Haunted.

You need to step it up.

This is something I’ve heard before. I’ve heard it across many aspects of my life in my almost-29 years and every time I hear it I already know it’s coming. Words like that aren’t surprise words; you don’t hear words like that without already knowing that you can do better than what you’re producing. When I heard them last week I was almost expecting to hear them, watching myself through the cloud of haze that engulfed me in that quarter moon. It doesn’t make them any easier to hear, expecting them, but it does mean I’d had time to prepare how exactly I’m going to meet and exceed that comment.

Step it up. Do more. Do better. Themes that permeate the life I create for myself; I push myself to do more constantly. Stay distracted. Falling into boredom isn’t an option I give myself anymore because when I’m not occupied with something then I’m engulfed in the past so completely that I can’t get out. This time last year we were planning Memorial Day, this time last year I was still reeling from my friends moving and he wouldn’t say three words, eight letters. But I can’t fall down that rabbit hole at all, and that’s why I stay distracted; the problem is I need to distract myself so heavily that I get stuck again, somewhere in the in-between, and as I try to stay distracted to get ahead, I end up falling behind. Step it up, L.

There’s a song by Lord Huron we all know from binge-watching 13 Reasons Why that I can’t stop listening to. I mean that figuratively, in that every time I turn my phone on I put that song on Spotify. And then I add it to my queue so I can listen to it twice more immediately, before moving on. Once I listened to it on repeat for 45 minutes straight and I loved every one of them. It feels personal, like songs are supposed to, and I can’t tell if I listen to it to help me heal or allow me stay hurt. “Take me back to the night we met,” he croons, and I’m instantly transported to dancing in sequin pants with a stranger who had never felt more familiar, refusing a kiss on the dance floor and then waking up in a tangle of bedsheets, hangover dulled by the sensation that something powerful had happened. “I had all and then most of you, some and now none of you.”

Step it up, L. It’s time to turn the song off and look forward; you can’t live in a moment alone anymore. Step it up, L, it’s time to shake off the layer of dust you’ve allowed to settle over your brain while you’ve been distracting the rest of yourself with work. Step it up, L, you can’t be the best if you don’t try your best. Dust off. Shake off. Move forward. Step it up. Step it up.

“I don’t know what I’m supposed to do, haunted by the ghost of you.”

Take me back. Or take me forward. I’m stuck in the cloud. I can’t step anywhere.

Right?

“It just takes time, right?”

G and I caught up this week for the first time in forever. Our love lives parallel in such interesting ways it’s almost uncanny, and when we do catch up, the conversations can be tough. We can’t pretend with each other; yeah, we’re both moving onwards and upwards with our lives, but there’s a rawness to everything, a tinge of regret for someone else’s choices and for thinking maybe this is the time it’s for Real. Last night we joked for a while about her queen petty skills and my latest crazy workout, but after a few minutes the conversation quieted somewhat. “Even if I did want to date him,” she told me about (a guy), “it wouldn’t be fair to him. I’m still not over (the ex), and I can’t really be with anyone till that happens.” I echoed her sentiments with half of my brain, because on a logical level I totally agree with her. The other half though? It’s a little more complicated.

What do you really do with love that’s gone from your life? Do you ever really get over an ex? Is it okay to move on at 75 percent instead of 100? There are always a lot of things on my mind but those occupy a bit more space lately. If I look back on the people I loved that way, mostly I appreciate them for their part in my story; I love the original two of them like you love a character from a novel but nothing more. I can’t remember the early days after our stories ended well enough to know how I was doing two months on, but I think I was doing better and worse than I’m doing now. Worse, because I never tried to reach out to the others to extend one more chance to be definitive, tell me to fuck off or tell me you miss me but stop pretending everything’s fine. And better, because I definitely know I’m exactly where I should be, and if that means moving on then so be it.

