Adventures of an Untethered Heart

Yesterday, I felt really tender in a way I haven’t in a while. It was in the middle of watching The Great Gatsby on the big screen with an old fashioned in hand. I’m not exactly sure what it was. I think it was the way Gatsby (played by the beautiful, wickedly brilliant Leo DiCaprio) looked at Daisy. Maybe it was his ache for her that was so palpable, so visible in his every move. I’m not sure, but I let myself get a little sentimental and soft. In the best way.

You see, I’m at this place I never in a million years thought I’d arrive at. It’s still fairly new – fairly new being a month and a half – so I’m still marveling at the greenery and the simple grandeur. It’s pretty lush, much to my surprise. What is this place, you ask? It’s the “I don’t want to be in a relationship” place. I swear, I never thought I’d say that and mean it.

I’ve said it before – many times, actually. But I was trying to cheat the system because everyone in a relationship has this terrible habit of telling single women that it’s the minute you stop wanting it that you get the man of your dreams. I find that idea very confusing and illogical. So does that work in other aspects of life? Is it the minute I stop wanting my dream job that it comes to me? Or the minute I stop apartment hunting that I find the apartment of my dreams? Maybe my problem is that I’m too logical about these things. I’d rather the old wives’ tale be that it’s the minute you realize there’s more to a grand life than a significant other that you find him.

Any how, because I was told to stop wanting it in order to get it, I tried that plan. I convinced myself that I didn’t want a relationship and I was satisfied with no hand-holding and cuddling. Since it was a lie, it didn’t last for long. Soon, I was bitter and whiny again, and I thought, “To hell with this whole sham!” and instead, talked loudly about how much I wanted it. I wanted it bad. I wanted it because it was all I could control in my life at the time. (This was pointed out to me by a dear friend recently whom I love even more for her honesty). Nothing else in my life was working so I thought I would manipulate my way into a man’s heart to prove that I was at least good for something.

Wonder of all wonders, that didn’t actually work. And here I am, many months later, thinking that my life is marvelous and I am excited to be learning and growing even in the most difficult process of self-analysis. I’m excited to one day be a therapist – at least, most days I am. I’m so excited for this summer where I’m going back to therapy to deal with the entire world of junk this past semester has unearthed in me. I am excited to read books and talk about existential/theological/psychological issues over beers that I brewed. I am excited to travel to the Pacific Northwest for the first time ever and bask in the grandeur of the ocean, hipsters, good coffee, and old friends. I’m excited to meet new people, and have the best conversations with wonderful men who are more than potential lovers. I’m so excited to dance the night away at my friend’s wedding. And for the first time, I am very content with not having someone to take me on a date.

I’m not saying this because there are no romantic prospects in my life. Oh, there are. But I’m so very uninterested at this present moment. I believe that love should be wild, and intoxicating, and breathtaking. There are far too many mediocre things in life for me to settle for a mediocre love. Until then, I’m basking in the glories of being young and beautiful and free to travel and roam as I please.

But then there are those moments like last night that remind me that just because I’m content being single right now doesn’t mean my heart has become hardened and untouchable. I still get breathless and melty when a guy looks at a girl the way Gatsby looked at Daisy. I haven’t given up on the man of my dreams – I’m just realizing for the first time that my life is still full of adventure and worthy of celebration without him. And I’d like to believe that he would be disappointed if I didn’t spend these days enjoying life in all its fullness. I hope he’s doing the same wherever he is.

As I write this at a coffee shop, a beautiful tattooed stranger is distracting me with his witty lines about my future career of manipulating people into honesty (aka therapy), and making me laugh really loudly. Maybe we’ll get a beer later, maybe we’ll never see each other again. Either way, I’m having the best damn time just living my life for me and not for the approval of another. Cheers to being young and wild and free.

A Single White Tree

I want to write because it’s been so long since my last post. I want to write consistently because it’s what good bloggers do. I want to be honest and raw, authentic and vulnerable. But I also want you to think of me in a particular way, to put me in the box where your other smart, strong, capable friends and bloggers go.

