The Bird on the Subway

Without much warning at all, Spring has arrived in New York.

This season is so full of life: my favorite flower is in bloom, colorful raincoats and a bright spectrum are bursting from the back of makeshift-closets in makeshift-apartments, and the air just feels crisp. Even in the city, there is an undeniable freshness in the air, and as if New Yorkers are coming out of hibernation, everyone seems enlightened. Though it is a time of transition between the cold and the blistering hot, fellow inhabitants have been more inclined to make conversation about the changing temperatures, probably because weather is always an easy topic of interest to lead with or make meaningless conversation about. Nevertheless, I couldn’t be happier about the onset of a new season, apart from one thing this particular one brings:

Rain.

I’m lucky my hair is naturally pretty wavy if I let it air dry – but with the city humidity somehow doesn’t even compare to the sticky stench in the South, causing my locks to frizz and curl in embarrassing directions as soon as one drop hits the pavement. And then there are the careless cars and trucks that speed through intersections right past women like me who are silly enough to stand as close as possible to the other street before they cross it, causing splashes that actually drench you, unlike Carrie Bradshaw’s opening scene where she’s simply drizzled on.

But worse than the rest, the problem with a place already saturated with a high population is when the sky revels in rain, everyone thinks they need an umbrella. Even when it is merely misting, everyone will pay whatever they have to pay to find protection- what went for $3.50 will go for $10, and the merchants get excited to sell out when the clouds turn gray. So walking down the street, with or without a personal overhang becomes a nightmare of dodging and lifting, nodding to the person coming at you to see if they will go above or under, and praying you don’t lose an eye before heading underground.

Not rain’s greatest fan, I was more than happy to descend the subway steps into a passageway that would protect me from the soon-to-be-passerngers unsuccessfully managing their rain-only accessories. Standing near the doors, reading this week’s New York mag, I attempted to flatten my hair and stand somewhat tall for the ten stops uptown to my gym. Leaving Times Square, the indicating sound of doors closing and opening ended and as if I was driving the curvy roads in my hometown, I heard a bird chirping. The sweet song caught me off guard – I can’t remember the last time I could hear a feathery-friend’s lyrics– I looked up from reading and met the eye of a mid-aged woman sitting across from me. Her expression, much like mine was of stunned delight paired with frank confusion, and we both turned our ears toward the sound, where we noticed we were not the only ones who noticed this unfamiliar voice.

Before I had a moment to examine the cart, near the ceiling, a little wren flew past me. Everyone on the subway, except for those drowned by their iPods, noticed this unusual straphanger and watched it go. Aware I didn’t know the first thing about capturing a bird or luring it out of anything, much less a moving train, I sat still intently observing, and hoped someone would help free it. As we approached 50th street, a few red-line riders stopped people from getting in and within a few seconds that felt like hours, the wren discovered an opening and made its escape.

It was difficult to go back to reading about Wall Street after semi-meeting the wren – as MTA doesn’t usually allow birds to have Metro cards. Because it was so unexpected, yet such a lovely thing to behold, I found myself identifying with the bird on the subway. This sounds as crazy to me to type as it does for you to read, but like a fish out of water, a bird in a subway just doesn’t quite go with the status quo or nature’s way.

And while I’ve finally mastered the transit system without having to Google (much) and I’m able to get recommendations to restaurants and unknown gems I’ve actually been entertained at (a few anyways), a lot of the time, I feel like a bird in the subway – still unsure of how this city is growing on me. I have friends who have been here for a handful of years, some who have never known any other address, and a couple who are ready to leave – and they each remind me that I’ll come to learn things about this place the longer I’m here. I’m told I’ll be jaded, I’ll discover why New York is notorious for its difficult mating , eh – I mean dating scene, I’ll figure out the parts to avoid, and I’ll stop doing things in the Southern tradition or with the same uninhabited optimism that I still mainly lead my life with.

I do get asked for directions on the street, but I wouldn’t say I look the part of a New Yorker, and I know I don’t play it. My friend and co-worker J, encourages me to buy more black every time we go shopping at lunch; my friend E’s famous words are “wait until you’ve been here five years, then we’ll talk“; and my friend K continues to amaze me with her endless knowledge and experiences of dining and dating – both things I’m discovering I have a lot to learn about. Manhattan isn’t on a pedestal anymore – it is a real, physical place, that feels much more like home than North Carolina – though I’ve always thought the term “home” consists of where the people you love the most are. Luckily for me, I follow e.e. cumming’s advice and I carry all the hearts I need in my own heart, so I can make a home anywhere.

