Great Expectations

I stood at the train station in Bristol, PA and reminisced about the night before. Remembering back to the bourbon, the cigar smoke, and the half blow job in the bathroom of the speakeasy. I came back to reality only to notice a suicide prevention sign glaring at me from across the tracks. I wondered solemnly how many people had to throw themselves in front of trains before someone decided the sign was necessary.

When the train finally came to take me back to New York, I was glad to see it. I watched the landscape roll by outside my window. Autumn is never as beautiful once the last leaves fall. Everything on the eastern side of the states becomes a shade of brown or grey. The sky and the dead grass seem to merge into one ongoing horizon. Homes which once stood tall and gallant were now crumbling in and bags of dirty diapers and recyclables lined the unkept yards. Suicide suddenly made sense against the un-charmed backdrop. I’m sure a town like Bristol sees their fair share of suicides.

I was only there for an evening, for a boy – of course. He was tall and large and his beard reminded me of a cartoon character’s. He was quiet, yet also not, in a way I can’t really understand. He moves slowly and eats like a horse. I gave him a hand job in the back of an uber and we had sex on a basement couch. It was messy and childish but I liked it, despite my best efforts not to.

Dating has gotten ever stranger since moving to the city. There are no rules, or expectations, and very little romance. The fantasy that prince charming will show up to sweep me off my feet met its sweet demise years ago. Hope sometimes lingers, but only when I’m in the mood to dream. There is something really great about breaking ones own expectation of what love is supposed to be. It’s opening me up to loving myself more and needing others less. Which actually isn’t as sad as I would have thought it to be. Where I come from, marriage and babies is the end-all-be-all. It’s what you do to prove to yourself you are an adult and worthy of praise and success. Here, love and children are optional and they mean so much less than I ever expected.

I finally buried the dream weeks ago. He stood in my doorway clutching his things, and I mine. I wished him a happy Thanksgiving and began to make my way up the stairs and into my apartment. “I thought you would want to talk about this.” He said, trying hard to hide his frustration. Everything had been said and we had gotten to the point where we were just speaking in circles. Fighting for nothing more than the sake of it. “I’m fine.” and I didn’t look back, not even to watch him walk away. For the first time I was the one to leave – and it felt good.

I took a bus to meet The Beard in Philadelphia. We ate oysters and drank too much whiskey. We talked about traveling and threesomes and our crazy families. When he danced his feet moved fast and his gigantic tree trunk like arms stayed still in place. I laughed loudly until small tears ran down my cheeks. It wasn’t romantic but it was fun. It was exactly what I needed.

I was never satisfied constantly comparing my life to some romantic comedy. Always forcing the people in my life to love me the way that I wanted to be loved. It was a shoddy plan that crashed and burned every time. I have learned to put down my arms and let go of control. It was easy once I finally gave myself permission to give up and walk away from my great expectations.

 

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Spilled Milk

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I quit my job. I spent the last two years working my ass off for something that literally didn’t pay off. It wasn’t a smooth departure either. I’m not saying I flipped my desk or punched my boss—just imagined it. It was messy but so is everything I do. Now, I’m back in food service. Catering for a large local company. Serving shrimp skewers and steak to the Columbus elite. I hate rich people. Standing against the high top tables, spilling scotch as they wave their hands around—congratulating themselves for being better than everyone else. It’s not ideal but it pays the bills, while I’m waiting to hear back about a job in the city.

Catering isn’t ideal and neither is he. He’s waiting for me there—in the city. By waiting for me, I really mean ignoring me. We never talk anymore, and even when we do it usually ends in an argument. I’m all alone in another non-relationship. Needless to say, things aren’t all rainbows and sunshine in my world. Sometimes I feel like I’m living in a hamster cage. Endlessly climbing through the tunnels and up the latters, only to fall back down into a pile of my own shit and wood shavings. Lately, I’ve just been sticking to the wheel, running to nowhere, too proud to give up, but too tired to try harder.

I’m itching to leave but I’m also terrified. I don’t think him and I will make it so I’m trying my best not to add him into the equation. It’s really just about the money. At the end of the day, it’s always a numbers game. Unfortunately my skill set doesn’t guarantee me a livable wage. I know you don’t get into non-profit work for the money, but how awkward would be to stand in line for food stamps with the clients you serve?

