The Plane Will Take Flight

There’s an old story about a person who wakes up to a blaring alarm clock, stubs his/her toe on the bedpost, runs into the chair haphazardly displaced in the middle of the living room, and steps into the shower, only to find the hot water is not-so-hot. And though this person has only been awake a matter of minutes, the rest of their day will follow in the same format: profanity hidden under deep, exhausted and frustrated sighs of angst.

And nothing about this 24-hour period will be rectifiable. Everything is unquestionably shot to hell and while it may be the only March 23, 2011 that will ever be, to me –damned it be.

 

I didn’t stub or bump into anything and the shower held up to its steamy standards – but I woke up yesterday in a panic, due to an odd dream. I won’t go into details because I’m still not sure what I think and the fact that my mind can conjure such ironic concepts and scenarios without my consciousness is rather freaky. Anyways – a moment before my cell phone attempted to wake me, I shot up in bed, eyes wide-open, and hoped I didn’t wake the possibility who was possibly still sleeping next to me.

Thirty minutes later at the unforgiving eighth hour, I rushed to catch the train and found myself appalled at the weather New York was entertaining. I mean, less than a week ago I had effortlessly eaten dinner outside in a wrap dress without a sweater and without pantyhose. But now, as I ascended from above ground to the underground metro maze, I watched the sleet, hail, and snow mix disappear out the window and thought the only word to describe the day’s conditions was disgusting.

Though work was at its normal, dependable pace, and the magazine’s press due date on Friday is quickly approaching, I didn’t find myself stressed. Something about working on a deadline actually gets me working harder than I normally do (probably why journalism is a great career for me), and when everyone else is buzzing with productivity, it makes it easier to stay focused.

However, as the hours passed, I noticed my downward mood. No matter how many positive things happened or how my soul felt a certain sense of happiness – I couldn’t shake an overwhelming feeling of sadness. You know – one of those emotions you can’t deny and derives from a place that makes everything else tender? Right in the pit of my gut and the center of my heart was a pang of awful ache that matched the weather stirring outside.

As I looked up the proper way to spell canceled (if you’re curious, it can have one “L” or two, it is a preference thing), I wondered what was wrong with me. I’m not expecting a visitor I never excitedly invite (unless I’m worried it won’t come, that is), tensions aren’t tight between me and anyone else, and while I haven’t slept as much as I’d like, I wasn’t exhausted.

So why the gloom and doom?

Concerned with my concerns, I first focused my thoughts and then listened to them. I went through my never-ending to-do list that is needed for work, the blog I needed to write that I had been putting off, the apartment that needed cleaning, the weekend plans that needed confirming, the bills that needed paying, and the groceries that needed buying. And the Mr. Possibility that needed me to stop by to see him off before he flies, yet again, overseas, for an unknown amount of time.

Oh, well then. Maybe that makes sense. Of course, the departure of a someone who is becoming something may cause a little distress, I thought. But what if I don’t want it to? What if it scares me to care?

I never intended for things to progress with Mr. Possibility and I – but they have. In one of those slow, easy, and far from simple ways that we all think we want, but when it happens, the picture doesn’t come out as great as the shot we had in our head. Or at least a little less sepia and black and white, and more daylight or without flash. The desire and unintentional intentions aside – I’ve found myself here. And it’s here that I find myself sappy on a Wednesday afternoon, waiting for the day to end so I can see a special someone off to the airport, while I sincerely hope for a flight delay.

Unwilling to admit that Mr. Possibility’s absence  would mean something to me, I powered through the rest of work, even crossing off some tasks I don’t enjoy doing to distract from my wave of longing. Sure enough, the clock struck six and off I was to Brooklyn, battling hail storms and tourists along the way.

When I burst into the door, I almost stumbled into his luggage, and he greeted me with a big smile before pulling me into his embrace. This move is signature of most men – making us disappear into their sometimes hairy and sometimes still stuck in preadolescence chest – and yet, when Mr. Possibility took me in, I felt something different.

I felt my heart sink.

