[this is a long one, you’ve been warned]
The next week is going to be rough for me, and it’s been exasperated this last year. It’s because I can still remember that night, thirteen years ago, on Monday, September 10, 2001 like it was yesterday. I was spending the second night back at my parents house after having lived on my own for the previous 8 months at an apartment in Moriches.
I was 21 years old and I had a pretty decent job for my age. I had only recently taken a leave of absence from work that summer to work on me and I had gone back to work only a about 2 weeks before September 10th. So, because of that, I was trying to be a lot more aware of my decisions and actions. I didn’t want to take unnecessary days off or waste a sick day on a random outing. My schedule then was pretty great in that every other weekend, I had a 3 day weekend. However, that week was my “long” week. I had to work Monday & Tuesday and then Friday/Saturday/Sunday, meaning i had Wednesday & Thursday off.
For a few weeks my friend Erik and I talked about going into the city to meet up with some people we’d met and became friendly with while working on Rick Lazio’s (failed) campaign to become Senator. Some of them worked at the WTC and so we thought a great day would be to go in and meet with them early, grab breakfast at Windows on the World restaurant (something i’d always wanted to do) and then head over to the United Nations as Nelson Mandela was rumoured to be speaking that day.
I mean, if given the opportunity, how could you not want to hear that man speak?? But i digress.
So, about a week or so prior, we all agreed on Tuesday September 11th as when we would meet. Erik and I would take the train in early enough that we could be there to meet up with everyone and get in when the restaurant first opened so no one would be overly late to work, and so that Erik and I could get over to the UN at a decent time.
The night before, after a long day at work due to a weekend spent moving, I was exhausted. I decided I could either call in sick, go to the city and do all these things I wanted to do - or I could suck it up, call Erik and ask if we could just go into the city Wednesday.
So I called Erik. I explained that I wanted to do right by my job and then asked if we could go in Wednesday. He said sure and i told him I’d call him the next night to shore up plans.
The next morning I awoke, went down to Lakoma Deli, saw my guy Jerry and got my usual - 2 buttered rolls and a large cranberry juice. I rolled into work and discovered I was working in VH1 that morning. I got my shift hand-off, Dave S & Lanette were down in TVLand and Nickelodeon (respectively) and at about 7:30 Spongebob Squarepants came on. I started singing the theme and we were all just joking with each other.
A little bit over an hour later, Seth came through after a smoke break and said “A plane hit into the World Trade Center” and my stomach dropped. My soul dropped. My heart sank into my chest and I couldn’t breathe. I knew something wasn’t right - that there was no way for that to happen. No feasible way for that to occur. In my gut I knew something bad was happening.
Then the second plane hit.
I couldn’t get in touch with anyone I knew and I kept scrambling to keep it together. I kept trying to focus on the music videos on my screen to dull this knot in my soul. I tried to remain positive and keep hope that it would all be ok, that everyone I knew would be ok.
And then, they fell.
I can’t tell you much else about what happened that day. I know that at some point it was apparent that I couldn’t function in my job capacity and I was sent home. I don’t remember driving home. I remember the images on the tv coming swift and wrecklessly as we were entering a whole new era of what Network News would become, and how reporters reported. I remember hugging my family a lot tighter and being thankful that my Dad was not an NYPD or FDNY officer.
But the most glaring thing I felt that day, was equal parts relief and utter disgust with myself for even feeling that.
And even now, thirteen years later, I still feel that same. Some days I wish I would’ve gone into the city. Not because I wish I was there when it happened but because maybe had I gone, it wouldn’t have happened. You know, like the butterfly effect. And some days, I spend all day wondering how connected everything is, and how there are no chance encounters or freak happenstances. That there is a cause for everything and an outcome too, that we have no control over no matter how hard we try.
That’s why I live my life the way I do - with (somewhat) wreckless abandon and with the attitude that we get this one chance, this one shot, at everything. That you can only regret the chances you don’t take, and can monday morning quarterback the bad decisions you make all you want but, in the end, you own them. You own yourself. You own how you choose to experience life - as a spectator, or as a participant.
So, since September 12, 2001 I have vowed to do just that. And while sometimes I may appear to be flighty, nomadic, afraid to commit, overly spontaneous, erratic, or even just flat out crazy, know that it’s because every day I wake up I do so by asking myself one simple question - What if I called in sick?
I know i’ll never get an answer to that, and that’s ok. But it doesn’t make it any less unnerving.