I catered a business school reunion last night, it was terrible. Some man old enough to be my grandfather with the libido a frat boy told me I was pretty and placed his clammy wrinkled hand on my low back. I cringed, he smiled, and I refilled the water.

I walked into the venue with my hair knotted on top of my head—wiggling uncomfortably inside my oversized shirt. I almost threw up when I saw him. Tattooed from head to toe, slouching by the computer. The last time I saw him I was getting money from my ex for an abortion. There was fighting and screaming and his face had gotten in the way of a shoe I was throwing. When I saw him last night—we didn’t exchange hellos. He took one look at me, pulled out his phone and began to text furiously. Great—now my ex knows that I serve mini quiches to wealthy bigots for a living.

Life isn’t great—but I’m getting by the best way I can. I no longer have to deal with coworkers who are a dangerous combination of bold and stupid, I have time to write, and even though I spilled tomato jam all over a woman wearing a dress that probably cost more than the down payment on my car—I still have my dignity, for now at least.

No More Ms. Nice Girl

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I stepped out onto the mat. With my feet placed firmly beneath me, I began to breathe. I heard the cheering from the line of women at my left. They were waiting for it to begin, for my triumphant win, waiting for something to happen. And happen, it did. Julie, a woman no taller than 4’9, stood beside me and asked me to lie down on my back. “Remember, he can’t hurt you. I’ll be right here the whole time. I won’t leave your side.” I dropped gently to the ground and stretched my legs out in front of me. I could feel my assailant, a man in a homemade padded suit, standing over me. It didn’t matter who the man behind the mask was anymore, the only thing I saw when I looked up at his makeshift helmet was the rapist, the kidnapper—the enemy.

Originally, I was going to use this piece as an opportunity to discuss the illusive soccer player I had been seeing and his latest fuck up, but none of that really seems to matter to me anymore. Looking back, the challenges I faced with him seem so miniscule in comparison to what I confronted on the old blue mat in my self-defense class. I enrolled in the course on a whim. My mentor got me an amazing deal, one too good to pass up. She had been talking up the benefits of self-defense classes for weeks prior. She explained that it would give me a chance to make peace with my rape and reclaim ownership over my anger and my body. It all sounded good until I learned that I would have to reenact the experience of being raped and fight the man— the rapist, off of me. Then, I got scared. It was the kind of scared that makes your stomach jump and whine and leaves your hands and knees shaking long after the excitement has settled.   Consumed with unease I could no longer focus on the boy and our non-relationship.

Lying on the mat, I clenched my fists and the man knelt over me. He stroked my arms and grabbed hold of my wrists—a move I always hated. Joe would grab my wrists a lot. He’d grab them and pull me on top of him, “No, no….can’t we just talk? I don’t want to.” But soon my “no’s” would be silenced and he’d have me anyway he wanted. But now I was here, surrounded by friends, I was safe. “Use your voice Liz, use your voice.” The women called to me. I choked on my “no” and could barely get it out. My voice was shaking and its weakness surprised me. “NO.” I tried again, this time it was louder—angrier. Tears were rolling down my cheeks and into my mouth. My vision was turning black and I had to fight to stay present and aware. “NO” I said again and waited for my opening, a moment when he’d be the vulnerable one, and then I could strike. He was down at my feet and about to flip me onto my stomach when the women screamed, “Kick…kick….KICK!!!”  I kicked him in the face once, and then again, and then one final time before his head hit the floor and he assumed the “technical knockout” position.

I didn’t fight when it happened. I never fought with him. I was too afraid to face what I already knew, that if I refused to give him something, he would take it anyway. The night he pinned me up against his wall, I froze with fear. My screams went unnoticed and my “No’s” were ignored. Something deep inside of me was broken that night. Some kind of God given trust was lost and my mind and my body were separated from one another. I was no longer in control; I could no longer protect myself.

It wasn’t just my physical boundaries that I had trouble protecting, but my emotional ones as well. As I stood in line and cheered along for the other women I couldn’t help spacing out. The moment was gone and I was no longer in Joe’s bed, hands pressed against the wall. Now, I was in my hotel room in St. Augustine, Florida, lying beside a man I had been fantasizing about for months. We were inches apart but I couldn’t have felt further away. I was turned over, crying silently to myself and listening to the low hum of his snoring. We had, had sex…semi-painful, unromantic, awkward sex. It was nothing like I had imagined it would be. For the first time in a long time, I felt like I didn’t need to be there for it. Like, I could have been anyone, it didn’t matter, the connection we once shared was lost and I was just a body for him to rest on.