At this point, I’m extremely frustrated that I’m upset, so I make a careful move to wiggle away and as I do so, lightning flashes and thunder makes an unforgiving entrance. Further annoyed the weather continues to mock my emotions on this particular day, I ask how I can help and head to the sink to rinse dishes (something I think I got from my mom, who cleans when she’s feeling uncomfortable or restless). After a few hours of talking about the trip, tying up loose ends, cleaning, and chatting away, Mr. Possibility insisted I at the very least, ride with him to the subway so I wouldn’t have to walk in the snow that was now highlighted across the sidewalks. Though I don’t appreciate being instructed, I picked high-heeled ankle boots as footwear, and didn’t want to ruin them. Or you know, slip and break my neck.

After finally saying our temporary good-bye, with my heart simmering, I stepped directly into a puddle that went well past the boots I was so concerned about damaging. In the slippery slush, I tiptoed to catch my ticket home, and like the person who stubbed their toe in the morning, I cursed in a way my grandmother would blush over.

It wasn’t until my nearly-hour commute back to the Upper West that I finally came to terms with the sadness I was battling all day. And those terms were far less complicated than what I was making them: I’m scared. Why was I worried about his new short or extended international stint? Like anyone would be, I was afraid of history repeating itself – and well, I like the dude, so of course, I’ll miss him. But more than that, after all this work to build a foundation of trust, I had stomped all over it, all day long. I had chosen to forgive him, my friends had decided to forgive me for giving him a second chance, and that was that. You can’t go back on forgiveness or you should have never granted it to begin with. And if his traveling leads to traveling in areas I’d rather not know about – then I’ll gladly accept the rightfully deserving title of fool.

Letting go of yesterday, learning to live (and love) yourself in today, and not being intimidated by a future single or with someone else means learning to take everything day-by-day. A bad day won’t repeat itself if you’re able to change your mindset before calling it a night. A great day may not be as bright the following day, just like love may not always be as close as it was a few hours earlier. But we can’t pray for those flight delays or for time to stop moving in its unexplainable way that somehow always translates into sense at the end of it.

Because the planes will arrive and they will take flight, along with the wintry weather that’ll yield to spring, and distance that will grow and test the possibility of something with great possibility.

 

 

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Making It is Living It

Somehow, no matter how old I get or how diligently the city attempts to jade me – the simplest pleasures of life still outweigh the bad. Like yesterday morning when I took one step out of my brownstone and felt the soft snowflakes land on my face, and for the first time in a very long time, I remembered how carefree I used to feel.

The part of North Carolina I’m from was rarely blessed with snow days, and I can remember attempting to fall asleep as quickly as possible, and waking up incredibly early – just to see if maybe, just maybe, the weatherman was right. And of course, to determine if I was free from school for a day and could spend an afternoon sledding down the bumpy hill in our backyard, followed by my mother’s hot cocoa and my father’s chicken noodle soup.

It wasn’t until college that I really experienced what a blizzard could be like and if I’m honest, going to school at Appalachian State was probably a brilliant idea, for many reasons, but one huge one: to prepare me for cold winters in New York. Though it was surprising to have any classes cancelled because you knew what you were getting into when you signed your tuition check, but when we did – my friends and I tucked ourselves away in our apartments, watching America’s Next Top Model marathons, sipping on mimosas, and strategically putting off any homework. One of these monumential snows, Mr. Idea and I were snowed in, and though it sounds like I’m an old man exaggerating – we literally had to walk a mile to the nearest grocery store so we could eat for the week. He let me borrow his thick socks and pants that were way too big on me, so I wouldn’t freeze to death, and in return, I agreed to make his favorite cake. See, give-and-take, right?

But in Manhattan, having a get-out-of-work for free day doesn’t happen very often. To be a New Yorker, you must adapt the Postal Service mentality too – rain or shine, sleet or snow, we will arrive at the office at nine, frozen and already dying to go, yet making our boss the dough! With my high-heeled boots (yes, even in this weather), layered sweater dress, tights, gloves, scarf, and earmuffs – I walked a little slower to the train to enjoy the snow. I felt the incredible desire to spread my arms wide, raise my face to meet the cloudy sky, stick out my tongue, and let the flakes fall against me. I considered it for a moment, but then remembered my age, and decided I could just happily smile before going underground.