I suppose this is the part where I mention that there’s someone waiting for me. Someone kind and funny, and he understands my job and lifestyle and doesn’t push. He’s someone who is eager to support me and makes me feel sexy and wanted, and he’s waiting for me to say “okay.” Every time I see him my heart skips, he makes me laugh like I haven’t in a long time, but I can’t tell if that’s enough. Sometimes I want to say that word to him and other times I want to run, and I can’t find a balance between the two extremes, and he doesn’t seem to mind either one of my moods. And yet, other times I catch him staring at me when we’re on the subway or out to dinner like he’s studying me. “I am studying you,” he told me one day over takeout Thai on his couch, and he pushed a strand of purple hair from my forehead. “I want to know everything you’re hiding behind those big blue eyes.”

So here I am, literally living a dream, and there’s someone who wants to be there with me while I do it. And much as I’m not really wishing for things to go back to the way they were, I also don’t think I’m ready for them to change from where they are now. Right now I’m still okay being alone because part of me still hurts, and I’m also okay having someone that I can text and call after a long day knowing he’ll make me smile. I’m still navigating the early waters of this dream and I love all the changes but I need a break. Will I ever be at 100 percent? Do I even want to be at 100 percent? Will I ever get a definitive answer? Will I ever tell him “okay”? There are always a lot of things on my mind but those occupy a bit more space lately. It just takes time to figure them out.

Right?

The In-Between

“Breathe, L.”

My boss was quite literally holding me up as I couldn’t catch my breath, suspended upside down on a pull-up bar, trying to focus on keeping shoulders protracted, extended and engaged as hell and freaking out about this new maneuver. Skin the Cat, it’s called, and it looks cool but it’s scary as hell. I hadn’t done it before and I was super excited when my boss pushed me into trying it with his help. I’d wanted to try it for a while, and it was fun, the second and third time around. The first one though? I had to bail early and he had to give me a minute to take a deep breath, the aftershock of pure adrenaline and anxiety still coursing through me like a drug. I’d never been so terrified in a single moment. I’d never wanted to figure something out more.

Things are moving forward and the part of me that’s holding onto what’s missing is changing. It’s not necessarily going away or getting bigger, it’s just… evolving. I’m in limbo, the in-between, where I’m longing for what was but I wouldn’t change what is. I miss my old life, where I had weekends and someone to come home to, aside from the cat. I love my life exactly how it is, where I’m happiest working and home is the perfect, quiet sanctuary from everyone else’s energy, if only for a little while.

No part of me wonders what life would be like if I’d stayed in PR. The purpose I have in my life and myself now is so clear and straightforward it amazes me it took so long to find it. But when I think about what needed to change for this life to manifest, I find myself searching for the happy medium between where my life was and where it is. There is no happy medium though, because the happy part in the medium is the one thing I can’t change. And yet? I don’t know if I want it to change either. I want to move forward and move on, and in a lot of ways I’m doing exactly that. I also don’t want to move forward at all, because moving forward means letting go, and I’m not ready for that yet. Back to purgatory; back to the in-between.

Breathe, L. I gave Skin the Cat another go this week, and I took more time to focus on the breath, inhaling into the exhilaration and exhaling out anxiety, finding a moment of stillness to enjoy in between the two. Something I tell people who ask about meditating is to picture the inhale as the future, and the exhale as the past, and focus on finding that small pause between exhaling and inhaling – find the present, and stay there. Find the moment where you breathe into exhilaration and exhale anxiety. It’s the present, the in-between. It’s the middle ground between things that can’t coexist. That’s where I’m existing these days. I can’t change the past and I can’t predict the future. I’d make every decision exactly the same. I’m fucking terrified for what that means. I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready to make a choice to move forward or go back. So at least for now I’m going to exist in between. 

