A.K.A

*Quick aside: thanks to everyone who helped contribute to the post below. I had no idea we were all so creative!

Chick flicks and shows like Sex and the City are widely acknowledged to paint an idealistic picture of dating and single life, a fantasy world that includes a string of perfect or perfectly comedic dates, and plenty of time to rehash all the dirty details with your girlfriends in between. Prior to my current life as single LB, I always assumed these kinds of conversations and dating situations were horribly exaggerated. “After all,” I’d think, “do people really have the time and energy to date more than one person at a time? And does the main character really not see that the guy who keeps popping in and out of her life is treating her like shit?” Shockingly, in my almost-year living as a single girl in the city, I’ve found most of those assumptions are false: people really do meet on the subway, your friend’s ex really will write a song about their breakup, and through the power of texting, you really can rehash everything that happened on that date to your girlfriends at the end of the day.

My favorite assumption that’s been busted in the past year is the idea that women don’t actually assign “Mr. Big” style nicknames to the men in our dating lives. It seemed so silly to pre-single LB, that you’d bypass using someone’s name in favor of a ridiculous alias, like you can’t be bothered to get to know someone well enough to use his real name, when actually, it’s a really fun part of single life. The nicknames aren’t supposed to be dismissive or cruel, nor are they meant to indicate someone isn’t important enough to use his real name in conversation. In fact, it’s really the opposite. Assigning a nickname means this person will likely be discussed somewhat frequently, enough that it’d be too difficult to remember which friend was dating “Will” and which was dating “Tom,” but fairly easy to recall that someone went out with Overalls once last fall and someone else was seeing Cliff until he broke her heart. Aliases make tales from Single Life sound like you’re creating a chick flick from your life, since it’s much funnier to tell the story of Ponytail sending an unsolicited dick pic than to think a guy actually did that to you.

There’s no formula to assigning an alias, no word association game or method to devising one that sticks. Sometimes the names are as simple as his job, like The Banker and FDNY.  Sometimes they’re in reference to where you met, like Subway Boy and Williamsburg. Pretty frequently they’re just nonsense names, like Ham and Mr. Dimples. And every once in a while, it’s something terribly obvious, but more fun to use in silly conversations than his real name, like The Scot. Every alias is attached to a memory, a way to recall how you felt on a date that felt like a cheesy scene from a chick flick, sharing food across the table and laughing the whole time, totally alone in a crowded room. And usually, once a name sticks, it sticks forever; he could change jobs, or move apartments, but his alias remains, until he’s not just a date anymore or until you stop wondering if he’ll reach out. Pending anything really outlandish, the cardinal rule of date-aliases is that they don’t change.

This past weekend, a new code name was created for someone in my life who had been around frequently enough that he’d even made it to first name status in conversations with my girlfriends. What was once a cute nickname, something endearing and fun, tied to memories of 12-hour dates and all the right words, had to change to reflect his actual role in my life. What started as something sweet has turned into something sour, like a spoiled piece of fruit in the back of the fridge that you can’t bring yourself to deal with until it’s too far gone. He’s in my phone now as “DO NOT RESPOND,” an interim step before I delete him completely from my life, unwilling to give him yet another chance he doesn’t deserve. He’s in my conversations now as “The Child,” a reminder that I’ve grown past people refusing to take responsibility for their own actions. I’m sure in future conversations it will be amusing to rehash the stories of how a Child couldn’t even get it together enough to show up to something that he planned, preferring instead to hide behind the safety of a text message excuse and an escape to Brooklyn. After all, it’s much easier to pretend that the past few months were all just a movie, an exaggerated and cautionary tale of dating someone with a silly nickname, than to remember that it all really happened to me.

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Friendly Conversations: Trois

On rules of a first date:
[Watching Don’t Be Tardy at my lovely friend M’s place]
TV: “There’s a list of the Don’t Dos on a first date: we don’t say fuck, we don’t bite people and we don’t do shots!”
Me: I sincerely hope you don’t have to say that to me someday.
M: Me too.

