ten.27

I have a confession to make. Six months ago, when I agreed on this past Tuesday as the date to be my next forever, I remember the entire process except for one crucial thing: I can’t remember how I came up with the idea in the first place. I remember every step of the process after making the first decision, the consultation, setting the date, imagining left and right what my forearm would look like in just a few months’ time, but I can’t remember for the life of me where I had the idea in the first place. All I know is six months ago I made this decision that this past week would be one of permanent and major changes – little did I know exactly how right I’d be.

Anyway, once I had it in my head that this past Tuesday was happening, three days after the wedding in the midst of a much-needed staycation, I started doing something to make sure I was making the right decision, which has probably become apparent in some of the crazier things I’ve said on the blog lately: I’ve finally turned full yoga hippie because every month now I’m tracking the moon cycles. I know, I know. It’s almost too clichéd to be a cliche. But in tracking these cycles I’ve learned a few things that have become invaluable knowledge, in this week of permanent alterations to the status quo: first, there’s a beauty in the chaos of the cycle of life, knowing that things must always balance out but never knowing how it’s going to happen; and second, I know now that deep down, even in the darkest of times, the tides will always shift and everything is going to be okay.

I found it interesting that Tuesday was a full moon, and allegedly a powerful one, on the year that I had the exact activity for that Tuesday planned. I already knew it was going to be a weekend of major changes that I hadn’t even begun to comprehend, the permanent altering of life in so many ways, T changes her last name and I change my right forearm. But oddly enough, while I was in the car driving up to Massachusetts for the big wedding weekend for Twinster, I had this feeling that something was about to happen and it was not going to be good. I can’t explain it; I was thinking about all the upcoming changes around this powerful energy, and I just had this horrible feeling that something was going to happen, and truly the word that wouldn’t get out of my head was “death.” It was an terrible yet interesting sort of premonition, because despite this ominous, scary feeling, I also knew one thing for sure: whatever I was feeling was not going to interfere with the wedding.

The wedding. T’s wedding. Where I watched my other half become someone else’s other half (as mentioned in my maid-of-honor speech, which KILLED by the way). The weekend couldn’t have been more perfect, the freezing weather as a perfect backdrop to peak fall colors as we rode the chairlift up the mountain and back during cocktail hour; the way they smiled and laughed every time they looked at each other, and how much fun it was to meet people who, for the first time, had a hard time telling T&me apart. The food was delicious, the band was phenomenal, and the end of the night was the bridal party plus guests in a hotel suite in sweatpants, drinking the final few beers leftover from the limos and eating the Chex mix from the hotel gift bags. It was, in the only word that comes close to describing the weekend, perfect.

I left the weekend with this amazing new-found happiness, appreciation, and understanding of family. It was such a brilliant crowd of people, and it made me so excited for everything next year. I had Tuesday to look forward to, now that it was a real thing, and I had three days of vacation ahead in that as well. It sucks when your family, after this perfect and wonderful weekend, gets a call that something happened that is absolutely no one’s fault and was completely unavoidable. But it sucks when the family that has just spent 48 hours smiling until our faces hurt and then a little more finds out the fourth sibling, the one that kept our parents sane after we all moved out, the crazy sibling who barked at anything that moved and loved to hoard stuffed animals and sticks of butter, left us forever, just as one of us said forever and I looked forward to a Tuesday of my own forever as well.

Tattoo by the ENORMOUSLY talented Mikhail Andersson (www.tattookarma.com; Instagram: @mikhailandersson)

I felt a bit numb when Tuesday finally came around, which even translated into a physical symptom as my arm lay in an uncomfortable position for just around 90 minutes, hanging out in a private studio with someone who is practically an old friend at this point. But I never let that sink in, the numb energy, and I reminded myself why it meant so much to have this image permanently etched to my skin. And so as all these new beginnings were happening, life without the fourth sibling, life as the only B daughter, l watched as my big new beginning, the one I can’t remember how it came to be, marked so much more than I could have imagined in a beautiful line down my forearm. It marked this new life I’m following and finding myself in ways I’ve chased for years. As I stare down at my arm now I’m reminded of so much more than I could have imagined, some wonderful and some very challenging, but all wrapped into why I wanted to immortalize something on myself in the first place: to remember that life moves in cycles, and there will always be balance if you have patience. And most importantly, that even as things feel impossible now, everything is going to be okay.