Out of Body

The scene: its Sunday night and the last of the hangover from the night before has faded, though that’s more due to the two beers that accompanied dinner rather than time. I see LB on a subway platform; she’s playing solitaire on her phone with an expression that looks like casual indifference to an outsider, but she’s hiding something. There’s a determination to her indifferent look, she’s trying just a little too hard to appear both casual and expressionless. She waits for the train patiently to take her from Brooklyn back home. Everything about her is patient and expressionless and collected. She is an unassuming stranger on a subway platform to everyone around her, except for me. 

I am standing in front of her on the pebbled yellow tiles like a rebel and I am screaming.

I am what she hides. I am the one she hides from. She suppresses everything into the black cavity in her chest and that is where I thrive; I am the part that feeds on every emotion and doesn’t let them fade away. I am standing on a subway platform and I am screaming, hysterical, my feet stomp and I remember how good it feels to collapse into myself and feel everything all at once. I am crying, hiccups puncture each sob and there are tears staining my good leggings and I don’t even notice. She keeps her eyes on her phone, methodically tapping the cards into place.

She doesn’t try to run from me, or beat me back into the dark place. She waits for the train patiently, and waits on the train patiently once it finally arrives. People around us are also methodically tapping phones, and there’s a general malaise to the energy, that heaviness that comes on a Sunday night. Neither she nor I know what that’s like anymore, that heavy sadness at the end of a weekend; we work every day and look forward to it even more. I stop screaming long enough to breathe into that space and shrink a little as I remember that the only reason I’m here is so we don’t ever feel that heavy energy for ourselves again. 

It’s a long train ride and by the time we get off in the Heights, I’m calmer. That black numbness that is my normal resting state starts to take over and I can feel us merging back into the LB that we’ve become these days. We stop wondering if he got the card that Friday and whether he’s really okay. The black hole where I emerge like a beast becomes a sanctuary for both of us; I can swim in her suppressed emotions and she can exist, and smile, and keep going.

We make it up the stairs and into the apartment, and take a deep breath into the comfort of home. I watch her put the keys away when they fall on the anchor doormat. She halts on the way down as the anchor reflects in her pupils, and before I can step in to save her she crumples onto that doormat again. I watch her breath, ragged and slow, and she counts to five with each exhale. She calls for me, looking for the sweet release of those screams she heard earlier, “come back,” she pleads. “I just need one hour. I just need 100 tears. I just need to feel and then you can go home.”

I enable. We cry. Tomorrow she’ll wake up, make breakfast and go to work and love every minute. But tonight we hold each other and we mourn. Just one hour. Maybe this time really will be the last one.

dreams, in real life.

At my second job this week, two of my favorite coworkers and I were up front, talking one of us through a dilemma; she wants to leave her second job to focus on this job and her acting career, but is having major guilt. “I wake up in the middle of the night with extreme anxiety that I’ll have a text from my boss,” she told us, “because every time I try to leave she pulls me back in and I can’t go.” We talked her through some advice, and I couldn’t help but smile thinking back to my days where I would look at my second phone and a hard knot would form in my stomach like a hairball. I remember the days of hating my job so much that the thought of reading an email after I left the office caused extreme panic and even anger, and I remember how liberating it was to walk away and vow that no job would make me feel like that ever again.

I haven’t talked much in specifics of the last six months of my life here, preferring instead to allude to changes and challenges until I could form coherent thoughts about where my life is headed. And things aren’t settled now, even a little bit, but they’re starting to make more and more sense. I have a better routine, and I have a clearer vision of who I want to be and how I’m going to get there. My days now are spent at the gym, pushing and learning and going going going until I physically can’t, and then I finish the week working at the store, where I’m connecting with amazing people from the fitness and fashion industry, people in the neighborhood, and I spend my life in workout clothes. This week I’ve been battling some kind of throat infection or other nonsense, and instead of waking up stoked I may get to take a sick day, I fought my boss tooth and nail and then almost cried when he insisted on sending me home early one afternoon so I could rest up.