On loopholes
Mama B: So is that the fourth tattoo I see?
Me: Yup!
Mama: UGH. But that’s the last one, right? YOU PROMISED YOU’D ONLY GET ONE MORE.
Me: Right, but I already had this one when I made that promise.

On booze rules
Mama B: You’re absolutely covering the tattoos for your sister’s wedding.
Me: That’s incorrect.
Mama B: YOU PROMISED ME.
Me: I never made any promise like that!
Mama B: You may have been drunk when you said it, but I remember, so it counts.

On compliments
Coworker: Ooo, which one of you smells good?
Me: Oh, definitely not me.

On life updates
E: So give me an update on your life!
Me: Which part?
E: Uhh let’s start with how the boy is!
Me: …. which boy?

On birthday rights
Friend: You’re not wearing a bra, are you
Me: It’s my birthday.
Friend: Touché.

On snacks
Coworker: Is that a raw sweet potato on your desk?
Me: Yes.
Coworker: … Is that like a decoration or something?

On personal style:
M: Ugh. I feel like I look like a dirty hippie right now.
Me: Well since that’s kind of my aesthetic, I think you look great.

On sick days (and how I should have been a teacher)

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Good chat

At the party this weekend, late into what is technically considered Sunday morning but what we still considered Saturday night, I accidentally bumped into H the Scot while nosing my way through the crowd, in need of another beer. We obviously had the MOST JOYOUS REUNION EVER, despite having been separated for no more than ten minutes, and then segued into a conversation about some entertaining and serious stuff, as it happens after drinking whiskey and wine for 7+ hours. H and I have a tendency to have these intense discussions while we’re smashed somewhere; it’s a quirk we’ve had since the day we met, a warm spring morning drinking leftover red wine on R’s couch, chatting about life while she was occupied elsewhere. Most of the time it’s silly things, conversations we’ve had a million times before, but our Saturday talk has had my head spinning a bit more than usual, even still spinning four days later, because it ends with an unintentional cliffhanger. The noise at Sweet & Vicious made it hard to hear him, the noise plus his accent made it hard to understand him, and the noise, plus the accent, plus the aforementioned 7 hours of drinking made a memory where I can recall one thing he said to me very clearly, and then he said “but” and my memory goes blank.

To clarify, I did not black out on Saturday night. I remember (pretty much) every aspect of getting home, from hailing a cab instead of waiting for an Uber, to stopping at my lovely friend M’s place to pick up everything I’d left there in the afternoon, to a final text exchange with H, where I’m reminded how excited I am that he’s officially forever a part of my life. I remember all of the incredible food from dinner, from the beer-battered lobster to the cupcakes from heaven, the unexpected surprise of college friends I haven’t seen in years, and I remember dancing in the back corner of the bar to all the right music. But I do not remember what came after that “but.” I’ve tried everything I can to remember, which is to say I thought about it really hard for a while and then drank some wine last night hoping it would magically resurface (drunk memory is a real thing, y’all), yet it seems that tiny cliffhanger is set to remain as such. I generally hate spoilers, but I’m just saying, I could use one here.

Now, normally a silly conversation between friends while drinking would not still be on my mind four days after the fact, because normally a silly conversation between friends while drinking amounts to “I SERIOUSLY LOVE YOU SO MUCH” and “BUT LIKE, LITERALLY, YOU’RE MY BEST FRIEND.” In this instance, however, I had perhaps been fishing to hear something very specific, something I think I already know, but I still wanted to hear from someone else. I know, I know, it was sneaky of me to spend part of an evening setting up a friend to say something I wanted to hear, and it was even sneakier to do it at his own engagement party, but I actually didn’t intend to bring it up at all throughout the course of the night. It surfaced after he said something offhand about it first, which obviously meant all bets were off, opening the floodgates of speculation, scenario planning and more than one “but do you really think so?”s on my part.

