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I got stood up two nights ago.

If you’ve ever been single (most of us have, right?), you know the feeling you get when you meet someone for the first time, and a tiny spark of hope flickers in your heart. When you exchange glances in a bar, or you laugh about the same tiny interaction. When you think to yourself, maybe, just maybe, this could be my person.

This doesn’t happen to me often. Partially because I don’t go on all that many dates, and partially because the ones I do go on so often feel like duds. But when it does, I tend to get excited. Potential grows in your heart way faster than anything else.

A week or so ago, I went on a GREAT first date with a man I’ll call B. His online profile had me worried he wasn’t my type, but I decided to give it a whirl anyway. And then I was so glad I did. As it turned out, B was my type to a tee. He’d gone to a small liberal arts school, like me. He was an English major, like me. He wanted to be a “real writer” like me (me: novels; him: screenplays). He was tall dark and handsome, with a body cut like a Greek god (which simultaneously caused me immense joy and immense fear of unworthiness). HE SANG A CAPELLA IN HIGH SCHOOL. He liked to travel. HE LOVED KITTENS. If you asked me to make a list of all the seemingly superficial qualities “my type” would have, he would have checked nearly every box. {story continued on the blog; link in profile}

As my girl Taylor Swift says, sparks fly (flew). When he got home around 1am, he texted me to let me know he’d made it safely, and said he’d had fun. “We should hang again,” he said. This was pre-Labor Day, I was headed out of town for the long weekend. I said I’d be back next week; when was he free?

Over a little bit of back and forth, we landed on Wednesday. All weekend long, I resisted texting him to see how his weekend was going. I waited for my phone to ding, for my screen to light up. It didn’t. On Monday afternoon, en route back to New York, I caved. I texted to see if we were still on for Wednesday night, asked him how his weekend was. He waited an hour or two to respond, but told me yes, Wednesday was good; he’d gone to Basquiat exhibit over the weekend.

By Monday night, I could feel it in my gut: I wasn’t going to see him on Wednesday. A stone vibrated in my belly, and I willed myself to be positive. Putting my fear and negativity out into the world wasn’t going to do me any good. On Tuesday, I willed myself not to text him again (editor’s note: I hate these games). I made it until Wednesday morning, a time I felt was perfectly appropriate if we were meant to have plans that night. After all, contrary to popular male belief, I do have a life outside of the apps, and I intend to live it.

An hour passed. Two. Three. 5pm rolled around, then 6. I tried not to cry in a meeting. I left work, blasted Taylor on my bike ride home, and lit all my candles. I contemplated whether it was worth ordering a bottle of wine to my apartment, whether I could summon the energy to bake a batch of cookies and then eat them all. I cursed myself for texting, for not being the “cool girl” (side note: if you’ve never read the “cool girl speech” from Gone Girl, leave here immediately and look it up).

Sometimes I think the worst kind of heartaches are the ones that never really happened. The ones that lived only inside your head. For me, this was one of those. Cue “Almost Lover” by A Fine Frenzy. I spent the last week thinking maybe, just maybe, this was it. I pictured us walking hand in hand as summer turned to fall (I’d tripped on our walk home and he’d caught me, steadying me on the sidewalk, his strong hand in mind). I pictured calling my parents and telling them that finally, I’d met someone worth talking about. I pictured him meeting Kim and Joia (my oldest friends; effectively my sisters). How he’d go off with their husbands and play video games while we made dinner in Joia’s kitchen. I pictured us taking a weekend upstate, walking slowly up and down the aisles of old school general stores and hiking up small mountaintops, our cheeks flushed with the effort. I wondered if maybe by the time my last wedding of the year rolled around, we’d be together and he’d fly with me to California.

This is on me. I’m the one who let myself get all in my head about it. But man, knowing it was all in my head doesn’t make it hurt any less. Sometimes I think my heart wants it so bad that it runs straight away from me into a land that is the opposite of reality.

This weekend, I started—and finished—Lisa Taddeo’s incredible new book, Three Women. In the prologue, there is a paragraph that absolutely gutted me, and that I feel sums up this experience. “Throughout history,” she says, “men have broken women’s hearts in a particular way. They love them or half love them and then grow weary and spend weeks and months extricating themselves soundlessly, pulling their tails back into their doorways, drying themselves off, and never calling again. Meanwhile, women wait.”

Women wait. Ain’t it the truth? The awful, miserable truth? I wish I had a neat tiny bow to end this story with. I wish I could tell you that I’m done waiting, that I deserve better than this asshole, that, as my sister said, I “don’t want to be with someone who can’t communicate.”

I know all of these things are true, but I don’t feel them in my heart. Not yet, at least. Maybe someday soon, I will, but for now, it hurts. If you need me, I’ll be looking at this piece from Mari Andrew on repeat, which happened to pop up on my Instagram feed at the exact moment I needed it to. As one commenter said, it makes my heart ache less knowing I’m not alone in mourning what could have been.

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Last weekend, I had a 4 hour long coffee turned ice cream turned long walk in the sunshine date with a nice Italian man. Let’s call him M. He was a few years older than me, creative and interesting and seemingly normal. He had an impressive job he was passionate about (hard to find!), he showed up to coffee in cute yellow sunglasses and a camera slung over his shoulder, and he treated me to a chocolate croissant.

When he offered to come over and cook me a pasta dinner on Wednesday night, I felt like a movie heroine—was this real life? I said yes. Actually, I believe my exact words were, “f*ck yes.”

 

Between our coffee date on Sunday and our date at my place last night, we exchanged quite a few texts. Monday morning, while I was struggling to keep my balance on a crowded 8am F train, my phone buzzed with messages of the sexual nature. If you’re dating in this day and age, you know the ones. We all get them.

I’m not opposed to sexting. Really, I’m not. So long as both parties are informed and empowered and there’s true consent and equality in the exchange. But I’m generally not as inclined to sext with a near stranger. I said as much, and in doing so, seemingly pissed him off a bit. Or at the very least, threw him off his game. He apologized, briefly, but went on to tell me he just wanted things to be “fun.” Implying, of course, that my turning down a Monday morning sext sesh meant I wasn’t fun.

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Recently, over giant bowls of cacio e pepe, I talked to my friend Martha about the state of my dating life. Some of you may recall I wrote about being blown off by a guy I’d been seeing right before I went to Copenhagen. In telling Marth about the experience, she recommended that if I were to see him again, I try and be more upfront about my needs, or at the very least, tell him how that experience made me feel. I balked at the idea—why did I need to tell this dude I was kinda dating and sometimes sleeping with about my FEELINGS?! And then she made a good point: even if he wasn’t my person (and I don’t think he is), having that kind of “tough” conversation with him would be good practice. That is to say, telling him, “hey, you blowing me off at the last minute made me feel shitty” would prep me for telling my future person, “hey, that thing you did really upset me.”

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Cut back to Monday morning, on the F train. For the sake of setting up the story, I present to you our actual text conversation with M. My text below is in response to him asking me to just open up a bit more, tell him what I was thinking, etc. I’m sparing you from the sexual stuff that had come before it, but trust me when I say “what I was thinking” was not without innuendo.

