A Year From Now

This morning while trying my best to move quickly — even though vacation starts tomorrow — my friend M sent me a screenshot of this day a year ago from the app, TimeHop.

It was a shot of the two of us at the beach, the first week of July 2012, burying each other in the sand while sipping on the mixed beverages we technically weren’t supposed to have on Long Beach. Our hair was wet and our bodies were freckled, and though so much has changed since then, I remember that day so vividly I could almost smell the ocean air.

It was during that time that I had successfully ended contact with Mr. P after six months of post-relationship sex I grew to regret. At that time, I had not spoken to him three months and had painfully ignored every text, voicemail and phone call. A week after that day at the beach, he emailed to say he was moving overseas for a year and could he please see me. Please take me to dinner. It would be another month before I would eventually give in and meet him at Bryant Park, followed by too much wine in the Flat Iron District. And dancing in Madison Square Park at midnight, on a work night. That would be the last time I saw him, looking out the window of the number one train, watching him walk away yet again.

It was at that time last year that I was desperately uncomfortable with my body and pushing myself to get back on a running schedule. I had gained weight and lost confidence in the aftermath of my breakup and the uptick of my responsibilities at work, and though I wanted to turn down a beer (or four), I found myself feeding my insecurities with fatty food and beverages. I couldn’t stand the sight of myself in a bikini or get enough gumption to go up to a guy in a bar with my acne-prone skin and pudgy tummy. It would still be a month from that beach day, where sand covered my muffin top, before I’d pick up running again and another three before I finished my very first 5k in 28 minutes. A month after that, I’d go on Accutane and six months later, relish being makeup free and ten pounds lighter.

It was at that time that M and I were closer than we had ever been, roaming about town as single ladies on a mission for adventure, for intrigue, for some romance, for anything and everything that piqued our interest. It was at this time that we giggled on her couch in Sunnyside, Queens about who would meet someone first and how it would change or not change, shake or not startle our friendship. How we might miss this time being fun and fancy free. It would be another four months before M met her now boyfriend, another three before they moved in together in Brooklyn, and another two before they welcomed a dog into their home.

It was at that time that I had just gone to a psychic that predicted I’d meet the man I would marry by the end of 2012, that I’d be on TV in 2013 and see a big (positive) shift in my bank accounts in 2014. It was at this time that I was starting to feel released from the past, or at least letting go of its bittersweet hold on me. It was at that time that I started to feel so incredibly settled in a city that doesn’t stop for any heartache, any setback, any stint if unemployment or any hesitation. It was at that time that I found myself building up everything I thought I could, and it was at that time that I started to dream about a year from then.

I imagined that by the first week in July of 2013, surely I would be completely over Mr. P and gladly, happily dating someone, if not the the someone. I hoped I’d be lucky enough to still be at my job, still loving the work, even if I sighed over the sweaty commute in the dead heat of summer. I thought that maybe I’d be writing this blog more often, but also wondered if it would be around at all, if something else other than my dating and personal life would take priority in my writing. I didn’t think I’d have a dog or a new apartment, but I smiled at the vision of a one bedroom all by myself and a baby pup to come home to.

I’m far away and closer to where I thought I’d be at this time in my life. I have everything together and managed and yet, feel like nothing is quite going as planned. I want to be madly in love and am slightly terrified of finding the right person and making it work for the rest of my life. I find myself on the verge of wanting to shift and move everything in my life and holding on tight to things just as they are, for fear that something new will turn everything upside down.

But none of that really matters.

Because while I can come up with plans and visions of where I think I’ll be a year from now, just like I did before, I know that whatever I conjure, whatever I put together in my head, will never be entirely correct or terribly incorrect. Honestly, there is only one thing for sure, one thing that the past year has taught me — and that’s that change is undeniable.

It’s unstoppable.

Men come and they go. Some stay. Others linger. Jobs grow with you and over you. Some you’ll grow out of. Sometimes the best decisions you make are spontaneous and somehow, bring you more joy than the ones you labor over. Friendships have to be given room to bloom and will never grow in shadows. Acceptance of yourself is the hardest battle you’ll ever fight, but the most important one. Remembering you’re not the only one who doesn’t have their um, s*** together is a hard lesson to learn, but it’s the one that’ll bring you the most peace. Giving yourself a break is easier said than done, but something that’ll help you sleep better at night. You’re never going to remain stationary because you’re far too interesting to be boring, to be the same, forever.

