A memory came to me recently while finishing up a few tasks at the office one late night. It was a day over the summer at my last job, when one of my bosses took me out for lunch at this adorable cupcake and wine bar on Carmine. Over veggie burgers and iced tea, we caught up on our lives, personal, professional, everything. This was just before everything around me in the fall started imploding, so I remember giving her a smile and saying that I was fine; internally I was running through everything happening in that confusing time, residual anger at The Child, ongoing struggles to keep up at work, and the then-impending one-year anniversary of single LB. I remember my boss nodding as I gave her the typical “I’m going to step it up” speech, and she let me ramble on about goals and such until gently interrupting me to say two things: first, she believed in me and knew that I could do it; and second, she had a question for me: “Are you happy here?
“Are you happy?” is such an interesting and loaded question. In the context above with a boss involved, there is no other answer but “of course!,” whether that’s actually true or not, but in typical context, that’s a question I hear more from Mama B, or my lovely friend M, where I can tell them “maybe” or “I’m not sure.” On the one hand, happiness is the easiest thing in the world. It’s as simple as a smile from the Starbucks barista who is rapidly becoming your best morning friend, or snuggles from a pitbull and a pug before leaving for work in the morning. It’s the steady calm from regular yoga and looking at this life I’ve created for myself, a job I finally love, an apartment that’s all mine, and the understanding of Self that comes with being single for a long time. But on that same token, happiness is fleeting, it’s fickle and scary and it’s hard to hold on to; chasing happiness is like chasing hummingbirds, you see it for a moment and in the three seconds it takes you to run with an outstretched hand, it’s moved on. Asking someone “Are you happy?” is almost a dangerous question, because the answer depends on what’s happened in the past five weeks, four days, three hours, two minutes or even a second before.
I was riding such a high for most of 2015, reaching these yoga goals, recharging my professional life and making the decision to stay away from dating this year in favor of personal improvement. And truly, I think I’m still up there, but my entire routine has been disrupted in three short weeks, and I still haven’t found a time to settle in. This all culminated last week on Friday, leaving the office just before 10, where the rest of my night involved packing to be away from home for 9 days, first staying at D&D’s place to watch their pups while they’re in El Salvador (casual) for the week, and then leaving from there on Saturday for the annual Boston weekend with Mama B and Twinster. It hit me last Saturday night, just before leaving for my fashionista C’s golden birthday celebration, how tired I am and how things aren’t slowing down. Rather than taking this information like an adult, however, I proceeded to drink too much too quickly at the bar, forsaking all memories after about 11pm to the evil clutches of whiskey, and waking up on Sunday with a pounding headache and two dogs looking for breakfast by licking my face. I spent most of the day on the couch feeling terrible: how am I 26 years old and still blacking out like I’m back in college? Have I learned nothing? Why am I doing this to myself? Am I happy?
Last night I was leaving the office on the earlier side from what’s become the norm in the past few weeks, rushing to the Upper East Side in a sleet-storm, pushing through the 6 train crowds like a crazy person. A boss that I’ve worked with before was leaving at the same time, so we walked the short distance to the subway together and took a few minutes to catch up. He’s newer than I am at the new company, so we traded stories from our first few weeks and laughed together at how it’s been so crazy so quickly. We reached the subway, and just before parting ways, he asked me how I was doing with everything. “I know it’s been crazy,” he said, shaking sleet from his coat, “but be honest, LB: are you happy?”
In the two seconds before I answered him, my mind raced to 60 hour weeks, late nights every night, how I haven’t been able to update the blog nearly as often as I’d like and how I’m already so tired and it’s only Wednesday. I thought of so many changes, new responsibilities, new commute, disrupted schedules and everything else from the past month. It’s been crazy, for sure, but I smiled after those two seconds, looked him right in the eye and simply said “Absolutely.”