New York City

Since moving to the city of my dreams, I’ve learned that the love I see in movies and read about in books is underrated and unattainable. New York City is, in my opinion, not going to be where I find my “soulmate”, if that concept even exists. As the most populous city in the country, I’ve found that many people here suffer from “grass is greener” syndrome. Including myself. Simply put, there will always be someone else better around the corner, just a subway stop away even, so why settle?

When I moved to the city, I left behind heartbreak, inadequacy, and loneliness. In addition to fulfilling my lifelong dream of living in Manhattan, I came to the city not in search of love like Carrie or Ted, but rather in search of genuine and lasting friendships. And, without realizing it, I was also searching for myself.

For the record, I hated typing that stereotypical “searching for myself” sentence, but this blog is a place for real and raw honesty.

My first two months in Manhattan were anything but picturesque. I spent the first week of my life here sharing an air mattress with my small dog, crying myself to sleep because the moving company wouldn’t return my calls about my possessions. Eventually, I got my things back, but then the dust cleared and the realization of what I’d done settled in.

After starting my dream marketing job in Manhattan, I sold my car and almost all of my furniture and possessions to downsize from a 900 square foot one-bedroom apartment in Connecticut suburbia to live in a 400 square foot studio in Manhattan. This was therapeutic because they were things I’d shared with an ex who brought me nothing but self-loathing and misery during our time together. I wanted no reminders of the past. I only wanted to start completely anew in a place I loved.

I moved to the city in April, and by the time my birthday came around in May, I still had no friends aside from coworkers. I began a short-lived series on this blog called, “Myself and the City.” The idea was that I would chronicle myself enjoying dates in New York City…by myself. I wrote about taking myself out on my birthday, alone, to a rooftop bar for a meal, cocktails, and the sunset. And you know what? I enjoyed every moment of it.

It was the first birthday in my entire life that I spent completely alone. No family or friends. No boyfriends. Just me and the city. But spending my birthday alone humbled and strengthened me.

“My first two months in Manhattan were anything but picturesque.”

Despite this, I did experience a wave of emotions throughout April and May. I wondered if I’d made a huge mistake moving to Manhattan, especially amid COVID, even as things were getting better. I began to romanticize my old life in Connecticut, even though I was lonely and bored there, with only a handful of friends who all lived in different towns. In Connecticut, there wasn’t much to do at night, or in general if you were in your twenties. During these moments, I came to terms with a trauma I’d experienced there that I’d pushed out of my mind previously but was now forced to confront.

There’s a happy ending to this regret: it no longer thrives. I do not regret selling my car and half of my things to move to Manhattan. Sometimes I miss Connecticut for what it is: a beautiful, peaceful state overflowing with character. And maybe someday, I’ll move back. But not now, nor anytime soon.

We won’t always have everlasting lovers, true friends, and devoted family by our sides. Some people won’t remain in our lives more than a few months, while others will love us until our last days on Earth. Some people will flit in and out, like the changing seasons. And some people, as I’ve found, were never truly there to begin with.

In late May, I began making friends in the city through Reddit, Bumble BFF, and by going solo to clubs, concerts, and raves. Then I made even more friends through these friends. And pretty soon, I was no longer taking myself on dates. I just didn’t have the time.

I’ve realized that while quality time with true friends can mend and heal emotional turmoil, being at peace within myself is the only surefire cure. I’ll never forget when I was dancing away at a club in Brooklyn with two new friends, and I became insecure about something. One of my friends looked at me and said lovingly, “I’m sorry if there was ever anyone who made you feel this way about yourself. I accept you as you are.”

To this day, she is still one of my closest friends in the city.

Pretty soon I’ll be ending 2021 on a positive note. Just as my friend said she accepts me for who I am, this year I have come to embrace and love myself for who I am, too. While there are obviously still flaws and certain aspects of myself I’m working to improve, overall I can confidently say that I am a hard-working, beautiful, kind person, and a good friend. I deserve joyous memories and unforgettable moments beneath bright city lights.

New York City is a lot like life. It’s harsh, cold, and sometimes lonely. When I have a bad day here, it’s brutal. But when I have a good day here, it always feels like the best day of my life.

Maybe love does exist after all, but just not in the form I’d always expected. Maybe New York City is my soulmate.

That’s Where You’ll Find Her

Endless fields of grass and dandelions underneath a blazing sun, the sky blue and bright.

That’s where you’ll find her, twirling within the confinement of her adolescent innocence.