I’m not someone who normally takes the risk of winning the game. While i’m content to participate fully in it, it is also not something I’d eagerly jump to be; the one who takes the shot. The one who wants to throw that strike. The one who wants to defend that net.
It’s not, by any means, because I play it safe in life. To the contrary, I’m probably someone that took a risk way earlier in the quarter in the hopes that it would just work out in my favor in the end. But taking the shot - the risk it all shot - has never been my forte
At least not when it comes to men.
While i’m 35, my relationship skills aren’t developed much past your average seventeen year old. I chalk this up to never having many boyfriends past, well the age of seventeen. Sure I’ve had my share of partners over these last nineteen years, but the reality is that I’ve never much been successful in the relationship area.
The two that I had were both sprung from friendship. The first, when I was seventeen, which lasted for about four years (off and on). The second formed almost immediately after that. That relationship was much more intense and deeply rooted and woven in a bond that, to this day, continually makes me weary and trepid when getting close to anyone. It too lasted for a few years (off and on) and even after it was “over” it was never really over.
You can’t turn off passion when it’s that raw and a connection when it’s that intense. Even after months (years) of not speaking.
So i spent from twenty-five until about thirty-three traipsing about. There was one boy who caught my eye more intently than others, but that was mostly because he reminded me of a younger boyfriend number two…and also because his was unavailable to have. And ultimately, that became my pattern. Involving myself more emotionally with those that were unavailable, and paying far less attention to those who were.
Almost as if to say to myself “You don’t deserve to be with anyone, so just pick anyone you can’t have and let’s make sure we torture ourselves fully”.
Then, just after turning thirty-two, I went on a date.
It was a muscle I flexed from time to time, not out of need but out of general curiosity. Maybe this would be the time something in the universe would click and I would just “get it”, or someone would get me. All the clumsiness, the inability to be “normal” when having a conversation. Turning everything into a joke because it was better to deflect emotions than have them.
And I thought I found that guy. I think, for an instant, he thought he found me, but then I got in my own way.
See, i’m not one for doing things half-assed. If i like someone, I like them. I don’t, and won’t, apologize for it. So i tend to forget that there’s this sequence of events that are supposed to take place in order for one to ease into something, like a relationship. Probably because I’ve never eased into anything in life; I’ve just hit the ground running.
And so the hopefulness I felt at thirty-two vanquished almost as quickly as it appeared, until I really saw someone that I had previously met. Saw them in the sense that, i’d always seen them. I had instantly been intrigued by this person from the day I met him, but I stayed my distance. And then, one night, we kissed.
My heart sank. My soul completely crumbled.
From that kiss, and the several hours of them that followed, I knew that this was not the normal kiss. Not for me. It felt too natural, too comfortable, too intense, and too many other superlatives that left me with both a loss, and plethora of words and phrases to describe the emotions.
And just like that it was over - he was gone.
And so when I saw him two months later, and I brought up that kiss, he shyed away. I asked if it had been bad, if I’d over-read that passion. I didn’t.
I asked him if it was something that he regretted. He didn’t.
I asked him if it would happen again. He had no plans on it. So, I went for it, and it was the same as the first time his lips touched mine. There was no denying it, except for him denying me.
We kissed one time after that - which was as intense, if not more so than the previous two times, and again if was all for not. Then, I didn’t see him for nearly a year and a half.
I had put him out of my mind. Put him out of my thoughts. Attempted to move on but always and continually intrigued by this intangible feeling of wanting to know him more, see him more. Of wanting him to see me. And then, two months ago, it happened.
And it was if no time passed at all. We slipped into the usual banter, ended up chatting for hours and then I drove him home (he really couldn’t drive and I couldn’t bear the thought of anything bad happening to him) and we spent the night together, in an absolutely PG-13 way. And then, mostly radio silence.
which wasn’t abnormal because, neither of us were normal. While I over-thank and dissected every nuance in my head, I was sure that he was segmenting out what had occurred and separated any emotional attachment from the night and from me. Compartmentalizing was something he did so that everything fit in accordance to how he needed things to be. How he needed him to be; unemotional, unwavering in his stance against being in a relationship and unilaterally against letting anyone in. He feared (or loathed) intimacy to a point that was odd. Ensuring he told me where he stood - which I knew.
See, I knew this wasn’t going to end well when reality set in and I had space to freak out in a way that only I can. In a way that is disastrously and brilliantly maniacal. And so I sabotaged myself. I wanted to assume the blame for this failure and not place blame on him. But there was no blame to place on either of us, because we were one in the same; the extrovert to the introvert. The over-thinker to the rational thinker. The overtly passionate to the calm and even keeled.
