It Begins & Ends Here

I was just eleven years old when my uncle bought me my first set of Nicholas Sparks books. I ripped at the snowflake Christmas wrapping paper and The Rescue, The Notebook, and A Walk To Remember shifted in my hands. I had no idea who the author was at that time, but I was excited. They looked like “adult books;” accounts of mature scenarios like the Danielle Steel novels I used to “borrow” from my mother’s library and read well into the wee hours of the morning. The gift was a rite of passage, an indicator that I was finally old enough to delve into topics such as love and physical chemistry and matters of the human heart.

The words spilled off the pages as I immersed myself in the lyrics that Nicholas Sparks so poetically described. I will forever blame that man for my lofty view of magical happenings, real life fairy tales that paint pictures of “over the moon, move in tomorrow, grow old together” instances of love. His literary illustrations had me feigning for his next novels; Every couple of months I’d be at the bookstore, pining through the “Bestseller” section to purchase my newest easy read. My eyes devoured every line, my heart yearned for a love story of my own after every last page.

Yet Nicholas Sparks always started his books in “medias res,” in the middle of an ordinary day in an ordinary life. He never fully described the pre-fairytale journey of his characters, and it was hard for me to understand that these people did not just meet the suitor of their dreams and live happily ever after.

Enter me, front and center. I fell in love at thirteen, hard, with a man that I had a crush on since the fifth grade. It was my first beautiful account of true romance, perfect infatuation… We read those Nicholas Sparks novels together and vowed to create our own stellar story. At a very young age I experienced kisses in the rain, love poems filled to the brim with promises, red roses on anniversaries and white ones just because. This boy convinced me that I was the luckiest girl in the world, that I had found a love so great, that nothing, no one, would ever be able to penetrate the solid protective haven that we had created.

But he was just that, a boy… and I was a girl. We were two kids building dreams in our treehouse, unaware of the power of storms. Uninformed about the realm outside of our comfort zone. Once high school ended, we tried everything possible to combat distance, time, people, places, and our own evolving personalities, but growth is inevitable. And as time wore on, we grew apart.

Exit my high school sweetheart, stage right. I was a college freshman with a dream of one day becoming the next Nicholas Sparks. I had enrolled in Roger Williams University for creative writing, a passion that that become a part of me, infused in my blood stream and burning in my core. I still craved my own story, something beautiful amid a chaotic mess of a less than glamorous college lifestyle.

Beauty surrendered to the chaos rather quickly. Accounts of love were fleeting, parties were excessive, papers and exams wreaked havoc around me…

Switch the scenery.

I graduated from Johnson & Wales University with a degree in Marketing Communications, a far more practical and stable choice, lived in Rhode Island for another year before returning home to my parent’s abode, worked two jobs through my internship program to afford travelling, near and far, landed my first job at the nonprofit I interned at and worked my ass off until the organization transferred me to their New York City location.

I look in the mirror today and know that I am not the girl I once was, sitting under the covers with a flashlight reading “A Message In A Bottle” cover to cover and imagining myself at 25, married with children, cooking in a kitchen while staring out the window at a white picket fence on my front lawn.  I am a woman about to return to my desk on the 3rd floor of my office in Midtown Manhattan, with my hair in a high bun, tattoos on my wrists, and flats on my feet to bear the metropolitan commute. I have lived in my dream city for two years now, have put on over a dozen successful events, and have enjoyed every moment of this crazy journey.

The quest for that love story has not diminished over time though, and although each relationship to date has acted like a rolling tide, moving in with intensity before fizzling out to sea, I have been tossed around like a piece of glass, riding the waves and allowing them to mold me into something wonderful. With each fleeting romance, I have learned about myself: My favorite songs, my favorite places, my favorite foods. I have figured out which traits I favor over others. Which flaws I can tolerate and which acts I find inexcusable. I have learned to trust my intuition, have adapted to many surroundings and have fled from the scenarios have that stunted my ability to grow. It has all been a lesson of self-discovery, a perfect blend of incredible highs and educational lows, in retrospect.