The truth is, I don’t know where I’ll be a year from now, but I do know that I will not be the same woman I am today. And instead of being afraid of changing and growing, loving and possibly losing, dreaming and maybe failing, I’m ready for the challenge. I’m excited to see just how much – and how very little – I know about the person I’ll be a year from now.

And whoever she is, whomever she turns into, I bet she’ll be pretty great. Because even with all the good and the bad of the past year, she’s somehow came out even better than she already was.

Love Me That Much

Today, sitting on the boardwalk at Long Beach with Mr. Possibility eating the unhealthiest lunch you could imagine (Italian ice, nachos and hot dogs with a side of Red Bull and Vitamin Water), I was so distracted by an elderly couple a few benches down, I hardly heard a word Mr. P said.

The couple, probably in their late 80s, wearing matching yellow polos and khaki pants ate chocolate ice cream cones while they watched the kiddos (yeah, us 20-somethings) frolic on the beach below. It appeared the woman wasn’t completely there, as a nurse aid sat feet from them, observing sorta-intently. But the couple talked, the woman laughed. The man looked at her with love in his wrinkled eyes. She smiled up at him. And ice cream dripped from her chin to nearly her knees, staining her Land’s End-inspired attire.

He didn’t notice at first and neither did the nurse (who was now engaged in an intense conversation on her cell phone in Spanish), but then he saw the destruction. He grabbed his own napkin and opened it to reveal the clean part inside and started rubbing her face before he realized he just didn’t have enough. He looked over at the concession stand and then at the nurse helplessly, probably thinking he couldn’t leave her alone but needed to get something to clean up the mess.

Maybe it’s my Southern manners or my tender heart that leads me to tears during Animal Shelter commercial with Sarah Mclahlan singing, but I instinctively stood up in the middle of Mr. Possibility going on about something (as he usually does) and ran to get a handful of cheap quality paper towels. By the time I reached them, the nurse had came to the rescue but without proper tools. She looked relieved when I showed up with my gift and thanked me profusely. I grinned at the couple and they returned the gesture to me.

“It’s good ice cream, isn’t it sweetie?” The man asked his wife. She nodded sweetly and looked up at me, maybe trying to find words, maybe  unsure of what was going on. I wished them a good day at the beach and the man labeled me a “kind young woman” as I walked away to rejoin Mr. Possibility and his miniature pile of nachos.

Though we enjoyed the rest of the day by the shore and now both have sunburns to show for it (apparently an Irish background doesn’t serve anyone well in the blistering sun), as we caught the LIRR back to Penn, I couldn’t get the image of those woman’s eyes out of my head. They were light blue and freckled with specs of green, just like mine. There were lines and ages spots lining her lashes like liner, but she still breathed an air of youth and naivety. She was beautiful in a way someone can only be beautiful once they’ve loved a lot, lost a lot and have found a peace within themselves and their lives. It’s not a beauty I’ll ever claim, but maybe some 20-something will see that same luster in me one day.

Looking over at Mr. Possibility as he reads his second book of the summer, holding his bookmark (a picture of us) in his hand, I thought about age. Could I love someone through decades of trials? Through career and baby bumps, mortgages and struggles, carpooling and soccer games, ballet lessons and retirement funds? When they start to lose their hair or when it turns nearly all gray instead of wisdom-inducing highlights? When their belly competes with Santa’s, when sex isn’t as passionate or frequent, when illnesses strike, when miscarriages happen, when kids grow and then leave, when houses rot and things and people fall apart?

And will someone love me that much?

To sit by me on a bench as chocolate ice cream dribbles down me and still want to take care of me? To protect me and stand by me, no matter how many wrinkles I sport or when the time comes that my boobs rest near my knees? To see me through menopause and the battle to keep myself in one piece, as I’ve read in dozens of magazine is something that’s difficult with a house full of kids and a husband who needs more attention. To support my career and support me if it doesn’t go exactly as planned – or if it does, to not be intimidated by my success? To hold my hand when I feel unsteady and one day, when I need it to even walk? Will someone see through the age and still be able to picture the same face they fell for when I was 20 or 30-something, full of vitality and courage, unbothered by the world and uninterested in its damnations?

I don’t know the story behind that couple. I don’t know if their romance was fiery and complicated, or if they were high school sweethearts or letter writers from some war. I don’t know if they have children or if those children have children. I don’t know where they’re from or why they decided to sit on Long Beach on a Friday afternoon, right before the clouds encompassed the never-ending blue sky.