As I watched the people hurrying to escape the snow and ice, I thought about how I’ve spend the majority of my life reaching for and rushing toward something. I have never been complacent, stationary, or satisfied with the idea of just “being.” In a way – I have to figure, while I’ve lived, I have also been waiting for the life I wanted to actually start. Between sledding and studying for finals -I somehow managed to stop experiencing the freedom life offers and started focusing on tomorrow, more than today. In such a short amount of time, my life, who I am, what I want, and how I perceive my future has completely changed. Sure, I’m the same lady at heart, but I have to wonder – did I ever really enjoy those moments of peace? Of rest? When the snow gave me every excuse to do nothing, and now the same snow doesn’t give me any leeway? There has always been an end-goal, a plan, an unattainable person, title, or place I wanted to make available to me. There has always been a belief that once I reached this certain thing – whatever it may be – that’s when I could breathe. That would be when I made it.

And yet, as a 20-something who is now working as an editor, propelling her career, residing in the city she’s always loved – have I actually stopped pursuing the next big thing? Perhaps I’ve let finding Mr. Charming fall to the wayside (currently, anyways), but aren’t I still going and going, without a true destination in sight?

Do I feel like I’ve made it? Or maybe a better question is – what does “making it” even mean?

Since moving to New York, actually landing a job, and figuring the rest out as a I go – I haven’t remained still. There have been afternoons where I admired the city and all of its beauty; evenings wrapped around Mr. Possibility; nights spent pouring out blogs posts because I just can’t stop writing (even if I wanted to); – but there have also be all-nighters spent reading about how I can be a better editor, a stronger writer, and a profitable blogger. Though I’m very happy and proud of the things I’ve been able to accomplish in a remarkably short amount of time – there is always more that I want. And I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad quality to have – I would much rather seek more and therefore give and receive more, than to never help anyone (including myself). But if the constant pursuit for who I hope to be becomes more powerful than who I am right now – then I’m missing what will probably be one of the most brilliant decades of my life.

If I don’t stop to smell the roses – or play in the snow- am I fearing that success or love won’t come, and therefore keeping myself from believing that everything is really, truly, on the right track?

One of my dearest friends, L, when I get upset about a disappointing dude, a setback in my career, or when everything I thought was steady, crumbles, she tells me: “Linds, you just fake it until you make it.” This is her kind way of letting me know that sometimes, even when we don’t feel like we’re doing the right thing or heading in the right direction, if we have faith that all is well and going according to a divine plan, one day, we’ll stumble across what we we’re looking for. Or across something we never thought we wanted, but turns out to be perfect for us.

What if we don’t ever actually feel like we can stop pushing for something more or reach the decision to do absolutely nothing? Maybe “making it” is an illusion to keep us shooting for those things, those people, those addresses, those vacations or those faces of children we’ve yet to meet. Maybe to make it, we must realize and accept, we never really will.

And if we can just rest assured that if we keep going, if we don’t surrender when the days are long and discouraging, if we don’t stop being our own biggest fan – then we can also realize that in the middle of our going and pushing, hustling and bustling – it really is okay to raise our pretty face up high, close our eyes, and embrace the serenity of the now.

A Single Girl Struggles (But Stands)

In New York, there are certain areas of the city that residents stay away from: mainly those ending in “square.” Near Macy’s and the Empire State Building at Madison Square, and with all the shining lights and smelly streets in Times Square, just to name two. Once you see certain things once, there is no need to return, unless you have a guest visiting who has never seen them– and then as a New Yorker (no matter how long you’ve actually lived here), you feel a moral obligation to show them the sights.

While during the winter season, it could be argued Bryant Park is one of those areas to steer clear of with the Trump Ice Skating Rink and little shops – for me, it is a part of town that’ll always hold a special place in my heart.