“I’m about to blow your mind, Liz. Listen up…this is serious.” I wiggled around in my chair and looked over at my friend, awaiting her next words. We were sitting on the front porch of her mother’s cozy Italian Village home and the sunlight seemed to dance around our bare feet. “You wanna know why we date guys who treat us like shit and have nothing going on?” “Because boys suck?” I joked, half-heartedly. “ERRR. Wrong! It’s because we don’t think we deserve those nice guys with college educations and good jobs, the ones who will treat us like queens.” She was right. I had spent most of my adolescence convinced that there was something wrong with me. I was a victim—I was damaged; I had, had an abortion—I was controversial. Nice guys like nice girls, ones without scars or pain, the kind of girls who wear pearls and smile a lot—girls who are whole and happy—girls who weren’t like me.

Then something shook me from my trance. It was my mentor; she had placed a bag of ice on the back of my neck. “This will help keep you present. Hold it to your chest.” With shaking hands I thanked her and took the ice focusing my attention back onto the mat. One by one I watched the women step out onto the mat and fight their battles. Some were fighting old lovers, nameless attackers, and others were fighting family members. I watched as they screamed from their bellies and kicked and punched as if their life depended on it—because for many of us, it did. I stood in awe as I watched quiet, reserved women rise with ferocity and anger like phoenixes, hungry for redemption. I saw women who had never gotten their chance to scream and fight retrieve their dignity from the ones who stole it and revisit dark places they had spent years trying to hide away. The energy in the room grew thick with power and I fed from it. I gathered strength from their strength and their cheering kept me awake and ready.

I was my turn again, and this time I was going give it everything I had. Before I had a chance to catch my breath he grabbed me from behind. The line roared with support and direction. He threw me on the ground and slipped a pillowcase over my head. “This changes nothing. You don’t need your sight—you can feel him. Wait for your opening.” Julie’s voice was calm and clear. I breathed and centered myself, waiting for my chance to get out from under him. “I’m going to fuck you in the ass and throw you in the dumpster.” The words slithered out from behind his mask. My eyes widened and I got pissed. In that instant I knew exactly what I was fighting for. With one move I heaved him off of me and ripped the pillowcase from my head. I kicked and kicked without stopping, my limps flailed about and I hit every target on his body I could find. Finally, I got up—refusing to fight him on the ground—I was going to show him that I could take him where he stood. At the same moment he charged in my direction I shot my foot into his groin and he fell to floor. Julie blew her whistle and the women screamed with joy. He took off his helmet and looked up at me with a smile, “Well I know I wouldn’t mess with you if I wasn’t wearing this suit.”

I’ve been called brave before. They’ve called me brave for sharing my story on the Internet, or for handling my abortion alone, but this was the first time in my life that I had actually felt it. I had overcome my greatest fear and persevered when I was at my most vulnerable. In a lot of ways it was the best moment of my life. It was better than the time I meditated under the sun in New York City, or climbed the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and saw a lake so clear it looked like another sky. I ran back to join the women in line and I heard a familiar voice calling me from the other side of the gym, it was my father. Smiling ear to ear he held out two big thumbs up and I realized how blessed I truly was. I have people who love and care for me because I’m worth being loved. I’m tired of letting others push me around and silence my voice. Now is my time celebrate my life and my body. This is the beginning of the greatest love affair of my life—the one I’m having with myself.

Love & Life: It’s Complicated

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“What do you want to be when you grow up?” I always had a different answer for this question. One week I’d proudly tell adults and relatives that I wanted to be a psychiatrist and just days later decide that I was meant for the stage and I was made to be an award winning actress. I never had a strong hold on what I wanted to do with my life. The thought of doing one thing forever and ever sounds a bit mundane and passionless. In college, I changed my major three times, coming up with one new plan after another. Even at 23 I can’t really tell you what my ideal job would be because my dreams don’t really work like that. There isn’t just one thing I want to get up and do every day but more of a cause I long to stand for.