Except I feel weary. Silly. Needy. And that, other than the incessant demands of grad school, is why it’s taken weeks for me to compose a post. Because I don’t want to be honest about where my head has been or the places my heart has traveled. I don’t want you to think any less of me. I’m clearly doing an excellent job giving up perfectionism.

It only took four weeks of classes for me to arrive at the nervous breakdown station. It will be the first of many, I’m sure. But while I walked around my apartment crying so hysterically that I stopped to laugh at myself a few times, (for a good laugh, picture me softly banging my head against the window and wailing at the falling snow), I wasn’t thinking about how I’d pushed myself too hard or held myself to unattainable standards. The thoughts playing in my head were I’m not smart enough for this and I just want to be held by a man who isn’t a stranger.

It’s the tension that ruins me. I love having my own space to retreat and rejuvenate, but I ache to share it and care for someone within it. So I end up feeding my [very gracious] neighbor roasted pears with goat cheese and zucchini pasta and tiramisu cupcakes because the person I want to share my kitchen and my groceries with isn’t here. I love being independent and autonomous, but sometimes I just want to breathe and break and let someone else take care of me. I’m embarrassingly selfish, yet a part of my soul aches to be given the chance to love sacrificially. I’m still nowhere near ready for the mere idea of marriage, let alone the real thing, but I’m wholeheartedly ready for someone to be sure of me. I’m ready for the ambiguity and indecisiveness and noncommittal behavior that has characterized most of my opposite-sex interactions to be eradicated from my life once and for all. And I’m altogether irritated by the fact that even though the knowledge I’m acquiring here is intoxicating, it is not enough. I hate the wanting, the desiring, the needing; not because it is uncomfortable, but because I fear it will never be satisfied.

And that’s the part I didn’t want you to see – that I’m not as perfectly content as I thought I’d be with the acquisition of knowledge and pursuit of my dreams. And that I sometimes have nervous breakdowns that begin with the stressful demands of school and end in wanting love to find me. I’m learning and growing a little more each day, but no matter how busy I make myself and no matter how excited I am to become a therapist, I can’t escape the desire to be seen and to be intentionally chosen. At least it makes for great songwriting sessions.

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I want to be seen
With a fresh pair of eyes
A single white tree
In a black hood of disguise
– Brooke Waggoner, Fresh Pair of Eyes

Stinky Poop & True Love: A Different Kind of Fairytale

Is it just me or has the process of getting older and wiser become synonymous with a slight aversion to marriage and kids? When I was at the incredibly mature age of fifteen, I made a life map for myself that included me being married and pregnant at twenty-four. I mean, I understand that twenty-four seems like a lifetime away to a fifteen-year-old, but dear heavens, no. That life map also included me becoming a self-made millionaire by thirty and retiring by forty. I’m failing my fifteen-year-old self hardcore.

I’ll be twenty-four in less than two months, and while everywhere I look there’s a newly engaged or newly married couple, I don’t find myself wanting what they have right now. I’m not the bitter friend who has to pretend she’s happy for her friends who are finding the loves of their lives. I really am genuinely happy for the people I love, and I feel lucky to have a front row seat to witness selfless, sometimes messy, mostly beautiful, love. I love the sanctity of the marriage covenant, and all it symbolizes. Marriage is beautiful, weddings are beautiful, and I – like many other women – have daydreamed about my own special day.

But do I want to be planning a wedding anytime soon? Listen, I like my space. I like sprawling out in my bed without concern for someone else’s sleep cycle. I like eating when I’m hungry (which is all day, most days), and not at some appointed hour that works for two people. I thoroughly enjoy talking to myself alone in my apartment. I like the fact that my apartment has a “Clothing is optional” policy, and I’d love to keep it that way. I like making decisions on my own. I also really like knowing that when I feel like I’m triple my size and begin to wonder if there’s a karate club renting a meeting space inside my uterus, it’ll all be over in a mere five days – instead of a consistent, gradual, explosion fondly referred to as pregnancy. And those cute little buggers who are just so stinkin’ adorable even as they suck all the nutrients and sleep and normalcy from your life? Man, I just really like the fact that they don’t exist in my world quite yet. So no, I don’t want to be planning a wedding anytime soon.