Me: What I feel is that I had a great time yesterday, I felt chemistry, and I’d love to see you again this week.

Me: Apologies if I’m not as well-versed in the whole talking about my feelings thing. It takes me a while to feel comfortable with people. No hard feelings if you’re not interested in that. I’m not sure what you’re asking me to say.

Him: I want you to be a bit more relaxed. More playful. Just enjoy chatting a bit more, please. It isn’t an exam. It’s a fun moment.

In my head, I heard Martha. Be honest. Listen to your gut. Tell him what you need (and what you don’t).

So I tried to be clear. I’d already told him (in person!) that I was a bit shy, that it took me some time to warm up to people. I’d made it clear who I was, and given him the out if he wanted it. I said, again, that sexting wasn’t really my thing. And he seemed, for the most part, to get it. To lighten the mood, I jokingly said I’d open up a bit with a few glasses of wine in me.

~

Cut to last night. He shows up on my doorstep with a bag of groceries from Whole Foods and a bottle of red, and proceeds to show me how to make carbonara from scratch. Every so often, he stops stirring to kiss me, hungrily, like he hasn’t been kissed in years, like he’s dying to tear my clothes off. Again, I wonder: am I in a movie? Are the cameras going to pop out from behind the window? 

I think back to our conversation on Monday. His energy is strong, what he wants is clear. In the back of my head, I hear my intuition—the part of me that fears that when the time comes, he’s going to want weird sexual stuff that I’m not comfortable with. I quiet it, and sip my wine.

The carbonara is complete, and we sit, at the table—like a normal, civilized couple—and eat. The wine has kicked in, my intuition has gone silent, and I feel calm, relaxed—like the fun Sarah he wants me to be. The fun Sarah I know I can be in the right situation, with the right person, when I feel comfortable. This is going to be fine, I tell myself. Beyond fine; it’s going to be fun.

And for the first few hours, it is. Our chemistry is, for the most part, as good as I predicted, and I try not to think about sucking in my stomach or whether he’s looking at my stretch marks or whether I’m as good at certain things as I think I am. I try to just close my eyes and live in the moment, and enjoy the fact that a good looking Italian man cooked me carbonara and then took me to bed.

Around midnight, we finish, and he puts his clothes back on.  It’s late, he tells me. I should let you get to bed. We head back into the living room, and start cleaning up from dinner. I’m wearing a black slip that I’ve thrown on, slightly sexy but not overly so. I’m rinsing wine glasses in the sink when he comes up behind me, and starts kissing me again.

I thought you had to get home, I say to him teasingly.

I did, he says, but then I saw you in here, in that.

Before I know it, we’ve migrated to the couch, and his clothes are off again. This is where things go south. Emboldened, perhaps, by the last few hours, he asks me if I’ll do something for him, and he can watch. At the risk of crossing the TMI line I’ve most certainly already crossed here, I’ll leave you to use your imagination at this point.

I’m suddenly acutely aware of this strange man, naked on my couch in the darkness, asking me to do something that feels more out of a porno film than the romantic scene I’ve been setting in my head all night. I shake my head, and tell him no, I’m not comfortable doing that.

Why not? He presses the issue.

That sort of thing is for me, I say, not for him. I say it defensively. My guard is up. In my head, I’m tracking backwards to Monday morning, to his sexual texts. I should have listened to my gut, I think. I knew we’d get here eventually.

He’s staring at me as though I’m some sort of sexual doll he can bend into position, and I wish I could snap my fingers and go back in time, to when he was just a cute man making carbonara and offering me pieces of parm to taste.

He asks, again, and again, I say no, more forcefully this time. And then his tone shifts. Angrily, he tells me he’d like to offer me a bit of advice for future dates. I should watch my tone, I shouldn’t be so quick to say no, it might make dating more difficult for me in the future. Reacting this way to men, he says, isn’t great. They will not like it.

I don’t know whether to smack him across the face or to cry, so I do neither. Instead, I tell him, as bravely as I can muster, that I don’t need his advice on dating, and I didn’t ask for his opinion on the topic.

And now, he gets truly angry. He begins to put on his clothes—first his socks, then his underwear, then his pants and his shirt. I’m reacting, he tells me, like a child.

No one over 14 would act like this, he says. I am entitled to my opinion, he says. It is the beauty of free speech, he says, for him to say what he wants, without being asked.

He says all of this in a thick Italian accent, the accent that just two hours ago, I thought was sexy. Now, I go silent. I just want him to leave. I want to slam the door in his face and then fling myself on my bed and sob, because OF COURSE THIS IS HOW THE MOVIE ENDS. Of course I’m not a human being he respects, but rather, a vehicle for whatever weird fantasy has struck his fancy that day.

Oddly, instead of storming out, he helps me finish putting the dishes into the dishwasher. We don’t talk, but move carefully around one another, chess pawns that don’t dare touch. I hate that I’m in a flimsy black slip, and want desperately to be fully clothed.

More than anything, though, I hate that he asked me to do something I didn’t want to do. And a tiny part of me, really and truly, hates that I didn’t want to do it. Perhaps someone more fun than myself would have given in. No, not given in, but enjoyed it. I wonder, briefly, if it means there’s something wrong with me. If it’s true that I’m no fun. Am I doomed to be no fun forever?

European to a fault, he kisses me on both cheeks before he goes.

Thank you for dinner, he says.

You made the dinner, I reply. So thank YOU.

And with that, he’s out the door, and before I can even process what’s happened I’ve locked it, tight. I stand in place for a minute, arms crossed at my chest, feeling sad and stupid and angry all at once. I wish, not for the first time, that I could skip over all the bullshit of dating and just be happily partnered up with someone who will treat me with the respect I deserve.

I want to cry, but the tears don’t come. So I load the dishwasher, and close the windows. I blow out the candles, and I tell Alexa to turn off. I brush my teeth and wash my face, patting at the beard burn on my chin. I stare at myself in the mirror, and I try to tell the girl looking back at me that she’s worth more than some weird pornographic fantasy dreamt up by a random Italian she met on a “dating” app.

My bedroom smells like bodies, like sex. I want to throw my sheets out the window. I want to burn them. I do neither of these things. It is, after all, 1am. So I spray them aggressively with linen spray, as though I can evaporate the scent of the Italian with some overpriced essential oils and distilled water. I take a deep breath, and climb into bed. Shutting off the lights, I tell myself that this too shall pass, and I shut my eyes tight. I sleep like the dead, waking only when my alarm goes off at 7:30.

And then I get up, and I go about my day. Because there’s nothing else to do, is there? We wake, we live, we sleep, and we repeat. All day today, I’ve watched my phone for a text from M. An apology, maybe, for asking me to do things I wasn’t comfortable with. A simple “I’m sorry for reacting the way I did.”

It’s 4pm, and it hasn’t come. I don’t think it ever will.

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Today, I am 33 years old. WOOF, am I right? There’s no denying it: I’m a real adult. I have four weddings this year (and that’s just the ones I know of already!). People I know are starting to have babies. I’ve been in an apartment I own for over 2 years.