This feeling, of without a doubt loving everything that I do, is a feeling I’ve been chasing my entire adult life. It’s the dream, right? To look forward to going to work every day, to find it easy to want to work harder and more and longer. I’m literally living in a dream right now and sometimes I think I need a pinch to remind myself it’s real. Unfortunately or fortunately that pinch is delivered to me every single day in multiple ways. When I wake up alone, when there’s no one to send a “Good morning!” text and no one to share my typical LB moments with, like whether I remember to put on deodorant or if I forgot my coffee at home (again). When I come home every night to the same apartment, just me and Little Miss, and when I go to sleep alone in my own bed, to wake up alone and do it again. I had wanted to spend more time in Washington Heights but this wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.

I wake up every morning loving where my life is taking me. I love my daily routine and I can’t wait for it to shift again as I move into new aspects of training and fitness. I can’t wait to get dressed and get started; I love that I spend my days in the West Village and I don’t have to fight anyone about binge-watching Golden Girls on Hulu when I get home. But in all the happy there’s a resounding theme that cuts through absolutely everything that I do: I miss you, I miss you, I miss you. The words are on backdrop to everything I see and do; I miss him, I miss us, I miss you. I am almost 100% totally fine in every sense of every word, except that little soundtrack I can’t turn off: I miss you. I miss us. I miss it all.

It’s so typical of life, it seems, that the happiest things coincide with the saddest. I’m living in a dream world on both ends, where I’m incandescently happy and also the saddest I’ve ever been. Perhaps that’s how we experience dreams in real life. When there’s no one around to pinch you when you’re waiting to wake up, life gives you a pinch that keeps on coming. I wouldn’t change a single thing in my life at all right now – not even the one thing that would switch the “I miss you” off for good. Because there’s so much behind the “I miss you” that I can’t put on a blog, not yet. But it’s enough for now to know that I haven’t had a pit of anxiety in my stomach like a hairball since I walked out of that office and that life for the last time, and even if it means missing him forever, I wouldn’t change a goddamn thing.

 

Collapse.

I collapsed as I walked into the door.

It was a familiar feeling but entirely different. The last time this happened, I fell to the ground in relief. Four years ago I laid on a different carpet, surrounded by white walls, and cried for sweet relief and mourning; there was a part of me that was changed forever but it was ready to move forward. This time I crumpled onto my anchor doormat before I could even get the door closed behind me, and I felt a part of me ripping apart. As I’m writing this I’m two very quick whiskeys deep, just enough to numb any sense of feeling so I can walk to bed and sleep before I realize what just happened.

I have missed blogging so much, but I haven’t been able to write anything. I’ve tried a few times in the past few weeks, but every time I started to write it felt wrong. The sunny picture on social media has had clouds for a while, and every time I started to write I couldn’t come up with words. Acknowledging the clouds made them feel too real. Not acknowledging them felt disingenuous. So I said nothing, waiting for things to make sense again, so sure that they would.

I can’t even write that much now, it seems. You see, I’m writing this just minutes after I collapsed as I walked into the door. Just minutes after I left the same fight and the same argument and just minutes after I realized something: I’ve already made the Worst Decision. I sat in a car tonight listening to the same fight and I realized I’d been here before. I’m not an adult I don’t think but I am also not 25 anymore. I know better than to repeat past mistakes.

Now I’m listening to Adele and I’m going to schedule this post to publish in the morning so I can sober up, both physically and emotionally. Except every time I start to sober up emotionally I need to de-sober physically, lest I feel the full force of what just happened. I can’t think straight right now and that’s probably a good thing. Otherwise I’d think about how everything just changed and it feels like my soul is ripping apart.

 

Journal Series: Intentions, Hopes, Wishes

Oh readers. If I could explain the last few months, across all aspects of my life, you wouldn’t believe me. The past week in particular has been especially different, to say the least.