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Snip Snip

On Friday night I was sitting in Connecticut, glass of wine in one hand and a piece of chocolate in the other, savoring the little joy of vices while watching silly television with my parents. My mother was excitedly staring at me, trying not to push too hard, but I’d casually mentioned an idea I’d had that week to her, and she was bouncing with anticipation, hoping I’d follow through on the semi-impulsive thought. It was a quiet, simple night, much like many of my nights in the past five weeks, and while there’s nothing wrong with that, I felt compelled to do something to mix everything up; I needed a story, something I could tell people before they stopped asking me what I did all weekend, since my response has been the same for so long. And don’t get me wrong: I love a little boring in my life, especially when New York City loves to throw day in, day out wildness at you like confetti, but things finally reached the point where I felt suffocated by the same old, same old, and it was time to do something big.

I have a feeling that the writer’s block for the past month is less because I didn’t want to write, or I was getting bored with blogging, but because I’ve just been boring. My life is a round robin of work, yoga, eat, sleep, repeat. I work all the time, then go home and have just enough time to practice a little and make dinner before collapsing into bed for seven blissful hours before it all starts over again. Weekends have been back and forth to Connecticut, trying to help my family as much as possible as we navigate the unfamiliar waters of the matriarch in pain, and obviously Whole30 in April meant I wasn’t drinking or going out to my old haunts that inspired many a post in the past. And none of that is going anywhere. Work is getting busier (is that possible?), I’m really ramping up yoga after the “NO MORE WHOLE30” wine bender of the past week, But there’s this shift that I can feel in the air; it’s the shift into summer, led by the strong breeze through the blooming trees, trailing pollen through the air in a thick, yellow haze. Summertime means sleeveless shirts and sunglasses till 8pm, it means sunshine and vitamin D, a cool drink sweating down your hand, your arm, it means weekends dedicated to celebrating the new beginnings that come with the season.

For me, it’s a shift away from the hibernation mode of the past few months into what’s shaping up to be the busiest summer I’ve ever had. There are rooftop parties last-minute on the weekend, hoping to find the balance between tanning and burning on my fair Irish skin, and outdoor concerts and movies begging for a picnic blanket and a cool bottle of rose. There’s my college reunion in a few short weeks, a chance to see people I haven’t in five years and one of the final chances I’ll have to act like I’m 19 again, before a summer of events and activities that remind me I’m an adult, like the bridal shower for my sister and my partner-in-crime’s wedding. The next few months are the lead up to my 27th birthday, the point in life where I’m officially in my late twenties and the first time I feel like I might actually have a few pieces of my life figured out. It’s not a lot of pieces or even a big chunk, seeing as I still ate chocolate for dinner last night and told myself the third margarita in the afternoon wouldn’t make a difference (as it turns out my limit is probably two). But it’s the first time that I’ve budgeted appropriately, having had summer plans since last fall, and it’s the first time I feel settled into all areas of my life: my apartment, my job, my routine and the constant awareness that things can change as quickly as I’ve settled into them.

Encouraged by Mama B’s giddy encouragement and the fact that I refuse to let myself be bored any longer, I walked into my hair salon on Saturday morning and laughed out loud as my stylist, a friend for over ten years, chopped off ten inches of my hair, my first real haircut since 2008. It has been a time of changes for me for so long, new people and new beginnings, new colors everywhere from my apartment to my hair to the many tattoos I’ve acquired in the past 12 months. And I wasn’t nervous when she put the scissors to my hair, didn’t close my eyes or flinch as she dangled the severed ponytail in front of me when the deed was good and done. I cant stop shaking my head back and forth now, the weightlessness of more than half my hair lifted from my shoulders; that hair had seen me through so many milestones and changes and new beginnings in the seven years I’d been growing it that now, as things feel as settled as they can be, it was time to let everything go. New seasons, new beginnings, new hair. Letting things get stale was what I needed for a little while, but now it’s time to cut the bullshit of a monotonous life and start pushing for the things that make me feel excited and alive.

Alley-oop

When you drop a basketball onto a hard surface, the ball obviously doesn’t just hit the ground and start rolling, or bounce back to your grasp and stay there. The ball bounces once, then again a bit lower, and again, and again, until it starts rolling away from you, onto the next person or next location. I never gave this phenomenon much thought, because let’s be real, why would I, but it popped into my mind recently as an interesting allegory to other aspects in life. More specifically, it came up as I was thinking about everyone’s favorite post-relationship phase: the rebound.