The two pieces that fit, but were lost.
And then, a few weeks ago, another night. This one with even more intimacy and more emotional carnage, for me. It was after this night and morning that I realized that he meant more than I should have allowed. That the moments with him meant more to me than the universe should even allow, And so I went into sabotage mode again, only it wasn’t sabotage. At least, not fully. I didn’t know how to compartmentalize as well as he did, least not with him, and so I decided first the first time in a decade, to take the winning shot.
To really just go for the win, knowing full well I’d crash and burn.
So i wrote a letter. An actual handwritten letter. And i mailed it.
it was as if a weight had been lifted off my chest. Don’t get me wrong, I was freaked! by all the ways in the world a girl could be freaked out and then some. Part of me still can’t believe I did it. But I had to. Because, he was worth taking the risk for. He was worth putting myself out there for.
He read the letter, and responded. Not in kind, but in a way that reaffirmed that I knew exactly the type of person he was. Good, caring and noble, to the core. So much so that he assumed blame for being callous and felt any resentment i bore him was only justified. His response was everything. He remarked how he had admiration for me writing that note to him, knowing full well (as i’d admitted to him) that I would be rebuffed. But it was I who had the admiration for him.
And for myself. For finally taking a shot.
For those of you who know me, truly know me, you know that I’ve been in love just once (or, one and a half times if you count my High School/First crush). But my love, in both instances, was not reciprocated. .
So, while the person I loved, never returned it with words, he did with the little things; Glances, kisses, and moments that were so intimate and real that you couldn’t fake any of it. There was such intimacy in it. Such a level of trust and understanding of each other, that I never imagined in my life that I wouldn’t be with that person. But I am not. And, since that person, I’ve never been the same.
It’s something I’ve been dealing with since January 7, 2008.
And I’ve been fine with not being fine. I’ve learned to adjust and adapt the way I view not just myself but other potential “partners”. I find love, true intimate and soulful connections, with friends. With individuals that I trust completely and that I know trust and love me, and the best part?
They’ll never leave me.
But something, rather someone, happened two years ago, and I’ve never been quite right since. There is a level of comfort, trust and understanding of each other that isn’t superficial. For the limited time I get with this person, I feel like I know them as well as I would know myself. And so when I get the chance to spend that night, I take it.
Every. Single. Time.
And then, when the daylight breaks through the haze of our trysts, I can’t help but to feel hungover. It’s like I need to recover from that intense connection and intimacy and throw the walls back up to protect the one true thing i can control - my heart. But the problem is, I can’t control it. Not only can I not control it, my mind gets me involved in over-thinking, over-analyzing, and over-processing everything that has gone on.
But I can’t do it anymore. Or rather, I refuse to.
I have resigned myself to the fact that I will never get married. I will never find that cookie-cutter lifestyle so many of you seek, and I’m ok with that. I had a great love, and now I have a new appreciation for someone else. Someone who can just lay with me, intertwine hands and just be. In that moment. Someone who can give me hours of that feeling of fulfillment and joy in my soul.
Even if it’s fleeting when I do get it.
But it’s ok because I’ll take one of those true, intimate, intense, honest and raw nights of being with them once a year, or however many times, than suffer through the fallacy that is being with someone out of necessity.
Some days it feels like i’m still that 25 year old girl out, exploring life and with all the time in the world to just make it happen. I’ve got years left in my life, and a lot of life left for my years. I am going to blaze new ground, discover the undiscovered, I am going to be everything I ever wanted to be!
and then someone reminds you you’re about to be 35.
Where did these last ten years of my life go?!?!! Seriously, who stole them from me???? Alcohol may have taken some nights, more than others, but not all of them Surely the raging parties, whirlwind trips, globe-trotting adventures just happened last week…..right?
I think this is what a midlife crisis is.
Last week, I wrote about my addiction to food. About how I was an emotional eater and have had weight problems my entire life. So I just completed my first week of Weight Watchers and BAM!
I lost 8.6lbs!
Now, unfortunately I had to find out what I first weighed last monday (oof, that was a rough blow) but to see that 8 was amazing. Especially because I went over my points totals for 2 of the days and exhausted all my flex points for the week.
WHich begged the question from several people, “How’d you lose that much weight if you went over everything?”