I’ve been keeping journals since my teens, but the past 2 years in particular I’ve been almost religious about chronicling my life. After yoga, the journals became an outlet to follow the moon phases, and in particular, writing Intentions, Hopes and Wishes at the new moon. The hippie philosophy goes that intentions set at a new moon will manifest at the full moon six months later.

The past week, month, three months have been nothing but challenging. Tonight I wrote on the final page of a journal that took me 54 weeks to complete. It’s the close of a chapter, like when I set intentions in my Little Red Notebook the day before the night we met. Closing that notebook, the one that took me 7 years to fill, felt like an ending. Closing this one, that started 3 days after we met, feels like a beginning.

Last night was a full moon and the toughest of nights in a long time. I wrote tonight with a passion and a fervor and when I finally emerged enough to think clearly, I decided to see what my intentions were from six months ago. Just to see where these silly journaling habits got me. And that’s the entry below. The intentions and hopes and wishes that I set on July 5, 2016. They made me cry to read tonight. How strange to be comforted by your own words.

5 July 16

I’m a day late on intentions for the new moon. Today is my second Tuesday between jobs and it’s been a wonderfully weird few weeks.

A and I had our first fight this weekend. Typical, it happened after drinking and we hashed it out before falling asleep so details are fuzzy. It had been simmering all weekend though – his frustration at my optimism and my frustration at his pessimism. He drives me crazy sometimes and I couldn’t even kiss him because I have a stupid cold sore. Life is funny sometimes like that. Fortunately it turns out we fight like adults. We spent the fourth together doing nothing in his apartment and that was pretty wonderful.

I’m not sure what I’m hoping for come January. Or even in the next month. Hell, the next week. I’m so shocked 2016 is halfway over but when I look back at all that’s happened, it makes sense. I’m terrified, slightly, for what’s to come. The good terrified, I think. Changes this year have been so positive, if huge. I hope that continues. 

So here we go:


I INTEND:

  • To get my newsletter up and running
  • To teach at a Lululemon store!
  • To support A through all his health issues, even if/when he’s pessimistic

I HOPE:

  • A can use some of my optimism and we find him an awesome new hobby
  • [My last PR company] is the right decision for my PR/professional future
  • My injuries improve and/or I find out what’s causing the pain.

I WISH

  • More people come to my monthly classes!
  • A and I find the perfect apartment for us and Harlow to save money for a house
  • To spend the rest of my life with that perfect, pessimistic, hilarious, sweet, kind, funny, and handsome boyfriend I am blessed to have love me, and would be lucky to have love me for the rest of our days.

xo! LB

Circles

“Are we really having this conversation again.” 
“We’re just talking in circles.” 
“I feel like there’s something you want me to say but I’ve already said everything.” 

Life feels like it’s moving in the weirdest and most wonderful zigzagging pattern of growth and new beginnings. I don’t sleep more than 5 or 6 hours most nights. I’m constantly on the subway, running from the Heights to the Upper East to the Meatpacking to Queens and back. Half of the time I’m home for a stretch in the afternoon so I can food prep and make myself healthy meals, and the other half I’m scarfing down a Cliff bar and a seltzer after a long workout, hoping that sustains me for my three hours on the gym floor picking up 50lb dumbbells that the meatheads leave everywhere. Sometimes the thought of standing on my tired feet for 8-hour shifts at the store makes me want to cry. Sometimes the thought of working 7 days a week for the foreseeable future makes me want to cry harder.

But as stressful as everything is, the second I walk into the gym, and walk into the store, that all floats away. All of a sudden I remember how badly I wanted this, to be working my way from the bottom into something that I love. I start having fun, something I’m not used to at work. I’m excited to work and learn and the people I work with are concerned with following their own dreams and being happy, not stepping over each other to do better and make more. For literally the first time in my adult life I’m doing something that I love and I’m so happy when I’m doing it. Most of the time when I tell people about it they’re really excited for me. But their future isn’t directly connected to mine, and so they can be excited about the big picture without experiencing the little details.