And this city is home but maybe it hasn’t made a home with me yet. Maybe it’s still letting me fly through the carts, discovering what I can, determining which stop is my stop, and finding my way out of places that don’t suit me – with a little assistance from those who can open doors I can’t. Maybe time isn’t a measure of adapting or accepting where you are in your life, emotionally or determined by the U.S. Census, but sometimes it takes a few rainfalls to free yourself from all that was holding you back, and sing your own sweet song on the streets.

And not politely as a Southerner would do, but at whatever pitch and tempo you preferred, at whatever hour of the night, regardless of who was or wasn’t watching, like a New Yorker who’s more concerned with the stride of the city than those who think she’s out-of-place. When in fact, she’s exactly where she needs to be…for now.

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Thank You, Mr. Wrong

As it usually is on Monday mornings, yesterday the downtown train to Chelsea was packed. I’m one to stand near the door and let others grab a seat, a gracious tactic that usually results in a quicker exit and entrance. This quarter past eight in the morning decision landed me squished between an elderly man reading The Times and a pair of matching tourists, complete with fanny packs and “I love NY” shirts and all.

Nearing my stop, my cart started to disperse and as I turned to catch a spot closest to the parting doors, I caught a whiff of an old familiar smell. Unable to keep myself from turning away, I subtly followed the scent to find the trail. A few mini steps clockwise, I came face-to-face with a 15-year-old with shouting headphones, who was not amused by how uncomfortably close I was to his sideways-cap.

Embarrassed, I grinned at him (he didn’t return one to me) and left the subway quickly as I couldn’t keep my head from buzzing with memories Axe Deodorant Spray. Scent is, after all, the strongest sense tied to memory, and for me, that scent will never represent anything or anyone but Mr. Faithful. My very first boyfriend, my puppy love, the man whose heart I shattered, and the dude who I lost my virginity to.

And that same fragrance takes me back to all of those things – laying with belly buttons touching as I wondered if sex would get better; if he was the man I would marry, if I would be the one who ended up with her high school sweetheart; if this was what real love felt like; if I would ever meet anyone I felt as strongly about. If it got better than this.

But if I could have reassured  my 15-year-old self about how much I had to look forward to and how much love I was actually capable of giving and receiving, I would have never worried. I would have enjoyed those moments of innocence, toes dipping into the warm lake at twilight, gleaming into the eyes of a guy, who three years later, would be far removed from my life.

Because in those hot summer nights and the cold winter evenings we spent together as two kids, feeling what we thought was love for the first time –we were each other’s right person. If you would have asked me a few months into our relationship – maybe up to the first year, even – I would have told you I’d go the rest of my life smelling that Axe spray every morning and be perfectly content.

Or when Mr. Fire introduced me to gnocchi – something that always reminds me of him when I see it at the grocery store – in his tiny kitchen in our tiny college town. Dancing  (and sliding) in our socks to Dave Matthews, laughing, sipping wine we were too young to buy, and our hearts racing in anticipation of the love we hadn’t made yet. With those wild eyes that always seemed to get me – he rubbed his nose against mine, scooped me into his arms, spun me around, and dipped me toward the ground, playfully asking: “Do you trust me?” In that instant – I would have proclaimed to the whole world I would trust him with my everything, would have given him anything, and would have said whatever I needed to say to stay in his grasp forever.

In thinking about this ever-elusive Mr. Right character – I’ve thought about all the guys who didn’t fit the bill. All of the ones I loved or the dudes he didn’t fall for me as fiercely as I intended them too, and all of the suckers in between.

Because while Mr. Curls, Mr. Faithful, Mr. Fling, Mr. Idea, Mr. Disappear, Mr. Unavailable, and Mr. Rebound all have names specific to my experience with them – their ultimate titles are all the same: Mr. Wrong. Even if at one time, they had the opportunity be Mr. Right or were Mr. Right Now when they stood by my side.

I’m not convinced there is only one right companion for every person, but I do think it’s important to remember the guys who weren’t right. The Mr. Wrongs, after all, will never be completely gone – because if they were, then what would have we gained from their love – or lack of? Would we be able to understand what works for us and what doesn’t? What it takes for someone to be what we need and what will never measure up to fulfill us?

How can we know when it’s right if we don’t know what it feels like when it’s not?

The Mr. Wrongs ended up not to be the men I decided to lead with, but they all served their purpose. I’ve learned the lessons I’ve decided they’ve taught me and with all of them, I’ve released the “what could have been” thoughts that always attach themselves when love goes astray. I’m not interested in rekindling any flame that’s burnt out, bur rather excited about what’s next.