There are girls in this world who don’t need to hear something from someone else for it to be valid, girls who can know something completely enough that they can sit with the information on their own and feel secure. In some aspects of my life, I can be that girl, but in others, I’m the complete opposite; I turn into the one who asks the same question up, down and sideways, the one who says “Are you sure?” as a reaction to everything, the one who wants to believe something really badly but can’t just trust her instincts. I appreciate when friends cater to my self-indulgent need for validation from others, telling me I don’t look puffy following a bad night of sleep (when I totally did), or that my hair doesn’t look like a bad mix of a rat’s nest and a lion’s mane (which it usually does), and that I don’t look ill because I haven’t filled in my eyebrows (IT CHANGES YOUR FACE). But I also appreciate when one of them follows up those words with “but,” because I know they’re about to steer away from what I want to hear into what I need to hear, guiding me off of a fairy tale pedestal into the reality of whatever situation I’m stuck navigating.

Having already discussed the topic to pieces on Saturday, I don’t intend to bring it up again. The words aren’t imperative to my general well-being and to be honest, I think, instinctively, I know where the conversation went after that “but.” I’m sure this weekend or the one after, H and I will find ourselves locked in a conversation in a loud bar somewhere again, maybe shouting “NO SERIOUSLY, YOU’RE THE BEST” and “LEGIT, THIS IS THE MOST FUN I’VE EVER HAD,” and I’m sure a combination of loud noise, a thick accent and a drink (or two) will create another half-memory to ponder while eating chips on my couch the next day. For now, I’ll enjoy the memory for exactly what it is: a sentence I’d been hoping to hear, in a good chat with a great person, in the middle of a night of drinking and dancing, surrounded by all my favorite people and love.

YAAAAAAAS!!

I am in *H*E*A*V*E*N*

Okay technically that’s not entirely accurate. As I’m writing this, it’s Sunday afternoon and I’m very immobile on my couch (where I also slept last night), watching RedZone and eating chips for breakfast (brunch?), after a wild Saturday which involved a lot of surprises (e.g., limo for everybody) and a whole lot of fun. I’ve long known this was going to be a memorable weekend, as plans were put together months ago, but couldn’t say anything, lest I be the one to ruin the best kind of surprise. This weekend we raised many a glass to two of my favorite people; surrounded by family from all over and friends who came in without anyone knowing, we raised a glass to a long, happy, wonderful future for my partner-in-crime R and her Scot H.

In the years since it stopped being strange that people I know are announcing engagements, I’ve noticed a pattern in my reaction to the news. If it’s a distant acquaintance, like someone I had a class with freshman year of college, or the obscure friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend I met once that likes everything I do, I feign interest in the ring shot for half a minute, and then usually move on. It’s different when it’s someone I sort-of know, maybe an old friend or someone I don’t see that often anymore; there’s this twinge in my chest, a tug at heartstrings, that speaks of polite and quiet happiness for their next step but is touched with just a little jealousy, a casual reminder of my own single life and how easy it is to want something that secure. Before any of my close friends and family were engaged, I felt a little trepidation at how I’d react to their eventual news – I knew I’d be happy, of course, but I would never want to look at an engagement for someone so close to me with any negative emotions, not wanting to mar any memories with the acrid taste of a jealous single girl.

When I was younger, I always thought I’d be married, or at least engaged, at 26. It felt so old at the time, like I’d have my life completely figured out enough to share it with someone else forever; it felt so possible for a while, as I watched the weeks turn into months turn into years with the same person throughout my early twenties. I’ve been contemplating this during my marathon couch-sitting session today, while surfing through photos from Saturday night, looking at the happy couple, looking at friends who are next. 26 is a really interesting age so far. It’s no longer strange to watch friends get married and have babies, but it’s officially strange to think I wanted that to be me. Don’t get me wrong: I love watching everyone around me fall in love, and I couldn’t and can’t wait to see them celebrate engagements and weddings and beyond. But I’ve barely been single for a year! A chaotic, stressful, at-times painful year, to be sure, but also a wonderful year, one where I cherish all the time to myself and yet still feel like I don’t have enough. I love the idea that someday I might know someone well enough to share what little time I do have, but for now, an occasional text that never fails to make me smile feels like plenty enough.

