Do It Anyway

Lazy weekends are just the best, aren’t they? Two days where you can sit and watch Netflix for hours, where you can eat leftover fried rice for breakfast and stay in sweatpants all day. I had a weekend like that this past weekend, one of my last remaining weekends before yoga training starts and I basically hibernate into the studio for six weeks straight. I spent most of this weekend relaxing or doing yoga, a vinyasa date on Saturday followed by impulse-shopping at Lululemon (came home with a leotard…) and then a night with M and N’s dog watching Netflix while they were out of town; in the spirit of a lazy weekend I was in bed by 9:30pm, snuggled with the dog and dead to the world for nine blissful hours. In fact, the only almost-stress I had for the weekend came when trying to decide what to do on my Sunday afternoon: should I stay home, meal prep for Whole30 and clean my apartment (aka be responsible) or head out to Queens for the evening (aka be impulsive)?

I’m sure this will come as HUGE shock to literally no one, but responsibility and I are not on great terms. Last week I accidentally forgot to send my rent check until it was pushing past due for no other reason that I forgot it was still in my purse, I triple-booked myself on Sunday afternoon because apparently I can’t read my own calendar, and did I mention I impulse-purchased a LEOTARD for yoga this weekend? In normal circumstances it’d be funny how little I think ahead sometimes, and okay it’s pretty funny I now own (and stand by) a leotard as an adult, but in the context of the big plans for this year, I know I need to start reigning myself in from the wild child that’s been running around for the past five years and start planning like a functional adult.

But then again, that sounds terrible. I mean, okay, obviously I’m a functioning adult, in that I am over the age of 18, I work and pay taxes and eat vegetables and lots of the other things adults do. I’m thinking more from the day-to-day aspect; I don’t want to have an exciting thought and then train myself at the end of it all to pull back from what brought me joy or happiness or anticipation because it may not be the “right” thing to do. I wear these small metal bands every day, Mantrabands they’re called, each with a small saying to bring me whatever I need in the moment: inspiration, positivity, courage. None of them are there to remind me to be responsible; there’s no mantra for “hold yourself back” or “think this through carefully.” They’re there to remind me that spontaneous is good for the soul, and that to hold myself back from anything, especially now, would be the worst thing. Yet still, it’s an internal battle. When do you let the planner win, and when do you say “fuck it” and have fun?

Yesterday afternoon I stopped in to see M when she got back in town, and on the walk to her apartment, I found myself weighing pros and cons of staying home versus heading out. I wanted to go, I knew I wanted to go, but I could feel the responsible person in my head pulling me back from falling into the mindset of DO IT! with gentle reminders of “Whole30 takes planning!” and “You have work you should do tonight.” Usually I look to M as my moral compass; she’s the most responsible person I know and she usually steers me in the right direction when I’m fighting my always-impulsive nature with the need to be an adult. I explained the options I had in front of me: be responsible in Washington Heights, or go chase happiness in an evening in Queens, and I have to admit, I did not see her response coming: “I say go for it!” she said. “This is the second-to-last weekend before you’re in training till March. Who cares if it’s not the responsible thing to do. Go be happy.”

I walked out the door with a smile on my face, and as I threw my coat on in a frenzy to get back to my apartment to pack a few things quickly and start the long trek to the outer borough, I knocked one of my bracelets askew. I shook my wrist a bit to put the bracelet back on right, and smiled as I quickly looked to see which one had been disrupted in the first place: Do It Anyway. Those words have become some of my favorites in the last month, where all of my careful planning for the big change this year has imploded under the weight of something new and unexpected; the words were exactly what I needed to see yesterday in the midst of the internal battle between responsible and happy. I know responsibility is gunning for me right now, and I’m probably looking at a serious bite in the ass at some point very soon for being such an impulsive 27-year-old child. But at least for now, I’m riding the wave of spontaneity and the last week of freedom before training, saying yes to everything and nothing, and repeating that it doesn’t matter if it’s the irresponsible or reckless path to take: sometimes that path is the most beautiful, and hell, even if it isn’t: do it anyway.

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Are you smiling?

Are you happy? Are you smiling? Are you doing exactly what you’d want to be doing right now?

My time off to relax into the end of 2015 was exactly what I needed, a few days in Connecticut over Christmas to celebrate time with the family and our new puppy brother, followed by a full 8 days back in the city to enjoy. The week was almost a blur of relaxing, wandering the city to catch up with G and E on Tuesday, E and I binge-watching Netflix and putting together furniture on Wednesday, and then a lazy New Year’s Eve day, ahead of a fancy dinner with M&N&E&me in Mount Kisco, ending the year by celebrating in sweatpants at home, champagne in hand and a kiss at midnight to start 2016 on a great foot.