In other words, shit isn’t just getting real. It is real. I always feel reflective (and if I’m being honest, a bit emotional) around my birthday. I mean, can a girl get a boyfriend and can he send flowers to her office on her birthday FOR CRYING OUT LOUD?! Just kidding. Except not. What I would give for a man to send flowers to my office.

ANYWAY, my point is this: every year when my birthday rolls around, I start thinking about where I am in life. And inevitably, it’s not exactly where I want to be, or, perhaps more accurately, “where I thought I’d be.” Because it never is, is it? We hold ourselves to these crazy standards: This is the year I’ll fall in love! This is the year I’ll get married! This is the year I’ll get a new job! This is the year I’ll…

But what if this year, I tried to think differently? What if this year, my goal was simple: to live, and love, well. To stop waiting around to do the things I want to do, or say the things I want to say. To take the trips, and write the stories, and let the people I love know that I really love them.

Maybe, if I start there, I might just end up where I want to be.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I’ll get through my birthday without some healthy reflection. So, let’s do it, shall we? Here are 32 things I learned in my 32nd year (alternate title: 32 things I know to be true at the dawn of 33).

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  1. Life is short. Over the past few months and weeks, I’ve watched multiple friends grapple with the worst of things: illness. Death. I’ve watched them rise, strong and mighty, vulnerable but powerful, to the occasion again and again. And I’ve thought to myself, nothing is forever. No day is guaranteed. Is it a cliché? Yes. But it’s also true: life is short. And it deserves to be lived. With gusto.

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my mamas paying a visit to the grand apartment

  1. Your parents will not live forever. I’ve officially hit the age where it’s not unusual to lose a parent. God, I hate typing that sentence. I wish my parents would live forever, I really do. I hate that there are all these milestones I’ve yet to check off (see: wedding, kids) that they may not live to see. My mommy experienced some health issues this year and it threw me for a loop. Every time she called, my paranoia kicked in: was it cancer? Was she dying? I compulsively say “I love you” every time I get off the phone with my moms, just in case it’s the last time we speak. It’s insane, I know. But I know they won’t live forever, and so in addition to spending all the time I can with them, I want to be sure they know: they’re the best damn moms in the world.

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my work team (a bunch of badass ladies)

  1. You cannot do it all (even though you want to). This past December, I hit rock bottom at work. Not to toot my own horn, but it takes quite a bit for me to hit that point. I am nothing if not insanely efficient. But between juggling multiple direct reports, a workload better fit for 3 people than one (yours truly), and a difficult coworker I just couldn’t seem to click with, I broke. And it wasn’t pretty. I cried not just at my desk, but in front of a very senior boss. I started to dread coming to work—a feeling that affected me more than the workload did. My boss saw it happening, and in the New Year, she intervened. She took me off one of my three accounts, a move that I’m at once thankful for, and one that makes me feel like a failure. Who am I if I can’t do it all? Um, a regular person, Sarah. Because NO ONE CAN DO IT ALL. Okay, I guess I’m still learning this one.

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  1. There’s nothing wrong with a rest day. When I first got into working out a few years ago, I wondered: what was up with those crazy people who did 2 a days and who got up at the crack of dawn to run along the East River? And then, glory be, I became one of those people. You wouldn’t know it to look at me, but for the last few years, I’ve consistently worked out 6-7 times a week, sometimes doubling up on my workouts in a single day. For a while, I got on a schedule where I’d go weeks without a single rest day. I convinced myself that sleeping in and missing a workout was tantamount to undoing all the progress of the last 7 or so years. I mean, that’s ridiculous. After my two week trip in Europe this summer, I came back to New York and my classes and thought, oh my god, I’m going to have to start all over. But guess what? I didn’t! My body bounced back. It wasn’t 0-100, but it was pretty close to it. And I realized that maybe I could take a break every now and then. That I could release my grip just a bit. Now, I take a rest day on Friday or Saturday. And if I’m tired, I don’t beat myself up for sleeping in. I listen not to my crazy brain, but to my body. And so far, so good.

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me, after nearly two weeks in europe

  1. A 2-week vacation is the best kind of vacation. I know: a 2-week trip (any trip, really!) is a luxury. But man, was my 2-week trip to Europe this summer magical. Sure, I was in a beautiful place eating beautiful food. Sure, I was with beautiful people (my friends). But more than that, I was away for long enough that my body, my brain, and my heart truly let go. Week 1 was fun, but I still felt myself caught up on the hamster wheel of the go go go mentality. It wasn’t until week 2 rolled around that I felt myself exhale. My smiles got bigger. My breathing got deeper. My mind rolled around in its cage for a bit, and then it settled. By the time I got back to New York, I felt something I haven’t felt in years: really, truly rested.

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sipping coffee in mexico city

  1. The world is so much bigger than you can even imagine. I think I learn this more and more each year, and more and more each trip. Every time I travel, I seek out the smaller hotels. I look for the local haunts. I find the coffee shops and the hole in the wall restaurants, I jog along the water and shop in the local markets. It’s so easy, especially in New York City, to settle inside my bubble and never leave. But each time I do, I feel it: I feel my world expand. Sights, sounds, feelings, moments. The world is big, and I am but a speck atop it.

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my new insta friends turned IRL friends, tiina (left) and bev (right)

  1. Strangers on the internet can actually be quite nice. This was the year I made friends on Instgram—and met a few of them in real life. I know you’re nothing ‘til you have a few haters, but I’m thrilled (and perhaps flattered) to say that the tiny community I’ve built on Instagram over the past year or so has been nothing short of wonderful. I feel like I’ve found my people, and it feels really good. PS: If that’s you, thank you. I’m so glad you’re here.

 

  1. It’s okay to feel like you’re behind everyone else. Because the truth is, you’re on no one’s timeline but your own. Earlier this year, I had my AMH levels tested (one of the indicators of fertility). Rounding the corner to my mid-thirties, I know the facts: after 35, your chances of having a baby naturally drop drastically. In other words, TICK TOCK. But as it turns out, my AMH levels are pretty darn high. Which means that even though the stats show time is a wastin’, I might just have a shot—even though I’m eons behind everyone else. This knowledge meant more to me than you’ll know (and I wrote more about it here, if you’re curious).

 

  1. You have no need for energy vampires. Last year, I read a passage about energy vampires: people who suck the energy out of you when you’re around them. We all have those friends, right? Who leave you feeling glass half empty, rather than half full? I know a few of those people, and in my 32nd year, I vowed to stay away from them. Life is too short to spend with people who make you feel like shit. Full stop.
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a slow morning at home

  1. If you’re sick, it’s your body’s way of telling you to slow down. Without fail, every single time I drank too much/worked too hard/stayed out too late/got too little sleep this year, my body threw up the middle finger. I learned to keep the colds at bay with natural remedies like elderberry syrup and oil of oregano, but those babies can only do much. The lesson? Don’t overdo it. And when your body says no, LISTEN.

 

  1. You don’t like running, and that’s okay. I tried, for years, to “learn how to be a runner.” I’d gone from an overweight couch potato to a still overweight (but very active!) fitness freak, and running was the one mountain I hadn’t conquered. For the last few years, I tried, in vain, to find that runner’s high everyone talks about. Spoiler alert: I never found it. And in my 32nd year, I let that shit go. Not everyone is meant to be a runner. And by that I mean: I think I am not meant to be a runner. It’s fine, though, because I’ve got SoulCycle.