I’m sure H wasn’t thinking of me at all when he decided to pop the most important question last week, but their engagement adds another layer to what is rapidly shaping up to be one of the most insane and best years of my life. Despite thinking for so long that this might be the time I’d be planning my own happily ever after, I get to channel all of that energy I’ve been saving up into planning the weddings for my twin sister and my best friend, a small slice of heaven to color my daily life. I have a full year of centerpieces and save-the-dates and test-driving the midnight s’mores recipes, a year of showers and bachelorette parties and shopping for fancy things. I have a full year of watching two of the most important women in my life at their happiest, looking towards the rest of their lives, a certain presence in an unpredictable future. And in the rare moments where I’m not thinking about them, I’ll have a full year to figure out what it is that I really want, untouched by long-set expectations, while navigating what 26 turned into in the end.

Breathe.

Yesterday afternoon, as I was frantically packing up my desk, trying to rush off to a client meeting across town while simultaneously navigating a document that came in last-minute that morning, I got a text from my partner-in-crime R. At this point in the day, I was exhausted, stressed, nervous about this meeting, trying desperately to remember what I’d probably forgotten, and pretty hungry, despite snacking on more than one of the “emergency” Almond Joys my work friend keeps at her desk since about 10 a.m. The final content of the text is irrelevant, a silly conversation between friends, but the way she started the message made me smile. After a crazy morning, I checked my phone to read “I’m texting you this because anyone else might judge me.”

I will never pretend that I’m not a judgmental person, to the same extent we all are. I do like to think of myself as more tolerant to quirks though, given that I inundate people with my own. Examples: I have a tendency to speak very quickly and interrupt others, I lose my own train of thought way too easily and as Kristen Bell once put so eloquently, if I’m not “between a three and a seven on the emotional scale,” I’m crying. And let’s not overlook that I post questionable life decisions on a public forum, so I’m obviously fine with a certain level of scrutiny and judgment. I like to think that the level of judgement I exude in situations where say, someone pushes past me on a crowded subway, despite both of us getting off at the next stop, will come back to me, like when I order a bacon cheeseburger with a Diet Coke for Sunday brunch. But lately it’s felt like things are off-balance, teetering too far in one direction instead of a happy medium, professionally speaking more than anything.

Something isn’t clicking with me the way it’s supposed to at work these days; things are making sense and then all of a sudden something is apocalypse-level urgent and very wrong. I internalize a lot of professional issues, trying to be the team member with the positive attitude and the one who can handle anything, but that’s just not been me lately. I’m struggling with things that should come easily by now, making mistakes I shouldn’t be making, and my confidence is wobbly at best, completely fucking shot at worst. I feel like everything I do is wrong, just wrong, and at times on one side and then on the other, there are words thrown around like missed arrows, enough to brush past your cheek and leave a mark, but not enough to pierce the skin. I’m letting the bad parts of work affect the other parts of my day, not doing yoga in the mornings, saying “fuck it” to buying coffee instead of making some at home, inhaling a pumpkin muffin despite having already eaten a full breakfast. I’m focusing on what other people are thinking about me and my work, rather than focusing on my job, working to please a judgment rather than rising above it and delivering great work.

It’s in these moments I feel like I’m drowning, unable to surface for a welcome break, a breath of fresh air while sitting stubbornly in the stale confines of my own head. I forget to breathe at times, holding in all of the frustration, the feelings of failure, the despondent haze that’s too comfortable in my life these days; I find myself literally holding my breath when things are really bad, like I’m afraid one quick exhale will put all of this frustration, the feelings of failure, the despondence, out there for everyone else. I can feel the judgement scales tipping in one direction and then another, teetering at one extreme until flipping to the opposite, and my reaction is to hold as much in as possible, afraid to sway things yet again.