But I do know that regardless of where my life takes me, how many magazines I write for, how many loves I have, or how many days I spend at the beach, listening to the sound of the ocean and feeling the sand crinkle between my toes, one day many, many moons from now, I hope to be standing by the side of a man who would rather eat ice cream with me and think about all the love we have and the memories we’ve created – like the time I showered myself in a chocolatey mess – than be anywhere else in the world.

Daily Gratitude: I’m thankful for those Louie Armstrong moments that just keep coming. 

The Next Heat Wave

I’ve been eating my words lately. Or rather, sweating them.

Compared to last summer, I was convinced in late June that 2011 would be different. I would barely use my air conditioner, though Mr. Possibility so lovingly installed it for me at the end of May, promising me I would need it sooner than what I thought I would. Let’s hope he doesn’t read this post because I hate to admit when he’s right.

The second I leave the cool air into the 90-degree heat, my body starts to melt. I sweat in places I didn’t know I could sweat and I can feel droplets of stickiness slide down me continuously. The ten blocks I would have walked now seem like 20 and I decide to take the train instead. I not-so-smoothly double-back in front of stores with their industrial size AC units blaring because that shot of cool air gives even a powerful orgasm a run for it’s power. Anything in my purse – from my NY Mag to copies of my resume – serve as a makeshift fan, and though it may make me rather ridiculous and cheesy, I’ve considered getting one of those battery-operated on-the-go fans to lower my body temperature while waiting for the train. My clothes can’t come off faster once I reach the frigidness of my room in my Upper West apartment, and I hope the tenants who can see into my windows don’t mind me standing butt naked, still wearing my heels, downing water, and worshiping my air conditioning. I still stand proud and hold true to the fact that it was the best $140 investment of my life.

With a few weeks left in July and just a handful of months until my birthday, I can feel this blog’s expiration date coming to a close. As I move to Step 10, sweaty and uncertain, a few pounds lighter, a million lessons stronger, one boyfriend and a dozen of wonderful new best friends richer, and one bank account that’s dwindling as it should smack-dab in the middle of my 20’s, I can’t help but think about what’s next. What comes after Confessions of a Love Addict? I’ve already decided the journey to loving oneself is never-ending, so though this blog and it’s daily writing commitment will end, the commitment I’ve made to myself and to my life only grows. I only tighten my grip so I can loosen the boundaries I’ve had on myself for so long. I vow to love myself without regard to wedding bands, love songs and sentiments, or any Mr. Possibility that may enrich (and beautifully complicate) my life.

What’s the next heat wave I’ll experience? What will be the next turning point? The last one found me naked in a Victorian tub, crying about a guy who was never mine, and realizing I was acting far more insecure than I really was and letting a parade of penises steer my life instead of claiming myself as a woman, as a person. And so this blog was born and this incredible journey that’s taken me to many places, most of which I never anticipated.

So what words will sweat out of me next? Where do you go after you decide to love yourself? To accept yourself? To always ask for more and demand the best – out of your friends, your love, and yourself?

Tell me readers – what’s next for Love Addict?

Daily Gratitude: I’m thankful for this blog, even if writing every single day sometimes gets the best of me. 

Can’t Put Your Life on Hold

Today, in the company of those I love the most, my friend J and I are hosting a Bubble Q on my rooftop.

A Bubble Q, for those of you who are not Southern bred, is a get-together of sorts, where the hosts provide champagne and a few dishes and their guests bring a Southern dish (i.e. fried and bad for you) or alcohol of their choosing. Then of course, all are encouraged to dress in their best Lacoste polos, dresses cinched at the waist, pearls, and boat shoes, as well as clap and dance to the best of today and of country music at its finest. If such a genre could be fine, that is.

J and I have been planning this for months -ever since a drunken bar hope in West Village where we happened to run into SJP and nearly lost our breath – and I couldn’t be more excited. Although J is British, he loves all things the South produces (me included) and he has a certain affinity for baked Mac N’ Cheese and the drawl only possible  past the Mason-Dixon line. We’ve been friends for over a year now and though we bicker like a married couple, he’s become one of my closest confidants and someone who no matter what, always seems to come up with the right thing to say. He also keeps my best interest at heart, so much that last week when I received some bad news affecting my bank account, he sweetly offered to cancel the Bubble Q.

I considered it. I’m now managing my money closer than before, watching what I spend and recreating new concoctions based on Ramen and cheese. If we’re being honest, it probably makes a lot of sense to postpone an event that while it doesn’t cost that much between two hosts, it’s still unnecessary expenses when expenses are already plentiful. I could save the funds and then put on a better Bubble Q in a few months when things settle down, when I’m more stable, when I feel more confident financially.