Maybe it’s because it featured the many timeless houses of couture for decades during Fashion Week or because it is home to the New York Public Library, or maybe because I used to spend Tuesday afternoons listening to a children’s choir and drinking coffee from a local vendor – but Bryant Park, even when it’s crowded with tourists and shoppers, is absolutely beautiful.

As I usually do on Sundays, I spent a large portion of this past Sunday afternoon writing, applying to freelancing positions (base salary just doesn’t cut it!), and coming up with new ideas. It is a time of the week where my obligations are not pressing and I can take a breather to do what landed me in this city in the first place: dreaming. And so, I ventured to my park, set up shop in one of my favorite cafes, appropriately stole Wifi, and went to town.

Two hours, a chicken soup, and hot tea later, I gathered my laptop, bundled up and eagerly went to walk around the park, even if I had to brave the cold. As I crossed the street, prepared to get the same rush of energy I always do – I was hit with a wave of sadness.

You know, that feeling that makes your heart heavy, knocks the air out of you (and not because it’s less than 30 degrees), and you get this almost uncontrollable urge to burst into tears? I tried to brush the odd feeling aside and continue embracing one of my favorite Manhattan scenes, but after about five minutes, I couldn’t take it and knew that if I didn’t catch the train home, I would be that girl on the street, sobbing, and attracting unnecessary attention.

By the time I finally made it to the 100s and into my apartment, I sat down on my bed and let myself cry. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t expected, and it came without a reason. Once the weight lifted off my heart and I felt sturdy enough to stand, I gathered the pieces together and tried to figure out what the hell was wrong with me.

I couldn’t blame it on the menstrual menaces, it didn’t come from an old familiar longing to be with a man, it wasn’t the result of a bad fight with a friend or the loss of a loved one. Really, I had an incredible weekend and up until my Kate Spade boots touched upon the park, I was in a delightful, hopeful mood.

So what happened?

Unsure of what was going on with me and fighting the need to be weak, I escaped to the Internet to take my mind off of my unexplained breakdown – and there it was, waiting in my Gmail, the solution to my regression: an email from Mr. Possibility.

This message wasn’t a bad one, nor have we really repaired anything since he explored other possibilities. We still talk, we’re still friends, and I have no plans to cut him out of my life. But what I realized was – I hadn’t really let myself get upset about what happened.

Regardless if it was merited or not, if either of us wanted a relationship, commitment or exclusivity, or if I had a right to be sad– I was. However, because I am on this journey to standing up for myself, choosing myself before attempting to woo a man into the role of boyfriend, and letting go of these self-defeating thoughts, I thought I needed to be strong. Not just for me, but for the women (and men?) who were walking down this road with me, too.

But that’s the thing about paths, sometimes you need to sit down and rest, sometimes you step on a rock or twist your ankle, or you run out of momentum, and there you are, at a fork in the road, wondering which way is the best route to take. While tenacity and self-love may be the ultimate goal, knowing that it’s okay to be imperfect, to cry when you feel pain, and allow yourself to fall apart when you need it – are all steps along the way.

Maybe I hadn’t realized it at the time, but Bryant Park was part of one of our really memorable dates. He took me ice skating, which really involved waiting in line for an ungodly amount of time and then being nearly knocked down by speeding 12 year olds, while Mr. Possibility and I stood (yes, stood, not skated) in awe of how fast they could go. We laughed, held hands, and I watched his cheeks go from his normal Irish-inspired-white to rosy. It was right around this time that I realized he wasn’t just some guy I was seeing or some guy that would be fleeting from my life in a moment’s notice…but that maybe, just maybe, he was a possibility for something more someday.

I’m not quite sure what I think now, but I realized that by remaining tough in front of all of my friends and on the pages of this blog, I wasn’t being honest with myself. Sure, I’m not broken down. I’m not destroyed. I’m not eating chocolate chip cookie dough like its going out of style. I’m not throwing away everything he ever gave me or deleting emails or writing his name for the entire world to see (nor would I ever about anyone). I’m not beating myself up or blaming myself or thinking his curiosity is due to me.

But I am human.