 

  1. A good book is almost as good as a good friend. 8-year-old Sarah could have told me this—books were often better friends to her than actual humans were (especially because books didn’t get confused when you talked about feelings)—but books do something that sometimes, not even your very best friend can do. They lift you up, transporting you out of your body, into another story entirely. And then when you’re ready, they bring you back home again. And that’s quite a magical thing.

Side note: if books were friends, I’d be so goddamn popular.

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my weekend MO: baking and a podcast

  1. Same with a good podcast. Living alone in a funny thing. I quite like it most of the time, and then there are those stretches where I don’t see or talk to another human being for a few days (unless you count the barista who makes my coffee or the people who check me into my workout class) and I start to feel like I’m floating in the ether. Like maybe I’m a total loner who has no friends and who might never talk to another soul again. When I don’t have someone to call, and I’m tired of talking to Penny, I turn on my favorite podcasts. And suddenly, it’s as though I’m surrounded by friends; their voices of choir around me, assuring me it’ll all be okay.

 

  1. It’s okay to cry at work. Okay, in all honesty, I’m still working on this one. But it’s a big goal of mine: to feel my feelings (within reason, of course) and NOT beat myself up about it. I cried at work twice this year. Okay, three times. And each time, that tiny little voice in my head was shout-whispering, “DON’T CRY. DON’T DO IT. DO NOT CRY. NOT HERE! NOT NOW!” And each time, I CRIED. Because crying is a NATURAL HUMAN REACTION to feeling things, and as you’ve all probably gathered by now, I feel ALL THE THINGS almost all the time. Goal for 33: keep crying, and don’t hate myself when it happens.

 

  1. Your greatest hurt can become your superpower. A decade ago, I went through something that turned my life upside down. Something that threw me into a deep depression. Something that made me question my sanity, my worth, my life. And in my 32nd year, all these years later, I started to feel like I had things under control. Like maybe all of that pain had been worth something. That maybe, just maybe, life had torn me down and built me back up again for a reason: so that I could be someone better, someone stronger. I’ll carry that little piece of hurt in my soul for the rest of my days—but I’m starting to think that same hurt might just be what makes my heart so big.

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i didn’t get married, but i did do this. 

  1. Things won’t be the way you thought they’d be. I’ve officially reached the age where most of my friends are married, and a few are even starting to have kids. And it’s obvious: I’m in my early thirties and I am not where I thought I’d be. In my 32nd year, I worked hard to make peace with that fact: to let go of the expectations of what should be, in hopes that it’ll open doors to what could be.
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hannah, my partner at work, and a damn good friend

  1. New friends can be found in the darkest of places. If you’re a regular reader around these parts, you’re well aware that the last few months at my job were, in not so many words, ROUGH. But out of the darkness, I found a spark of light—in a woman named Hannah. Hannah was hired as my art partner, but over the past few months of late nights and weekend work, has become so much more than that: we’ve become great friends. It’s one thing to be drinking wine in a dark conference room at 8pm on a Monday. It’s a whole other thing to be drinking wine in a dark conference room whilst cry-laughing about the ridiculousness of your situation, and knowing you’re not in it alone.

 

  1. A good mascara can be life-changing. It’s true. Mine is Glossier Lash Slick, and I may never go back to drugstore mascara again.

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  1. Sweat will ALWAYS help. Unless you’re so hungover you can’t get out of bed. Then it’s better to stay home. Because no one wants to be the one dry heaving on a spin bike.

 

  1. It’s okay to cry, period. One of my most favorite things about New York City is the way you can cry in public without anyone batting an eye. New Yorkers often get a bad rap: We’re rude. We’re pushy. We’re unfriendly. Say what you will about our attitude, but I will tell you this: a New Yorker will never ever judge you for crying on a stoop outside a Duane Reade. They may stop and offer you a tissue, or a sympathetic glance, but never ever will they look at you like it’s insane to be crying in public. I cried in public multiple times this year, and MAN IT FELT GOOD.

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my family, otherwise known as the people who keep me sane

  1. And you’re never too old to call your mom (see also: #2). I should know – I have two of them. And I try to call them a few times a week. Because as I said above, I know they won’t live forever.

 

  1. Your dream man probably isn’t on Tinder. I got screwed (and screwed over) enough this year to know: Tinder is NOT the place to meet your dream man. It’s a great place for unsolicited advice (actual message I received: “Sit-ups. Do some.”), and an even better place for unsolicited dick pics (actual photo I received: not pictured, but it was Parisian, and would have been greatly improved if it were wearing a tiny beret!). It is not a good place for actual dating, or meeting the man of your dreams. I hope 33-year-old Sarah remembers this next time she’s drunkenly swiping in an Uber at 1am.

 

  1. But he might be on Hinge. The two good dates I’ve been on this past year both came from Hinge. Granted, two isn’t much, but it’s too good against MANY bad on the Tinder front.

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my team of wonderful women

  1. It’s hard to be a good boss. But it’s worth it. Managing people, I have learned, is less about the work, and more about the people skills. I like people (I minored in sociology and psych), and I think my skills are relatively good. But sometimes, management feels like babysitting a bunch of toddlers who all want different things for dinner, and I’ve forgotten how to cook. Those are the hard days. Then there are the days when you watch the people on your team soar high above your wildest expectations, and you just want to yell, “THAT’S MY BABY! AIN’T SHE THE CUTEST/SMARTEST/MOST WONDERFUL CHILD EVER!?” On those days, all the bullshit is worth it, ten times over.

 

  1. People can only meet you where they are. Emotional intelligence is a thing, and it varies. I learned this time and time again this year, both in friendships and at the office. I cannot expect people to react the way I want them to react. I cannot expect them to react the way I would react. I can only expect them to react the way they react—to their best of their emotional capability. Asking (or hoping) for more than that is asking to be let down. We’re all just doing the best we can.

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  1. You’ll never regret a workout. It’s hard to workout early in the morning. It’s even harder once winter rolls around, and it’s pitch black outside even at 7am. Here is what I’ve learned: if you can just get yourself out of bed, and brush your teeth, you’ll make it. Turning off your alarm (and not going back to sleep) is the worst part. Master that, and the rest is gravy. And you will never, ever, regret sweating it out.

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a last minute long weekend in paris with my friend sara

  1. Or a last minute trip. My trip to Paris this year couldn’t have come at a better time. I was tearing my hair out at work, considering walking out of the office and never coming back. It was 72 hours, maybe even a little less, two 6 hour flights (plus airport delays) and not quite enough sleep. But it was also 3 days in PARIS—3 days of sightseeing and wine, of covering miles of the city with hot coffee cups in hand, of heart to hearts and catch ups and more giggles than I could count. I came home exhausted, but I came home full. When I left, my cup was empty, when I returned, it runneth over.

