Monday, June 22, 2009

I Grow Best in Small Spaces

It's Monday night, and I have had a date with myself. Nothing spectacular really, but it was a night I committed to being at home, just me. I made my favorite homemade pasta dish that I am starting to call "Pasta al Fiorno", because I basically empty the contents of my spice cabinet into this tiny sauce pan, half a bottle of Frank's Red Hot, throw in some veggies and chicken, a bit of tomato sauce, waa-la! You are guaranteed to drink your FDA required 6-8 glasses of water a day.

But I digress, coming home these days is in many ways like coming home to a loved one. I ponder the events of the day -- from ridiculous meetings I sat through at work, to more ridiculous emails I received and possibly sent, to the thrill of helping my interns find their way through the Wonderland of Advertising, to the fun messages I exchanged between friends, and hopefully the awesome workout I had at the gym to try and shed the last of Europe from my hips and thighs so I can start 32 at the same weight I started 31. Reliving the day is like sharing with a housemate, BUT I am allowed to interrupt myself however many times I wish, and I can play my music as loud as I wish (although I have noticed several windows in the courtyard being slammed shortly after "Paige's Flying Solo Mix" hits the airwaves.)

And when dinner is ready, I call myself in from whatever daydream I am having and we sit down together -- me, myself, and I -- and laugh and peruse the day. And I am so delightfully happy to have these moments to myself, in my tiny apartment (although much better laid out than those past).

My living room is large enough for 5 people to be seated without touching feet. My bedroom has a queen size bed surrounded by 3 walls. My bathroom has a tub that I can sit in upright with my feet touching the other end. My kitchen has cooking space, eating space and writing space. That is all I need.

I fit well into my life here, just like I did on the road. Except on the road, I lived out of a suitcase that was 1 foot by 2.5 feet, and I did that for 3 months. Somehow in that time of living out of a box, I flourished like I never had before. I breathed, I lived, I committed to new plans that were good for me, I cast off old ideas that were holding me down, I exercised my body and mind daily and at the end of the day, I put all my toys back into the small box, closed its lid, and dragged it along behind me.

There was something therapeutic about knowing that all I really needed I had in the small bag sitting at my feet. Unless there was a blizzard in Spain or Italy, I didn't need much more.

Stuff... clutter... its everywhere. Filling up monsterous spaces, muddling our minds into thinking we need more. When in truth we don't... or at least now, I know I don't.

Yesterday I took three more bags of castaways to Goodwill, and I returned feeling a bit lighter than I had before. I don't need all that baggage. I don't need volumes of books I am never going to read again. Or clothes hanging out waiting on a rainy day so I can play dress-up like I was 8. Boardgames for the 'game night' I am never going to have. And the long puffy winter coat that was always too big, but I happily donated PRAYING TO GOD that I would never need to wear it again.

As I have learned throughout my life, clearing out room for the old and dried up, makes room for fresh blooms to blossom. It makes room for me to blossom.

For in this 385 sq foot space, I feel alive and thriving. No space is wasted, all clothing has been worn, all books have been read, and I know exactly what it is I own. I don't have much, but what I have is mine. These things are the things I choose, the things that make me feel like me; and when I feel a new journey on the horizon, these are the things that will fit neatly in my suitcase and roll along behind me.

I don't need much these days. I don't mind 'subletting' another's space. I don't mind eating off of someone else's dishes or sitting on their couch. I don't need to own anything that ties me down, or won't fit in my wheelie bag. Wherever I go, there I am... regardless if I own or rent.

While I might be complaining about my tiny abode if I were 6 foot, the fact is I am not. And I truly am best when spaces are cozy, the view is sunny, and I have time to sit and be, just me, myself and I.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The things I just know.

On this rainy Saturday in Manhattan, I sit gazing out my window praying for the skies to turn blue instead of this murky grey. But I know this is the chosen color for the day, so why waste my thoughts on empty wishes?

Spending the morning indoors, leaves me with time to reread and peruse things written in my travels -- from my blog to my journal, to the e-journal entries that found their way to my hotmail account, and the little notes to myself that snuck into my passport holder. I find it interesting the words I wrote to myself, and those I shared with others.

Most were exactly the same. Stories shared were missing few details. Lines written were always honest. And the random notes that rarely equaled a sentence, resonated in truth. There was nothing to hide.

Three months since that journey began, and three weeks since I landed in New York, I realize in looking back that I knew my journey long before it began. I knew the steps it would take, and the steps I would take to find myself here on this Saturday morning writing while it rains.

I knew my ex-boyfriend was wrong for me.