And though I’m diligently working at finding serenity in my single self, I did meet someone who I could imagine a relationship with down the road. Even though I’ve made great strides in this journey and I did take a dive into unchartered waters, I ended up with most of my hopes drowned. Even though I’m not at a place where I want a relationship, I never wanted my trust to be broken before anything had time to blossom. Even though I never considered him my end-all-be-all and I approached the dating scene with a new-and-improved point of view, what could-be turned out to be something that’s currently-not.

Even though I picked me, he didn’t pick me. And for that Sunday, I let myself feel it, let it out, and let it go. Showing and experiencing weakness doesn’t mean the enthusiasm behind the “recovery” goes a few notches down, it just means that tears are sometimes the trail that leads to peace.

Plus, the best thing about being knocked down and falling (either to a heart break or in love), is that you get to be a single gal who stands up, dusts herself off, and struts her way towards something new, confident in the company of herself and knowing that at times she may stumble and she may plummet, but she will never stay down for long.

Thank you to everyone who submitted photos for my new page,Addicts Unite. If you’d like to submit a photo of you reading the blog with a link back to your blog/Twitter, please email Lindsay!

Stuck in a Love Snowglobe

The day after Christmas, in a land far, far away from the majesty that defines New York City, I found myself stuck in my childhood home, surrounded by almost a foot of snow. And worse than being annoyed, was the realization that I wasn’t getting anywhere until Tuesday.

If you can feel my deep, intense, loud, and heaving sigh from wherever you are – I wouldn’t be surprised.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I really did enjoy being home for ten days. It was nice to see familiar faces and do virtually nothing but eat, sleep, and be very merry. I had a very wonderful Christmas and was actually able to consume some solid food by the time we opened presents. And of course, receiving 30 beautiful Christmas tulips (my favorite) from Mr. Possibility was a very nice gesture. (And hey, they weren’t second-hand, but intended for me). But after so much downtime, relaxing, not working, having no obligations or responsibilities – not to mention not really spending any money at all – this woman is going quite stir-crazy. I’ve found many ways to pass my time indoors, from giving myself a pedicure and attempting to teach my six-year-old dog tricks to eating lots and lots of snow creme and cleaning out all sorts of things that I’ve had for way too long.

Nevertheless, there has been something about having absolutely nothing to do and no way to get out – that’s made me a little melancholy.

I’ve found myself lost in my own thoughts, dreaming up notions of tomorrow in my mind, feeling that all-too-familiar twang of sadness and desire for a love to call my own, and even despite my recovery efforts, something has made me revert back to some of my love addiction fantasies.

You know – the fairytale land we’ve all created: those images of how we believe our future hubby will look like (tall, charming, handsome, with blue eyes), what his future career will be (something he loves and makes a ton of money), what our house will be like (old with a history and made of brick), and how he will propose (in a symbolic way that will mean something to us). All of these visions, these beliefs, these hopes for how our future, our lives, and our loves will play out.

And man, oh man, do I have a ton. I even have a journal I refer to as my “Dream Book” and it has documented everything from my first dollar made, my date to prom, my college acceptance letter, my first pay stub from my first real job, and it also holds my aspirations, my bucket list, and keepsakes. Bridal magazine clippings, snapshots of couples in love – from the super young to the very old, catalogs from Bergdorf Goodman with items tagged I’d die to own, pictures of places all over the world that I hope to travel to, scraps of fabric, adorable babies in cute little outfits, and apartments that are so very, very lovely. And it also holds my life’s checklist: I’ve checked off graduating from high school, going to college on scholarship, graduating from college, moving to NYC, working for a magazine, and now, there are still several remaining items to “accomplish.”

However, those left, minus being a New York Times best-selling author, aren’t exactly attainable by merit or ambition – but rather, what I believe, are only possible with patience and well…time. But these must-haves for my future, these figments of my imagination that somehow have never left me – are sometimes, so painful to think about. And yet, so precious to me.

I keep them in a part of my heart that I don’t even go near most of the time, a section of my soul that is still vulnerable, still open and full of faith, and a part of my mind that even against its best judgement is a hopeless romantic to the core. They are under strict protection, hidden away in a box beneath my dresser, underneath piles of sheets and pillowcases, completely out of sight for any visitor, friend or Mr. Possibility who may enter my apartment.