It’s an ordinary life, filled with extraordinary instances, and I live for those stellar moments that I can string together and weave around mundane backdrops. I am often consumed by my day to day, content more or less, guarded but not quite jaded. I am easily amused, entertained by city lights and seduced by sunsets, still… Waiting patiently but not actually looking for another soul to sit beside me and watch the sky shift from cotton candy colors to shades of gray.

Enter you… stage left.

It’s almost as though fate looked on from the sidelines and anticipated this moment, where two lives would cross in medias res, after years of running parallel.  I remember you as the quiet one in high school, mysterious behind a dark cloak of bangs, shuffling by in the hallway with no more to say then a hasty “hey.” I was the girl on the field with a loud mouth, bouncing about to no music on the track, in line with my high-ponytailed friends. I had no idea that you played lacrosse and was voted homecoming king, just like you had no idea that I went home after practice to read my Nicholas Sparks novels in bed until my mother came in and turned out my light.

I had no idea that you went to Roger Williams University and were mere doors down from me, also playing beer pong and listening to the Outfield’s “Your Love” on Tuesday nights.

But now… here we are, worlds apart yet at the same place at what seems like finally the right time. And this blog entry, it’s for you. I’ve had this diary of sorts since 2009, situated in a quiet corner of the internet yet easily accessible to the curious onlooker…

Today I realized that I don’t need it anymore.

I have you, the beginning and end of everything. The inspiration, the voice that fills the silence, the haven I turn to when I have a secret to jot down. You now are the safety net for every fear, the memento box for every accomplishment, the online journal for my thoughts.

You are my Nicholas Sparks story, and now I realize that not all things are meant to be lived out loud. They don’t need to be open to ridicule or scrutiny or any judgment whatsoever, but can live inside our memory until the story has aged enough to be passed down and enjoyed.

And so today I say goodbye, for now at least, to one of my most prized possessions. It doesn’t mean that I am going to stop writing, but am choosing to close the door to a part of my life that I wish to keep private and sacred. I don’t feel compelled to “check in” with the world anymore, but am getting use out of the paper journal that travels with me wherever I go. For the first time in my life, the pages are weathered and worn, stuffed with photos and ticket stubs and words that mimic the ones that Noah and Allie, Landon and Jamie, Miles and Sarah used in all of my favorite tales.

Until my next creative venture is discovered… Exit, stage right.

Just the two of us.

Shedding My Skin & Floating On A Feather

There is something so special about jet setting, a notion that not too many people take advantage of. By removing yourself from day to day life, free from stresses and obligations, from the people and places you come into contact with regularly,  you are allowed time to reflect on your storyboard and make plans to tweak areas that need improvement. You resolve to relax more. You find out who you miss most, which relationships are toxic while not in everyday presence. You get into the habit of avoiding the interactive buttons via email, on social media, and learn to enjoy more simple pleasures. My favorite part about vacationing is the life coaching phenomenon that I experience when I am away; The revelations I receive, the new opportunities I uncover, the lasting memories I make. With every long drive embarked on, with every plane ticket in hand, I feel alive with the idea of breathing new life once I return.

This trip to Michigan was one that I booked last minute to see a longtime friend in her hometown. She moved to another region years ago and I’ve long been reluctant to pay for high fees due to flying into a tiny airport. Last year, we met in Chicago and had the time of our lives, but I couldn’t help but notice the sadness in her eyes every time she talked about her then two year old daughter and husband back home. I resolved to bite the bullet and book a flight of my own this year, stay at my best friend’s house and get to know her daughter and husband for the first time. I figured that it would be the perfect way to unwind after a grueling climb season and put my own life on hold, live in someone else’s day to day for a week.

I was not prepared for the reality check that this vacation would reveal, though. I got off of the plane in Traverse City, Michigan and I saw this beautiful brunette whip around to get approval from her mother before running toward me, homemade sign in hand and arms outstretched. Tears formed in the corners of my eyes as I fell in love with this incredible toddler for the first time.