A convertible with the top down, driving over crunchy gravel roads in the country.

That’s where you’ll find her, with her eyes closed and hands held high.

A half moon peeking in from between tall trees, casting a spotlight across a desolate room.

That’s where you’ll find her, holding herself because she is alone and afraid of what tomorrow brings.

A clear ocean washing over pristine sand, over and over again in rhythmic melody.

That’s where you’ll find her, sitting in silence beside a man whose company punctures her.

Bursts of red, blue, and white in a blackened sky, casting shadows on a beach and across the faces of loved ones.

That’s where you’ll find her, a full smile across her face as she’s content within the company of new friends.

The strange hours between night and day.

That’s where you’ll find her, focusing on the thumping of her own heartbeat to drown out the throbbing loneliness.

Sitting in the backseat of her car in an empty parking lot, beside an even emptier man whose company enthralls her.

That’s where you’ll find her, gazing up at a full moon as he leaves her just as quickly as he joined her.

Tall buildings with blinding lights, offering solace and shining spotlights to guide her home.

That’s where you’ll find her, walking home alone and securing a bandaid atop a gaping wound.

A past she can’t rewrite. A present she never expected. A future she can’t envision.

That’s where you’ll find her.

Daybreak

For months, she lived in the dark, gazing at a full moon for clarity.

This is who you are now.

She told herself this was a normal, passionate affair.

You enjoy it.

Did the broken boundaries matter? Did the disassociation matter?

It is all you deserve.

The words “I’m sorry” were spoken across a phone line after it first happened. The word “love” was later whispered to her on the carpet of her floor.

It’s your fault.

Imagine manipulation and control and loneliness within a pandemic. Imagine being betrayed after expressing that desperate desire to experience something meaningful.

Pretend it didn’t happen.

She sought refugee in denial. She refused to accept that someone took advantage of her when all she had to offer was warmth and light. She hung her head and sobbed the day after. This was not supposed to be her life.

But this is who you are now.

If she was going to ignore the reality of what happened to her, a new narrative was necessary. He played along…for a bit. Until one day, her warmth and light was dimmed forever.

Is it too late?

The moon could never offer the clarity she needed because it lived in the darkness, covering up the scars she refused to acknowledge all this time.

How many others are also hurting?

The sun emerged, revealing the reality she’d ignored for too long. Scars and marks covered her entire being. Her body was punctured all over. Her heart wounded.

You have been bleeding out when you should have been healed by now.

But now her mind was as clear as daybreak.

It was never in your head.

The Moon

Happiness is a butterfly
Try to catch it like every night
It escapes from my hands into moonlight
.”

Lana Del Rey, “Happiness Is A Butterfly”

Tree branches swaying in the breeze. Cold, crisp Connecticut air. That grin I couldn’t wait to see. Your fingers in my hair.

Squeeze my eyes shut in the present; liquid acid raining down.

I tell myself, “It was never real.”

But we spent hours together in your town.

With all the trauma and secrets we shared, I wish you’d at least treated me like your friend.

That was all I truly wanted from you, in the end.

Even when you discarded me, I could see you had your own pain, born from the trauma you’d shared. I worry about you to this very day. I hope you still write, and I hope you’re okay.

You meant more to me than I could ever mean to you.

This is the part in the book or screenplay where you call me and say you want to be my friend, after all. We finally become friends. And I never have to say goodbye or wonder what became of your life.

I’m so tired of saying goodbye.

Why can’t you just be the cool, kind, writer guy?

Remember that night in my car, when I looked up at the big, bright moon, and asked if you’d noticed how beautiful it was? You were shuffling around, ready to leave, as you mumbled, “No.” Then you opened the car door, and left me there.

I cried the whole drive home, feeling empty inside.

Why couldn’t you just sit for a while, and look at the moon with me? I needed a friend, and you were my constellation in a dark sky.

But I see now that I was your high.

Took Myself Out To The Ball Game

My first Yankees game since moving to Manhattan!

I didn’t have peanuts or crackerjacks, but you can bet I was rooting for the home team on this special date with myself!

I’m thanking my lucky stars that the rain did not pour on this Memorial Day Yankees game like it did the rest of the long weekend in the city! The game started around 1 p.m. at warm temperatures nearing 70, but the day quickly got chilly within two hours. I neglected to bring my light jacket, but at least I was wise enough to wear jeans instead of shorts.

This is the part where someone reading this chuckles to themselves and says, “That’s what dating yourself will get! If you’d had a plus one, he would have let you wear his jacket or at least put his arm around you.”