The problem is that I feel weird admitting that, like I’m committing a sin against the twenty-somethings of my generation. Most of us want to be romanced and we want it now. Although, I’ve noticed that the numerous conversations about wanting to find the right guy and settle down are no longer as frequent or as earnest as they used to be a few years ago. Maybe I’m not the only one feeling this way? I’m all for finding the right guy, and then dating him for a good, loooong while.

Maybe it’s because I’m less of an idealist than I used to be. Wanting a husband and kids was easy when the picture in my head was of marrying the epitome of perfection complete with a year-round beard, and sassy little geniuses who came out of the womb potty trained and already hard at work on their next children’s book series. Who wouldn’t want to be married and pregnant given that scenario?

But the thing I’ve come to realize is this: I’m going to spend the rest of my life living with just a regular guy. He’ll have stinky poop, and will leave traces of toothpaste in the sink, and will get mad at me for very good reasons, and won’t always say the right thing, and won’t always let me warm my cold feet with his body heat, and won’t always be gracious or patient, and may forget my birthday, and won’t always think my body’s the most beautiful he’s ever seen (especially after what those future babies will do to it), and won’t always know when to hold me and when to give me space. His love won’t fix me – I’ll still be me in all my annoying quirks and flaws. Except all my flaws will be right there in the center of our living room, up for debate. I won’t suddenly become perfect as soon as I say, “I do”. In fact, I’ve heard it said that marriage doesn’t exist to make you happy as much as it exists to help you grow. And growth is a beautifully difficult process.

I grew up dreaming about a guy who would always know what I was thinking, and would know just what to say and how to say it. But in reality, I’ll probably have to tell him what I’m thinking. And sometimes, I’ll have to ask him to hold me. And that’s okay, because he’s just a regular guy. Besides, that takes more courage than living in la-la-land where everything is handed to you and you never have to find the guts to ask for what you really want.

Picture two messy people who love each other like their lives depended on it, but who are also unequivocally human. It’s like being regular roommates on crack – the crack being sex (and hopefully lots of it), and making every.single.decision together, and eventually, little tots in diapers. Forgive me, but I’d like to spend a few more years reveling in the beauty of my autonomy, the glory of first dates, and my clean bathroom sink.

Nostalgic for the Future

I’m a twenty-three-year-old woman who’s never had a real boyfriend. Whose hands have never been held in the hands of a lover while on a leisurely stroll. Whose lips are supple, soft, and un-kissed. Whose heart is large, intricately beautiful, and unclaimed.

Most days, that’s just fine. Life’s fullness isn’t narrowed down to belonging to a significant other – there are many, many things that expand my heart and bring me joy. I belong to people – to friends who are more like sisters, to the One my heart adores, to a family of impossibly difficult people, to this place right now.

But then there are nights like tonight when I can’t distract my heart from missing him. Him whom I’m yet to meet. Him who will hold my hand, and kiss my lips, and claim my heart.

It used to be a bitter thing, wondering where he was and why he was taking so long. Or more precisely, wondering what was wrong with me. It’s not a bitter thing anymore. And while I wouldn’t have chosen this story for myself, I’m glad that all I’ve been able to do for two decades is miss him. It’s given me plenty of time to learn to ferociously love the person I am without him. And it’s shown me how important it is to me that he’s extraordinary. That we are extraordinary. I want to change the world with this man. I want to love hard and live free. I want to raise the most beautiful, selfless, confidently humble children with him. I want to learn generosity, kindness, patience, and joyfulness with him.

I don’t plan to live an ordinary life. Therefore, I’m not settling for an ordinary love. Tonight, I’m eagerly anticipating falling in love with a man who will change the world and make history with me.