I was made to heal women and girls. I know this. It lives inside of me and continues to grow stronger and stronger as I become more engaged in feminist activism. There have been a handful of women who have entered my life at the exact time when I needed them the most. When I look back at where I’ve come from I imagine these women as a mile markers in my life’s journey. They guided me, pushed me forward, and gave me the hope and strength I needed to soldier on. I know what I was made for; I just don’t know what that looks like yet. I don’t know what form it has to take in order to be at its most effective.  So that’s what my life looks like. A long, winding, intricate, path that is leading me towards self-discovery.

His life isn’t really like mine. Well, it is and it isn’t. His purpose has a shape, has a name, has rules and guidelines. His career is already a fully formed idea. He’s an athlete so his career and his job are the same thing, whereas mine are not. I have a 9-5 position at a 3 million dollar a year non-profit in central Ohio. I have a salary and benefits, I even have a brand new car that I bought all by myself. He doesn’t have these things yet because sports don’t work the same way that a day job does. There are all these risks involved, make-it-or-break-it deadlines, fast transitions, and it can all be gone or it can all be up for grabs in the blink of an eye.

To me, his life seems terrifyingly unstable. On the upside, he has a dream that he can see. He is an athlete—he wants to be the best one, that’s tangible. He doesn’t have to go searching for a dream the way that I have to, but the downside is that he has to fight for it. He has to go where the money is, always chasing down the chance to advance, the chance to have control over his team and his life. Making plans is meaningless when everything is uncertain. So how could I, realistically, plan to move across the world with him when he asked me to? And honestly, I wanted to—I still want to. But I can’t leave my life, the life that I’ve created here, to live in constant uncertainty.

At first it seemed perfect—another undeniable sign that the two of us were meant to be together. Of course, I need to keep reminding myself that my life is not a Nicholas Sparks novel. When he told me about India I was in the middle of reading the national bestseller Half the Sky. I was drawn to the women in the book and I felt compelled to stand up and be a voice against sexual slavery and trafficking. When the opportunity to go to a country known for its mistreatment of women and girls arose I knew that this would be the next step in my journey and being beside him was where I needed to be.

But something went awry. In the midst of our excitement we stopped listening to one another. Somewhere between stress and hope we let communication spoil. Being a part of his life requires me to be able to pick up and leave whenever we have to, to stay in hot pursuit of his dream. I guess I didn’t realize this—that whatever kind of home I made there I would have to leave behind. I imagined working for centers that take in women who have escaped from brothels, setting up a make-shift school in a small backroom and teaching their children how to read and write, count and dream. I couldn’t just leave that behind and I couldn’t move to a country so hungry for change and keep my mouth shut, my eyes covered, and my hands at my sides. Once there, I would need to be involved and stay involved until I was damn well ready to move on.

This idea for my life doesn’t coincide with his. Because he’s never held a “normal” job he can’t quite grasp the restrictions mine has on my life. Professionally, I need to give my agency 6 weeks’ notice before I resign. If I quit without giving any notice then they have to struggle to find someone new to fill my position as quickly as possible. In the time they spend looking for a new hire my work would be piling up on the desks of my associates. I can only imagine what my next job interview in the states would be like….”What was your reason for leaving your last job?” “A man.” “Oh, I see.” It’s hard enough for a young woman in the workforce to be taken seriously, I don’t feel like adding “I’ll abandon my job for my boyfriend” to the list.

But did I mention that I’ve never wanted anyone more than the way I want him? The thought of being with another man just seems laughable and sort of sad to me. We’ve been at this semi-relationship-thing for a long time now but still the very sound of his voice in my ear gives me butterflies and starts Cee Lo’s Fool for You playing on repeat in my head. It’s the kind of infatuation where I could be a hostage in a convenient store shoot out and if he called I would shyly look up from the floor and kindly ask the masked assailant, “Can I take this?”

A couple weeks ago I met a boy. Well, I guess he’s actually a man. Clean, interesting, with a charming smirk. I thought about how easy my life would be if I was with him instead of the athlete. If I could throw my phone in the Olentangy and rid my mind of India and greatness and just kiss him instead—everything would be so much simpler. Ignorance is bliss but I’m not ignorant. I can’t unlearn what it’s like to be with a good man, one whose dreams and goals are as big as your own—a man who doesn’t just want to take a bite out of life but wants to consume every last crumb of it. So I turned away from the boy knowing that he’ll never be enough for me.