 

  1. Time is a powerful healer. At the beginning of last year, I was ghosted by a guy I’d put a lot of emotional effort into for the past few months. He didn’t live here, it was an entirely phone-based relationship, and still, there was a teeny tiny part of me that thought, maybe this is it. I opened a little door in my heart, and in it, I told myself a story: that maybe I’d move to England. Maybe he’d move here. Maybe fate would find a way to bring us together. Fate had other things in mind (as did he), and the romance, whatever there was of it, really and truly, fizzled. And it hurt. BAD. But each day, it hurt a little less. By spring, I’d almost entirely recovered; by May, when I met up with him in London (ahead of a two week trip I was taking with friends), I felt strong enough to spend 24 hours with him and NOT have my heart break all over again.

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  1. Very little will make you happier than a Taylor Swift concert. And you should definitely splurge on the $200 tickets, because when she plays the side stage and she’s so close you can ACTUALLY SEE HER EVEN THOUGH YOU’RE IN A GIANT FOOTBALL STADIUM, you’ll experience a moment of bliss unlike any other.

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  1. Except maybe your cat. Nothing, and I repeat, nothing will comfort you like Penny will. There is unconditional love, and then there’s the unconditional love of an animal. There is truly nothing like it.

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  1. There’s a big difference between being alone, and being lonely. And though you might often be physically alone, you’ll come to realize you don’t mind that—in fact, you might just like it.

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me and my two oldest friends (31 years!) over the holidays

  1. And even when you feel alone, you’re not. Not really, at least. Because even though you might not have a husband, you do have your friends—a select few of which might as well be family, because you know they’d see you through just about anything (and you’d do the same for them).

this morning, after a tough morning workout class, i treated myself to a latte at the coffee shop across from my apartment. it was a cloudy, quiet morning, and as i handed over my reusable mug to the owner, i surveyed the small shop.

“it’s quiet in here today,” i said.

“yeah,” he replied. “not a lot of tourists saying to themselves, ‘god, i really to check out the corner of east broadway and grand street!'”

as he prepped my drink, i snapped a photo of the empty space–the wooden tables and chairs, the painted tin ceilings; the floral wallpaper and the antique mirror.

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and i had a flashback to the first time i’d set foot in ost. it was the second time i went to see my future home (though i didn’t know it was my future home quite yet). the first time had been one night after work; the second was in daylight–a time when i could see that all the flaws i’d seen by darkness were not flaws, but potential. eric, my broker, toured me around the small space, pointing out where i could knock down walls and open things up, where i could rip out closets and create them anew.

afterwards, we walked over to ost and grabbed a drink, and i remember surveying the neighborhood–what would maybe become my neighborhood–in the sunshine and thinking, this would be my neighborhood. and this would be my neighborhood coffee shop. i knew ost, because for as long as i’d lived in the east village/gramercy area, they’d had an outpost on 12th street and avenue A. i’d had 2 very bad and one particularly spectacular first date there. i’d sipped red wine at a tiny marble topped table on their little piece of sidewalk, and eaten their muffins for breakfast.

i knew very little about the lower lower east side. the two bridges neighborhood, as some call it. i’d never walked down east broadway; in fact, i’m not even sure i knew that east broadway existed. but seeing ost–a spot i knew and loved–felt familiar. it felt like coming home.

after eric and i parted ways, i called my parents, and said i thought i wanted to put in an offer.

“it has a grocery store and a dry cleaner,” i said. “and it has an ost cafe.”

“a what?”

“a coffee shop i know,” i replied. “there’s one on 12th and A in the east village.”

“ah,” they said knowingly. “that’s good.”

~

recently, i did an AMA on my instagram account (@_thegrandapt for those unaware), and one person asked me, “how did you become so confident?” this question shook me to my core, because i simply don’t think of myself that way, at least, not most of the time. but answering the question–and really thinking about it before i did–made me realize that in some ways, i AM quite confident, and it’s my apartment renovation that made me that way.

there’s something about moving to a new neighborhood where you know not a soul, about dealing with contractors and architects and coop boards and city officials, about building a home from scratch that you know to be yours and yours alone that instills in you a sense of “i can do this.”

there was something about the moment that i walked into ost with eric, and ordered an iced chai at the coffee shop that would soon be “the one” that made me believe i was enough on my own, worthy of a big and great renovation adventure.

~

it’s been nearly two years since i moved into my apartment, and it’s almost 2 years to the day that i started demolition and construction on my little piece of the big apple. in some ways, it feels like a literal lifetime ago. like the sarah who came before this one was another person entirely (perhaps she was!). i recently had dinner at my favorite sushi spot in my old neighborhood, a place i used to frequent on a weekly basis, and i said to my friend maddie, i feel like i lived here a million years ago.

but it wasn’t a million years ago. of course it wasn’t. it was less than two. but in so many ways, my apartment and the neighborhood in which it sits feel so much more like home than anywhere else ever has. it’s funny how that happens, isn’t it? searching for an apartment in new york city (especially with a relatively small budget) means you have to be open to making a variety of different areas your home. in the scheme of things, my search wasn’t exactly extensive, but i looked at many a place in brooklyn before putting in an offer on the place i now live. and while i saw many a nice apartment, i never set foot in a single one that felt like home.

but somehow, this one did. even with its atrocious “before” state, i feel like i just kind of knew it was the one.

the same could be said of setting foot in ost. i didn’t know the neighborhood (my original goal was to find a place in alphabet city, but the inventory was limited, tiny, and dark). i didn’t know the F train, or how i’d get to work, or how i’d get anywhere, really. but somehow, when i set foot on the corner of east broadway and grand–that place no tourist ever deigns to go!–it felt like home.

and that, my friends, is a miraculous thing.

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the first time i went to london, it was 2006. i was 20 years old, a junior in college, there for four months thanks to a study abroad program in english literature at kings college. i’d never lived in a city before, and everything excited (and terrified) me.

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a blurry big ben, snapped on my digital camera in fall 2006

kings was in central london, right in the heart of it, but i’d stupidly (or perhaps rightly) picked a dorm 20 minutes by tube from the hustle and bustle. situated atop a grassy knoll of sorts, the hampstead dorm had looked quaint and entirely british. i was sold from the moment i saw photos.

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the hampstead campus at kings college london

2006 was nearly pre-social media. instagram had yet to exist, and facebook had barely activated the photos feature, so i captured my stories in pages upon pages of emails (many of which my parents kindly printed out and saved for posterity). i had no internet in my dorm room, so when i wanted to check or send email, i walked next door to the student center, a brightly lit, harry potter-esque building with chesterfield couches and large wooden tables. i’d find a spot at a table or, if all the tables were taken, on the floor against the wall, and cue up my skidmore.edu email client.

from there, i’d sit for hours, tapping away on my keyboard, capturing my life abroad in a blue and white message box. i wrote about how crowded the tube was, how the trains were simply too small for the number of people who had to ride on them, and how, thanks to a lack of air conditioning, i’d ended up with my head up against someone’s stinky armpit more than once. i wrote about my classes in literature, how i’d walked by the home of dickens on a seemingly average street, how i’d discovered a new drink called a snakebite (1/2 cider + 1/2 beer + a shot of blackberry liqueur).