Someday I will tell Miss Lilianna Grace the story of how she shaped the way I view my future. Weeks prior to the trip to Michigan, I babysat my other best friend’s three children while her and her husband went away to Las Vegas. The kids are older, but I’ve never had so much fun watching Glee on the living room couch between two beautiful girls, or witnessing Catie’s teenage boy light up in excitement when I mentioned eating out rather than cooking. Dinners were made together, four spoons dipping into taco meat and chips taste testing the guacamole before sitting down at the dining room table and chatting about the school day. I slept in a Cali-King bed between the twins, with a dog and cat at my feet each night, I drove slowly with them in the car, I made clues as to how they could remember their quiz answers.

And when I completed my duties, sent them off to school on my last day and headed back two hours toward the city for work, I reflected that entire car ride. I drove with a coffee in hand, bagel in the other after two mornings of homemade breakfasts… and recalling that notion allowed a sense of longing to settle in. I realized then that my life wasn’t a mess, but different than the one I had just experienced. It was coffee and bagels in the car, meetings and pencil skirts, dinners for one and Pinterest before bed. It was concerts and peeing with the door open and plans made on a whim.

When Lili hugged me, it was as though she whispered in my ear, that she was going to reinforce that feeling of longing I had experienced just a few weeks prior. She was going to let me into her life, guide me as I witnessed a loving marriage, two parents who are blessed to exercise their passions on a daily basis… she vowed home-cooked ham and egg sandwiches and dancing on the bed to techno music, twirling around with a flower tiara on my head, singing Life’s wonderful praises.

I learned Lili’s tricks, I soaked in her facial expressions, I lit up with every curious question that she posed. And when I boarded my plane at the end of my stay, bidding farewell to a family that I grew to adore in just five days… I spent the rest of the commute doing my best to let go of the empty feeling that emerged with the absence of three incredible human beings.

I got a vox that night from my best friend John, a long distance message from California, asking how my trip was. After a light-hearted catch up session, he left me once last message.

“Maybe you’ve been experiencing this lately, It’s something that I’ve been thinking about and I know you are kind of in the same place. Almost all areas of my life are in  good standing; I like my job, my bills are getting paid, I can say that I am genuinely happy about my day to day. But I think that things being good… are different than things moving forward in a way that you are excited about or working toward.”

John hit the nail on the head. That emptiness I was experiencing on the plane back home was due to the fact that I was returning to a life of good standing… whilst standing on my own.

I wrote a few weeks ago that I was ready to become a team player in my next relationship, find someone who was willing to do the same and strive toward perfection in every way possible. After my last love-life disappointment, I resolved to taking my time, not settling for anything less than a sure thing… and then pushing forward with the finish line vision of a lasting partnership.

With two months of solo nights and whirlwind days in the rearview, after two instances of family life captured before my eyes… I think I am ready to at least make myself aware of the people around me. I feel comfortable and confident and sure of what it is I want and don’t want.

This trip gave way to my tipping point. Lili brought out a new sense of maturity in me, and also unleashed the child within: Something I needed in order to shed my callused skin and come out on the other side with less baggage, with more optimism. My best friend and her husband have endured the push and pull of stormy seas together and it was so wonderful to witness the calm tide, their apparent adoration for each other and such small gestures of love exchanged while in the company of a bright eyed, wild three year old.

I learned during my stay that love can remain in the honeymoon stage with effort, and though the grandiose vacations and lavish dinners out and mornings intertwined in bed don’t always last, the winks from across the table and the stolen kisses from behind the refrigerator and hands held in the car do.

I went on vacation to spend time with my niece… but what I got was a desire for the next phase of life and all that it entails. In one week I will be back on a plane, venturing the Dominican Republic with my family for our annual Spring trip… and I look forward to the true R&R that will take place before I return home to this new frame of mind.

The best is yet to come.