I mean maybe not everywhere...

I mean maybe not everywhere…

For a long time, I assumed this phase was something tangible and noticeable, an actual relationship of sorts that can be defined as the official “Rebound” from a heartbreak. But rebounds are less concrete, happening in waves, much like the basketball bounces that get lower and lower. The first one is bigger than you’re expecting: it’s sooner than you thought possible and also more intense, pushing out memories of the broken relationship by forming new ones, first time you meet, first kiss, first sleepover. It’s seeing the person every weekend, twice per weekend, while thoughts of “what is this?” permeate your life, raising all sorts of questions: is this really happening? is this even real? But what goes up must come down, and eventually the rebound is just that: after the initial excitement of Someone New wears off, the flaws come out. Sure, he’s successful and smart, the views from his TriBeCa apartment are amazing and you get along really well. But it’s not the right thing and it never will be, and that’s okay. So you move on.

The next bounce is smaller and fades faster, fueled by great chemistry and hindered by timing. It carries through to the next few mini-bounces, hope goes up when you go on that date, laughing and joking and enjoying yourself the whole time, but back to bouncing when it’s another week, another week, another week where you just can’t seem to get the timing right. It might happen again, another bounce, another date, but eventually it’s time to take a step back and consider how much effort you want to put into something that maybe isn’t working out. It’s a rebound from the rebound: taking a step out of your comfort zone yet again, finding just a little more about yourself, and figuring out just a little more where you want the ball to roll next.

Personally, I think the rebound phase is important to the healing process, a way to lick the wounds from a broken relationship and learn about yourself and your needs so you can move on. It’s easy to forge an emotional connection with someone when you know all the wonderful things that come with a committed relationship, but it’s difficult to form any real attachment when half the time you’re comparing him to your ex, and the other half you’re trying to figure out what it is you really want. Rebounds make it easier to get used to the tangled world of dating as a 20-whatever, the emotional highs of a new connection, the lows when you realize there’s no expiration date on being single, and the confusing middle ground when you’re just not interested someone and you don’t know why.

Eventually the momentum fades and the ball stops rolling, no longer bouncing, bouncing, bouncing into the confusing world of the not-relationship. There’s a settled feeling as you wait in the wings, you cease craving the emotional connection you lost in the big break-up because you know what you want, deserve, and need for the next person that picks up the ball. Rebounds are that way to settle slowly into a single life, a way to confront what dissatisfied you about a previous relationship and walk away from it without becoming an emotional mess.

I don’t know if there’s a name for this next phase, the post-rebounding, where you’re waiting for someone special to surprise you, rather than looking for someone who will pay attention to you. Right now it’s nice to let events play out as they will – after all, once you’re done bouncing, you never know when it might happen that someone will pick up the ball again. It could take weeks; it could take months. It might even be sparked by something as simple and silly as a smile from a very cute stranger on your morning commute.

Spontaneously Permanent

This past weekend, while enjoying martinis at the Top of the Hub on a sunny Boston spring day, mama B, my sister T and I were joking around about everything and nothing, mama B’s recent travels, T’s impending engagement, my latest adventures on the NYC single scene. After three-quarters of a cosmo, mama B looked at me with an expression I know all too well, and asked her favorite question: “If I buy you a diamond stud for your nose, will you stop wearing that damn hoop?” I laughed, like I always do, and she sighed, like she always does, but then immediately started, dropping her bite of arancini back on her plate, jolted by a recent memory. She looked me up and down, narrowed her eyes and said “OH GOD I almost forgot. You didn’t get that third tattoo, did you?”

I probably understand more than most that tattoos are not for everyone. I don’t try to convince people they should consider a tattoo if they’re the type to say things like “I change my mind too often for something permanent!” (you’re really bragging about that?) or “I’m too scared of the pain.” A tattoo is a lifelong responsibility, not in the sense that it needs to be cared for forever, but if you have visible ink, people are going to look at you a certain way, think of you a certain way, and judge you a certain way, even if they’re tiny, like mine. It’s not all negative: I’ve had plenty of compliments on mine from strangers in the street, doctors, coworkers and even family. But I’ve also seen a look when people catch a glimpse of my arm or my ankle, coupled with the hoop in my nose, and there’s a brief moment where I feel them stand a little straighter, just enough so I know they’re looking down on me. After all, why would such a normal-looking girl do something like that to herself?