Simple - I tracked. I tracked everything, and anything, that I ate/drank/consumed/snacked on/whatever. I tracked every single ounce of it. I held myself accountable, while still eating slices of pizza, hot dogs, chips, drank beers and rum - i kept my “diet” the same. I just controlled it instead of letting it, control me.
And that’s the difference with how I view food on this program versus any other diet I’ve ever been on.
I feel in control of it. I feel in control of me. I know, because I’ve had success, that I can do it. That I can lose weight and feel healthier and look better while still eating anything I want (within reason). I know this and so I’m not automatically defeated before I begin. I’m the opposite. I”m pumped up because I know it’s going to work.
And that’s the best feeling in the world.
Four years ago, I moved back to Long Island, NY after spending five years away from family and friends in an effort to find myself. I had never been away from home for college, and had started work at 19. So when an opportunity arose to head west, I blinked for a bit and then took it.
I was excited and scared shitless all at the same time. I mean, what if I failed? What if i couldn’t hack it on my own? Would everyone else I know view me as a failure too? What if I hated being so far away from everything, and everyone, I knew? What would I do?
And I kept most of those fears, and I lived my first four months with those fears. Hearing jokes about the pool for when I’d pack it all up and move back. Hearing snickers about how I was just trying to get an extended vacation. And then the reason I moved away, my-ex, gave me the best present of all. He gave me the reason to stay and to prove to any and every one that I was stronger than they thought I was.
That I was stronger than I thought I was.
And so for five years, I flourished. Flourished in a way that I never knew possible. While i’d always been outgoing and willing to meet and talk to people, i’d always operated with a safety blanket. Now? There was none. There would be none. There were two options - Thrive or go back to Long Island with my tale between my legs.
In those five years I met people I never knew existed and who, I know, I could never live without. I experienced kindness, love, joy, elation, fulfillment, despair, hopelessness, sadness, loss, laughter, friendship and family. And none of it would have been possible if I hadn’t recognized my true self.
Then, after I moved back home, I felt different, and I definitely looked different. When I left LI I was thinner and full of life. Now? I was heavier, but happier to be home. That was, until I wasn’t happy being that heavy. And so, I began to go to the gym and had a personal trainer I worked with. I managed to shred a few pounds and inches, but I was still heavy. And because of this, I was growing unhappy. But i stayed with it and when I went to Europe with some friends in the spring of 2011, I was healthier than I’d been. heavy still? slightly. But more sturdy. It wasn’t fat, it was muscle.
And then that fall I decided to finally try something my roommate and friend had been doing for years, Weight Watchers. And i was blown away.
Sure, people say it’s like a cult, but in the nine months that I followed, faithfully, their program and went to meetings once a week I shed forty pounds. Yes, 40. And I changed. Not just physically, but emotionally. I finally felt I had the body that went with my level of confidence. I no longer hid behind baggy shirts and one size too big jeans. I fit into clothes I’d always bought a size (or two) too small with the notion of “If i just go to the gym and cut out carbs, i could wear that!” I finally fit into me.
And then, I lost it all.
I had to quit paying the Weight Watcher fees and going to meetings because I couldn’t afford it. Right around that time I got a job where food, and booze, was every where. You couldn’t escape it and I didn’t want to. I was stressed about life, about employment, about money and so I turned back to where I found comfort as a child - food.
Food never made me feel bad about myself. Food never judged me. Food never told me I wasn’t good enough. Food knew the right buttons to push inside me to make me crave, and cave, to its demands. Food became an addiction I never knew I had, and never recognized. Food became everything.
And then, I had my “Ah-Ha” moment.
For the last year and a half, I’ve been struggling to control my weight and to keep myself in better shape. I have documented here various exercises and routines I’ve run myself through in order to be “fit & healthy” but, I realized that - they never work. They’re a quick fix - a band-aid on the gash that needs stitches. And so now, I’ve finally gotten the stitches.
This past week I joined Weight Watchers again, cause they’re doing it at work. So that means I have no excuses not to go to the meeting. No excuses not to get on that scale and hold myself accountable. No reason to not take charge. And so I am. And its scary as FUCK.
But I can do it this time, because i’m committed to doing it. I’m committed to changing who I am, and who I’ve been because I have a reason to. My niece. I don’t want her picking up bad and unhealthy habits. I want her to see that you can be healthy while still enjoying the things you love - like burgers, pizza, candy, etc.
I also wouldn’t mind looking good in a sun dress either.
Cue the “It’s a small world” music…..
would LOVE to know how she found this!!!