Clean up your mess

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I have been single for 5 years now. And I haven’t lived with someone in nearly 4 years.

When I first moved out of the house I shared with my ex, I was ecstatic at the idea of living by myself. Having complete say over what kind of decor to purchase, how the house was kept up, etc etc.

At first, it was amazing. I kept my apartment fairly immaculate. I painted giant canvases for my walls with Ash. I sought out color coordinated pillows and decorations. I cleaned every weekend. I found interesting local art to hang. I made my home a place I wanted to be and hoped others would want to be as well.

However, after years of being single, my standards began to decline and I now believe I have become TOO comfortable with living on my own.

How?

Well, I let the dishes pile up. I sometimes let the housework slide a week or two before I really clean (ok .. maybe three weeks). I honestly don’t remember the last time I did the floors (omg wait … have I even done the floors ONCE?).

I live as if no one might see my home … ever. I am NOT the house maker woman with an immaculately clean home that smells of fresh baked cookies, complete with pinterest-worthy decor. That shit stopped once my dogs began to destroy my adorable color coordinated pillows.

My art hangs on the wall off centered and eclectic. Nothing matches. I have some glade air fresheners but I doubt it masks the rampant dog scent that well. When I lost my belongings last year, I settled for some hand-me-down furniture which included a worn-out teal green fabric lazyboy and an old futon. Seriously.

My home does not look like it belongs to a successful mid-30s female with aspirations of being a wife. I have lived basically like a lonely bachelor. Messy and unkempt and I have been ok with that. Until now.

I recently started dating again.

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All signs point to maybe

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I am dating … someone.

It’s new, very new. Like a handful of great dates new. And I almost don’t want to write about it for fear that mentioning it might cause it to spontaneously dissolve into mist and what if’s. These things are so damn fragile in the beginning.

Side note: I kinda feel like writing this is setting me up to be that meme where the girl announces she’s met someone and so excited … only to announce 6 hours later that never mind, disregard, he’s been cancelled.

So I am dating and it’s new and there is no telling where it could lead. And this not knowing is exactly what I wanted to write about.

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The Hard Way

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“We can do this the easy way or the hard way.”

I feel like this must’ve been what the universe (or God) asked my fresh, new soul before it sent me spiraling down to earth.

And until recently, I would say my dumb ass soul must’ve answered  ‘the hard way’.

I have often said that this is how I tend to learn things. The hard way. Not everything, but most things. Sometimes this is because while I can read about certain experiences and hear pre-emptive advice, I tend to not retain it unless I’ve gone through the same experience. I learn better through application.

Sometimes, however, learning ‘the hard way’ has been because I am STUBBORN AF and I have a rebel tendency. So even if I have a situation in which I can apply really great advice, I might not. My dumb, hopeful, rebellious heart will try to hold out for a different conclusion. It’s frustrating at times. But for me, once I learn something the hard way, I really do get it. On a soul and core level.

Here are a few truths I’ve learned the hard way.

1) It’s really important to take your car in if it makes some weird crunching noise when you turn … because if not, your tire might fly off.

2) Do NOT try to nudge a couch that is blocking your path with your vehicle … or it might dent your door and make it impossible to open it fully ever again.

3) If you have a messy, heartbreak of a situation with a guy, you shouldn’t continue to show up at his bar with your rabble-rousing friends.

4) DO NOT – I REPEAT – DO NOT DATE A BARTENDER AT YOUR FAVORITE BAR. No man is worth losing your favorite bar. NO. MAN. The bar is forever.

5) If a guy tells you he’s not ready for a relationship, listen to him and don’t try to change his mind.

Ahem. So … most of my ‘hard learned’ lessons clearly tend to deal with love and relationships.

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How to be happy single

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I have been single now for the past 4 years. During that time, I’ve had a handful of really short-lived things and one devastating little affair, but for the most part I’ve been alone and single for 4 long years.

And for the first time, maybe EVER, I am finally happy that this is true. Like … happy happy. Like my life is so full, my-cup-runneth-over type happy. Ok, that’s a bit of an exaggeration but seriously I am truly, finally enjoying my singledom. And no, not in this I’m-single-so-I’m-on-the-prowl-dating-all-the-hot-men kind of way. But in the I’m-single-and-I’m-really-happy-alone-binge-watching-old-shows-and-reading-good-books kind of way.

I’m just … happy. Going out, staying in, whatever. There are the occasional bumps, because life is bumpy, but none of them have to do with me being single really. So here are my full-proof steps for getting to a place where you’re absurdly happy being single.

(Note: Ok so these aren’t full-proof, that’s an overstatement. And absurdly is a bit of an exaggeration too. These are basically ‘My unproven steps to getting to a place of general happiness most of the time being single’. Yeah. That’s more accurate.)

 

Step 1: Have your heart broken twice, preferably by the same man.

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It doesn’t actually have to be twice, sometimes one will suffice. But get your heart good and broken. Like good and BROKEN. The more devastating the better. I mean, stop you in your tracks, staring-at-his-picture-and-his-love-notes-for-hours kind of broken. Tears, wailing, binge eating. The works. Sweat pants, no showers, serious weight gain. Like I said, the messier the better. Oh and if you can add in getting banned from his bar, then you’re well on your way to true happiness, my friend.

(Note:  A devastating breakup is not mandatory. Neither is a bar banning. If not applicable, please proceed to step 2.)