Reading that silly intro from R yesterday put a smile back on my face, and I took a deep breath, calming down for just a minute as we traded some TMI. I put my judgments about my situation aside, stepped back from the imagined (or not) judgment from people around me and tried to get back to the grounded place I know is in me somewhere. A deep breath in, a deep breath out, yoga in real life, repeating again and again that I can and will get through this and come out better. I’m frustrated with myself, for certain, and angry that I’ve let things go so far down this rabbit hole. I just need to remember to breathe in times like this, to pull confidence from somewhere deep within and breathe through it all.

Clean Slate

On Sunday, prior to returning home for an afternoon of football with little miss, my amazing, wonderful, generous parents accompanied me to upgrade my slowly-dying iPhone, and surprised me by purchasing the new one for me as a slightly belated birthday gift. My poor 4S held on as long as it could, but I’ve been dealing with a litany of issues, not limited to missing/stalled texts, a battery life of approximately twelve minutes and this weird problem with my email where it displayed 4 inboxes, for months now. Like all good Apple devotees, I had grand plans to wait for the 6, but I’m not that technologically inclined, so the extra money for a larger phone with features I don’t really understand wasn’t super appealing to me or my bank account. I already love the 5S, potentially just because it works and I’m not used to that, but I will admit, I ran into a minor hiccup in transferring data from the old phone to the new one. Namely, nothing, aside from my contacts, transferred, leaving me with a phone that has zero photos, zero calendar reminders and an entire text history wiped clean.

Fortunately, my photos are backed up on my parent’s computer, and I barely used that calendar, save for a few birthday reminders that I usually remember anyway. But losing the texts is another story. I’ve had some iteration of an iPhone since 2009, and up until this weekend, I had texts in there going back to the beginning, if I had the time or attention span to scroll that far. Truth be told, every once in a while, I loved going back and reading old text conversations. I’d aimlessly scroll through a funny exchange about residual yoga pain with my lovely friend M, chuckle at the post-Sunday Funday messages from months ago with my fashionista C, find the name of that great bar my partner-and-crime R and I went to back in the spring. And sometimes it was fun to look back at old messages from the guys that have cycled in and out of my life in the past year or so, looking at the last text exchange before things faded seven months ago, rereading a birthday message from last week, a surprise present that made my Saturday night. There was a rich history in those texts; I could trace the beginning of one friendship and the slow fade of another if I took the time to scroll.

But on the flip side, keeping that many memories is a loaded weapon, ticking away the seconds before the emotional bomb explodes. I could find the final “I love you” before messages took a sour turn, exchanging apathy across the ocean. I could watch the slow beginnings of a new relationship, the getting-to-know you messages, peppered with comments about the spring weather and grand plans for the summer; I could watch that turn into the “I’m sorrys” and the “I can’ts,” the “thinking about yous” that make me angry and sad all at once. There were words in that long text history that were meant to be sweet but could cut through my torso like sapphire glass, unbreakable. It was the lowest form of self-harm, consciously rereading those conversations rather than deleting that history, knowing I can relive a painful past with the slow swipe of a screen.

I don’t know why I chose to keep that much information on my phone, to be perfectly honest. Part of me is sad that I can’t look back and find those beginnings anymore, the new friendships, the still-happy relationships. Part of me is sad I don’t have the first bubble in a conversation that’s still going, just in case it ends like I’m convinced it will, even though I really, really don’t want it to. But there’s been a tangible shift in perspective for me in the past few weeks, looking at the year ahead, the milestones; a shift like I want to take everything I’ve learned lately and just move forward, stop dwelling on the past and stop worrying about the future, and start over. It starts with a clean slate: in this case, a phone with no history, waiting for a new history to reflect on when rereading old conversations in the years to come.