I spent the last Saturday night of the vacation in Queens, of all places, and as I was gearing up for the long trek home, I decided to download a TED talk podcast on happiness. After a segment on an app that helps track your happiness, which will periodically text you something akin to the three questions above, I started to get distracted by the time, in a valiant effort to get to my apartment before the (eventually terrible) Jets game kick-off, and put music into my headphones instead to calm down. Wait by NF immediately came up in Spotify; the lyrics include “Are you happy?” and “Are you smiling?,” also noted above. Being asked these questions in two different mediums led to some interesting internal dialogue, as I tried to answer the three questions above on the long journey home.

On the one hand, HELL no, I was not happy, nor smiling, nor doing what I’d like to be doing. I had been stuck with a local train out of Forest Hills to Midtown, and then stuck with ANOTHER local train from Midtown to the Heights, which cinched my missing part of the first quarter of the game. It was cold outside which I strongly dislike, it was Day 2 of my third Whole30 so I had carb flu (IT’S REAL AND TERRIBLE), and I was less than 24 hours from returning to the office after an extremely-needed 10 day break. Also there was a weird ringing in my ears that wasn’t due to my headphones? Basically if I took a look at that exact moment, and the circumstances around me, I was not happy at all.

Taking a step back is something that’s not generally associated with the new year. Come January 1, we’re expected to step into resolutions with enthusiasm and fervor, this is the year I’ll get healthier and cancel cable and shop less and love more. Then, of course, most of these are swiftly abandoned after a few weeks or days, depending on how much champagne we’d had prior to making them. This year I took a different approach to the new year, in that my whole goal leading up to 2016, even the night leading into 2016, was to dial down my normal enthusiasm and enjoy a moment to step back and reflect. I don’t do that enough, I’ve realized, step back and appreciate or reevaluate for a moment, but with everything coming up in a few short weeks, taking moments to appreciate the little bits of the new year is something I want to prioritize.

Because if I look back to the moment above, the cranky attitude on a slow subway uptown; if I take a step back and look at the bigger picture, the answer to those questions is a resounding hell yes. It came after the perfect vacation with friends and family and love, and it came after a night with friends where I stuck to seltzer and still managed to stay out till 3am. It came after a lazy morning on the couch, bundled in t-shirts and coffee in hands while laughing along to Parks and Rec; and it came before NFL Sunday and a yoga class by candlelight to end the weekend. So yes, world. I am happy, and I am smiling, and I am exactly where I want to be right now. As with all things in life I’m sure that will change, but if I can hold onto my 2016 intention to step back a little and appreciate the big picture, then I predict I’ll have another wild yet wonderful year ahead.

Fast forward.

The story begins when I’m alone in a bathroom. I’m 15, and I’m at dinner with my family; we just finished eating and I’m staring at myself in the mirror. I ate fried chicken with some kind of greens and I can feel rage bubbling up in me, why would you eat that, I tell the mirror, aren’t you fat enough. I listen to a baby dragon inside me as it tempts me to get rid of it, get rid of it, get rid of it for the first time, and I walked out of the bathroom with a secret smile on my face. No one knows what just happened. No one would know what was happening for another two years, until no one could keep pretending it wasn’t happening anymore.

Fast forward and I’m in college but I’m in Argentina. I have a boyfriend and he’s nice to me, and I cling to him like he’s my whole life; he is my whole life during most of college. Never mind how I’ve cheated on him this whole trip; my first time apart from him in our two years of dating and all it takes for me to let someone kiss me is a compliment and then the threat that they might like someone else more. I’m ruled by insecurities, tell me you love me, tell me I’m pretty. I’ve gained so much weight I think I’m unrecognizable, and I hate it, so keep telling me I’m pretty, tell me I’m pretty, tell me you love me and I’ll let you take me home.

Fast forward and I’m alone. I’m in my apartment in New York City and I’m alone. When I moved to this city and when I moved to this apartment I wasn’t alone, but that all just changed. I’ve just gotten back here after leaving the Upper East Side and a pit stop to see N; M is out of town and N let me sit on their couch and stare at whatever sports game he had on to numb my feelings, but now I’m home and they’re all coming back. I’m alone. I’m really alone. And all of a sudden I’m on the floor and I’m screaming, I’m screaming into a pillow until my throat feels raw, as tears race down my face, my neck. “I’m sorry,” I keep sobbing, over and over. “I’m so sorry. I tried. I tried so hard. Oh god, this hurts. It hurts. It hurts. I’m sorry.”