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Hands

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I saw hands and I froze.

They looked like his hands. Big. Bigger than normal hands. The hands of a giant really. I couldn’t see the face from across the room but I could see his hands and my heart nearly short circuited.

It’s been two years since A and I officially ended things, two years since my heart was broken. But it’s only been a few months since I last saw him. Last kissed him. Last laid my head on his chest, breathing him in, feeling safe and warm and loved.

And at the same time … not safe. Not warm. Not loved.

I’ve glimpsed him only once in the past couple of months. While walking past his bar, I glanced inside and he looked right back at me and our eyes locked for just a second. No expressions. Just … a moment. We caught eyes and then I was gone, walking down the street littered with memories I’d shared with him. The ghosts of our affair.

To be honest, I don’t ache like I used to. I don’t think about him non-stop. Most days I don’t think about him at all. I’m focused on moving my life forward and it feels good. I feel really good. I have a great job I’m starting to really get the hang of. I have an incredible network of friends who I love. I don’t have a lot of anger like I used to. I don’t replay the moments and beat myself up like before. I don’t sit for hours on end and recount every good moment, every electric kiss and every time we’d stare into each others eyes and feel the weight of our connection. I don’t cry all the time this time. (It helps his social media accounts are private.) I accept where our story ended.

But still … still … my heart froze when I thought I saw his hands from across the room.

Why? Was it because I looked like a hot mess? (I did.) Was it because I’ve gained weight and don’t want him to see? (I have and I don’t.)

Am I terrified he’ll ignore me? Or am I more afraid that he won’t? And I wonder .. is this for always? Or just for now?

I wonder this because the year and a half we spent apart I had many moments like these. I’d see a tall guy with a full beard who resembled him from a distance and my stomach would flip like the way it does when you’re rounding the top of a hill on a rollercoaster and speeding down to the bottom. A mix of excitement, panic, fear and hope.

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The Big D: Dating (Part 2) – Cheers to all the ones who weren’t ‘the one’

 

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I had kind of an a-ha moment the other day.

It came after a friend asked me if I’d ever been to Uchi, this really amazing sushi restaurant. I was like, yes, I had a really great date there and the food was to die for. Then in the same day the same friend asked me if I had ever been to Meddlesome Moth and I was like, yeah, another great date, different guy. Then it hit me … a lot of the really amazing experiences I’ve had in my life have come while dating different men at different times … and I’m starting to think that’s not a bad thing.

I’ve said it before in my posts, but I have quite literally dated almost all of Dallas. It might seem like an exaggeration but I’m not so sure it is. One of the purposes of this project for me, though, is to write it all down, every good memory, every bad one. Part of that is so that I can unburden myself, put the bad parts and the baggage into words and set it free. Another reason is I want to remember the good, in detail, because this checkered past is a beautiful mess that deserves to be remembered.

When I look back at my record, sometimes I can get really discouraged. So many dates, so few true connections and even fewer have turned into anything more than a 2-3 date situation.

However, like I said, I recently had an a-ha moment.

What if all the guys I’ve dated who weren’t ‘it’, who didn’t last, who got off on the wrong foot, who had terrible timing, who for whatever reason just didn’t work out … what if they weren’t failures.

What if they were all meant to give me a unique experience that was completely necessary and special, but also singular and temporary.

So with that, I want to pay homage to the men in my single, dating experience that gave great ‘date’. The men that came in, even if just briefly, and through contact with them I learned something else about me. I grew a little bit stronger, a little more self aware and whole lot ballsier. They may have been short-lived, but man were they fun while they lasted.

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Flying Solo (Part 2): Facing fears in Bali

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I felt like I was in a movie.

I was racing with my taxi driver, Wyan, to see the sunset at the Uluwatu Temple. This temple is built at the edge of a 70 meter high cliff jutting into the sea and the views of the sunset were said to be spectacular. Not to be missed.

This was the third day of my solo trip to Bali and I most definitely did NOT want to miss this view, nor did I want to spend another day fighting traffic to try and reach the temple a second time. We were stuck in a massive traffic jam up a windy two lane road. We weren’t going to make it by car, that much was becoming clear … so we made a split second decision. A guy on a motorbike passed us (he was the motorbike equivalent of a taxi), we flagged him down, I hopped out of my taxi and onto the back of the bike, put on my helmet and he raced me to the temple, weaving in and out of cars with mere inches to spare.

He was a pro. I had nothing to worry about and yet I clung to him like a spider monkey. In short, I was TERRIFIED.

The motorbikes were the fastest way to travel in Bali as the roads are narrow and windy and there are very few street lights or stop signs … which mean traffic jams galore. A motorbike allows you the freedom to get around an major blockages quickly, but I was too afraid to drive one and had been (up till then) too afraid to hop on the back of one.

But I wasn’t gonna miss the temple. And now we were racing up up up up the cliff and the sun was just starting to set. It was absurdly breathtaking even on the back of his bike. I had a moment. Another one of those beautiful moments of supreme gratitude. And supreme pride. And supreme wonder.

I made it.

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Cliffs at Uluwatu Temple

 

And I did make it. Not just to the top of the cliff to watch the gorgeous sunset but also to this glorious time in my life where I was taking risks and saying yes and living the adventurous life I’d always wanted, but never believed I was capable of.

Continue reading “Flying Solo (Part 2): Facing fears in Bali”