So that’s all of it—my big dilemma, my wanting to have my cake and eat it too scenario. I want our lives to intersect without having to make changes to either of them. I’ve known women who have thrown away their dreams to chase men—men who didn’t love them for long and who eventually threw them away. I’ve also heard the other story, the one with a woman who chooses her career over her lover and still wakes up every morning thinking about “the one who got away” even as she wears another man’s ring on her finger. For the first time in my life I don’t have a plan. I don’t have an answer to that daunting question of what I want to be when I grow up. I have found myself at a crossroads that I wasn’t at all prepared for. As I think of my path and the places it’s taken me and the long road I still have left to travel I take a look at the crossroads and wonder, “which way should I go?”

Kiss Me Through the Phone

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Sometimes I feel like I’m on that show Catfish. Not because I’m in some weird online relationship with someone I’ve never met. Someone who could possibly be a woman, or a serial killer, but because I’m in some weird over-the-phone relationship with someone I never get to see. He got a job down south so when we considered establishing a relationship our options were limited. He refuses to give up his career and follow me to New York City next year and the thought of me living in Florida is absolutely hilarious. I burn under florescent lighting and it’s a known fact that the south is a dark place where feminism goes to die. Letting him go is easier said than done. So for the past few months this where I’ve been. Settling in some strange place between togetherness and separation, forced to navigate the uncharted territory of a long distance relationship.

We do as couples do. We talk when we can and make sure to support each other in our varying endeavors. We fight like typical twenty somethings, although I have to admit I do start most of it, because I get bored and restless. Everything is how it would normally be except for the underlying fact that we never share the same space, leaving us severely disadvantaged when it comes to sex. We’re average people with average needs and if it weren’t for a mutual attraction and romantic connection we would simply be friends. So how do we make the most of what we’ve got? Easy, we make it work with phone sex.

Skype sex is overrated and completely impractical. Have you ever sat across from someone and watched them masturbate? It’s disgusting. Made even worse by freezing screens and bad connections Skype runs the risk of making sexy time one horribly awkward moment. Honestly, I prefer not to Skype with him all together. Mostly because we are both so unbelievably conceited that we spend more time focusing on our own appearance than we do on each other.

Sexting is fun but there is no greater turn off than improper abbreviations or misspelled words. If you are making the attempt to sext then for God’s sake please spell out the word “you”. Illiteracy is not sexy. Thankfully he is not illiterate and understands that as a writer, I will judge him unfairly for any grammatical errors.

Words are great but then of course sometimes there is a need for a visual. I don’t mind sending pictures but even though I trust him, I would never send him anything too incriminating. As a general rule I avoid sending anything that has the potential to destroy my life. The exchange of naked photos will always be slightly unfair. Whereas I can get creative with lingerie or by positioning myself in various ways, men really only have one angle. And although I love his body, let’s be real, my phone can only handle so many dick pics. It’s also extremely dangerous to have anyone’s nudie pics living openly in your phone. I’m constantly transferring images from my phone to my office computer and the last thing I need is a close up picture of a penis to pop up on my screen. Needless to say, sexting is a little risky for my taste.

So really that just leaves us with phone sex. I know, “gross! That’s so ’97” believe me, I’ve heard it all already from my friends.  But honestly, what else do we have? Sometimes when I’m feeling melancholy I’ll think back to old movies or novels I’ve read where two people are separated by time and space and rather than give up on each other they wait patiently, romanticizing about the other’s return. It all sounds so old world and lovely but really it’s shit. We live in time consumed by the idea of instant gratification where we need to speak to, be with, or constantly be able to reach out and touch the ones we love. Having phone sex with him may be better than any actual sex I’ve had with past partners (and not just because masturbation is exceptionally more satisfying than some sweaty playboy grunting in my ear and wheezing with every thrust). but often it leaves me feeling emptier than before we began. The connection we share may feel invaluable, but there’s always a price.

One might think that doing the whole long distance thing would be easier with modern technology, and maybe for most people it is. For me, it seems to unjustly prolong something that will inevitably end. Facebook, Skype, and cell phones keep people connected to one another. For people like us, it maintains a connection that perhaps was never meant to be. Our lives are moving in two totally different directions and these communication platforms aren’t helping us build a relationship, but are instead forming false hopes. So really, if you can’t see a future in a relationship you’re holding onto, whether it be a friendship or one that’s romantic, what’s keeping us connected to it?