Because if history truly does repeat itself, then I’m lucky. I’m blessed to be strong enough to overcome heartache, to choose what I need over what I want, and to be loved by a few incredible men. And though at the time, I didn’t always realize what was waiting for me is better than what I’ve felt before – I know it now. And without dating, loving, losing, and leaving the Mr. Wrongs, I would never have the confidence that a Mr. Right – or maybe a few Mr. Rights – await for me in the days, the months, and the years to come.

It is sometimes those unanswered prayers that are answered against what we thought we longed for, those memories that were once bittersweet but are not just fond, and those men who were right at one time – that teach us more than the one who ends up being right, right now. They may have broken our hearts or steered us in the wrong direction or we could have stepped all over them on the way to our own happiness and personal gains – but without them, we wouldn’t be one step closer to finding the love that doesn’t bite the dust.

So, thank you Mr. Wrongs – for a lot of things, but mainly, for being wrong.

How Sweet It Is

After my company put on an event giving entrepreneurs opportunities to grow global, J and I headed to a wine store two blocks over to find some international Merlot-inspired strategies of our own.

As we listened to the sommelier, in his terribly cliché French accent, black-rimmed glasses, and v-neck cardigan explain to us the history of vineyards in lands we’ve never heard of, J and I shared a knowing smile that though we may never be well-versed in the language of vino, we can at the very least, pretend. Once we decided on a 2006 edition of something “surprisingly infused with cherry and lime in an exquisite fashion“, we stood waiting at gift wrap. Easily distracted by decorations, a smile curved its way across J’s chiseled chin and he said, “Give your sweetie a treatie!” and nodded toward a leftover Valentine’s Day sign.

Still dressed in my pencil skirt and white-billowing blouse, I tousled my hair seductively and sarcastically and asked, “What treat will you be buying me then, J?” Unable to hide the half-British, half-New York accent he pulls off so well, he quickly responded, “You’re not my sweetie, darling.”

Without missing a beat, I rose to my tiptoes (even in my four-inch Carlos), and beamed: “I’m not anyone’s sweetie!” Confused, J raised an eyebrow at me, shook his head probably thinking “silly American” and looked back to his iPhone. As he fervently put the touch-screen to the test, I glanced back at the sign and stole away a smile, just for me. And I remembered.

In college, when I felt stranded by the mountains that encircled the campus and the snow would fall taller than the top of my highest boots -I would lay on my couch, afghan carelessly laying across me and just stare out the window. I would imagine the two arms I wanted – I needed – so badly to keep me warm. To make me feel like I wasn’t alone. To wrap their body so tightly around me that I would never doubt that love, no matter how difficult or seemingly unattainable, was possible for someone like me. Someone who had yet to feel successful in any relationship or love she’d found thus far.

That longing, that thirst – carried its way to New York when I first moved – especially since my mother’s prophecy that I’d meet the man I’d marry the second I took my first step at JFK. While my career aspirations had gone as planned, the romantic component of my city fairytale didn’t resemble Cinderella in any way. Well, except maybe for the shoes.

For the longest time, regardless of where I was, who I was or was not with, or what was changing or remaining stagnant in my life – I hungered for a man. For a magical person who would take away that sting, that fear, that something that brought me so much trouble, so much physically emotional emptiness. For someone to be more than something – but everything to me. If they could take away any insecurity about my future – romantically inclined and all else – then I need not worry about it. If I had them, didn’t I have everything I would ever need?

But now, instead of looking for a sweetie to give me treatie – I’d rather have a sweetie who is my treatie. Not the my full source of healthiness or my daily dose that keeps me going or the main ingredient of my internal caloric intake – but just a special something I treat myself to. The icing on the cake, but not the concoction it took to make the dough rise. One of the sweeter parts of my afternoon, but not the thing that’ll make or break my day, my diet, or my spirit.

Isn’t that how a relationship should be, anyways? Isn’t that why we all see love as this incredibly desirable and often indescribable feeling (or choice, depending on what you believe) that brings this added glow, sweetness to our lives? Wouldn’t that passion, that certain comfort, that something incredibly beautiful, be best as something we look forward to? Instead of something that we’ve gotta have to survive?

Doesn’t a treat taste the best when we save it for something special? Or should I say someone special? And while that added spice or sugary-goodness that may or may not be good for us will be an added pleasure in our life – we have to also know the sweetest love of all is the one we’ve already found by mixing the right ingredients together to make us the irresistible women we are.