I knew my 'playdates' pre-Europe were nothing but placeholders.

I knew I needed to go to Europe.

I knew I would figure out a way to convince my office that it was in everyone's best interest for me to go.

I knew I would emerge from that journey wanting more than I could possibly find in Manhattan.

I knew all of this in the deepest part of myself, and yet was afraid to believe it because I was afraid to trust myself, and know that the things I wanted for myself could and would happen.

Now, on the otherside of the pond where my trust was regained, I know so much more and this time I am not afraid to believe in it.

I know I will get accepted to graduate school.

I know I will write.

I know I will run the marathon in November.

I know I will go back to Spain.

I know I will learn Spanish.

I know this summer is going to be productive, maybe not as much FUN as I really anticipated, but to accomplish all that is listed above I need some downtime.

I know this year is going to be exactly what I set out for it to be -- a year of figuring out what I want for me -- and I will be settled in that plan (maybe not that place) by year's end.

When we allow ourselves to be quiet, the answers are always there. There is always the chaos, the voices that muddle our own thoughts, but in solitude and quiet and in peace, there will always be the things we just know.

One Hit Wonder

Yesterday was quite interesting. I had fun Happy Hour plans made with someone I was intrigued to catch up with. This was someone I had had a slight romantic interest in before I left for Europe and while I had seen him since coming back, we had not really had any one-on-one time to catch up and figure out where we now fit into each other's lives... if at all.

So we had a little soiree built for two starting at 5PM, and a very fun place that I had picked. To be honest, after my last time seeing this guy I was slightly more excited about the fun happy hour plan than listening to him talk about himself. But everyone has their moments of being less cool than they really are, so I was open to give him a second chance.

When he needed to push it back to 5:30PM, I was not thrilled but flexible. When he needed to push back to 5:45PM I was annoyed. When we finally met up after 6PM, and the place was too packed to stay, I was less than estatic. It was up to this guy to be the star of happy hour, and I just wasn't sure he had that ability.

You are probably wondering why I am even bothering to hang out with someone that I think is less than par. And the answer is this: at some point there was potential. And while I had not seen said potential since my arrival back to the States (I had only seen him once, and I thought maybe he was having an off-day) I figure a second chance is not such a bad thing.

Well, dear Paige, guess again.

This was one Happy Hour that was not so happy. The conversation was dry. He didn't have anything interesting to say that wasn't about him and his seemingly important life. He wanted the discussion to circle around dating -- who I was dating, who he was dating, and whether or not we would date each other. He thought being obnoxious was the way to go, vs. being kind and polite and having fun together. I wanted a real conversation with a real person. He wanted a conversation with someone who thought he was cool. Unfortunately, I was not that person.

As we wondering back to the West Village in search of a better place than we had been previously, it dawned on me that I really did not like him. I didn't feel good around him. I didn't think he was special. And there were 10,000 things I had rather be doing than floating around downtown Manhattan with him. Sure, there was a day when we got along fabulously and it seemed we were quite smitten with each other, but that day had long past. And now, today, some random Friday in June, I had had enough of his ego, I had had enough of his khaki pants, and I had had enough of thinking there was more to him than there really was.

So when he wanted to know whether we were going to date this summer, the answer was something like this... N-O. I had much rather leave the door open for something new and something different, than keep waiting for him to walk through the door with something more. His one tune has more than been played out, and it was time to put that 'single' in the bin bound for goodwill.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Cleaning Out Complications

As I clean out more and more stuff from my life that I don't want, I realize that there are more than just tangible items that need to be cleaned out as well.

This morning I took three huge bins of trash and unwanted items to the trash heap in my new building. And as I cleaned out those items from my apartment last night I thought a little too much about the men of March, April and May, and realized I needed to do some clearing out there too. Static energy is just not good for the soul, so I had to shake it up and get those thoughts just as organized as my closet.

Part of this "reorganization" stems from wanting to find a path forward vs. swimming in circles with thoughts from the past few months.

One of the greatest lessons of life from my travels, is that good relationships are easy. It doesn't take much to relate to those we care about and want to relate too. The difficulty comes in the personal expectations we establish, the life situations that arise, the occasional confusion that comes from communication going awry. But overall, relating should be easy. Or at least that is what I have discovered recently.

However getting back to the city returned me to a overly complicated situation, and fresh off the plane I could not make heads or tails with the signals I was getting. So I just stopped trying to figure it out. Complicated things tend to only get more complicated, and I wasn't signing up for that non-sense again.

As I think about relating and a fun summer in NYC, I like that I have a blank canvas to play with. And while I am not so sure I would welcome a full-on relationship right now, I am always looking for someone to play with. (I say this in the most innocent sense -- well, mostly.) Light and easy is my mode these days.