And yet, even though they are stuck under glass, in a love snowglobe of sorts, I almost always allow myself to input the man of the hour, of the week, of the month – into these fantasies. I gaze up at this man, interjecting him into these ideas, and hoping, wondering, praying – that he’ll live up to these notions I’ve sketched. That he’ll help me check off a box, be seated next to me at our wedding in a photo I’ll stick on a page in the Dream Book I’ve had since I was 13, and be the answer to these late-night, pleas for love. But then, when it doesn’t work out, when he was never really meant to play the part of my Mr. Forever – there those romantic angles go, right back in the book, out of sight, out of mind, out of heart. Protected again, under the same imagination they were created by…until the next endearing candidate comes along.

Maybe it is being captured by the snow with way too much time on my hands or just the growth of this journey, but instead of dwelling in these blueprints I’ve outlined for tomorrow – I’ve decided it is time to shake up the love snowglobe.

To twist the dial and let the music play for however it’d like. To watch the snow and the glitter, the specs, and the debris fly all sorts of ways, and allow those plans and checklists to be a little less structured. To give not only myself, but my sacred Dream Book, some room to change and some room for new opportunities to come my way. To give my heart some lee-way and to let go of the rigid expectations I’ve made for my Prince Charming, so maybe when a possibility comes along, my imaginary projections don’t drown out the brilliance of who he really is.

Because being trapped in any way – where it be in snow or in visions of white wedding dresses and homes with finger-painting messes – isn’t a pleasure for anyone. Stuck in the same rut with the same idea and the same hopes….will never liberate the Dream Book from its title or allow the most wonderful dream of all, reality, to play its course.

Until We Meet Again

Yesterday morning, as I rolled (or dragged) my red suitcase up and down several flights of stairs on my way to the airport – I took a mini-trip back in time.

Almost a year ago now, I lugged this same suitcase (along with two additional ones) from North Carolina all the way to a friend’s couch in Brooklyn. I distinctively remember stepping out of the cab on my friend’s block and the March air hitting my face as if it was saying: “What the hell are you doing? Don’t you know you don’t have a job? Or a place to live for very long? Are you out of your mind?”

Maybe I was crazy (perhaps I still am) – but somehow, I found myself moving those same three suitcases into an apartment uptown and starting my first day at my job, three weeks later, on April 5. When I think of my journey to New York, I’m often dumbfounded by how, for whatever reason, by whatever twist of good fortune and faith, all that I wanted…happened.

The decision to move to the city wasn’t ever really a choice in the first place. I made my mind up a long time ago that I would live in New York (not a borough, but Manhattan), I would be a writer (magazine first, then an author), I would run in Central Park (except in the winter), and I would find the love of my life.

And I believe I have. If anything challenges me, brings me unsurpassed joy, makes me feel adored and lucky – it is the boisterous and beautiful island of Manhattan.

Leaving yesterday, I felt a sense of dread. Of guilt. Of sadness. Because here I was, leaving my love at such a special time of year. I could hear the city saying, “But Lindsay, don’t you still love me? Don’t you want to spend your Christmas here? Look at how much we’ve been through together, why are you going back to the South?”

Don’t get me wrong, I was excited to see my mother’s and father’s face light up when they see me walking towards them or celebrating the holidays with childhood friends. I could almost taste the sweet tea, the biscuits with honey, and the fried-is-fine-by-me seasoning. I was looking forward to having a puppy to keep me company at night, sleeping in until 10 in the morning, and of course – Christmas morning with those I enjoy the very most.

But as that airplane took off, as I watched the glittering skyline disappear behind the tailwind – it was as if I was abandoning a piece of my heart. While I didn’t tear up, I did sigh and dive into my New Yorker magazine which outlined 20 reasons why I should love New York. I did thoroughly enjoy the issue (as I do every year), and it inspired me to make a list of my own.

So, my dearest love, since I’m leaving you on your own for ten days, don’t forget just a handful of reasons why I adore thee:

1-     At any given moment, you can step outside of your office, onto the train, or just walk down the street and hear a few different languages.