All of this time, all of those countless cold nights I spent wrapped up in an idea of what a leading man would be. All of those tears wasted on those who never deserved my attention in the first place. All of the worries about a love I was terrified I’d never find. All of those strolls through the city that never lets me down and all of the pages of any and every diary I’ve ever owned, going on-and-on about this singular thing, singular stranger, who would take away that appetite for what I thought was the miracle nourishment to make my every ache and pain a distant memory. All of this time wishing I was someone’s honey, someone’s escape as much as they were mine. All of this time I have been forgetting the simplest thing of all that never fails to hit the right spot at the right time. Even in the middle of an overpriced wine store in Chelsea:

How sweet it is to be loved…by me.

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You May Meet a Tall, Dark Stranger

Right now, as I write this, and as you, whoever you are, reads this, a new life will take his/her first breath. Someone else will die. A woman will meet the man she will marry. Another woman in a courtroom will be face-to-face with the guy who attacked her many years ago. A child will finally take that first independent ride on their bicycle, without the training wheels. Some 16-year-old will look lovingly at their driver’s license. A middle-aged woman will pick at her gray hairs and analyze her wrinkles in a magnified mirror. Someone will say “I do.” Another couple will sign their divorce papers. A college graduate will land in New York. Someone else will leave the city in haste. A man will miss his train. A daughter will get the news her father has cancer. Someone will be given a few months to live. A man will witness a miracle. A woman will break her heel. Someone will be given their dream job. Two people will chat from across the world, while a couple will lay side-by-side with a world between them.

And then there’s me, sitting cross-legged in the middle of the downtown train, looking around at all of those around me, fascinated thinking of how quickly, how frequently life goes through highs and lows. And along the way, we see and sometimes meet people who shape the way we see the axis turn. I mean, who are these people I see everyday? The woman with the pretty coat and the red boots – what did she do this morning? The old man in the corner, reading his paper, looks so tired, why? The young, tall, attractive guy two seats down isn’t wearing a ring, but is he single? The teenage girl listening to her music so loudly I can hear it three-feet away, what is she struggling with?

Even though I do not know any of their names, here we are, connected, in this single moment because we decided to board the same train, at the same time, on this incredibly snowy Thursday morning. I’ll never say life is measured by the moments that take our breath away – but I will say sometimes, in the middle of an ordinary day, an unexpected revelation comes over you.

Like, how most every relationship is fleeting, but yet, sometimes the most significant of ones are merely based on a connection. And sometimes, a coincidence. It’s that realization – that as easily as someone can come into our life, they can simply, just leave. Just like the strangers on the train who I shared the same air with, held the same rail, smelled the same things, and then simply exited on my stop, completely forgetting their faces.

Maybe the reason a relationship is so scary and seems so necessary for happiness is because we know how easily it can just slip from our grasp. And so, finding the one person who we will never have to worry about leaving or losing a connection with, no matter what curve ball we’re thrown or diagnosis we’re given, becomes an endless search.

It’s like trying to find someone in a city of millions who you were intrigued by, but weren’t brave enough to ask their name. Where does one even begin? For a while, I’d say the bar, at the gym, taking a class you’re interested in, the park, or actually, at work – but with the knowledge that relationships are in fact, so fleeting, I think it’s more important to start with a connection you’ll never be able to fully break – the one that connects you to you.

Being sans-man is one thing, but when you feel like you’ve lost the essence of who you are – it’s time to stop looking around at the strangers, including the one you’ve become, and start realizing that people come and go, both lovers and friends, and before we can offer anything to anyone, even someone we’ve never met – we’ve got to offer the best we have to ourselves. If we get so lost looking for the handsome stranger we want to meet, we become darkened to who we are. Faces we’ll never see may surround us, but the worse thing we could ever be – are lost in our own reflections, relying on someone else to recognize us. Or a connection to bring us back to where we started. If this journey has taught me anything so far, it’s that the one person I can never give up on, never let go of, and never forget is me – and I simply can’t be a stranger to myself.

Because until (or if) we do meet this magical Number One man, every love, every spark, every could-be -is probably simply temporary. They are fleeting feelings that at times may seem so incredibly permanent we can’t stand to hold them. But, the ones that light us will pass, just like the ones that sought to destroy us. Much like the thoughts that come with being single, like “What if he isn’t out there?” or “Why can’t I just meet one decent man in this whole damn city?” or “Could I really be okay if I never got married?” Yet, when we do meet someone with possibility, gone are the worries of being stranded in our single boat, and a new set of question make their way to the shore: “Am I settling?” and “Could I really see him in the long run?” and “Is this how it is supposed to feel?” or maybe perhaps the worse of all, “What if he doesn’t feel the same way?”