Quick Thoughts: Milestones

“I just can’t believe she’s getting married! When did we all grow up?!”

My beautiful, wonderful, inspiring childhood friend said Yes this weekend. She wore a lovely white dress, walked down the aisle of the chapel at her alma mater and took everyone’s breath away, her husband’s most of all. I was thinking about it the previous Thursday at work, as I sorted through logistics of getting back to CT the next day, getting to my goofball J’s place pre-wedding, and most importantly, deciding what I was going to wear. I peeked at her wedding website to confirm exactly when everything would start, and found myself completely overwhelmed with the emotion of the situation ahead, seeing her for the first time in a year, finally meeting her fiance, watching her get married, watching them say yes, and nearly started to cry at my desk.

I signed into Gchat and sent a note to J telling him to prepare himself for some serious waterworks, since I was already teary and have a tendency to cry at weddings for people I love. He made me laugh, like he always does, and I nearly started to cry again, thinking that his own nuptials are likely to happen in the very near future. And my twinster, my T, is setting a date this week, the official date. And all of a sudden it hit me, the sheer volume of all the milestones coming up for my family, my friends, in the next year: graduations, major birthdays, anniversaries, engagements and weddings.

It’s strange, sometimes, knowing I’m the only one in that group, and near the only one in any of my groups, that doesn’t have a milestone of my own to look forward to in the next year. But then again, with all the big moments and overwhelming emotions I’m sure to face in supporting everyone around me, I think it’s plenty enough to be happy for everyone else for now.

PLD Montage: Vol. 5 (Birthday Edition)

So, I’m going to let you all in on a little secret. On days where I know I won’t have the time or wherewithal to post an entry here, I’ll auto-schedule something a few days early so the content goes up in time. Such was the case with the birthday post, where I said I’d be sleeping off another Japas bender and probably doing nothing all day. In reality, that wasn’t the case. I felt amazing on Sunday and had a fabulous actual birthday. But never fear that I’m implying stupid decisions weren’t made at the party on Saturday – it’s still me, after all.

So without further delay, please enjoy a recap of my poor life decisions: birthday style.

  • On Labor Day, a week before my birthday, my lovely friend M and I started our day very productively, grocery shopping at Whole Foods early in the morning and heading to yoga class around noon. Despite trying to hydrate properly into Monday after being slightly hungover on Sunday, I still went into class pretty dehydrated, and sweating through 75 minutes of an intense flow was perhaps not the best idea going into unlimited champagne brunch with the rest of the group immediately after. I made it home around 5 that afternoon, following said brunch and a post-brunch drink with M, before deciding it would be a great idea to do MORE yoga, and got into a headstand for about 2 seconds before my champagne-addled equilibrium caught up with me and I fell pretty spectacularly back to the mat. Guess who still had massive, dark, noticeable bruises on both knees for her party? Because that’s not suggestive at all.
    Lesson learned: No yoga after drinking. Also no drinking after yoga. Pretty much don’t mix those, ever.
  • My big birthday plans began with a trip to a place that is both magical and deadly: Japas 27, where $40 a person gets you a private karaoke room and two hours of unlimited alcohol and food. The original reservation was from 9 till 11, enough time to enjoy said unlimited booze, and still enjoy a night out somewhere in the city. On Saturday, my work buddy S and I buffered our stomachs with a very necessary Shake Shack dinner, before showing up to Japas exactly on time, wanting to make sure we were there to keep the reservation and greet everyone as they arrived. We were so excited to get started, since the two hour window officially starts once they bring in the drinks, and we didn’t want to start the clock without the majority of the group there. And then everyone showed up an hour late.
    Lesson learned: If you know your friends are always late, maybe buffer the arrival time you tell them so you don’t sit awkwardly in a quiet room for an hour at your own birthday party.
  • Anyone who knows me, knows I have a slight affinity for rompers and jumpsuits. They’re comfortable, they’re easy, but they are on the inconvenient side when you have to pee, because you basically have to strip down. Naturally, I wore a new romper for birthday festivities, a backless, purple lace one from Free People, that I had to tie in TIGHT, so my friends weren’t forced to play “if you see something, say something” with my nipples (again). After indulging in a few rounds of the unlimited beer and sake, I went up to pee and didn’t come back for 20 minutes. Why? May or may not have been stuck trying to untie the romper and then almost flashed a stranger my boobs when I forgot to lock the stall door.
    Lesson learned: This is why girls pee in packs.
  • I took a bunch of videos of everyone, myself included, singing our hearts out to everything from Queen, to Kanye, to Aly and AJ. And without watching any of them, I posted a bunch to Instagram and sent one to a friend across the pond.
    Lesson learned: GIRL. Watch. The. Videos. First.
  • All I wanted for my actual birthday was to wake up and have a day where I felt fine, enough to enjoy the weather, the football and the day. Up until this past weekend, I was 0-5 on not blacking out at Japas, because two hours of unlimited alcohol catches up to you quick. Miraculously, despite exceeding my self-imposed limit of 3 sake bombs and staying out till 3:30, I woke up on Sunday around 10 and felt great – I think it was my birthday present from the party gods. I heard from old friends and new friends throughout the day, people who made it to the party and those who couldn’t. In a shocking turn of events, most of us from the party were doing fine! It almost got me thinking that we should give Japas another chance, like maybe now that we’re older, we’d be more responsible with our limits. And then I got this:
  • JapasLesson learned: Well, there had to be one.

