Be Yourself



kintsugi – “golden joinery”      To repair with gold; The art of repairing metal with gold or silver lacquer and understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken.

I am sitting alone in Central Park, in the grass on a rich plum colored scarf on the Saturday afternoon before Easter. It is a beautiful, serene, Lou Reed Perfect Day. I’ve got hot coffee and have just finished a gooey, warm chocolate chip cookie. I’m not wearing shoes and wish I were wearing pants instead of this miniskirt and tights because my Texas skin shivers slightly when the sun goes behind the clouds. I am exactly where I want to be. 

Late March is always a peculiar time of year, filled with a mixture of relief and despair that all the fun is over forever. SXSW ends, and by some miracle, downtown Austin is pristine and put back together like nothing ever happened. Like thousands of people weren’t tearing across her streets in droves looking for inspiration and hope and oblivion and love and new beginnings. The thing about doing big, epic, fun things is that you really crash after they’re over and everyone goes home. I tried for a softer landing this year and left town immediately, which was wise. It is Spring in New York City and I can feel the golden powder flowing into the bits that got shattered this time and sealing up the cracks. There is no sadness that walking the streets of New York City can’t heal. 

One of the most disappointing things we go through as adults is that realization that perhaps we are not, in fact, special or extraordinary. Or at least that’s what we can sometimes tell ourselves when things don’t work out the way we’d hoped or planned. When someone you’ve developed immense feelings for looks into your eyes and your heart and your life and says, “I don’t feel anything,” it can feel like the world is ending. Like nothing else will ever matter again because that person is choosing not to know you and so you won’t know them. It’s like an entire horrible, painful, heart crushing breakup without any of the actually good relationship bits. It’s just the rejection and the realization that this beautiful fantasy life you imagined just isn’t going to happen. When you have an ache to be known, for someone to look at you, really look, and see you, and understand and get you, when you think you find that, there is nothing more heartbreaking than total indifference. 

For so many intelligent, beautiful, smart, funny women I know, so often we drop our boundaries and needs and requirements in the hope that a romantic interest will turn out to be what we imagine them to be rather than who they actually are. I am actually terrible at ignoring the reality and betting on the fantasy, because the idea of someone is always better than the real thing. I tell myself a story of a person and when he behaves contrary to that, I cling onto the idea that somehow he is who I imagined and we are meant to be intertwined because we have similar interests and laugh at the same bits and like the same music. I’ve said a million times that people show you who they are. That there is always someone else. I know this, rationally, but my heart is an absolute idiot.

We will stay with someone who abuses us just slightly less than we abuse ourselves. 

But the thing is, I don’t abuse myself. Not anymore. I don’t need to shove booze and drugs in my face to be with myself. I don’t need to sedate and check out in order to be with other people and make it through a day. I take pleasure in the bounty of my life and it’s easy and everything is really good. I don’t need to chase after some ultimate experience or high, unless that is inside a connection to another person. I like myself. Which is why I’m just baffled when someone I’m invested in thinks I’m a person you can just walk away from because someone better might come along.  This happens to so many kick ass women I know. I suppose if “better” means asleep instead of awake, then yes, by all means, keep looking.

I don’t want to be with someone who thinks I’m intimidating or difficult because I insist on communication and accountability and emotional investment. I have high expectations for the people in my life. I am surrounded by a tribe of amazing, strong, fierce goddess women friends and yet I end up entangled with men who are selfish, narcissistic children. I think that somehow men are going to turn into these emotionally intelligent, giving people if they just get to know me. This has literally never happened once. (Not that all men are this way, I’m just talking about the ones I end up chasing after. Cats. I know lots of amazing, wonderful, kind men, and I salute you. Carry on.)

I understand, finally, that it is not okay for me to ever feel optional or ignored or forgotten by someone I would drop anything for. The moment that feeling happens, it is time to walk away. I often mistake arrogance with achievement, wit with intellect, lust with love. I’m searching for a deep sea diver and keep finding shallow, surface level collectors of the new.

After a while, new is boring. Just like the night out at the club where every conversation is drenched in drink and so many plans are made but none followed through with the next day. So many one night, single serving friends repeating themselves into the wee hours. How many times do we need to run that script? Never getting past the initial phase of knowing someone is exhausting and lonely. I don’t want to live in the dark. I live in the light. Perhaps failing at love means I am unique and special and magical, because if it were easy, it wouldn’t be worth it. The moment we start to learn from something, it ceases to be a failure. I have lost nothing and again, gained a new shimmer to my shine. I get back up. Every. Single. Time.  Suddenly I look around Central Park and realize that I am missing nothing, that there is no person that can enhance what I already have because I built it myself.  What I need is a neighbor who likes to travel. A star next to mine that adds light to mine and together we shine brighter. Until then, I will keep walking, and my cracks will sparkle where the gold healed my scars. Don’t bang on doors that are closed. Find a new door.

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