To that, I will reply with…

I am on a serious path to self-discovery. Who cares if I forgot my jacket and my lips turned white as chill bumps formed on my skin?! Those are small prices you pay when dating yourself, people. I need to learn to take care of myself and not rely on others.

Despite the crisp weather, I had a fantastic time at my first Yankees game. The stadium wasn’t fully packed like its glory days before the pandemic, but the crowd was much larger than I had anticipated. Clearly, everyone is itching to get outside and enjoy life again.

I’ve cheered on a lot of home team baseball games before, like the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field, the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium, and the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Stadium, but there was just something so exceptional about the New York Yankees’ fan base. They were loud and blunt, but still so proud of the Yankees. Maybe it’s especially that way because everyone is so excited that baseball has returned to a world where we finally have a vaccine for COVID!

And even though the New York Yankees lost to the Tampa Bay Rays (3-1), I’m already eager to watch them play again! I’ll be sure to bring my jacket next time. And an umbrella. And a blanket. You just never know what kind of weather to expect in the city, right?!

Outfit of the Date

Not the exact same shirt, but mine is discontinued.
Unfortunately, these are sold out, but Kate Spade always has the cutest studs!

Myself And The City

After my first few lackluster dates in the city of dreams, I couldn’t help but wonder, would I ever find my person?

But then it hit me. I realized I’m not Carrie Bradshaw. Being loved and loving someone else in return is all I wanted, but I’m not ready for that…

If I don’t fall in love with myself first, how can I ever expect someone else to?

So with that, I threw out the rulebook that says you can only go on dates with other people, and decided to date myself. And honestly, it was my best first date ever.

A little over a week before my birthday, I reserved a table for one at Upstairs. A rooftop bar nestled in Midtown East with views of the Chrysler Building and surrounding skyscrapers, Upstairs is self-described as “focusing on refined service in a relaxed luxurious setting, offering its guests a one-of-a-kind rooftop experience and the desire to come back again and again.”

The entrance to the bar is inside The Kimberly Hotel. Upon arrival in their lobby, I was guided to the elevator where I was then taken to the Penthouse level. After giving my name to the host, I took a seat at the bar, where I people-watched until my table was ready.

The partially-shaded bar area offered an impressive view of the city, and there were already around thirty guests mingling and drinking, some in dressy work attire, some in the official dress code of Business Casual. I myself wore a semi-casual sundress, duster cardigan, open-toed pink block heels, and gold jewelry. From what I could tell, the ages of the other patrons ranged from mid twenties to fifties.

The host returned to take me to my table in a private area with an even nicer view of the city. Due to COVID restrictions, there was empty seating between me and the two men to my left, who were dressed in suits. Across the room sat a table of eight twenty-something-year-old friends in semi-casual outfits, and beside them sat two women wearing work attire. For a Tuesday evening, Upstairs had accumulated a great crowd.

I already knew what I wanted even before my waitress asked: the Upstairs Strawberry Rossini, which is a blend of vodka, lemon, strawberries, basil, and cava. The moment I saw it on the QR code menu at the bar, I knew it was for me. I’m a lover of sugary cocktails.

One nice thing about dating myself? I can order as many cocktails as I want without a look of dismay from a date who feels the need to pick up the tab. I only ordered two, but even that number would have resulted in wide eyes and a comment of disapproval from my ex.

For dinner, I ordered the grilled lamb chops. They were truly a “small plate” meal but still delicious. You don’t go to Upstairs for the food, anyways. You go for the cocktails, ambiance, and view.

On my first date with myself, I scrolled through my phone, read a book, and enjoyed the view in peace. No awkward date with forced small talk. No cheap meal ordered only to satisfy someone else. I could actually, truly enjoy myself.

And you know what? I’m already looking forward to the next date.

Outfit Of The Date:

Managing Mental Health

Yesterday, as I was cooking dinner, I turned away from the oven to walk towards the table when –OUCH – I stubbed my toe against the foot of the coffee hutch.

Would you believe it if I told you I internally flinched, but not from the pain? I flinched from the memory of this time last year, when I was living with someone who would have yelled and cursed at me for stubbing my toe.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. It’s great to have a month dedicated to this cause, but please check in on your loved ones year-round. I say this as someone who needed to be checked in on for so long, but wasn’t.

Now I look back on the girl I was in May 2020, and I hardly recognize her, and that’s attributed to the way I started managing my mental health last year.