Merry Christmas, Ya Filthy Animal

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And on the 12th day of Christmas my true love…shat on my heart. Proving that all men are created equal; equally shitty. That’s right kids, gather ’round for a truly memorable holiday tale filled with sex, lies, and full blown douche-ary. This is the story of Christmas – Girl’s in the Boy’s Room style.

“Why are you trying to have a relationship with me if you don’t have time for it?” It was the third time in a month I had asked him that. Still, like the times before he responded only with a long pause and an exhausted exhalation. This was his way of saying, “I’m trying my best” but of course his best proved ultimately to be half-assed. In just 9 weeks my “gentlemen in Burberry” had become a tool in tacky diamond studs. Our conversations had gone from talk about life and love to endless ranting about his soccer career and his dreams of being part of the 1%. No, I’m not kidding. He is actually aspiring be part of the group that holds all of the money and power and well – doesn’t fucking share. Right, because that’s what you should’ve taken away from the Occupy Movement. I’m sure you’re all dying to know how this “star athlete” was planing to spend his money. Feeding starving children? Helping to pay off the national debt? ERR wrong. He wants to live in a castle, build a mote around it, fly around in a rocket ship, and pay his friend to drive him around in a Ferrari. THESE ARE HIS REALISTIC GOALS. First off, anyone who flies around in a rocket ship simply because he can, eh em Richard Branson, is completely environmentally irresponsible. We need less of you flying to mars, and more of you investing in green energy. Thanks! Finally, I want to add how gracious it is of him to consider his friend’s livelihood. Focus on your own career goals? Psh, no I’ll just pay you to drive me around and be my ride bitch. He’s so considerate.

This is all I heard for weeks after he received a rejection from an indoor team in Baltimore. He returned to Tampa with his head low and his faith shaken. We agreed to make it work no matter the distance because having a relationship over the phone was better than not having one at all. Things began to change rapidly. He called less often and when he did he no longer seemed interested in my life. The focus of our conversations almost always consisted of him detailing his plan of attack against the soccer world. Plotting and visualizing where he would be and which team he would play for, with me standing on the sidelines, agreeing with everything he said and assuring him that everything would work itself out. Then, when he had run out of things to say he would casually ask, “How was your day?” and even as I began to describe board meetings, and event marketing I would sense how uninterested he was and stop talking. It’s exhausting trying to be someone’s cheerleader when you receive absolutely nothing in return.

Waiting for him to change back into the person I had fallen for was hopeless. Most times I would hang up the phone feeling empty. I had waited all day to talk to a person who it felt could care less about talking to me. He rambled on about his ex girlfriend from time to time, something that should have been a HUGE red flag. He tweeted angrily about her, used our precious talk time to curse her name, and posted poorly executed rap songs about her on his already faulty sound cloud page. Cool! More and more I began to see why she broke up with him. He was self-obsessed asshole.

Still I soldiered on, dreaming of Christmas when he would be back in Columbus and we could finally be together. One thing you should know about me is that I take the holiday season very seriously. I truly believe it should be the merriest time of the year. Baby Jesus  and over gifting aside, Christmas is an opportunity for old friends to return home, families to be reunited, as well as an excuse to over eat and drink! This Christmas would be the best one yet. I would finally get to spend it with someone I truly cared about. I spent most of the autumn months convincing myself that everything would be perfect. Of course everything really went south after I purchased $60.00 worth of gorgeous Victoria’s Secret lingerie to wear for him on Christmas. As soon as I cut the tags off the clouds rolled in and shit hit the fan. The second his plane touched down at CMH he started ignoring my calls. When my messages went unanswered and my calls were directed to voicemail I’d start to think about every time he told me he missed me, every time he told me he was excited to see me, and my heart would fall into my stomach. We spent almost three months talking about seeing each other and when it was finally a possibility he was no where to be found.

We saw each other once. He came over late. I was surprised by his stature, I had remembered him taller than he was.  He talked about himself as he gulped down my wine. We had sex which was empty and meaningless though I tried my hardest to pretend otherwise. I woke up early the next morning and looked over at him as he laid there sleeping. I thought seriously about kicking him in the head but instead I slept with him once more before taking him home. After three months he showed up empty handed. Arriving without flowers, condoms (way to be safe bro. You’re 24, get it together), or any hope of repairing our dwindling love affair.