I think the one thing I crave right now -- other than Tasti-D-lite is a constant dialogue with someone. Most would call this a relationship, but for me its something a bit more specific. Dialogue is about two-way communication. You can't have a dialogue if one person is not participating. Dialogues are more constant, more aware, more meaningful. Yes, its conversing, but in a dialogue you are never left talking to yourself...someone always responds. When you reach out, they reach back. Should the other's world be a bit overbearing and he can't get reach back, they say that...simply.

For this reason, I have realized I am not, and don't like to be, a casual dater. If I am dating someone casually, then most likely, I don't really like them. Period. When I meet someone I like I want to immediate get the dialogue going and test the potential.

Therefore, I am not someone who sits around and comes to the conclusion that "i want a relationship", I find someone that I want to spend time with, and I do. Its simple. When I tire of it, I take a break, and sometimes come back to it, and sometimes not. I don't think relationships have to complicated in that way.

And yet so many people want to turn relating into a three-ring circus, with clowns and drama, and maybe an occasional elephant in the room. I just don't understand the point. With so many games and acrobats, how can you really relate to another person? How can it have any element of realness to it, or truth?

As I think about the past month, and the words that started my little romantical adventure with 'S'..."Guapisima, I like you." So simple. So sincere. So very 's'. That's all it took, and the dialogue began, so simply and complication-free.

Its those complication-free situations I seek. The ones that start simply. The ones that make you smile from a good place, without wondering what is really going on. The one where you can exchange info, and know you will hear from them. The ones that at the end of the day will always make you smile because someone wants to know you, someone wants you to know him, and someone really wants to have a dialogue...with you.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Out with the old, and in with the new.

I love that today is June 1. I love that after two days of moving into my new apartment in NYC, I am starting work and my summer in the city today, on a 1st, with a start that is so promising.

After three months of travel, 10 weeks in Europe, 10 days in Jax Beach, I had two days of in-between-time. From "there" to "here". Getting back to NYC was a bit of a jostle to my system. Faces I had not seen in three months were back. Relationships that have had a questionmark hanging over them in my time away now needed an answer. Things I had not thought about in so long were now back with a vengence and I kept asking myself, 'is this really what I want?'

So how did I deal? Like any helpless romantic does. I played music from Feria, and songs I listened to during my joyous days in Spain. I perused fun photos from my fabulous adventure. And I found myself wanting to be back there -- with the people I loved, and the life I loved more.

New York can be a harsh reality for even the strongest of souls.

And then today I snapped out of it. Wanting to be "there" would only allow the potential of a fantabulous summer to elude me. Wanting to escape current situations would keep me from the "here" I have learned to seek. Failing to be honest with myself, and honest with those around me, would only layer on junk -- and my nomadic spirit just doesn't like to travel with too much baggage these days.

I am not going to do it all again. Repeat old patterns. Hold my tongue so I have a better vantage point. Be passive when there is something I so badly want to do. This time is different. Because I am different. The games of this city are not as much fun as they used to be. Real. Honest. True. That is all I seek these days. I can't live with less. And I know now I don't have to.

As a five hour siesta yesterday kept me awake at all hours, I pondered a situation that I had been mulling in my mind for a while now. And I asked myself, "what if I just threw it back?" Like a fish caught from the lake, that is decent in size, not the biggest and definitely not the best. Why hold on if I know I can have better? Sure, I will have to keep fishing... but on warm summer evenings is that really so bad?

Knowing that I don't have to keep what I don't want may be one of the greatest lessons of this year. Potential only goes so far. Half-way is still only half-way. And after sometime away from this silly little place, I know I will always want more than this city can offer.

Driving across the Williamsburg Bridge on Saturday I laughed as I felt I was gearing up to play a role in some gigantic movie set called "Manhattan". And maybe I always have played a 'role"have since I lived here. 'Southern belle takes on Manhattan', and of course I had the lead. Learning to do things the New York way. Obeying the social codes of the city. Following the direction of some imaginary producer that never really had my best interest at heart... and I asked myself again, "is this what you want?"

And the answer is no. I don't want what I did seven years ago when I moved here. This summer, I want my life -- the one I create, the one I direct -- in the city. The fantastic one I led in Spain and Italy, but with a different back drop. I did it there, I will do it here. I have learned that I can do anything I put my mind too. I can have everything I want. I just have to believe in something greater, somthing larger than Manhattan. And after being away for so long, I know that 'that something' is me.

Its going to be one hot summer that is for sure.