after it. Or to let it go after you. You can’t have your heart feel those many wondrous things it longs to feel if you don’t open it wide enough to let someone touch it.  To capture it.

And even though it would be so lovely, you can’t skip the sucky first dates if you ever intend to find a guy who you can’t wait to go on a second date with. Or a third. Or five. Or many, many more…

And Then I Found Love

It was March 16 — and I was having one of those terrible, horrible, very bad, no good days.

It started with a lack of hot water in my apartment for like the 100th time  (sadly, only a slight exaggeration), which resulted in playing chicken with the shower head until I was at least somewhat clean. From there, it only went downhill: the train was late, the weather was depressing, the line at Starbucks was way too long for me to make it to work on time, and as it always does, the course of negative events left me feeling less than 100 percent. Midway through the day while eating the snack-size Lean Cuisine that I somehow manage to consider lunch, something else popped up to make what was a crappy day, completely shot to hell.

He emailed me.

And for whatever reason, even in my near-crazy state, I decided the logical thing to do was to read it. Then and there, on the spot, while chewing highly processed food that I didn’t care for. The sentences weren’t important, nor the sentiment, but the feeling I had my stomach — and in my heart — was. Moving it to trash doesn’t make it any less significant, but it at least gets it out of plain sight, or at least, I thought so anyway. But with the swift deletion, I started to feel them inch their way up, fighting to let out the crisis I felt I was facing. My warmest organ started to burn, signaling it was time to make a b-line for the bathroom where I could exhale in semi-private.

Standing in the stall, counting to ten over and over, looking up to the fluorescent lights, feeling the salty, achy drops form in the corner of my eyes, I got angry. Not for the first time and certainly not for the last in this ordeal, but for the first time, it felt real. I thought about the six months I had wasted communicating when I knew I shouldn’t, the few months I spent going back to what I knew was wrong, and most of all, for trying to be so strong and really, being nothing but weak. Sure, I forgave myself (and luckily my awesome friends did too), but knowing I needed to focus my energy on positive things, like my great job, I decided that it was really, truly time to move the f*** on.

I’m not sure why that particular afternoon meant so much to me — it wasn’t any different or worse than other days I spent attempting to let go of Mr. Possibility. I probably still Gchatted the regulars expressing my frustration and he obviously still made an effort to talk to me, as he did for such a long time. And if I’m honest, even here-and-there now. But in that brief thirty-minute span where my lunch break turned into the moving-on-moment, it clicked in a way it hadn’t before. Maybe I saw that regardless of how much time passes or how many tears I waste, it’s still impossible to make something out of nothing. Or that some sorts of love and relationships simply aren’t meant to last forever, and that’s okay. Perhaps it was just that I finally figured out I wanted more – I truly deserved more – and I wouldn’t get any closer to the best kind of love if I kept holding onto to the hope that mostly-bad could turn into kinda-good.

And so, I did what I always do when I set my mind to getting over someone: I started frantically dating. I signed up for two dating sites, tried to make my profile sound like myself (though, it rarely does), and accepted three or four after work drink invitations. I smiled and flirted, and had meaningless conversations with men who now I can’t remember their names. I didn’t find anyone appealing or entertaining enough to continue to a second date, and I found myself a week later, sitting on Gchat complaining to K about the stress of trying to rebound and how much dating felt like some cursed chore I really didn’t want to do.

So don’t date.

Her response was how much of her advice is — to the point, realistic, mature and taken from the wisdom she’s gained from many more experiences than me. I started to counter her argument, stating I tried that in college and decided placing rules on myself wasn’t healthy and that I never lived up to the promises anyway. I’d be 20 days in when I said I’d wait 60 and give in to some guy I worked up into my head to be the guy. He never was and I only became more disappointed in dating, and worse, in myself. She then, with careful words and gentle encouragement, convinced me that because it was my decision — regardless if I changed my mind later or not — giving myself a break from the whole scene, the intolerable exhaustion (especially in this city!) would make me hopeful…and less bitter.


It hurt to see those words in black-and-white and it stung even deeper to feel it in my heart. Mr. Possibility hadn’t turned me totally sour, I had swallowed that pill all on my own — allowing destructive, damning mantras to become my normal, instead of the cheery, optimistic phrases I usually live by and post around my bedroom walls.

And so, I took K’s advice and set a time frame — from March 23 until May 31, I’d be single. Like really, completely, refusing-to-go-on-one date single. I would be by myself and I would do what I needed to do the most: heal and forgive. Myself, Mr. Possibility, New York and love itself.

Today, on June 7, I’m happy to announce that I did it: no dating, no falling in love with strangers, no making random glances into advances on the subway, no anything. I went to and returned from Puerto Rico, welcoming the world of adventure that awaited me there. I found the peace I had been needing from Mr. Possibility by realizing that somethings really don’t change, but I can, even if he can’t. I stayed out later than I usually did and felt comfortable calling it a night a bit earlier than my friends. I showed my beautiful mother the city I love, ending the last evening by running through an open fire hydrant on my street, and savored every tone, every pitch in her laugh, wishing I could capture it for whenever I feel alone in this big place I adore. I started to accept that maybe, I’m never going to be a size two again, but size six looks pretty good on me. I had heart-to-hearts with my friends and dove into the work that fulfills and excites me.