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my hampstead dorm room, fall 2006

i wrote about my dorm room, which was large and sun-drenched and came stocked not just with a large armoire, but with a small sink, at which i could wash my face and brush my teeth in the privacy of my own space (showers were shared). i wrote about the view from my window, how i could see the red shingled rooftops of the rich and the possibly famous at morning, noon and night.

 

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enough stuff to give marie kondo a heart attack

my time in london was, in so many ways, my first true adult experience. sure, college had meant leaving home, but it was london that truly took me away from what i knew. at skidmore, i lived in a small, liberal arts bubble, surrounded by people much like myself, in a town much like the one i grew up in. london was the opposite of saratoga springs: it was loud. it was dirty. it was beautiful. it was filled with people speaking english in accents so thick i could barely understand them–and also with people speaking languages i’d never even heard before.

it sizzled with energy, it vibrated with life. the streets of london were old, older than anything i’d encountered anywhere i’d ever been in the states. the students who shared my classes barely paid attention in class, but somehow managed to ace their exams come reading week. every afternoon, they’d head to the university bar (yes, the bar run by the college. this blew my mind.) for a couple of beers before heading back home for the evening. the british were polite and austere, but come evening, they tumbled out of lively pubs, smelling slightly of fish and chips, their cheeks pinked by alcohol.

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golden hour in london, fall 2006

in london, my friends and i strolled along the thames with an open bottle of grocery store white wine. “drunk birds,” an old man shouted at us as we passed, “the birds are drunk!” (birds means women, over there). we ate cheap indian food along brick lane, consumed bowl upon bowl of edamame at wagamama. on saturdays, we took the tube to notting hill and perused the rows of antiques along portobello road. once, i purchased 2 faux fur coats for 10 pounds (a steal!). i still have them; they sit in my coat closet, untouched. i can’t bear to get rid of them.

 

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my friend martha and i , out at a bar, smooching random brits

on weekends, we’d drink too much and steal away in the night to the gardening club in covent garden, or walkabout, an australian club where i once let a british soldier stick his hand down my pants in the women’s bathroom until the security guard rapped on the door and ordered us out. i often took absurdly expensive black cabs back home to hampstead at 2am, or rode the double decker bus up finchley road all on my own.

london sarah was something college sarah hadn’t yet figured out how to be: free. free to skip class every so often, because everyone else was doing it, and go exploring. free to stay out too late and drink too much and still get up the next day and do it again. free to be alone–truly alone–in a way she’d never been before. free to board a plane at 3am to a destination unknown. free to hop into the car of two unknown men along with two friends in the bermuda triangle of vienna and hope she made it back to her hostel safely. free to walk las ramblas in barcelona at 11pm. free to sing karaoke in dublin along with a crazy old man. free to get her first ever fully body massage in prague following a particularly grueling day of exploration.

 

in oh so many ways, my time in london is what led me to new york. london taught me how to live abroad, sure, but more than that, it taught me how to live, period–both alone and with the humans around me. it taught me that it was okay to be scared, and even more okay to do it anyway. it taught me that i didn’t need to go to the supermarket with friends; i could go alone. it taught me that i didn’t always need to speak the language, i could go anyway. it taught me that seeing the world–the world outside my own, the one that is so very big where i am small–was a magical, beautiful, heart-wrenching thing, and that i was lucky to be able to do so.

that’s not to say i didn’t get homesick. that i didn’t miss the comforts of america, and my own bed, and my family and my friends. that’s not to say i didn’t wish things were easier, that i didn’t sometimes cry alone in my dorm room, wishing i’d never gone so far from home.

but god, was it worth it.

and so was going back, 12 years later. in so many ways, i am vastly different from the sarah who saw london for the first time. for one thing, i’m a grown woman, not a college kid trying to figure herself out. i’ve lived in new york for ten years, and have traveled extensively since leaving college a decade ago. but i’m still me, and good lord, did the same old me feel ALL THE THINGS walking the streets i walked all those years ago, this time with a smartphone that did oh so much more than send texts tapped out on a tiny keyboard.

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in a cab from heathrow to hampstead | tuesday morning

i arrived in london on tuesday morning, may 22nd, and had approximately 3 days there before i took off for italy. i did my very best to make the most of it, spending time with family (my mom’s cousin lives in hampstead, and kindly offered to let me stay there during my visit), strolling as many streets as i possibly could, eating all of the good indian food (this was my fave), splurging on tea at sketch, going to platform 9 3/4 (obviously, had to), catching up with my old coworker, and more.

so, let’s have a look, shall we? there are a lot of photos here, so be warned. think of it as my visual diary.

 

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walking to the tube at finchley road, a walk i did every morning during my time abroad back in 2006

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black and white magic

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a tiny doorway on my walk to the tube

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beautiful hampstead

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this garden in hampstead took my breath away

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the guest room at my mom’s cousins’ home | where i spent my time in london

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a doorway adorned with flowers

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magical brick buildings of london

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matching my surrounding during golden hour | hampstead london

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an afternoon in notting hill

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adorned in ivy | notting hill

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bright red doors | notting hill

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a night at artist residence hotel | pimlico london

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cambridge street kitchen | artist residence hotel | pimlico london

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textile dreams | cambridge street kitchen | pimlico london

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bright red in the sunshine | marylebone lane london

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sunset in pimlico

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paid $10 for this photo op and i’m not even the least bit ashamed

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the pink room | high tea at sketch | london

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decked out in florals |sketch london

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high tea tower of sweets (and some savory) | sketch london

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trippy bathroom selfies | sketch london

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crazy pod toilets | sketch london

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welcome to paradise | sketch london

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afternoon coffee | west hampstead london

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3 americans, 1 brit, 1 italian |dinner ahead of our weekend in italy| shoreditch london

at the tail end of my trip, following a long weekend in italy and nearly a week in nice, i boarded a plane back to london, and spent one last afternoon/evening in the city before flying back home to new york. the following photos are the ones i snapped during my last evening abroad, back at artist residence (but in a different room!) and exploring the pimlico neighborhood once more.

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tan, tired, and happy | exploring the streets of pimlico london

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decked in flowers | the streets of pimlico

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seeing what all the fuss is about | peggy porschen cakes

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i think i could live here | pimlico london

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dusk falls on pimlico

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why yes, i’m certain i could live here

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mews | pimlico london

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side by side | pimlico london

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lime green | pimlico london

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number 21 | pimlico london

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travel | kings cross st pancras london

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dickens | pimlico london

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what dreams are made of | artist residence hotel | pimlico london

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i ended my last night in europe here

 

 

 

i’m oh so thankful to have the means to travel–to go back to cities i loved in my twenties and see them through the lens of my thirties. london, you were a dream, and as always, i just can’t quit you.

 

 

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last night, i attended my first ever shareholders meeting. for those who don’t know, i live in a coop here in NYC, which means that technically, i own shares of my building, rather than truly owning a piece of property (like i would if i had purchased a condo). coop buildings come with coop boards, and every so often, those boards hold meetings where the shareholders (aka, everyone who lives in the building) can come and discuss proposed updates for the coming year.

having never been to one of these shindigs before, i figured it would be a relatively simple affair: people would sit in the community room, the board would give us some updates, and boom! we’d be done, and head back up to our respective apartments to cook late dinners (me) or tuck our kids into bed (other people).