The Definitive List of my 20s so far.

Over the years, while basking in a post-birthday glow, I’ve always liked to reminisce about where I was the year before and how much has changed. Usually there are little things, like “I can finally afford Uber on nights out!” and “most of my clothes don’t come from Forever21 anymore!” However, now that I’m officially in my mid-to-late (gulp) 20s, I’ve been reminiscing about my formative years as a 20-whatever, from college to city. Each year has special milestones and memories, so I thought I’d put together a list ranking these years so far. So, my wonderful readers, enjoy my little stroll down memory lane.

A 20-Whatever’s Guide to My Early 20s

6. 20

Ugh. 20 sucked. To be fair, for the first few months I was still in living in Argentina and it was glorious. But once I was back in the States, I was: still in college, no job prospects, couldn’t drink with my friends, broke up with my college boyfriend, worked a terrible summer job for a few months, fought with my parents constantly…. the list goes on. Bai 20 see u never.

5. 22

22 was such a weird year. The day after my 22nd birthday is the day I moved to New York City, so I will forever love that year for nostalgic purposes, but when you drop a recent college graduate into this city, a lot of weird things happen. I was new to the workforce and trying to learn a job, while new to the city and trying to learn my way around. I still hadn’t figured out how to drink in public responsibly so at some point in this year I puked in a cab after a pregame and then ran out of the cab without paying before the driver noticed. I was consistently broke and lived in an apartment with a stripper, who would get home from work at 5 a.m. and proceed to sing loudly in the bathroom while she got ready for bed – the bathroom that was only accessible through my bedroom. I’ll give T. Swift the benefit in that I had some sweet dance moves at 22, but I could leave the rest of the learning experiences behind in my early 20s, thankyouverymuch.

4. 24

Oh, 24. The year you’re old enough to look disdainfully on the youths running rampant in the Upper East Side but not too old to black out during unlimited sake/sushi in Koreatown, screeching a heartbreaking (if I say so myself) rendition of My Heart Will Go On with your best friend, while his boyfriend looks at you like you’re insane. 24 was great for a while, but things started to fall apart somewhere in this year, so it just wasn’t my favorite. Sorry 24. You tried.