And then, out of nowhere, without any warning at all, I found love. Real, powerful, all-consuming, can’t-live-without-you love.

No, not with the first guy I went out with on June 1 (he was actually rather awful). I don’t intend to find it with the dates I have lined up next week — but instead, I fell in love with myself. With my life here, with the people and the experiences that have made up the sum of all of my parts.

K was right — I needed time to put dating totally out of the picture so I could see that at the center of it all, there is me. There is the hope I’ve always believed in. And most importantly, there is love.

My First Real Adventure

As much as I hate to admit it and how naive it makes me sound — I’ve always been a little afraid of traveling.

Getting on a plane to New York – a city in the United States that’s only two hours away from my family – is one thing. Sure, that was a bit scary too, but I knew I was coming to a place I could make it, a place where $150 could get me a hotel room somewhere for a night. But going to another country or so far away that it’d be really expensive or difficult to get back to a place where I felt safe, that’s a completely different story.

This anxiety of being out of my element hasn’t prevented me from being thoroughly interested in what’s beyond my own border. I actually read more blogs about traveling than I do about what I write about: dating, love, sex and all that terribly-personal jazz. I’m captivated by the adventures others are brave enough to go on, often without much of a plan or even a place to rest. I’m insanely jealous of my friends who have made opportunities for themselves to get paid to go somewhere and write about it. Or the ones who put their faith on a shoestring budget and everything they need in a backpack and just jump freely into the next flight that welcomes them.

It all sounds so exhilarating and so not me. But then something odd happened a few weeks ago.

My good friend R returned from a trip to Costa Rica where she extended her stay by a week because she loved it so much. On Gchat, I excitedly asked about her getaway and she ever-so-politely refused to tell me anything until we saw each other in person. A few days later, over sushi and wine, she informed our group of friends that not only did she have an incredible time, but that she was leaving for a five month trip around the world. She didn’t know where or how, but she quit her job, found a subleaser, made plans to bring her pup to her mom and a ride cross country to visit a friend in California before leaving for Asia. Or Greece. Or somewhere. She looked into a sailboat that would make her a crew member, traveling the Caribbean and over to Europe. She explained her couch surfing successes and how she planned to keep floating from Lazy-Boy to Lazy-Boy, seeing all that she could along the way.

It wasn’t the haze of the cheap white wine or the lack of sleep from the night before – it was pure shock that stunned me to silence. Here was my beautiful friend who has been unhappy with her job and with her life in New York for a while, finally taking a plunge to see what else is out there. She seemed more alive and refreshed than I’d ever seen her, and because she has no family or partner to care for and 10-years worth of savings to pull from, she isn’t worried. Sure, her cash could run out, but she’d figure it out. Her courage was astonishing and woke something up inside of me.

Every dime I’ve made has either been in pursuit of moving to New York or while living here. I save because I know I should and for emergencies, but I don’t spend. Unlike the majority of my friends who could call Bloomingdale’s their middle name, I’m a little hesitant and super-cautious with everything I earn and especially what I put away. But for what? What is it that I’m pinching pennies for? What I am working toward?

Or more importantly, what am I so afraid of? No, money doesn’t grown on trees, but wouldn’t I, just like R, figure it out if something happened? If I found myself in a tight situation? If I was afraid overseas, wouldn’t I use my street smarts to ease my confusion? If I ran into trouble, couldn’t I get myself out of it, as I have so many times before? Or am I waiting to go somewhere until I have a man? But what about this feeling I have now? This incredible, impossible to explain sense of peace and sense of self that makes me not want to be in love with anyone? That makes me so happy to be flying solo? Am I hesitating so someone can split the bill and someone who protects me? If so, there has never been a better time to dream bigger than a honeymoon that’s nowhere close and nothing that I want right now.

So really, what’s keeping me from seeing the world, other than me?

After some long-winded conversations with my mom and much encouragement from my friends, I booked a vacation. Not just any trip, though – my first getaway, completely alone. In April, I’ll visit Puerto Rico, hike through the rain forest, do yoga on the white beaches and tour the ancient city near me, all by myself. While I don’t need a passport for this excursion, it’s at least one step closer to taking those chances I’ve been wanting to take, and seeing that big world that’s been waiting for me to leap.

And while I’ve always thought I wasn’t the traveling type or the woman who could jet-set from place to place without writhing in fear of failure – or worse – I’m starting to think that maybe, I’m not any sort of woman of all. I’m still a lady who is changing, who is figuring out what she wants, where she wants to spend her money, how she wants to live, where she wants to visit, what languages she wants to learn, what things she’s captable of. Instead of living in my own self-perceived stereotype, it’s about time I challenge myself to be something so much more. Someone who knows she can do so much more than she gives herself credit for. Someone who can go on a trip all by herself and have a damn fabulous time. (I hope!)