But in between the ups and the downs, the yes’s and the no’s, the consistent and the inconsistent, the strangers I pass who turn into lovers, and the lovers who turn into strangers -I have to be secure enough to sit in the middle of a busy train, content with the knowledge that no matter how many avenues I have to cross, people who have to leave, or bumps I have to endure – I’ll still be just fine.

Before I know it, something or someone, or an ordinary moment will come along, and there life goes again  in its extraordinary splendor: forever, beautifully, changing, and preparing me for the next stop along the way. And on I will go, single and secure, ready for any fleeting (or maybe permanent) tall, dark, stranger I may pass.

This is My Stop

After living in the city for a while, there are certain tricks you seem to master when it comes to public transportation. As an avid train rider (buses kind of scare me), I’ve learned exactly which part of the track to wait at, so when I get off at my stop, I’ll be the closest to the exit. I’ve grown accustomed to standing, without holding the rails, unless I absolutely have to. If I’m lucky, I always try to sneak a seat at the edge of the bench for more room and to make it easier to weave through a crowd of people to leave.

And, like every New Yorker you’ll see passing time before their ride arrives, I stare down the tracks, waiting impatiently for the train. Somehow, we’re all convinced that if we keep glaring down the dark passageway as we pace in our little areas or bravely lean up against something we probably shouldn’t – not only a train, but our train, will appear faster. Some people, who are far less afraid of falling than I am, basically project themselves to the very edge, just hoping to see a glimpse of the headlights. I’m not sure why this is necessary but no matter how long between swiping my Metro and stepping off the platform, I spend the majority of the time just gazing down the tracks.

Admitting the nature of my wrongs – I must confess that though I’m meant to be a leading lady, I’ve mostly been a lady in waiting. A woman who though she had a good head on her shoulders, her feet planted confidently in the ground, and all of the hope in the world bursting inside of her – she still felt like she was waiting for the pieces to fall together. I was glaring down at my own darkness and emptiness, unsure of when the next great thing or life-altering adventure would come pick me up and take me to my final stop.

Really, I was waiting for my love train to arrive.

This attitude made me an active observer of my life, instead of a participant. Though I was alive, I was not living because I felt like something was missing. And that if only I could catch the sight of the one thing I thought would fulfill all of my desolation, then I’d see the light at the end of the tunnel. That even if I couldn’t actually see the man, if I could rest assured that he was in fact coming, I wouldn’t have to keep waiting for him to get here. I could sit down, relax, and know that within at least an hour, he’d be by my side, and I wouldn’t have to fear falling in love, or to the ground, because he’d be there, no matter what.

But now, as a woman who is less afraid to stand on the brink of tomorrow – I realize there is no need to wait. Haven’t I been more than capable of finding, boarding, riding, and exiting all of the many transitions I’ve experienced? Haven’t I enjoyed the company of myself and content from the buzzing streets of Manhattan? Haven’t I found joy in the laughter of my friends, the surge of inspiration that comes from simply seeing my own byline, or the bravery that blooms from taking chances you know you’d regret if you never did? And even though it is scary and it makes vulnerability necessary, haven’t I been secure enough to open myself up to possibilities and my own desires, regardless of the outcome?

Haven’t I been using my $100+ a month subway pass to ride the love train for a while now? I mean, don’t I love my life? And aren’t I learning to love myself? Haven’t I been at my own stop in my own life?  I’ve never needed a man to show me how to get myself from point A to point B – so why would I put on hold all of those things I want to do, places I want to see, and opportunities I want to take, for fear that if I do, I’ll miss the next train to happily ever after?

I don’t want to feel like I’m waiting for my ducks to be in a row, for a ring to be on my finger, for security to be in my heart because I can trust it with someone else – but instead, I want to celebrate the freedom I have to just be me. To simply, selfishly, live my life.