3. 21

How do you not love 21. My 21st birthday is only edged out by my 25th for most fun: it was a Monday about 2 weeks into senior year of college. My soul sister E planned a party at our on-campus townhouse apartment, complete with handmade banners and Skippy, the delectable college brew of cheap beer, cheaper vodka, and Country Time Lemonade mix. We invited people haphazardly, thinking a Monday crowd would be a small one, people trickling in on occasion; we ended up with probably 40-50 people cycling in and out of the apartment throughout the night. There was a fistfight over leftover pizza and I woke up in my party dress on the couch, a half-eaten cookie next to my face. 21 is when I started dating the one-time love of my life, it’s when I graduated college and when I made the decision to come to New York. 21 rocked.

2. 23

This was a tough call as the runner-up, but 23 was a fantastic year, kicked off with what is still the craziest birthday party I’ve ever had: on my brother’s rooftop on a perfect late summer night, loud music and everyone I loved. That was a full year of happiness in the delicious, wonderful, perfect, still-new-but-maybe-serious stage of a relationship, half learning and growing, half enraptured in each other like we might make it to forever. That was a year where I partied in the Hamptons on my boss’s lawn, the year I fell in love with Washington Heights after countless trips to visit my lovely friend M, and had the craziest Oscars party to date; the year where I was just old enough to enjoy the city while learning limits, the year I discovered my favorite little tapas bar in Manhattan, and just a year of happy moments. I don’t remember all of them anymore, marred with time and a changed life, but I look back on that year with all fondness.

1. 25

Let’s be real for a minute: the past year for me has been an absolute disaster. In no particular order, I: dealt with a broken shower for 2 weeks; changed jobs; resigned a lease on an apartment I wasn’t supposed to stay in; spent six months trying to convince my landlords to fix my door (STILL BROKEN); fought more than once with more than one friend; budgeted and rebudgeted and still subsided on coffee and peanut butter for three full days before pay day on more than one occasion; broke my own heart when I ended what I thought was The Relationship; met the person I thought would change my life on the A train and had my heart broken all over again. It’s a lot for anyone to live through in such a relatively short period of time, and I’ve never felt more confused and alone trying to pull through it all. This year has beat me bloody and picked me up for another round. I’ve handled blow, after blow, after blow, just waiting for a reprieve, hoping maybe this is the day things will turn around.

But it’s also the year I learned more about myself than ever. I found out I can run a Spartan Race and subsequently brag about it for months, paint an entire living room in under 48 hours and plan a trip to Texas in under two weeks that was quite literally the time of my life. It’s when I discovered yoga, my favorite part of my day, and added to my tattoo collection, my favorite parts of my body. This is the year I watched someone I used to play Barbies with walk down the aisle and say yes to the love of her life; this is the year I watched my sister say yes to a lifetime with the person she was always supposed to meet. I had countless Sunday Fundays with the Nickname Posse, from fall football to cozy winter brunches to spring picnics in Fort Tryon and summer wine on my fashionista C’s roof. This is the year I let myself open up to love, the year I learned where my walls are and what someone will need to do to break them down. And most importantly, it’s the year I finally learned that I really, really can’t go out two nights in a row anymore unless I want to sacrifice two full days to third circle of hangover hell.

Looking at the list, it seems I don’t have great luck with even years, but all things considered, I didn’t have luck at all times with the odd ones either. So here’s to 26, all of the memories to be made, and all the fabulous PLDs to chronicle along the way.

~*CUMPLEANOS*~

It’s my birthday!! CHEERS TO ME, LEO.

leo

I’ll be spending this special, special day sleeping off an epic post-Japas reminder why I swore off of going there two years ago, after a night out with the Nickname Posse. Stay tuned for a little round-up of my 20s posting soon, and later this week I’ll share the next PLD Montage: Birthday Edition.

Sending thanks to everyone who came out last night and/or sent texts today, and a polite head nod/acknowledgment to those who maintain our relationship by annual Facebook posts. 26 is shaping up to be an interesting year.