Make Time

He was my best friend. I have picture perfect memories of him and I walking along the highway on a rainy Wednesday morning, determined to find a gas station that would revive my old silver Buick Regal. I wore a towel on my head, the only form of protection that I had in my car to ward off the storm’s precipitation. Matt whined beside me as the water-soaked through his sweatshirt, as he slid in and out of his flip-flops with every step.
We did everything together, from impromptu road trips to authentic sushi date nights, on the floor sitting cross-legged on our favorite Wickenden Street hotspot. Although we were from two different worlds, we bonded at our first college orientation session and were inseparable ever since.
He helped keep me sane through my extra-trimester post graduation, and once I completed school and moved back home we continued to keep in touch. Boyfriends and family ups and downs, vacations and moving adventures: We made it a point to stay up to date in each other’s lives.

After some time apart though, life got busy and we had to work harder to schedule long distance catch-up sessions. Matt called me one day and excitedly revealed that he was moving in with his boyfriend, relocating to Pittsburgh and was having a going-away party before the big transition. Although I plugged the date in my calendar, my own goals got the best of me and I missed the party for Labor Day festivities back home. It broke my heart, that I wasn’t able to say goodbye to my best friend, but  I made a mental note to reach out once he was settled to schedule a trip.

Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months, and I had a hunch that Matt was upset about my absence at his party. I hadn’t heard from him and although I saw his whereabouts on Facebook, I was shy about confronting him on our growing rift. I knew that the event was important to him and, tail between my legs, I wanted to do more than just passively approach him via text or phone call. Grandiose ideas of me showing up on his doorstep floated through my mind… But as calendar dates passed, so did many opportunities.

I was sitting in a NYC coffee shop one night with my best friend and I saw Matt’s number appear in my voice mail box. I listened to his message on the train home and his confession brought me to tears; He apologized for holding a grudge regarding the party and wanted to catch up, make things better. I didn’t realize just how much I missed him until I held the phone up to my ear, and resolved that evening to start making plans for a re-introduction.
I did not call him back though, once again, because I felt like long distance communication was just not enough to portray how remorseful I really was. I wanted to connect in a meaningful way, and felt strange using technology to put back together pieces of such an important friendship.
Good intentions rarely lead to success though, if execution is not identified. I did not fly to Pittsburgh and Matt did not fly home to give an opportunity for a reunion.
Months went by, until one day, I saw on social media that he was in the city. Not wanting the time to pass without contact, I reached out to him and found that he was in town for a work conference. He told me that he had to stay with his group but  was free after dinner for a few minutes before returning to his training classroom.
It was good enough for me. Searching my office, I found a card and poured my heart into it, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to see him long enough to elaborate on what I needed to say. I printed out the photo of us in the rain, the one from our wacky city road trip, and pasted it to the left of my signature. And I left work, trekking toward his dinner spot for a last-minute but highly anticipated reunion.
“Don’t give him the card,” my  girl friend advised while I played the scenario out on the phone, killing time in Midtown Manhattan. “Just tell him you are sorry.” I contemplated aloud, not giving Matt the letter for fear that he’d see my writing as a cop-out for a true apology. People have always told me that writing falls within my comfort zone when dealing with issues, and I wanted to make sure that Matt saw the gesture as more than that.
I walked to the Fashion Institute of Technology, sat on the steps of the Post Office, people watched in Madison Square Garden and took pictures on side streets around me. Finally I got a call from Matthew, saying that he was done with dinner but had to go back into training. “Are you able to walk with me?” he said.
I met him outside of the restaurant and as soon as I saw him, tears formed in the corners of my eyes. I missed him so much, and suddenly we were together again, bouncing around in excitement like old companions, throwing our arms around each other for a long overdue embrace.
Our pitches rose as we quickly caught up on our lives. I filled him in on my job, as he filled me in on his new advances in his company. Too soon, we were at the door to his building and we both hesitated, disappointed in our hasty timing.
“It was so nice catching up,” Matt said as he pulled me into him for another embrace. I felt the letter catching fire in my bag.
“Hold on!” I said, rummaging though my tote, deciding to present him with my literary peace pipe.
I gave him the card and hugged him one last time before saying goodbye and starting my journey to Grand Central Station.
I didn’t hear from him around 11 when I knew he was getting out of class, and I worried that I had gone too far with my blunt apology.Anxiety crept in until inner turmoil exhausted my body.
I was ecstatic then, to wake up to a voicemail that calmed my spirit. Matt had understood my intentions completely, and appreciated the extra step.  His message was a breath of fresh air: I was able to find peace in knowing that despite a lapse in our journey, a friendship still remained.
If I could sum up any and every lesson I have learned from my twenties thus far, I’d only need two words to do so: Make time. A trivial matter dragged on for months because of a lapse in communication, something that could’ve been resolved in a short amount of time. It took his brave soul to come to me, the coward in the situation, to ensure that we realigned our stance regarding our friendship. Looking back, I am mad at myself for having waited so long to tell him that I was sorry. I now can’t go back and relive those days.
There have been many ups and downs with the people that matter most in recent years: Instances of tough love, twists of fate, poorly used time that led to great divides and perfect timing that led to great rewards. The friendships that I hold dearest to my heart stem from effort on both ends to keep the ties tightly pulled.
My mother’s battle with cancer has taught me to pay close attention to family time. I write in bed tonight in a small town in Michigan, miles away from home, and I couldn’t be more happy. I am making memories with my best friend’s daughter who is three years old, memories I wouldn’t trade for the world.
The sacrificed down time to see people… is nothing that a few cups of coffee can’t fix. The funds used to make memories, are much better utilized when happy smiles are detected, more than anything else money can buy.
My last relationship became divided when work trumped time spent together, or with family members and friends, and I now know that a like-minded “nomadic nature” is a quality I need in a future mate. Life is a precious gift, meant to be enjoyed to the fullest.
So I pass my lesson learned onto you, now: Call the friend you haven’t spoken to in a while. Book a vacation, or get in the car and just go somewhere. Make sure friends and loved ones know their worth, and always… always make time for the small blessings that sprinkle themselves in your day-to-day. They always prove to be the big things, the most important things in the end.