BOY WAS I WRONG. you guys, the meeting was insanity. it wasn’t even a meeting, really, but rather, a multi-hour time block set aside for people to air their many grievances about the building. as it turns out, despite us living in a not really that fancy building, let’s be real, people feel strongly about us having certain things. like a fancy laundry room–one that doesn’t vent dryer air out into the courtyard. like fountains that only shoot to certain heights, lest they be interpreted as lewd (more to come on this. PUN INTENDED).

i walked into the meeting a little bit late, having just gotten home from work (and honestly, having forgotten the meeting was even happening). i sat in the back, careful not to crowd any families or couples or people who seemed to know other people. for the first ten minutes, i scrolled through my emails on my phone, pretending to be busy so that i didn’t have to acknowledge that i was there all by myself. having been in the grand apartment for a year and a half, i’ve mostly gotten past the whole “i’m here alone” thing, but every so often, the feelings of inadequacy and loneliness creep in, and let me tell you: there is NOTHING more lonely than sitting on a plastic folding chair in a busy common room where you’re talking to exactly NO ONE. being surrounded by groups–either neighbors who’d been in the building forever and knew all their floormates, or young families who huddled together, showcasing the latest ‘cute kid’ photos on their phone–was sobering. when i’m up in my apartment by myself, i could care less that i’m there alone. but being alone in a crowded room…WOOF.

but that, friends, is a story for a different day. you’ve heard me wax poetic about my loneliness before, and that’s not why we’re here today. today, we’re here to reenact the ridiculousness that was my first board meeting.

so, let’s set the scene, shall we?

picture about nine rows of plastic folding chairs. they’re white, but dingy, old. people are scattered amongst the rows, some on cell phones, others engaged in conversation. towards the front of the room sit about 5 older men (all men, always all men–the women who interviewed me when i applied to live in the building were nowhere to be found) at a series of folding tables. in front of the tables is a small podium.

7:15 comes and goes. 7:30 arrives. the board president, an elderly man with tufts of white hair and large glasses, makes his way to the podium and clears his throat. he informs us that we haven’t met quorum, but that we can go through the agenda items, and schedule the voting portion of the meeting for another time.

agenda items include very important things like new laundry machines, fountain enhancements, and self-inspections for leaky faucets (yes, that was an actual agenda item; see my photo above).

abe, the president (ha!), calls the meeting to order. he introduces the folks at the long tables, apologizes for/explains an incorrect abatement warning letter we all received from the city, and then launches into the good stuff: let’s talk about the fountain.

editor’s note: we have a fountain in our courtyard. when it’s nice out, the fountain runs, pumping water up and out into a small pool. it’s a lovely feature, one that drew me to the building when i first came to look at the grand apartment. apparently, it’s also one of great contention.

see, earlier this year, the fountain got a little refresh. the previously sad spurt of water was now high and mighty, and one night, i walked by to see it was lit. IN A RAINBOW OF COLORS. i texted our super immediately: what was this ugly, tacky ass shiz?! but beyond that, i didn’t think much of it. 

back to scene. abe tells us he knows that some of the shareholders have had “issues” with the fountain restoration, and assures us that they’re still working out the kinks. at this point, all hell breaks loose.

a woman stands up in the third row, and tells abe she’s got a little something to say on that front. as it turns out, she has more than a few issues with the fountain restoration. she finds the “ejaculatory nature” of the water levels to be lewd, she finds the bright rainbow lights offensive (especially in a building that should have landmark status!). at the words “ejaculatory nature” the crowd gasps. there’s silence, but just for a second.

undeterred, she soldiers on. she’s a designer, she tells us. she’s lived in this building for 15 years (15 years, people!) and she cannot imagine what the board was thinking. a kind soul passes her a microphone, all the better with which to broadcast her rant.

two rows in front of me, an older man straight out of the shtetl mutters to himself in a thick eastern european accent, but makes no attempt to reach for the microphone. the peanut gallery begins to converse. people agree–the rainbow lights are entirely too tacky for our lovely pre-war building.

abe tries to calm the crowd, and tells us that the rainbow lights are only temporary. even the empire state building is doing it! he says above the din. the empire state building is an art deco building! it’s fun! it’s modern! people like to take pictures of the fountain at night.

at this, the woman with the microphone explodes. THIS ISN’T ABOUT TAKING PHOTOS! THIS IS OUR HOME! i hear her hatred of the instagram generation simmering below the surface, and duck my head instinctively, lest she single me out.

HEAR HEAR! the crowd chants. shtetl man nods to himself in front of me. eez tacky, yes, i picture him saying.

next up on the agenda is the laundry room. we’re getting new machines (this is a good thing!). people fail to see past this; instead, they choose to focus on the fact that our ventilation system is busted–the smell of dryer sheets permeates the courtyard air. a man in the row next to me stands up, and requests the microphone. he tells us he lives above the laundry room, and while new machines are great, he’d rather spend our money where it counts: on venting the dryer air elsewhere. like, out onto grand street.

abe pushes back on this. this type of job would require a mechanical engineer, this type of job would cost tens of thousands of dollars.

he motions to issac, our building manager, a man who i’ve previously only spoken to on the phone and whom i’m overjoyed to learn is an adorable, diminutive, soft spoken soul in a kippah. he’s like every average jewish guy i went to summer camp with, but smaller! i want to put him in my pocket and carry him around to fight my battles in his lovely, soothing voice.

issac, abe asks. how many people do we have living in this building?

issac estimates the number to be around 240, not counting spouses.

almost 400then. abe says, loudly. he futzes with his sweater, and stares pointedly at the laundry complainer. and how many complaints have we had about the smell of dryer sheets in the courtyard?

issac stares at his shoes. about 4, maybe 5.

FOUR! abe roars. FOUR OR FIVE COMPLAINTS. IN A BUILDING THIS LARGE. 

shtetl man gets up from his seat. he’s had enough of this.

laundry man shakes his head. he’s frustrated. if the board would only consult a professional, he says. he’s an architect, and he’s seen these things done, even in old buildings like ours.

a voice emerges from the front row. a woman who’s also lived here for many, many years has a solution. she’d like to tell us about it. may she have the microphone?

the microphone is passed to the front.

the issue with the ventilation, she tells us, is the scent. dryer sheets are toxic, and people should knowmaybe, she thinks, the board could tell people to stop using dryer sheets. then we wouldn’t have this problem. 

my ears perk up. i love dryer sheets! i love how they make my clothes smell! i am clearly the enemy here. i wonder if i’ll ever come across this woman in the laundry room, and if she’ll scold me when i take out my bounce sheets and put them into the dryer.

abe shakes his head. we cannot possibly control who uses dryer sheets, he says. and if we were to speak ill of them, we could be sued by the companies.

the peanut gallery goes wild. who on earth would sue our dinky little lower east side coop?!

abe persists. we will not ban dryer sheets. when the new dryers are installed, he tells us, he’ll look into fixing the ventilation issue.

we’re now more than an hour into the meeting and only halfway through the agenda. my stomach is growling. it’s 8:45 and i haven’t yet eaten, and i look around me, wildly, for an escape route.

after a few more minutes of uninspired fighting about the laundry room–will prices be raised? will strangers still be able to walk in and use the machines?!–abe puts a moratorium on the conversation. issac, kind soul that he is, offers to schedule an appointment with laundry man to talk to him about his issues living above the dryers, and strategize about ways to fix it. laundry man is unsatisfied, but seems to understand he’s lost the battle for now.

sensing a lull in the meeting, i duck out into the aisle, busy myself with grabbing my packages (they store them at security whilst we’re at work), and head out the side door.

but not before i whisper to my favorite security guard, with the most exaggerated eye roll in the world, THIS. SHIT. WAS. INSANE.

he grins, and shrugs his shoulders. it’s just another day in the life, i suppose.