I’ll readily admit that my first two tattoos were perhaps a touch on the impulsive side. I’ve always been the kind of person to plan ahead, looking at things in a vast, unknown future, and then decide in a brief moment of spontaneous inspiration that the future is RIGHT NOW and NEEDS TO HAPPEN. When this is in regards to a new dress I’ve been eyeing or finally giving into my near-constant craving for Wendy’s spicy chicken sandwich, the only things that really suffer are my overstuffed closet, wallet and waistline. Tattoos, on the other hand, put this kind of impulsivity into a completely different spotlight. Looking over the consent form is a surreal experience, words like “PERMANENT” and “SCARS,” “NOT LIABLE” and “PERMANENT” scream at you from every paragraph, rightfully reminding you that once this is done, there’s no turning back. That first line is a wake-up call to the lasting consequences of change, a pinch of pain, the buzzing from the gun humming at the same frequency as the ringing in your ears, and then the dull ache of needle on skin as the masterpiece comes to life.

Some people ask me if I’m sick of looking at them after so many years, if they’ve lost their meaning. I look at the cheerful heart on my ankle, blue and white stripes with an almost imperceptible sun in the middle, but I know it’s there. I smile as I’m hit with memories of wandering barefoot on my friend’s balcony in the heart of Buenos Aires, munching on bread with homemade chimichurri and endless mugs of sweet sangria, singing along to his guitar while the asado permeated the air with the heady smell of grilled meats, a reminder of another LB, another place, 19 years old, such a child. I catch a glimpse of the one on my back and remember the last time I had to adjust to single life, surrounded by wild choices and no responsibilities in my last year of college, using the ink as a reminder that to love and be loved requires only me, another LB, another place, 21 years old, still learning. They’re as much a part of me as my freckles or my scars, and I love them for reminding me of places, people, and times in my life where I felt strong and felt alive.

I always knew I wanted another, and will probably get one more still before I’m done. I know the full responsibility of a tattoo now. I know the stares, and the questions, and the disappointment etched in my parents’ faces as they observe what new hell I’ve done to my body. I’ve spent a few years planning for the third one, waiting and wanting and needing something that made all of the scary parts worth it.

Just in case I forget where I live.

Just in case I forget where I live.

A little reminder on my inner arm now serves forever as a good memory of a day where I woke up, sunshine seeping through my windows, highlighting all of the changes I’ve made in the apartment, in my life, since last fall.  I remember sipping coffee and watching the clock, anxious for it to be the time to leave, hoping it wouldn’t take too long, just wanting to see the final product, willing it to life. I remember joking around with the artists in the shop, feeling so comfortable, ten minutes, no pain, and there it was forever. I spent the rest of the day in a delirious happiness with the decision, showing it off to everyone who didn’t ask, and then waking up only to remember it wasn’t a dream, and it was forever there, forever my piece of this time. Another LB, another place, 25 years old, finally growing up.

 

On what to wear on your last day of work.

I have a lot of clothes. There, I said it. I’d rather go shopping than pretty much anything else. So at times, I find myself in a bit of a pickle trying to put together an outfit for work after a: oversleeping; b: forgetting to pick up laundry; or c: oversleeping. It takes a really long time to rummage through a wardrobe, closet, dresser, under-bed storage, 2 trunks and shoe closet just to realize the shirt you need is under old gym clothes in your hamper. (Aside: “Why do you live in Washington Heights?” just answered itself there. End aside.)

I took an especially long time getting ready this morning. First, I’m sick of this weather. If I have to wear rainboots 5 days a week for the next month, I’ll just start crying for bittersweet memories of the 2013 heat wave. Plus, every time I wear a sweater I end up sweating a LOT on the subway and then I’m just gross in the office all day. It was only Wednesday, so I didn’t want to wear jeans, though I work in a pretty cool environment so no one would have cared. I just ripped my only pair of winter-friendly tights, so a dress is out, and my basically-denim-but-looks-fancier-because-faux-leather-stripe pants were in the aforementioned hamper. I was haphazardly throwing clothing around, mentally running through my catalog of outfits with no decision in site.

I’ve been at my current office for just over a year, after a pretty intense introduction to the industry at my first job. I can’t speak highly enough of the people I’ve worked with at this place, the experiences I’ve had, the experience I’ve gained and my now lasting appreciation of a rooftop mariachi band. And yet here I was, stuck in front of my mirror, half dressed with less than 5 minutes till I was officially running late, and I couldn’t figure out what to wear as I went there for the very last time.