Here are my top six ways for keeping my mental health in check:

1.) Find a good therapist.

When I was in middle school, my parents took me to a few therapists because I was being bullied by mean girls and my self-confidence had suffered as a result. The first counselor worked out of our Southern Baptist church, and her kids – who were around my age – would always be sitting right outside the door when I walked out after each session. It made me feel insecure, so my parents then took me to a professional psychiatrist who refused to speak with me when I was five minutes late to my third session. I remember walking back out to the lobby where my dad was waiting, and telling him, “I’m never coming back here.” That was my final experience with a professional therapist until adulthood.

My life completely changed for the better when my first personal therapist in adulthood questioned why I was so afraid to leave my ex. She made me face those fears head-on, and assured me it was going to be okay, even if I had to be alone. With her help, I finally left a situation that honestly had died a long time ago, but was still taking me down with it.

My life improved even more when I found my current therapist after things didn’t work out with the first one. Tip: therapy is not a one-size-fits-all situation. Sometimes it takes several tries before you find the one you click with. My current therapist treats me like a friend she genuinely cares about, not someone who pays her bills. She was also the catalyst for me finally following my dreams of moving to and working in Manhattan.

2.) Don’t settle just so you can come home to someone.

I didn’t actually “date around” until the summer of 2020, after my last relationship officially ended. I jumped from one boyfriend to another and then stayed with the same guy for five years because, deep down, I didn’t want to be alone. That can wreak havoc on your life and mental health if the guy is a bad fit or verbally abusive, both of which my ex was.

I’m finally at a point in my life where I embrace being alone, and it doesn’t terrify me, because it’s not a bad thing. If you are strong enough to be alone both romantically and literally, you should applaud yourself.

3.) Try to work for a company that excites and respects you.

I’ve worked for a company in the past that valued me and consistently told me how grateful they were to have me on the team, but I felt like they didn’t truly respect me or my career goals. More often than not, I was left out of major projects and decisions, and only told about them after the fact. It also became clear very quickly that they had no room or intentions to make room for my career to flourish and grow. As wonderful as they had been to me in other ways, I had to follow my heart and dreams and search for an opportunity with a company that excited me and respected me as a team player.

4.) Stop seeking validation from everyone but the one person whose validation matters: you.

I’ve struggled with this my entire life.

I’ve always been of the opinion, “Why can’t everyone be friends?” But life doesn’t work that way.

At one job, it became clear that everyone separated into cliques at lunchtime when I tried to merge two groups of my friends into one table, but they wouldn’t have it.

To me, that felt so very “high school.” But I’ve learned through therapy that people are allowed not to like each other. It’s okay if someone doesn’t like me or if they reject me. I’ve always believed that if I follow a checklist of problem-solving techniques, I can make anyone like me. I’m very much a problem-solver in all other aspects of my life, so it comes naturally to me to try to problem-solve in relationships as well. But at the end of the day, if someone doesn’t like you, let them. And move on to people who love you.

People are allowed not to like me, just as I’m allowed not to like them (which at times I have to remind myself that, YES, there are people in this world I don’t like. Like the homeless man trying to scare people in the subway, or the mean girl who made my life hell in sixth grade.)

It’s okay to be rejected. It’s okay to reject. As long as you remain kind to everyone, it’s okay.

5.) Stay active on a weekly basis.

Exercise is the best natural release of serotonin you can get.

To quote Elle Woods from the classic film Legally Blonde, “I just don’t think that Brooke could’ve done this. Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t kill their husbands, they just don’t.”

Since I’ve started consistently practicing yoga and taking long daily walks around the city, I’ve felt so much happier in general.

Even when I’ve had a long or bad day, I force myself to be active, and it never fails to lift my mood.

6.) Follow your heart and dreams. As cliche as it sounds, it’s true: life is short.

Life is too short to live in fear of stubbing your toe because your partner will criticize you for being clumsy. Life is too short to be embarrassed of society’s opinion of you seeing a therapist, or to be too afraid to live alone, or to remain at a job where there is no hope for your career goals. Follow your heart and your dreams. You can live the life you’ve always wanted, a life of joy, and I speak from experience as someone whose life is now filled with an overabundance of long-overdue joy.

Shining Bright Beneath City Lights

The following blog post is a sequel to Lies As Thin As Lace.

In plain sight for all to see was where she kept her hopes and dreams.

