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?

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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.

 

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.

Hope and Change

Right now it’s mid-afternoon on Wednesday and I’m sitting in a coffee shop on the Upper East Side. I have a steaming mug of peppermint tea in front of me and I’m snugly secure in a sweater I “borrowed” from my boyfriend this morning; the sweater smells like him and it makes me feel safe, like he always does, like he did this morning when we woke up and read the news, and he held me in his arms and stroked my hair while I cried. I’m choking back tears now as these words pour out. I’ve been, on some level, choking back tears all day.

So many things have changed since my last words here. I never intended to take such a break from blogging, and there were days I would open up a new draft and think “this is it,” only to get distracted by another errand, another odd job, another meeting, another everything. I thought that leaving the 9-5 world would free up time for me but instead things have stayed just as busy, only this time I’m running around the city rather than sitting behind a desk. I’ve literally never been happier in my life choices, if scared and a little more than intimidated. This busyness in my life feels like early spring, where I’m planting all of these seeds that I hope to grow in the next year and beyond. I don’t mind the waiting, you see. I do mind not knowing the end result.

That brings us back to this morning. When I woke up and saw that CNN hadn’t changed the color of the map since I’d gone to bed. When I read texts from E and G and when I spoke to my sister. When it hit me that this is what we’re moving forward with as a country. I would bet you that some of my politics would surprise you, since as the daughter of a a police officer I have a lot of strong feelings on gun rights, states rights and the political elite. But this election stopped being about policy and progress a long time ago. The election atmosphere became toxic, exposing our shortcomings as a young nation and how far we still have to go to consider ourselves a true superpower in the world we currently live in. I thought the key to that was to continue with progress, not set ourselves back 30 years. I still think I am right. More people thought I was wrong.

I have so many more stories to tell here in the coming days, like why I’m no longer at a desk job, and what I’m doing instead, and what it’s like to blow up your whole life for a dream and watch the pieces fall like ashes on a windy day. I have stories about waking up in need of time with your best friends before remembering that most of them don’t live in brunch distance anymore. But I can’t tell those stories. Not yet. Not today. Soon, I promise. But I can’t today.

Today I can’t read the news because it makes me cry, and I can barely look at children on the streets without wanting to apologize for something I tried to prevent, if only through my lone ballot. But today I’m also inspired by everyone around me who feels the same way. The people that voted for the first time, the people that voted from across the world, the people who recognize our shortcomings as a nation after this long and extraordinarily arduous election. The lotus flower only grows in mud, and the sun always rises on the worst of times. Right now we’re in a tumultuous time of uncertainty and also an uncharacteristic level of hope from people who have been walking around today the same way I’ve been. There are good things coming for us out of this awful moment in our young history. I don’t mind the waiting, you see. I do mind the not knowing the end result.

Milestones

Every relationship has milestones: first date, first kiss, first sleepover, first “I love you.” Those are the cute ones, the ones people talk about, the ones you look forward to and tell your friends about the minute they happen. There are also different milestones, ones you don’t think about, as I found out on the recently-achieved First Vacation Together with A. For most of August we traveled around Norway, a trip ambitiously booked four months in advance of leaving, and without either of us realizing it, there was a lot riding on this trip. Neither of us knew what to expect, and as we eventually discussed, we were both quite nervous about it. It turns out there are a lot of milestones when you’re on vacation with someone for 10 days traveling around a foreign country, more than I ever expected or could ever plan for. They’re kind of cute, in a weird, gross, super-real and also wonderful kind of way.

There are the weird milestones, that honestly are mostly about pooping. Like, it’s one thing to spend a few days at apartments in New York City, but 10 straight days in foreign apartments together is a whole separate level from your comfortable apartments. You get really close, really quickly, and that kind of closeness is the silly kind of thing that has the ability to tear your relationship apart or make it stronger. There are the scary milestones that happen when you spend 10 days straight with someone too. Chronic pain is something that A and I deal with as the third wheel in our relationship; usually it’s one of his injuries but this time one of mine got in the way. We had to cancel our first planned hike because of A’s back; we had to cancel our remaining hike on the morning of because of my knee. I thought he would be mad, maybe sad, maybe even disappointed, but instead he just let me cry out my own disappointment and then we planned an amazing day in Stavanger anyway. We adapt together well; I didn’t know that before this trip.

There were a lot of things I didn’t know before this trip. I didn’t know that he likes to get to airports early like I do, and I didn’t know how many Roots t-shirts he actually owns, which is a lot (maybe too many?). I didn’t know how we would live together for that long, because we talked about living together like its a given without any reason to think so positively, and I didn’t know if 10 days together would solidify what I’ve been feeling since the day I met him or if we would kill each other by the plane ride home. And there are a lot of things I learned on the vacation. I learned that my boyfriend is a 10 year old and likes to chase me around foreign apartments calling me Poopface while I’m simultaneously mortified and hysterically laughing. I learned that breaking the only razor on day 7 means I shouldn’t wear a sleeveless top and cropped leggings on a crowded plane for day 10. I learned that a lot of relationship milestones have to do with pooping, really, and I learned that I’m also a 10 year old because I think that nickname is adorable and high-fiving A over shared bowel stories is gross but also really awesome.

