Introducing Me Time and Dating

When I considered the end of my last relationship was near, I would sit on the metro on my two-hour commute from Bethesda to Baltimore, attempt to hold back the tears, and tell myself over and over again: Just be brave. Just be brave. Just be brave.

It’s amazing how far these three words got me, and it’s even more amazing to think that a young woman ending a long-term relationship should be considered brave. But even though I’m an introvert and a loner, I had been in back-to-back relationships for five years. I was scared that if I gave that up, I would forever be alone. Silly, I know. But true.

And yet a year and a half after I first told myself to be brave, I have re-entered the dating world. I always imagined from the many stories I heard that dating would be horrific and merely a means to an end. But in the past few months since I’ve re-introduced myself to this world, I’ve actually enjoyed it (well minus the awkward non-break-ups). Continue reading

Insights From Wine and Water Bugs

“Are those water bugs? Where did they come from?” My friend asks as we watch the one-inch black bugs scurry across her back patio.

They appear to have no direction and disappear beneath the ivy next to the glass frog statue. The air is cool but humid, and we both sip on our glasses of Sauvignon Blanc and contemplate our relationship statuses.

We are both in our late twenties and single, having just ended long-term relationships. Everyone around us seems to be getting married or having kids. And even though we know that’s not what we want, we can’t help but feel like we’re missing out on something.

“I just don’t know if I want to try again, you know? I’m just tired,” my friend says, shrugging her shoulders. I agree and place my wine glass in front of me. My friend’s dog whines at us from behind the adjacent gate. Continue reading

Why Life Isn’t A Failure (Even Though My Mood May Tell You Otherwise)

When my colleague knocked on my office door earlier this week, I could barely keep it together. As soon as she saw the tears and trembling lips, she opened her arms, and then asked what was wrong.

“I don’t know, I’ve been crying all morning, and I don’t even know why. It’s not like I’m hormonal right now.” I threw up my arms and started venting or whining as I often like to berate myself.

There were many reasons to cry, I had deduced, but they all pointed to one thing: I felt like an absolute failure – that I had failed my life, and there was no way to remedy it.

Here are the reasons why I thought my life was a complete failure: Continue reading

Making Friends at 28 is Hard

I come home and open my mail to find another “save the date” waiting for me. I check Facebook and learn that a friend from grad school is pregnant. I get a text that my college friend is now engaged. I learn from my mom that my cousin is having a baby. I feel, somehow, like I’ve been left behind.

I need to stop making friends who treat me like a slave.

I need to stop making friends who think of me as a slave.

I’m still trying to establish a group of close friends in this strange, surprising city. Scratch that. I’m still trying to establish one close friend in this strange, surprising city. It amazes me how many people here already have a set of close friends, whether from high school, college, graduate school, or former places of employment.

And it’s not like I haven’t had my share of awkward social situations. In fact, if anything, I feel overinvolved and overcommitted. But I’m active, and I’m happy. My love life is anything but spectacular, but I’m still riding on the waves of a ship that reads, “I just got out of a long-term relationship.” Continue reading

‘Never Have I Ever’ Too: Growing Up Perpetually Single

I forget where I saw Never Have I Ever: My Life (So Far) Without a Date by Katie Heaney, a memoir about a 25-year-old who’s never had a boyfriend or really been on a second date, but upon reading the summary, I added it to my reading list. Because up until six years ago, I thought this would be me, indefinitely.

Heaney says there are two types of people in the world, one of which is the lighthouse. Although not the best metaphor, she admits, we have all had lighthouses as friends. These are the girls that move from relationship to relationship; these are the women that could stay locked in their apartment for four months, and someone would eventually come knocking to ask them out. These lighthouses are a beacon for sailors.

What about those of us who aren’t lighthouses? Heaney says we’re the Bermuda Triangle. We don’t necessarily intend harm, but shit happens, and sailors tend to avoid us. I laughed aloud when I read this introduction. Although I’ve been in two long-term relationships, it wasn’t always apparent that I was “girlfriend” material. In fact, by my senior year of college, I resigned myself to the fact that I would always be alone. And now having just turned 28, I’m having to face that reality again. Continue reading

Spanish Moss

I struggle to pull the hood of my raincoat over my head while trying to sidestep patches of black ice on my walk home from work. I have returned to the wintry mix of Maryland in March from the warmth of 80-degree sun in Tampa, Florida. I am not comforted by the fact that the gray chunk of ice blocking the sidewalk near my apartment’s back entrance is now two inches taller than when I left it last week.

And now the meteorologists are calling for three to five inches of snow tomorrow. I snuggle up to Norm and my electric blanket and hope the office will close before I attempt to make the trek into work. Just a few days ago, I was sitting on my friend’s porch in a t-shirt and shorts with my computer in my lap and a Russian blue kitty meowing at me from atop the closed Jacuzzi.

It was my first true vacation (family visits don’t count) in four years. And since my birthday falls in the worst month of winter and I happen to have a good friend who moved and bought a house in southern Florida, it seemed like the perfect getaway. Mother Nature still has a way of messing with me, though. For most of my visit, the sky was overcast and the temperatures were in the low to mid-60s, but it wasn’t snowing so my friend and I made the most of it.

Florida Oasis

I used to have another kind of Florida oasis. I was in a long-distance relationship for almost two years. While I was finishing graduate school in Baltimore, he was attempting to get a job in the field of digital animation and visual effects in Orlando. I graduated, but he never got the job so he moved back to Baltimore, and we moved in together. Continue reading

The Ones Who Survive

I can feel the tension in my knee building. I look at my watch: 26.07. Okay, I tell myself, I just need to make it up and down this hill, and then on the straight and narrow path home. If I can run 30 minutes today, that will be sufficient, and I shouldn’t put too much strain on my IT band.

Since September, I’ve been undergoing physical therapy because I couldn’t run seven minutes without being in extreme pain. Even with stretching, resting, and strengthening, I could not seem to surpass this hump that started at 20 minutes, then 12, and finally seven. Frustrated, I gave up and called my doctor. I invested more financial resources than I’d like to admit in attending physical therapy sessions twice a week.

I’d just gotten out of a long-term relationship. Work was stressful. I had no social support system. I needed to run. And it’s not like I’m a good runner. I could be in better shape. I usually run when I feel the need to blow off some steam or stretch my legs, but I wouldn’t say I do it consistently. But now that my life seemed to be shredding before me, I felt the need to do it more often.

So after a month of physical therapy, I could run 20 minutes without pain, and then after six weeks, I could run 25. I felt stuck at that number and started to think maybe I would just have to live with short distance. I no longer pushed past the pain. I wanted to be able to run tomorrow, too. This day was no different from any other. Continue reading