“So I Hear You Are A Writer…”

I’ve come up with almost every excuse in the book, as to why I am not writing mine. I hate to say that my “novel idea” is collecting dust in a pile with all of my other unfinished projects and innovations, but its true and its haunting. My characters call out to me every now and again, yet I can’t decipher their words, cannot make out their profiles. It’s a sad notion, because at one time, everything seemed so vivid. I cried when I had that first dream that outlined a plot so real, it felt as though I were living the tale myself.
I remember meeting one of my exes friends one time, and in conversation he said casually, “So I hear you are a writer…”
It was such a strange remark because, well, that is not my occupation by any means.  I was stunned and flattered that my boyfriend had referenced me as as someone other than a leisure blogger, a dabbler of sorts. I read a quote once, that you are a writer if you are either writing or thinking about writing. My title however, was more self-acclaimed and private.
Which is exactly why I need to find my voice; Write… more than I think of writing. It is my goal, more than anything else this year, to reintroduce myself to my passion in a way that I haven’t in quite some time. The goal is to get back to basics until I feel confident in sharing my secret on paper.
Last night I bought a Chromebook, something small that I can carry with me wherever I go. It has no real distraction other than a Word Processor and an app list that includes a string of thesauruses, dictionaries, and links to my WordPress account. I am going to get into the habit of writing whatever comes to mind, often enough to immerse myself in my imagination.
I sit on the train now, beyond pleased at the fact that I have a blank page in front of me, an empty storage unit free from social media stimulus, distracting music and photos that need editing, or work emails that need to be tended to. I can sit beside a man in his perfectly fitted peacoat and steel gray pressed slacks, reading a digital version of the NYTimes before the train plops him back to reality and his to-do list resumes at home.
We both have one hour to delve into such “old school” guilty pleasures, and I couldn’t be more excited to get lost in mine.

Banana Peels & Coffee Spills

I was able to savor two sips of coffee before discarding the cup’s dislocated pieces in the trash can. My train was late, my phone was dead, and I found myself wandering into the Dunkin Donuts aisle this morning, not pressured by the numbers on my electronic device for once.