 

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this morning, around 10am, a text message lit up my phone. it read, “happy valentine’s day (the worst holiday ever).” my phone suggested it was from “maybe: andrew” — a guy from tinder that i’d texted a bit with a few weeks ago.

i’d swiped right on andrew because he was cute, because he was older (and presumably wiser) than me. i’d given him my number because he was witty, and when his opening text read, “hi sarah. let the sexting begin! jk jk” i’d thought him funny and self aware. i told him i’d gotten quite a few unsolicited dick pics in the past, and that i appreciated the jk.

we chatted throughout the evening. andrew seemed like someone i could have a drink with, maybe even dinner. but after that night, i never heard from him again.

until today—valentine’s day—of all days.

my immediate response to his text (after taking a few minutes to scroll through our previous text exchange and orient myself to who exactly “maybe: andrew” was) was that it was indeed the worst holiday ever.

i then asked how many tinder ladies he’d sent that text to.

“oh only about 10 lol.”

first of all: i can’t imagine marrying a man who uses lol un-ironically. second of all: ten. ten! like it was nothing. such is the world we live in. a world where single men can drink from the fountain of youthful women all day ever day, whilst those same women pluck and tone and bleach and pray that they’ll someday be deemed a mate acceptable enough to leave the fray behind.

did i mention that valentine’s day makes me a wee bit bitter?

here’s the thing: i don’t give two shits about andrew. like, not even a little bit, not at all. but he was a reminder of another guy–one who i would’ve loved a valentine’s day text from.

we’ll call him d. d and i met back in october. he was visiting new york from england. we spent multiple nights in a row together following our first date. the second night, i invited him to come home with me after dinner. i figured i had nothing to lose. he was nice. he was normal. he liked me. i liked him. i told myself i was the type who could do a casual thing and be okay with it. sometimes i am that girl! (sometimes i’m not)

the next morning, he got up for his flight back to england, and told me i’d hear from him soon.

i wrote it off – i’d recently been burned and figured this was just another guy who planned to get his kicks in and then disappear. imagine my surprise when d texted at 11am saying he’d made it safely to the airport and that he’d had a great time.

from october to december, we texted daily (note: texted, never spoke on the phone – this should have been a warning sign to me). and then in early december, when i got up the guts to tell him how i felt (spoiler: i had feelings, as one tends to catch after months of constant contact), he disappeared.

a week or so later, i went to lunch with a few of my coworkers. ben, the only man in the group, was talking us through our troubles, and when i began to fill him in on the latest with d, he stopped me mid-sentence.

“you know what this is, right?”

i looked at my tuna melt. yes, deep down, i knew what it was. it was nothing. i was someone to flirt with, a fun fling to be played out via whats app—anything but the real thing. i knew all of this. but i sure as hell didn’t want to hear it said aloud.

why, i asked ben, had he wasted time telling me that what he remembered about me wasn’t the time we spent in my bed, but that my smile lit up a room? that my laugh was contagious? that a two hour cab ride from bristol to london was nothing if he was talking to me all the way home? if he wanted a cheap fuck (pardon my french), he could have gotten across the pond.

ben shrugged. a loose translation of his explanation: it was an easy in. i was an easy in. guys know girls fall for shit like that, so they say it. i was a distraction from life at home—nothing less, nothing more.

that hurt. for the next few weeks, i busied myself with holiday preparation. i went home to my parents over christmas. i went away to vermont with friends for new years. i told myself that life was amazing, that it was nothing. i gave myself the types of pep talks you give your best friends: he wasn’t worth it. you deserve better. you are wonderful and he would be lucky to date you.

by early january, it hurt a bit less.

and then, last sunday evening, my phone lit up. it was d. he was in LA, and wanted me to know that in a contest between the two cities, he’d decided new york won out. we resumed our usual banter. rather than calling him out for ghosting me just two months prior, i played along. we talked about the trip i was booking to europe for a friends’ wedding over the summer. he offered to play tour guide in london and sent me a screenshot of his calendar: a bright blue rectangle reading “sarah visits” appeared on may 27th.

he asked me when the wedding was, then said he’d love to come—he’d never been to nice. i pointed out that coming to the wedding meant he’d be my date. that he’d have to meet my friends.

his response?

“i’ll meet your friends and tell them how amazing i think you are.”

that one line was enough for me to think that maybe the second time around, it would be different.

it wasn’t, of course. it never is.

within a week, he’d fallen off again, texting short, curt replies to my questions about how he was enjoying mardi gras in new orleans (his second stop), offering only what was polite—no more, no less.

this, from the same guy who’d told me only 7 days prior he’d rent a hotel room for us to stay in during my time in london, who contemplated an airbnb so that he could cook me indian food from scratch.

as soon as i engaged, as soon as i texted first, he pulled away. a game. the game.

of course, it’s my own fault, partially. having previously closed off my heart to him, i opened it back up again without a second thought. i allowed myself to think this was different. that his reaching out to me meant he missed me (doubtful). i dared to think that maybe, just maybe, i would be enough this time. enough to convince him i was more than a three night stand.

i wasn’t. i’m not. not to him, at least. and while i know that this particular hurt shall pass—advice i gave to a good friend going through a somewhat similar situation just today—it seems to hurt just a bit more today of all days. the holiday meant to celebrate love. the love i don’t have. the holiday that brings “maybe: andrew” out of the woodwork, looking for a drinking buddy and maybe a fuck buddy too.

“maybe: andrew” isn’t the one for me. and d isn’t either. but just once, just once, i wish one of them would be, you know?

i got an instagram message from a fellow single lady today. in it, she said, “i am very happy with my life, but sometimes the doubting voices do creep in.”

and that’s all it is, isn’t it? the doubting voices that tell us that because we’re not enough right now–in this moment, with this particular person–we’ll never be so.

but that isn’t the truth. it’s not. these are things i tell myself, over and over again. and also, this: that one can be enough without needing a partner to complete them, or tell them they are so. i do not need d to tell me that my life is worthy of living, that my contribution to this planet is singular and magical and that i am oh so lucky to have all that i have. and i sure as hell don’t need to hear it from “maybe: andrew.”

here is my wish for myself, and for you, too: that today, but also ALL DAYS, we remember that we are enough. and that nobody gets to tell us (or make us feel) otherwise.

say it with me now: i am enough.

because you are. and i am too.