Fast forward and I’m not alone in my apartment, but I am. Sometimes I’m not alone, but I am always alone. It’s one of those mornings where I’m waiting to be alone again, no I don’t want your number and don’t forget your shoes. I make a cup of coffee for just myself and sigh; there’s a moment after the door closes every time where I have to laugh at myself and who I’ve become over the last 24 months since screaming on the floor. She’s every kind of crazy, this person, but I love her in a way I’ve never loved a Self of mine. She’s stronger, I think, rolling out the worn-out yoga mat; she’s happier, I realize, as I stretch up to a backbend and open my heart. She’s ready to leave, this Self, she’s ready to take everything and start over as this person.

Fast forward and we’re all caught up. It’s almost the end of the year and the beginning of everything, the end of an era and the beginning of a new me. I don’t know where I am right now, having scheduled this blog post in advance so it would post today, like my own little fast forward to the future. My future as I’m writing it now is as blank as the rest of the future ahead of it. It was time to fast forward through all the things that shaped me in the past 12 years and let them go. It’s time to fast forward into this year, all of the wonderful milestones to look forward to, all of the changes and new beginnings and new people. It’s nice to rewind sometimes, relive who you were and how you got here, but I’m ready to press play again, and watch as the next story unfolds.

Resolutions

“I just keep thinking about what it’s going to be like when it ends.”

About a month ago, I was sitting with my lovely friend M in her living room, full from our wonderful dinner in Nyack and talking about the next day. I had a first date in the afternoon in Williamsburg, and though I was calmly discussing it with M, internally I was freaking. the. fuck. out. She kept saying all these best friend things, as she started realizing how nervous I really was, like ‘You need to get out of your head and just enjoy it,’ and ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’ She finally made a comment along the lines of ‘Hey, you never know what it could turn into,’ and I responded with the line above. M got very quiet after that, and I took a minute to curl my legs into my chest, staring at the floor, repeating the above mantra to myself, making sure my thoughts didn’t wander to the scary world of Maybes and I Wonders.

We were standing in her kitchen two days later, me rehashing all of the details from the brunch date that turned into the whole day and M cooking us dinner, per usual. Despite my best efforts to hide the fact that I really did have a great time, and I really couldn’t wait for the next one, M could tell that there was something different about me, different than any of the other random dates I’d forced myself to go on in the fall while getting over what happened with The Child. She made a joke about my having a plus one to T’s wedding in October, and my walls immediately went up; I started telling her there was no point in thinking about the future when it probably wouldn’t happen. I’ll never forget the way she looked at me after that: it was a mix of compassion and frustration, optimism and understanding, and she told me the words above had stuck with her since I’d said them that Saturday. “I get why you’re in that mindset,” she said, stirring the aromatic sauce on the stove, “especially after what you went through with The Child and all. But I don’t want you to think like that! Let yourself consider happiness instead of heartbreak. You never know what might happen.”

I’m not a guarded person. Well, correction. Up until recently, I’d never been a guarded person. I’m the girl that lives open and alive and obvious; I say I love you all the time and greet everyone with a hug. I trust easily and want to believe the best in people. It’s probably what set off everything as quickly as it did with The Child, as he came into my life with words that were bigger, sooner, more. I’ve noticed since all that fell apart that I won’t open up to new people, whether acquaintances, friends or dates. I’m quieter now, preferring to listen and figure things out in my own head; I’m not as quick to divulge details about anything, things as minor as apartment stories (#showergate14) and things as major as my last real relationship. I suppose it works against me, like people might think I don’t care or that I’m empty, but it’s not something I plan to change, at least not until I meet someone willing to give me the benefit of time and trust.

I hate believing in self-fulfilling prophecies, but as I predicted, the dates referenced above ended exactly as I thought they would: more fireworks, flashing just quickly enough to give me hope and then over just as quickly, leaving me exactly where I started. I won’t be telling M “I told you so,” though, much as the thought came into my head (/okay maybe I texted her that when it all went down). Owning the new parts of my personality that may be willing to talk about problems from high school, but unwilling to say what’s on my mind when all I can think is “You could be someone” is something I need to do for now. I have two resolutions for 2015, and only two resolutions this year. The first is just to believe in the possibility that there might be someone who inspires me to break down the tall, stone walls around me, and is willing to wait while I do. And the second is to know that I’m okay on my own, walls and all, whether that person exists for me or not.