I thanked the cashier as he exchanged the last two dollars I had in my wallet for a warm, French vanilla flavored treat. I inhaled its aroma as both hands greedily surrounded its heat, marveled how good the drink was concocted, and made my way down the stairs and to the 8:37AM train platform.

I smiled in the sunlight, set my bags and coffee down on a chair and hummed a happy tune while locating my cell phone charger. I knew that the semi-express train would be near empty, given the late hour, and would allow me the opportunity to bring my phone back to life in a seat next to an outlet. My mind drifted off to the magnitude of simple pleasures when my gentle rummaging tilted the purse that shifted my computer bag that set my coffee cup off like a grenade. Liquid cascaded from the lid’s tiny spout as it twisted and turned down the bench into a puddle of…two dollars wasted.

It’s a Tuesday, cursed with Monday’s traits.

My life has had its share of blunders lately, days infused with instances that have had me creating new curse word compounds and mixtures.

However, the setbacks have not slowed me down yet.

A week ago I had plans to meet my best friends for dinner and a show in the city. I packed the day with other events to capacity, one friendly affair blending into the other seamlessly; Or so I thought.

I left the annual Saint Patrick’s Day festivities early, sober and satisfied with my short-lived appearance, got into my pre-packed Hyundai and started off to my best friend’s house in New Jersey. (I figured it would be easiest to meet her at her house and travel in together.) It wasn’t long after I took off my green beads and started my car that I realized I didn’t have any gas.

I didn’t have time to stop and get any either.

So I started down 95 with a hope and a prayer that I would reach empty in her parking lot, so that we would at least make our 5PM reservation.

Half way to my destination I began to feel nauseous from not scheduling time to eat all day, and my stomach was not the only thing running on fumes. I had to stop. My GPS redirected me to the nearest gas  station, which I soon found out required me to cross the George Washington Bridge and pay a god-awful toll.

“I’ll meet you at the restaurant,” I shouted into the phone at my best friend, in and out of reception. Pulling into the gas station, I filled up and continued on my way.

Raging migraine, starving stomach, and racing against the clock, I transitioned into “city driving mode” and snagged a parking spot next to the venue. I packed my evening outfit in my purse and headed to the nearest Starbucks bathroom to change before meeting my friends at our destination.

I wasn’t the only one running late, and after learning that we were going to miss our reservation, I located a deli on 9th Avenue, ordered a sandwich and sat on an unoccupied park bench until my companions arrived.

Now, I know that I am longwinded, but I assure you that there is a point to this.

I wanted to give up at every little annoying roadblock. I wanted to turn around and go home right at the sign of my empty gas tank. When I was walking around in search of a proper changing portal, it occurred to me then that I had to push on despite the need to problem solve to excess. I had no one else to depend on, had no one I could call upon for help. It was just me in my own little Midtown video game, dodging banana peels and bullets and looking for ways to improve my strength.

And I succeeded in my conquest. My friends arrived soon after, we found a cozy watering hole to unwind a bit prior to the show, and boy, did we laugh after relaying the events of the day. Trivial problems seemed to melt away in great company.  Big barriers shrunk to puny potholes in my daily path, and recalling those maddening moments by the end of the night, caused me no stress.

Enduring setbacks are tough; It is sometimes hard to get back up once you’ve been knocked down, especially if those terrible instances arrive in sequence form.

But this morning, I moved my foot to ensure that the coffee didn’t spill on my new Steve Maddens, and laughed to myself at my little dance.

That’s what it is… dancing. We move forward, we move backward… we lose our footing sometimes and other times we advance with confidence and grace.

This Tuesday may feel like a Monday now, but I am thankful to have the opportunity to see what else is in store. Perhaps I will memorize and master this particular dance by day’s end.

I won’t know until I put myself out there and give it my best shot.