2-     It harbors and caters to the artists, to the dreamers, to the crazies, and those who dare to light up the lives of others. The passionate and determined are the successful.

3-     While the single women may outnumber the single men, it is nearly impossible to not be bought a drink on a Friday night. Hmm – or really any night.

4-     I can go anywhere in the five boroughs for $2.25 (soon to be $2.50, sigh).

5-     Even though it has a bad rep, there is always someone there to open a door, help you carry something heavy, or hold the train or elevator door open for you.

6-     The moments on the train when you see another train on a different rail and catch the eye of a stranger – fully knowing you will probably never see them again, but in that second, you shared a moment that somehow, in a strange way, meant something.

7-     An entire afternoon can be spent in Central Park and there is never enough time to give any museum a justified tour.

8-     If you’re feeling down, upset, discouraged, or just frankly pissed off – walking through an un-crowded portion of the streets will energize you.

9-     Those moments where the city seems silent. And those where it is filled with so much enthusiasm you have to smile.

10- Heels are not only accepted, but highly encouraged and those fashions that were frowned upon in the south, are gladly gawked at here.

11- Heartbreak be damned – there are more than enough pastry, ice cream, cookie, and Gelato bakeries or cafes. Not to mention endless amounts of fantastic wine and interesting people to meet who will force you to forget about Mr. Yesterday.

12- Staring in the city is not only allowed, but supported. And the views, where they be characters or skylines, are beautiful and entertaining.

13- If you have a day where you stop believing in love, all you have to do is look around. There is kindness, compassion, and romance on every corner.

14- You can decide to be in your own little world with headphones and high heels or simply take them off and be welcomed back into the Manhattan universe.

15- The city forgives you if you curse it one minute and apologize the next. Doesn’t even ask why – it just gets it.

16- If ever in doubt, throw up a hand, get a cab, and go home.

17- Possibilities lurk even on buses coming to and from the airport.

18- There are a million and one resources to help you find not only friends, but people who have similar interests and passions that you do.

19- You can play tourist whenever you want and then decide they are the enemy the next morning.

20- After a while, or maybe just a short span, the lights, the wonder, the people, the food, the sights, the experiences – still feel just as magical, but even more so, they start to feel like home.

And that’s what it is. The love I always wished for, the address I used to doodle in my notebooks, the bylines I use to imagine – are not the dreams of a young girl anymore, but the reality of, the home for – a woman. Even better, a single woman, who has the freedom, the opportunity, the brilliance, and the bravery to tackle this location, this decade of being a 20-something – on her own.

Well, maybe not completely alone. This city will always be on my side, calling me ridiculous, yet sweetly reminding me: “You’ve got this, lady.

And just so you know, New York, I’ve got you, too. And I’ll be back – I may bring you a little sweet from the south to up your charm a notch. Until we meet again…

 

 

 

All I Want for Christmas is Me

There is something about this time of the year that makes everyone, young and old, near and far – want to be less of a “patridge in a pear tree” and rather one of two turtle doves. With less than 12 days left to Christmas – how’s a girl supposed to get through this season without wanting five gold rings (or just a diamond one), a kiss under the mistletoe, and someone to prove to us that really, every kiss does begin with Kay.

Since I started college, and freshman, sophomore, and junior year passed swiftly without a significant other to dote on me during the holiday season – Christmas has served as a nagging reminder that I was (and am) in fact, single. As my friends and their newly found college sweethearts would plan out trips to their respective hometowns (and now are married, by the way), and obsessively describe what they wanted and what they were getting their boyfriend – I silently wished they would all just shut up.

During breaks, I’d work at a retail store at the local mall and constantly watch couples cooing and smiling with their little shopping bags and hand-holding techniques that made me want to gag myself. And of course, at my Southern-inspired Christmas dinner, where at the ripe ol’ age of 20 – I was the strange one who was not only without a boyfriend, but also with no intentions of getting married right after graduation. Nope, I was the crazy misfit who wanted to move far, far away to a scary place called New York City and be a writer. Though they supported me, I’m not sure they ever quite understood.