When I agreed to make it work, I meant it. I don’t run out on promises that I make to people and when I say I’m going to do something you better know damn well that I’m going to do it. This is because I’m an adult. I’ve transitioned out of my selfish college years and have become a real person of substance. Unfortunately this isn’t where he is in life. arrogant and unable to see how his actions, or lack thereof, effect the people around him is a clear indication that he hasn’t quite gotten it together yet. So, when he blew me off AGAIN I decided that the only sane thing to do was to tell him to kick rocks.

This Christmas I won’t be standing under the mistletoe or kissing anyone on New Years Eve. I’ll be alone, again. But I’ll be happy knowing that I didn’t hang on too long and that I finally stood up for myself and walked away from someone who wasn’t able to give me what I needed. I’m not happy with the way that it ended, but I’m completely elated that it’s over.

For those of you who may be wondering: No, I did not actually burn his soccer shorts. Although I did run over them a couple of times.

To New York, With Love

My love affair with Manhattan began as a crush. I became completely infatuated with the city after watching the Broadway musical turned major motion picture Rent when I was sixteen. Yes, that’s right. Something about extreme poverty and debilitating diseases seemed utterly romantic to me. After that I became obsessed with the humble beauty of fire escapes and neglected apartment buildings. I was absolutely certain that I would make it to New York one day, so I did.

I finally met New York when I was eighteen. Young and starry eyed I arrived at the door of my dormitory wearing a new outfit my mother had purchased for me days before. I settled into my tiny bedroom filled nothing but a single bed, one dresser, and a sink and knew that I was exactly where I was meant to be. For two memorable months New York was my man. In the mornings I would take the train to 23rd street and walk two blocks to the yoga studio where I worked. I would stare unapologetically at the people  I passed on the streets or waited with in the subways, pretending to be one of them. I would laugh with New York when the derelicts and ne’er-do-wells called me pretty and begged me to marry them. I would get drunk with New York, standing on the roof of my building singing to the city. I even fought with New York when I took the wrong subway and wound up in the wrong parts of town. And in the evening I fell asleep listening to the sounds of the streets below.

I didn’t want to leave him. But of course mothers will be mothers and mine was determined to make me finish high school and attend college the following fall. So I said my goodbyes, vowing that I would be back one day. And I was, for weekends, sometimes weeks. I came back to smell the city, visit old friends, and fall in love again. Every day I spent with him assured me that he was my dream, and that New York was my somewhere over the rainbow.

The last time I was in New York was almost two weeks ago. Now, I’m aware that visiting right before a hurricane was supposed to hit probably wasn’t a good idea but luckily I got out before the winds kicked up and the water came in. Regardless, New York and I found ourselves on different pages. The cab drivers overcharged me and the bank froze my account. Faces were cold and unfamiliar and found myself missing Columbus’ quiet streets and affordable food. I tried to party with New York but instead I took too much, threw up on my shoes and ran away from my French guide. It was like bad sex or emotional cheating. I woke up cold in the bed the next day hating New York and realizing finally that maybe we just weren’t meant to be together.

There was this guy, a real guy not a city, and it was kind of the same way with him. We made love happen in two weeks. Then he left (the way men sometimes do) and moved to Spain, then Germany, then California and last thing I heard he was living in a tent on top of some mountain in Oregon. Needless to say it didn’t work. But loving him felt like loving New York. I would wait to see his face appear on my computer screen the same I would wait to see that silvery skyline peak over my airplane window.

Then this other guy showed up completely unannounced. He’s actually quite perfect. You know, with looks so good they make you weak and a voice so powerful that the mere memory of it in your ear moves things inside of you. Things that you never thought would move again. This time it was two days. Two days of kisses and conversation that was so sweet it left butterflies lingering in the pit of my stomach. But he left to, because his life was waiting on the other end of some airport terminal and his goals were riding the conveyer belt at baggage claim, waiting to be picked up.

So here I am with this great sense that I’m not where I need to be. That this universe is trying to tell me that I’d better pick up and leave if I’m tired of being left. But then there’s this other thing idling above my shoulder. An eerie sense that perhaps I love the things I cannot have because I’m unable to see what’s right in front of me. Well, I”m not going to waste my youth dreaming of tomorrow because I’m unsatisfied with today. Or settle for a life that wasn’t chosen for me just because it’s easier to do so. Working on a dream is like working on a relationship and true love doesn’t end with an argument anymore than it can with one bad weekend.