‘Positivity’ Buzzwords

 

It’s another late night at the apartment and the left side of my bed is empty, comforter neatly pulled to the edge of perfectly fluffed pillows and folded over, exposing an alternate pattern and hue. Aside from active fingertips pouncing on worn keys, my computer is the only form of life in the room, casting dim shadows around me and filling the silence with sweet voices and light guitar chords. I nixed the candles tonight, but the smell of pumpkin spice swirls around the “Wonder Woman” coffee mug beside me, invigorating my senses.

It is my hope that my Superhero alter ego will give me enough strength, along with the caffeine, to spend sufficient time in my literary hideaway tonight.

It really has been a while.

I always tend to approach this blog with my head hung low and my tail between my legs after a long hiatus. It reminds me of high school days, missing homework assignments and contemplating just accepting the ‘0’ rather than handing a paper in late. My writing haven is like a trustworthy friend, and when I feel like I don’t have sufficient time to properly delve into my thoughts,  I just avoid the interaction altogether.  Time passes and instead of fragmented, jumbled updates, I tend to lose touch entirely. And every time it happens, I scold myself later for allowing such black and white thinking to distract me from my lifeline to my creative therapy.

What can say? Work’s been busy, my relationship has since fizzled, I’ve booked many trips, have put more mileage on my car in the past three months than all year in 2013 in effort to see as many people, do as many things as possible.

But it all feels great. Last year when my ex and I broke up for the first time, my best friend and I weren’t talking, I dove into my 2013 climb until I was mentally and physically exhausted, I sulked my entire April family vacation because I was 5th wheel. I jumped quickly into another relationship, an additional blast from the past, and rearranged my ‘happy ending’ vision to include my change in plans. Although there were many instances of positive experiences in 2013, it was more or less a year of personal growth. I learned so much about myself, about who I am as a woman, what I can tolerate and what I want to accomplish, I learned about friendship and love.

The lessons have not been forgotten about this year, and although I haven’t been blogging much to sift through my experiences in detail, I have been channeling my inner voice and documenting bits and pieces of  its advice, keeping it close.

I adore this journey that I am on: Although the space beside me is vacant it reminds me that I am leaving room for someone incredible, rather than being hasty with my heart. The empty space reminds me that one day all voids will be properly filled with a perfect fit of a man, not some cookie cutter image of a “good guy.”

I’ve rarely even been sleeping here myself lately. Trips home, late night concerts and New York City fashion shows, work events and road trips to see friends have allowed me to couch surf, cuddle with my sister, and stumble in my room long after the stroke of midnight. In less than a month, I will be on a plane to see my best friend in Michigan before heading off to the Dominican Republic to snag another Passport stamp.  In short, life is a whirlwind surrounded by wonderful people, new destination spots, and outstanding career milestones. My goal list is glowing with pride and my inner Super Woman is beaming.

Funny, the way things progress. At 26 years old, I can say with confidence that I have the strength to rely on myself, can create my own happiness, and can look into the future with nothing but a genuine sense of optimism. It is my hope that in time, I will be able to write -second nature- and be able to infuse that same positivity in others… 

The best is yet to come.

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For You, Me, & Everyone We Know

When we are young, if we put our hand on the stove, it burns, and we learn not to do it again.  As we grow, we learn to stray from bullies. Use caution when climbing trees or riding bikes. Experiences teach lessons of right and wrong, good and bad, pain and pleasure. Through trial and error, we hone on positive choices and steer clear of negative outcomes.

So why then, do we continue to seek love after we’ve been hurt?

I’ve been sitting on this blog entry for a while, and in the midst of my crazy every day, it has been nearly impossible to find time to settle down and dissect the essence of everything I live for.

I’ve been observing with deeper intensity though, my own relationship and the relationships around me in search of clarity. For months, I’ve walked down city streets enroute to work, watching others hold hands, admiring their affections. I’ve mused over song lyrics. I’ve listened to the real-life scenarios of friends and family members, have asked a lot of questions, have lied awake at night, pondering my own heart’s yearnings.

And tonight, I come full circle.

One of my best friends is sure that she has met her match, and although life-career and possible relocation changes- are threatening to create a divide in their current, convenient situation, she is now pushing to make sure that she is by his side, no matter what. Her reasoning for giving more than “halfway” percent? “He’s worth it, and as long as we are with each other and he is happy, I know I will be happy.”