The little details, like how I’m rarely home before 10 and usually am out the door by 4am. Details like how instead of feeling down because I’ve been staring at a computer screen all day I’m feeling sore because Barry’s Bootcamp with my coworkers just kicked my ass. And the little details like how talking about the future used to consist of “whens” instead of “ifs.”

Lately conversations are moving in circles. They start with normal topics, like “how was your day?” and “what’s the plan for tonight?” and they end with words like “I just need to get over it” instead of “I’m here for you.” When I think things are calming down I say something hoping for an adult conversation and it ends with me crying and refusing to speak, and then I feel awful because everyone feels awful. When you make a really big change, it affects everyone around you, and unfortunately how they react can permeate your opinions as well.

I don’t know. This whole post seems like circles. Something is upsetting me but there’s literally no way to make it better. It doesn’t feel any better to get it out on paper than it does to talk about it in circles again, but then again it does help to have it written out in front of me. Time should make it all better. It should. I hope it will.

A day in the (new) life

Monday morning. I’m up around 6:30-7am, my body clock was never good at the concept of “sleeping in” (or lately, “sleeping at all”). I wander to the kitchen to get the coffee started and mumble a sleepy hello to the other in the room. I stand and stretch up, good morning spine stretches and body wiggles to shake out the sleep from the night before. Coffee, breakfast, snuggles with my other and then I walk to my closet to pick out something for the day. I’ve had this routine for six plus years now, save for a few details, like the earlier alarm and the other there with me.

Outfit picked, I walk to the corner and pick up one of the rolled yoga mats, taking a minute to choose between the one I like because it’s big or the one I like because it’s better. I always choose the better one, the one that can handle my sweaty hands in the middle of sun salutations. I flow through a few stretches, a breezy playlist on Spotify soundtracking the fifteen minutes I set aside every morning to warm up a little and maybe film something for Instagram. I’ve had this routine for two plus years now, save for a few details, like how the early days were a quest to touch my toes instead of working towards a handstand, and what I’m wearing to work.

I throw on the final touches for work, quick makeup if I have the extra time and bundle up for the walk to the subway. Sometimes I say goodbye to the other but sometimes they aren’t there, having left already for work or hiding under my bed, and I pull the door shut, turning the key to the bolt and shoving my lanyard in my pocket. I hate keeping the bulky keys in my pocket, but as usual I’m holding at least two overstuffed bags, so I’ll wait till I get to the subway station to put them in my backpack. I make my way down the stairs and open the door, officially transitioning from Morning Mode to Work Mode. I’ve had this routine for a while now, save for a few details, like where I’m going now when I leave the building and and how I feel about going to work.

I spoke to an old friend for a long time over the weekend, and he said something that’s stuck with me: “Man, LB. Whoever would have though 2016 would have turned out like this?” The statement can be applied to quite a number of happenings since January 1, but we weren’t thinking that large. Really it was just looking at the small details of our lives every day, like what time we wake up and where we go to work. Sometimes for me it’s whether I walk out the door in Washington Heights or in Forest Hills, or whether I’m headed to the Upper East Side or Meatpacking. The days feel similar somehow in the small morning routines but the tiny details are something I never could have predicted, not six plus years ago, two plus years ago, whatever while ago.

After work, wherever I am, I eventually hop on a long subway home, headphones in with Spotify or a podcast and I’m usually playing Solitaire to pass the commute. I hop off the train and make the 7-minute walk back to whichever apartment I’m spending the night, Queens or upper Manhattan. I walk in the door, take off my shoes and flop onto the couch, sometimes with a cat in my arms and sometimes with A instead. I tell them about my day, and we make dinner, and listen to music while working or watching something to wind down before bed. I fall asleep with one of them next to me. I wake up the next morning and do the same thing. I’ve had this routine for a while now, save for all the little details, like how I feel about waking up the next morning to do it all over again. Because in the little details are some huge changes that make my every day anything but routine.