In the end of it all, when the fragments of her world had been repainted in bursts of vivid color never before experienced, she couldn’t help but smile. Dull voices hummed in the background until eventually replaced by silence.

Onlookers were whispering and judging as they always did, but she no longer noticed. She no longer cared.

Then, one very special day, the silence was replaced by cars honking and crowds of people chattering.

Breezing over sidewalks she’d once adored from her childhood TV screen, she arrived at the doors of a grand building she’d once only read about in books.

Click. Clack. Click.

Warmth radiated every part of her being as her heels clicked and clacked across the floor.

She finally felt free.

Somewhere along the way, she began to enjoy being alone. Retiring the self-loathing rituals that had once picked her apart, she pieced herself back together. She was worthy and strong and she could fight for herself.

The box of lace had been sold. The images of the girl who wore it had been burned to ash.

This girl is pursuing her passions, hopes, and dreams. She is pursuing self-love.

This girl is shining bright beneath city lights.

Sweet Serendipity

Sometimes the butterflies mean something else.

I learned this as they swarmed unforgivingly in my stomach while Serendipity flashed across our screen.

We hadn’t even made it halfway through before you exclaimed, “This is a cheating movie. I don’t like this movie.”

And I stammered, “Wow, you’re right…I never realized…we don’t have to finish.”

You were already off the couch, heading towards your computer to pass the time on your own. You didn’t really want to watch a movie, anyway.

It was then that I realized what the butterflies were trying to tell me: the man I thought was my John Cusack, was actually my John Corbett. And if I were Kate Beckinsale in this scenario, that meant my love story hadn’t yet ended…had it even started?

At the time, instead of watching my favorite movie alone, for once I turned off the TV. I pushed those feelings of doubt off the proverbial cliff of my insecurities, where they sunk into an ocean of denial so deep and endless, I nearly drowned with them.

I used to believe in fairytales, and to me, Serendipity was like a modern-day example of love. But it wasn’t until you pointed out the emotional cheating that it occurred to me…

…not all fairytales are linear.

You and I both realized something that day, thanks to sweet Serendipity: we weren’t meant to be together. Well, maybe we already knew it, and maybe we pretended not to know it still for a while after. But it was undeniable what we both felt in the air – the tense yet shared understanding of what kind of couple we were, and what kind of couple we were not.

It’s okay to acknowledge that we wasted time with the wrong people.

I still haven’t found the right one. But I really hope you have, because we all deserve our magical moment on the ice rink.

A Blazing Light

I don’t want to be someone who turns cold as stone towards those who lack empathy and heart. If I care about you, I’ll say it. If you need help, I’ll provide it.

If it’s a one-way street, I’ll keep the light blazing at my end for you, even after you’ve disappeared into the shadows on yours.

One of the most tumultuous lessons I’ve learned recently is that not every friend I make will radiate as much warmth for me as I do for them. Not every person I connect with will want to keep our bond alive. I am willing to ensure every drunken friend I have is safely home, whether that means letting them crash on my couch or ordering them an Uber, even if no one will do the same for me.

And that’s okay.

I can grieve for what could have been. I can feel sad that we won’t ever be the Serena and Blair or the Meredith and Alex of my dreams. But once I’ve shed those tears, I’m moving on from the expectations and hopes I had for our friendship.

During my adolescence, I used to give up on friends at the first sign of imperfection or disrespect. If they said something cruel to me, or treated me in a way that I would have never treated them, it was over. And I didn’t care. I didn’t try to communicate or patch things up. I just moved on, because I knew I would be okay on my own.

How is it that at seventeen, I was so unafraid of being alone that I ended every “imperfect” friendship I had without a second thought, but at twenty-seven, I’m wishing I had friendships as unbreakable as those in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants?

At seventeen, I had the blind strength I wish I had now; but at twenty-seven, I have the hindsight and knowledge to realize that people aren’t perfect, and expecting perfection out of friendships is an unhealthy setup for failure.

Last fall, someone I considered to be one of my very best friends “took a step back” from me while I was going through something difficult. At the time, it devastated me. I had been there for her unfailingly during her heartaches, mistakes and scary situations. I couldn’t fathom why I was being abandoned.

All I know now is that we weren’t meant to be as close as I had hoped we’d be, or thought we were.

I know what it’s like to be alone and abandoned during devastating life events. I will never do that to someone I care about. But I also won’t be waiting. The blazing light that was once a lantern I held with hope in my hands during freezing temps, is now a lamp post that stands tall on its own as I stride forward, unapologetically yet warmly.