Another couple is celebrating ten years of marriage this year. They’ve been through their share of ups and downs, but they can’t hide the look of pride and love for each other whenever their eyes meet. Ten years. Incredible ups and downs.

I asked my mother while out to dinner one night, “Are you in love with dad, or do you just… love him because you’ve been with him for 30 plus years?” She confessed that the road has been hard at times, but they never gave up on each other. She is happy for the life he’s given her, for the life he gave us kids… and although those intense feelings come and go and come again as time passes… he is her partner.

Another best friend is juggling children, house hunting, a rigorous job, and a crazy schedule with her husband. Still another is trying to grow a family with starter business struggles. Both couples tread water on a daily basis while holding hands with the other, managing to keep both bodies afloat.

Why, I wondered aloud?

“Because that is what people do when they love each other.” The answer was simple.

I look back on my journal entries throughout the years and see so many accounts of my prior relationships. The word “love” was jotted down many times. Honeymoon stages were intense. Triumphs and tribulations were described in great detail and infused with so much passion and promise.

Then… the break-ups were documented. And I notice now, that the companionship lost luster when one person decided to jump ship. Whether it was myself or my significant other… whether it had to do with infidelity or loss of interest or bad timing, the bond was broken when one or both people decided that they didn’t want to try anymore.

The hand on the burner effect. Love hurts.

How then, why then, is it the only pain in life that we continue to endure, long after we are bruised and broken and scarred?

Because of the success stories. Because of the teams that work together to be on the same side until the very end. It is human nature to want that “finish line love,” with marriage and babies and two wrinkled hands entwined in knobby knuckles.

People who are in relationships are very vague about the ups and downs. No one wants to admit that hands still get burned, that people stay together despite hurt, turmoil, disappointment. It is seen as “settling” in today’s society, to stick with something that makes you anything less than happy.

I used to buy into the “never settle” theme, which is why many journal entries speak of love in the past tense, why I boast in my excerpts about the joy in surging forward into the future without looking back.

Tonight, I broke down in realization that sometimes, I need to swallow my pride. If I feel that the love’s got a shot at the knobby knuckle happy ending, I need to learn how to be a team player.

As you date, you learn about others and yourself and the world around you… you pull from your past and your parents’ marriage and your interpersonal relationships and you piece together a list of what is truly important to you. You find out what you can tolerate in a mate and what you can’t. You reflect on your values and tweak your definition of love… you learn to dig deep, move past physical appearances and outward charm, begin to think about the qualities you need, that will get you to “finish line love.”

And when you find those things in another person, you fight for the sustainability of your relationship with everything that you have. No matter what life throws your way, as long as you are on the same team, it seems as though you cannot fail. My father didn’t want children in the beginning of my parent’s relationship, my mom wanted a little clan. Thirty-two years later, my sister and I could not feel more love for our parents, and it is reciprocal. My parents worked through their differences, made compromises, and now have a beautiful family.

Every break-up I’ve witnessed lately stems from someone walking away from that “team” mentality. Someone has given up. Best option? I don’t know… I am only an onlooker in those situations. But I do know this:

I’m ready to be the best teammate I can be. I’m ready to come to terms with the fact that it’s not always going to be okay and am open to shedding my skin, exposing the bruises and scars and burns that I’ve experienced from past pain. I know that I am a good person with a big heart and it’s going to heal someone else’s bruises and burns, as long as I don’t give up on them. As long as they don’t give up on me.

Team effort. For love to survive, it’s gotta be a mutual agreement. We are a little crippled, a little broken, and every bit imperfect. But if we want to get to the happy ending…

We gotta dig deep.

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A Better Way To Waste Time

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I never miss the chance to chase a sunset,

Get in my car and drive to the nearest place

Where the road cuts off and the trees break

And vibrant pinks and yellows fill the space.

Who wouldn’t want to waste time

Travelling toward a destination that rewinds

The day, slowly retraces steps until it all is worth it?