I want to go. I want to see the world. I want to move and run and travel and do. I want to speak Italian fluently. I want to have enough money to give it away. I want to volunteer for months. I want to learn to meditate. I want to go to a restaurant and not look at the prices before anything else. I want to take a cooking class. I want to take dance lessons. I want to have a foreign affair. I want to order an entire meal in another language. I want a puppy. I want French toast.  I want to go to JFK and ask where the next flight is going and hop on it. I want to own pretty things. I want my name to be recognizable to the women who think they are not good enough, pretty enough, or interesting enough to have a man. I want them to know they don’t need one. I want them to realize, from me, there is no need to worry, no need to hurry, but to just trust the process. I want them to trust themselves. I want the city to beat me up a couple times, just so I can come back and prove my honor. I want to fulfill all of those things on my bucket list. I want to move from this damn apartment. I want to go to some smoky jazz club and drink champagne. I want to stand on the top of a mountain hundreds of thousands of miles away. I want so much more than I ever thought I wanted.

I want more than simply what the presence, the arrival, of a man can give me. And I know now that I don’t need to anticipate him or prepare for him to come into my life. I can and what’s more, I want, to do so many things…utterly on my own.

Because we all know, somewhere in the deepest corners and hidden crevices of our hearts, that our train will eventually come. Even when it is 3 in the morning and we’ve been waiting for thirty minutes, and our patience is growing weary – when we are busy focusing on other things and least expect it, we see the lights reflecting against the tracks, and feel the relief come over us.

And sometimes, that train happens to be a local one, when we need the express. Or it is going uptown, instead of downtown. Or maybe it is even out of service and passes our stop completely, and we glare at it as it disappears into the night. Nevertheless, we remember, that when in doubt, when we’re exhausted of the lingering, if we need to or if we just want to, we can forget about the next arrival, go above ground, throw our hand in the air, hail a cab, and go wherever we want.

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Baby on the B Train

Yesterday morning, I was completely hung-over on my way to work (hey, we had our Small Business Awards, I was allowed to be) and generally, not in a great mood. I didn’t get any sleep, the buckle on my red coat broke, my head hurt, and I was convinced my ass was looking a little wide in my new black sweater dress –isn’t that supposed to be a slimming color?

I always grab a paper on the way into the subway to read on my ride and as I was turning to page two, I heard the cutest laugh known to man. I looked up and saw a little girl (whom I later learned is named Olivia) bouncing in her stroller as her mother and father smiled down at her.

She looked over to me and giggled and waved, and of course, like any other woman, I waved and giggled back. I was admiring how insanely adorable she was –when suddenly, she looked at her mom and just burst into tears. And then she was screaming and attempting to get out of her stroller. The whole train was watching and her little face turned bright, bright red.

I instantly felt awful for her and felt the need to scoop her up, hold her close, and tell her that everything is going to be alright. Which is exactly what her mom did in one swift movement. Within a matter of seconds, Olivia was back to her beautiful, cooing-self, and was again baby-flirting at me.

For the rest of my train ride, Olivia and I waved and smiled and played peek-a-boo, along with other straphangers sitting near me. She watched me with her big brown eyes as she left the train, and once she was gone, it occurred to me how little we change from the time we’re babies until we’re adults.

I mean, every once in a while, don’t we all feel like bursting into tears in the middle of the subway (or anywhere, really) for no apparent reason, just because we want to?

And when we get ridiculously upset because it feels necessary at the time, don’t we want to get up from where we are, bury ourselves into someone (preferably handsome, tall, and strong) who will tell us that, “Baby, it’ll be okay. I love you.”

Isn’t that kind of why being a single gal is hard?

Say, hypothetically, I did burst into tears while riding from the Upper Upper West Side (Alright, Harlem, fine.) to Chelsea. And before I decided to let the floodgates open, I was just sittin’, smilin’, and gigglin’ at some cute stranger. What would happen?

I’d be considered crazy and someone, probably an older woman of sorts, would come and pat my back and tell me to calm down, that it’s alright, and ask me if I needed help. Someone might even throw some change at my boots.

But somehow, that kind of comfort doesn’t seem liberating. It doesn’t relieve the sadness or stop the tears –it just provides attention. What we really want is just to be held by someone we know loves us.

Part of being single is learning how to comfort yourself. It’s about learning how to stay strong, stay grounded, and have coping mechanisms that don’t involve a love interest. Sure, my friends receive ridiculous text messages randomly at all times of the day or night –but in general, I handle most of my emotions on my own.

What I want to be able to do is surrender all of those feelings: the wanting to cry, the feeling awful, feeling ugly, feeling disheartened, feeling discouraged, and feeling like my days of being a single will last forever. That I will never get my version of a darling little Olivia.

I hope my higher power can just take all of it away. Please, just take it away. Make it not as heavy on my heart and free me.

I can’t burst into tears on the middle of the B train. Just not a great idea.