I also learned it’s possible to enjoy every single second of 10 days with someone who makes you laugh and cry and frustrates you before making it all okay again. I learned that 10 days with someone can completely transform a relationship without changing a goddamn thing. I learned more about the idea of forever. I spent a lot of time in the realm of thinking about forever. I learned what it’s like to consider 48 hours without someone after 10 days of constantly being with him and before that even happened I learned it made me cry too much, because those 48 hours felt like the kind of forever I want to avoid. I learned a lot this vacation. I learned a lot in the week since. Mostly I learned that I’m the luckiest girl in the whole damn world, and my forever these days is the best mix of Nows.

[Draft Series] The Ex-files

Original draft: August 1, 2016

Summer is usually a time for healing.

I’m not saying I have a ton of experience with the traditional definition of “exes” because in the traditional definition of “date for a long time, fall in love, fall out of love, break up,” I have two, both of which started in college. I have a lot of experience with other kinds of exes though. There’s the Banker, who only met me in bars after 10pm to act like my boyfriend until the next morning, and there’s the Nice Guy that I went on four dates with and never once kissed because he bored me. There’s the Boss, who only liked me when he couldn’t have me and insulted my intelligence once I finally gave in, and of course there’s the Child, the story we don’t need to rehash again. Those stories are all finished and gratefully so, but there are always little chances to run into people in a city like New York. Especially when there’s a Fling from a few years back that’s related to a core member of the group, and you start a new job that is quite literally around the corner from an ex’s office. You know. Those typical situations.

Truth be told, more than anything those last bits are funny coincidences over anything substantial in my life.  And I didn’t think that I needed to be contemplating all these past parts of me, not now, when there are so many exciting things coming up in the next few weeks. Maybe I still don’t, who knows.

Quick thoughts: Perfect

Perfect is a relative term. Nothing is ever perfect, but sometimes there’s a simple perfection to the imperfect nature of things, and perfect becomes exactly what’s happening in those moments.

It’s not perfect when it’s a million degrees outside plus humidity, and I forget all my good makeup in NYC for a wedding in Connecticut, and we leave for Norway in less than a week and I have to teach two classes and there is no time for anything. It’s not perfect when A is in pain because of his back and I’m not going to see him till we’re at the airport on Friday and I forgot my work laptop at home this morning and my 6:30am Uber driver won’t stop talking on the ride from Forest Hills to Washington Heights and all I want to do is sleep. It’s not perfect when I’m about to leave my cat and my new job and my everything except for A for 11 days and I’m so terrified and anxious about it.

But it’s all perfect. It was perfect to watch my oldest friend marry his soul mate, even in the million degree heat, even without my good makeup. It’s perfect that after two months of barely seeing each other because life is so busy that A and I get almost two full weeks with just each other. It’s perfect that I’m teaching classes this week before I leave because that’s something that makes me happier than just about everything, and it’s perfect.

It’s perfect. It’s perfect just because it is. Because we are. Because you are. It’s all relative. But it’s all perfect too.

Aura and Energy

This past weekend was my last weekend in the city till September. September! I suppose that’s not too far away now, but last Friday it felt like a big deal and a long time. I wanted to soak in the energy of a summer weekend in the city in every possible way for those two days, knowing it’s the last precious few days where I can do exactly that; I had Friday night with A and friends, and all day Saturday with A and friends, but I took Sunday to be with my friends. I met a beautiful yogi friend from my training days for what turned out to be an intense free class at the Lululemon in the Meatpacking, followed by coffee, a fruit cup and then yoga in the park with strangers who are friends. I made it home around 5 that night, feeling completely invigorated, until I sat down on the couch and realized, amusingly, I was too sore to get back up.

Sunday was, in total, about six hours of yoga. Not a restorative or slow practice, not the calming hippie yoga stereotype; I spent six hours on my hands and my forearms, in splits and backbends, going upside down, trying new things like acroyoga, meeting new people for high fives and hugs. It was exhausting and amazing and I truly didn’t even notice how sore I was even then I didn’t care. It had been the perfect Sunday in Central Park, a perfect New York City Sunday to hold me over till September, and I went to bed on Sunday thinking I had never felt better, spiritually, emotionally, mentally.

And then I woke up the next morning at 5am to watch my Monday rapidly crumble to the worst migraine I’ve had in months.

Yoga philosophy says that there are thousands of energy channels throughout the body, kept healthy through self-care like asana practice and avoiding vices, but when these channels are blocked, all sorts of problems can happen. Fear stays near the chest above the heart, negativity and self-criticism settles into the hips, anxiety takes root in the shoulders and neck; it’s why sometimes yogis cry in savasana, because all this blocked energy has finally been released and now it has to get out somehow. Some yogis joke that a good sweaty practice can fix just about anything, but I would counter-suggest that it can open you up to a backlash of suppressing all those emotions and feelings for so long.