Looking at my confirmation, noticing that my purchase was non-refundable and seeing my name as the only name on the ticket, I couldn’t stop smiling. Finally, after years of talking about it, hours spent fretting if it was the right decision and years passed never spending money on anything than the necessities, I did it.

I bought my very first real adventure. And if this aching to search for another vacation (perhaps to Spain?) is any indication – definitely not my last.

Pigs Can Fly & Hell Freezes Over

I prefer to do my crying in the shower. Naked emotion seems to pair well with literal nakedness, plus mascara used as blush just isn’t cute. The issue though, is that I tend to bathe in the mornings before work, so my hair is freshly pressed for the day. Or as it is in most cases, unpredictably wavy in all the wrong places. So when I retreated to the bathroom at my designated time (with four roommates, you have to auction out privacy), with warm, salty drops splashing on my cheeks, I wasn’t concerned with why I was actually crying but frustrated that my eyes may be puffy for work.

Luckily with some careful washing, I managed to escape any noticeable marks of sadness that anyone could see. However, the raw emotion that caused the tears didn’t wane as easily.

I’ve been attempting to put it into words, both here and in my own head, what I feel about Mr. P. We haven’t been able to go even one night without an argument or without me crying in quite some time now. For a relationship that has always been chaotic, this isn’t exactly out of the norm, but it’s most certainly out of my comfort level. The thing I always loved the most about us, about him, was that I could talk to him about anything. Nothing was off-limits, no crazy outburst was too crazy, no ridiculousness distracted him, no irrational fear seemed irrational to him. For the past year, he had a way of putting me to ease and he offered a secure shelter from any New York frustration I battled.

I think I fell in love with the friendship and then as I started to fall in love with him as a man, as a partner, as a lover – I started to pull away. I stopped conversations about exes, even though we had always analyzed our lovable (and unlovable) pasts together. I stopped being able to stomach the fact that he had lingering feelings toward women who refuse to talk to him. I also stopped being able to ignore that as a gaudy red flag right in front of my face. My preferences in bed changed, I wanted our weekend plans to change, I wanted him to march up to his rooftop in Brooklyn that’s cleverly decorated by his domestic-fied roommate, and shout that he loved me, that he was crazy about me, that he was so happy to be mine.

But I knew that wasn’t going to happen. I still know it won’t. Mr. P may be infamous for too many little white lies to count, but he won’t scream something so absurd. Especially if there’s a chance someone could hear that he was smitten. Because…he’s not.

Sure, he loves me. I know he cares about me. I’m confident if I needed something, if I was in dire danger, he’d come to my rescue. I think he could see a future here, he could picture us together in the long run and he knows I’m marriage material (whatever qualifies that anyway). But he’s not there yet. I think those were the words he used. And if I could just slow down my feelings, if I could just take a breather and stop wishing and demanding that he feel the same, we could go back to that easy happiness we once had.  If I could just relax and be that carefree, easy-going woman that he fell for. The one who didn’t pressure him or who didn’t want anything more than what he could give, then maybe I’d have a shot at holding the prized title that so many women are eyeing by blowing up his Blackberry and Facebook. I could have the opportunity to be The One.

But to do that, to stay in the relationship, to keep him in that role in my life, I’d have to put my feelings on hold. I’d have to fall out of love enough to meet him down at that level he’s at. While I’ve progressed the last six months or so by gradually becoming more attached to him, he’s stuck back in February when everything was new and unsure. I’m not questioning how I feel anymore, but I can’t stop doubting how he does.

And so, I cry. I pick fights. I stop in the middle of foreplay because my mind won’t shut off. I don’t return calls and I ignore emails. I attempt to go an entire day without a text message. I try to resort back to how I was before I fell for him, before I told him I loved him, before I started imaging visions of happily ever after with him. I try to convince myself that I want this, that we could really be something one day, that we could come out of this and he could see that I’m irreplaceable. I keep reminding myself that it’ is possible for love to bloom out of complication, that so many relationships have rusty beginnings, that he could very well end up changing his tune and be the man I crave.

I see the facts, I understand the reality of the relationship. Yet I’m stuck in dreamland, lingering on some hopeless prayer that Mr. Possibility still has possibility, that he’s still capable of releasing the past to build a future with me. That just because I fell in love with him before he fell in love with me, he could still feel all of those things I want him to. That if I can fall in love, can’t I fall out of love so someone else can fall in it?

Or am I waiting for pigs to fly and for hell to freeze over, spinning my tires on some dirty gravel road that leads to a bleak dead end that’ll only waste my gas and piss me off? I suppose we’ll have to wait for my give-a-damn to weaken to find out.