But this year, this Christmas, this season, something in me is different. In fact – I hadn’t even noticed that I was single for the holidays until a dear friend of mine, K, sought my counsel and said “You know, it is just really hard to be single right now.”

Don’t get me wrong – I’ve been well aware that Christmas is quickly approaching. I’m flying home on Friday to spend some much-needed time with my family and long-lost friends whom I haven’t seen in ages. I’ve toured all the window-displays on Fifth Avenue both with my friend E, and Mr. Possibility. I had front-row tickets to watch the tree at Rockefeller Center light up with Mr. Unavailable. I saw the Rockettes in complete style and everlasting wonder with my friend J, and I’ve walked throughout the city admiring the lights and the peace that seems to come with this time of year. Mr. Possibility took me ice skating and we went to Macy’s to check off gifts on our shopping lists. Right this very second and for the last few weeks, my Pandora “Christmas” station has been getting quite the workout. And most important of all, when that first flake fluttered to the Manhattan ground, I was completely alone and completely in awe.

I’ve embraced Christmas, and without even knowing, I’ve been perfectly content without a boyfriend. I haven’t been putting myself down because for the fourth year in a row, one of my best friends, L, will be my date to our Christmas Eve dinner. I haven’t felt ashamed that I’ll reunite with my extended family and they will probably ask me when I’m getting married. I haven’t wished and hoped and dreamed of being proposed to on Christmas morning (as I used to carefully plan out in my head). I haven’t cursed the smitten couples or the newlyweds who are so excited to spend their very first Christmas together.

But for the longest time, this season was so difficult, so grueling, so sad, so disappointing – because isn’t Christmas or any type of holiday at this time of year – supposed to be about love? About celebrating miracles and hoping for all that is to come? Or trusting that even if you can’t see it, it is out there – waiting to come into your life and shower you with gifts not only under the tree, but also helping you hang ornaments on the top limb.

But really, aren’t all of those ideas applicable to being single? Even when we relate it more about being a pair?

That while we think meeting Mr. Right will be a miracle, the true amazement is that before him, we get this incredible time to just love and concentrate on ourselves. We hope to see our children’s faces light up and ask us about Santa and play with our hubby in the snow – but don’t we also hope that we don’t lose ourselves in a relationship, and that we continue to adore the person we’ll see staring back at us in the mirror, each and every day for the rest of our lives? That sometimes it is so tough to believe there is a light at the end of the single tunnel or a glimmer of positivity in truly, finding peace in being alone – but even if we can’t feel it, we know it is possible, we know it can be ours.

This anticipation of a man to enter, to make the holidays brighter and fuller, to give us little boxes with bows, and to love how we look in our red sweater dresses – tears us up inside. Because really, we fear it will never happen. But instead of doubting the process, doubting the fates, and even worse, doubting ourselves – we miss out on how magical and truly beautiful a Christmas can be without a man. How experiencing flickering lights, parties, and travel can be just as entertaining when we’re out of love.

I don’t feel like I’m waiting on something. I don’t feel like I’m missing something from Christmas or that the universe is depriving me of a companion to make the holidays bearable. But instead, I’m excited. I’m so ready to shout from the rooftops that I’m single and that I’m happy. That I have a life that I created, that the presents you see were bought by only me and my money. That while I’m not kissing under the mistletoe – I haven’t lost hope that one day I will. Besides, it isn’t the number one priority anymore – not at Christmas, not at New Year’s, not at all. Right now, in this moment, in the snow, in the lights– the only thing to focus on is myself and this journey. And I can say with confidence that I disagree with you, Mariah Carey – I don’t want you (whichever man that represents) for Christmas, but all I really want is me.

Tis Christmastime in the city, and my, oh, my is the weather frightful

…but the feeling I have inside is so delightful. It is a feeling of wholeness, of completeness, of security, of magic – that derives from the greatest blessing, the most thoughtful gift, and the most incredible miracle I could ever experience – and that’s celebrating self-love. Celebrating…me.

 

 

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.