But then my mom in her endless wisdom and Mr. Possibility in his kindness,  gave me the same simple advice: “You can’t put your life on hold.”

Even in times when nothing seems certain, where you face more challenges than opportunities, where you can literally feel yourself approaching an end, and you’re faced to prepare yourself for a beginning you can’t predict – you can’t just stop moving. You can’t pull away from all who love you, away from the things that make you happy. You don’t run because running is easy, you walk instead. You don’t leave all you had when you lose a part of it – you just keep moving, keep going, keeping living.

So, I’m not putting my life on hold. Instead, I’m raising a glass of bubbly, sportin’ my pearls, and bakin’ up a baked Mac N’ Cheese, y’all.

Daily Gratitude: Today, I’m thankful for the sweet friends I have who are always, always there for me. Even when someone gets pushed down the stairs, a lamp breaks, and all hell breaks loose. You are wonderful – each and every single one of you.

More Time With Me

It’s the second day of summer and I feel like a slacker. Those two words may seem to go hand-in-hand, but not for me – I had big plans for May through August. And now, I only have two months to make up for lost time.

Time I spent sitting in front of the computer writing this blog. Time I spent sleeping in because I crave the blissful sound of alarm-clock free wake-ups on the weekends. And time I spent sitting around with Mr. Possibility as he mulled over textbooks nearly as tall as me sans-heels, studying for a test he won’t know the results of until past my birthday, past the end of this blog.

It’s funny to me that even I’ve written a dozen articles about dating, vented each and every insignificantly significant detail about my personal life, and given advice to those in love-lemmas – and still, still, I can’t do what I tell other people to do. If asked, I’d always advise to make yourself a priority, to spend more nights a week in your own bed than in your boyfriend’s, and that nights with your girlfriends on the town are much more fun more times than not. I’d say to budget your time, put yourself first, and do your own damn laundry instead of lugging it across the river to his free washer and dryer to avoid the ever-disgusting communal Laundry Day scene.

And yet – with my piles growing consistently taller each day in the corner of my new bedroom, I’ve considered it. I’ve put off plans with my friends to make plans with Mr. P. I’ve gone against every dating rule I’ve read and ever adage I’ve endorsed. But that’s the thing about being a relationship blogger – especially one who called herself an “addict” – it’s hard to swallow your own words. It’s hard to listen when you’re in the situation, no matter how honest you may be with your readers.

With Mr. Possibility out-of-town last weekend, I finally was forced to look at my summer and my choices for what they are. Walking through the park with M (who has a great blog you should check out, I’m LT, if you’re curious), I thought out loud to her: “This is the first time I’ve laid out in Central Park all summer long.” She asked, surprised, “Really? I come all the time.” Maybe it was the green mini-rolling hills dotted with half-naked pale New Yorkers or the character of the park, but in that instance I realized it was time to make more time in my life…with me.

Overindulging myself in overanalyzing, I thought about why exactly I was deciding to spend so much of my moments outside of work with Mr. Possibility. I had invited him to happy hours with my friends, he went with me to North Carolina, his roommate is probably entirely sick of me at this point, and I haven’t spent as many nights as I thought I would in my new apartment -without him, anyway. Do I enjoy his company that much? Do we thrive off all those hours together? Is that what keeps us going?

No, it doesn’t. It causes petty arguments and makes things so comfortable that romance doesn’t have a chance to boil. I knew that going on, I still know that now – so what in the world was I thinking?

I think I was (and am) trying to integrate part of my life into our relationship: here are my friends, here is where I am from, here is what I think, here is what I need, here is how I sleep. And that’s not such a bad thing, in fact it’s rather normal – but it’s easy to get carried away. It’s easy to lose yourself…even on the way to loving yourself.

And so, with the request for a few nights off a week from being a girlfriend (well, you know, still exclusive but not tied to dinner plans or living together), I’m back on track to fulfill my summer to-do list. It includes, but is not limited to – a bubble-q (barbecue and champagne), a trip to Six Flags Jersey (yikes!), more Long Beach visits, sight seeing and bathing in Connecticut, a roaring-20s themed jazz fest, more Central Parking, more…life. More friend time. More time with me. More time to do what I set out to do – enjoy the time I have with me as much as the time I have with others. No matter how possibly wonderful that time can be.