Changes come in waves, either nothing at all or everything at once. For me, the past few months have been a whirlwind of life-changing events, from things as minor as selling my car to the whole “single LB” thing. The final push in turning my life completely upside down came in the form of an out-of-the-blue email from someone asking me if I would be interested in a new job. My initial answer was “no, I’m settled,” but I was in a good mood and didn’t want to hurt the person’s feelings, so I said “why not.” Why not, it seems, works in my favor.

I finally decided on an over-sized sweater with black leggings, a statement necklace and ankle boots, the perfect mix of “Who cares I’m leaving!” with “I’m trying to impress you all for the last time, because I respect and admire you so much.” Speaking from 4 hours in the future, maybe the ankle boots were a bad idea given that the sidewalks are still covered in ice and dirty snow. Fine they were definitely a bad idea. Perhaps something I’ll have to remember before I start my new adventure next week.

The worst decision.

Heading home from a long day of drinking last night, I stopped for a minute to reflect on the absurd weekend I’d just had. In 72 hours, I’d met two fabulous drag queens and surprised them at their drunk brunch show, been lost in 3 neighborhoods, exercised for exactly zero hours and currently had three different boys texting me  after being a bit too loose with my number at the last bar. As I leaned my head back and tried to ignore the fact that this was rapidly becoming the most expensive cab ride I’d ever taken, I knew the hangover, the growing bruise on my leg and the hit my already-broke bank account took this weekend were all worth it. This was the stuff I’d look back on in twenty years and remember. Well, mostly remember.

I paid the cab driver the massive fee I’d racked up getting from the West Village back home to Washington Heights, stepped over one of my neighbors passed out on the stairwell and made my way up 5 flights of stairs to my apartment, all while in 4-inch kicks, insides saturated with mimosas, beer and bad food. Collapsing onto the couch like I’d run a 10K, I gave the cat a head rub and thought about where I was for the Super Bowl last year: snuggled up with my then-boyfriend of three years, blissfully unaware of the 12 months of heartbreak ahead of me, only aware of the fact that we were slowly talking about moving in together and thinking maybe, just maybe, he would propose on our trip to Aruba that next month.

When a relationship falls apart, it’s not like a movie montage, a blurry series of painful moments and over in a flash. Living through those moments feels like wading through mud uphill, trying to catch his hand as he runs, runs, runs away. The worst decision I ever made was to fight for a relationship when he wouldn’t fight with me. I spent months fists up, giving him piece after piece after piece of myself, desperate for him to love me in the way I wanted him to, needed him to. When he finally snapped, screaming at me that he didn’t want the things I wanted, I could feel the pieces of my heart he held crumble, slowly blowing away, like a whisper in a crowded room. Finally walking away from Us took every piece of courage and strength I could muster, and I spent the next 24 hours in a daze, unable to feel anything unless I was feeling everything.

After just a few days, I started feeling something else that I wasn’t expecting. Rather than finding myself overwhelmed with grief and loss, I felt relief. Slow building and impossible to ignore, relief started flowing through every vein to every limb and every part of myself. I nearly collapsed with the weight of such a feeling, unable to believe that it took just a few days to feel any semblance of normal after nearly four years of an intense and wonderful love. I took that relief and used it to remember all the things about myself that I’d neglected while entrenched in the losing battle for Us, like how much I love pushing myself at the gym and how much I enjoyed living alone.

Back on my couch, the cat nipped at my hand and brought me to the present. The clock said 9:45, but I was drunk, tired and stuffed with free wings and other football fare, so dammit if I didn’t want to go to bed. I sent a quick text to my friend to make sure she was home safe, and then turned my phone on silent, lest the bartender I don’t plan on seeing ever again text me another sweet pick-up line, a follow-up to his opener of “What’s your opinion of tequila?”

It may be an interesting concept, sharing the comically bad decisions of your mid-to-late 20s, but when you’ve already made a decision that caused you to lose yourself completely, suddenly telling people about the drunk 2 a.m. purchase of leather sweatpants, or the not-so-well-received joke about gonads in an internal work meeting isn’t the worst. In fact, it’s pretty funny. And after such a long year of heartbreak and loss, funny is exactly what I need.