Last week I had to take four days off from any serious practice because of a back injury, and by the end of day 2 I noticed a serious difference in my demeanor. I was irritable, my attention span was even more out of control than usual; I wrote a whole post about it because I was just… off. My anxiety was back, I was getting upset about my physical body and those ten pounds that have crept on in 2016, and really nothing made me feel even a semblance of okay until I went to that Lulu class on Sunday. Had I stopped there, had I not spent the entire afternoon in the park continuing with the intense movement, who knows if the migraine would have happened. While I was in the worst of it on Monday though, I couldn’t help but wonder.

The migraine hit peak for me about 2pm on Monday, despite my retaliatory efforts of Excedrin and many essential oils. I laid in my bed and I tried to push through it but then my face was burning and my nose was burning and my eyes were trying to push out of my skull with every pound, pound, pound of the hammer of my heartbeat. The symptoms were getting worse and worse, and I could feel everything getting bigger. I took a deep breath trying to calm down, but instead it made everything so painful that I completely let go of whatever fight I had against the pounding in my skull and within a second I started to cry.

When I finally stopped crying and I could take that deep, if raggedy, breath, I started to calm down. I could feel the calm rush up from the base of my spine, into my chest, across my collarbone, up my neck and finally, finally, finally, a flush of relief through my brain. Over the next few hours I slowly made my way out of bed, put on my glasses and took a long shower, breathing deeply the whole time. I slept for 10 hours that night and woke up for work feeling like a new person; my focus was better, my mood was better, and when I saw A last night for the first time this week I practically leapt into his arms, flush with the good energy of being in love. I’m still physically sore from six hours of yoga this weekend, and this week is not without its challenges. But after a week of feeling like something was off, it only took a serious migraine and a good cry to turn my particular breed of sunshine back on, full throttle.

Is it too late now to say sorry?

Sometimes I like to think I’m like Donald Trump. I mean okay, I don’t agree with his personal politics nor campaign platform, nor pretty much anything that comes out of his mouth. Also I’m not an orange leather man-purse whose best accomplishment is hiding tax returns and tweeting at haters and my hair actually moves when prompted. Plus I’m not a demagogue racist pandering fear to an already-fearful electorate in an effort to get access to nuclear codes, and I definitely can’t match his duckface, he’s at like Kardashian level. So basically, we’re not alike at all, except for one thing: I love words. I have the best words.

I really do love vocabulary though. I love learning new words, finding obscure phrases with words that roll off the tongue like a song; if I can work “lackadaisical” or “diaphanous” or “nefarious” or “entranced” into a conversation you bet your sweet ass I will. I’m the nerd that would actually love a word of the day calendar (HINT HINT MY BIRTHDAY IS IN A MONTH) and I love that I work in an industry that’s heavy on writing and communication with top scientists and researchers who teach me new words with a single email. Yet with all of this – despite loving words and definitely having the best words – a conversation with a friend recently led me to realize that the word I say most often is “sorry!”

I apologize for everything. Sorry to the stranger who gets in my way on the subway, sorry to my coworker when we’re in the kitchen and I’m trying to sneak out of the way, sorry to my boyfriend when I laughed too hard after he mixed up chili powder and cayenne pepper in chili recently (that last one may have been okay though, he was in pain and I couldn’t even get him water for laughing so hard). I apologize to EVERYONE, for everything. Some of it is a cultural thing. Every time I travel abroad I’ll inevitably meet someone who will hear me apologize for looking at a building or sneezing or something else innocuous and they’ll laugh. “Americans apologize for everything! Why are you always so apologetic?” But even for an American I apologize a lot, and that conversation with a friend recently had me wondering why.

The conversation was after a yoga class in June. I had just decided to switch jobs after a wildly busy spring, I hadn’t spent time in my own apartment for longer than 24 hours since April, and basically I was a mess. The studio was too tiny and oddly set up for the class, and I hadn’t had time to practice it. As the class started and I fell into the easy rhythm of teaching, there were a few moments where I stumbled – as any new teacher does. But it wasn’t until after the class, walking back to the subway with a beautiful soul from my yoga training class, where she turned to me with a sheepish look on her face. “Can I give you one critique about your class?” she asked gently, to which I enthusiastically agreed, as she is a role model of mine for yoga. “Your class was beautiful – so STOP APOLOGIZING!! I was ready to get up and shake you at the last ‘Sorry!’ in there because you have nothing to apologize for!”

You have nothing to apologize for.

What a novel concept.

I’ve taken those words with me everywhere since then. Instead of apologizing for walking into the kitchen at the office when someone else is in the doorway I just say ‘Hi!’ Rather than apologizing to A when it takes me a while to get back to his text, I’ll just answer his question. I’ve stopped apologizing for things where I’m not actually sorry, and it was the most difficult and amazing transformation in my attitude and my day. I feel more confident. I speak more confidently, because I’m confident in my words rather than apologetic. I’d encourage each of you to consider how often you apologize for things and make that same change if you need to. Because you also have nothing to apologize for.

Unless, of course, you’re Donald Trump. Because frankly, anyone with the “best words” should know better than to use them for hate. And hate, in all forms, is absolutely something to be sorry for.