On Friday, I said to myself: "Who are you and what have you done to Amanda?"
If I were starring in the Lifetime movie version of my own autobiography, that afternoon would have been the scene were I look in the mirror, scream, grab a pair of scissors and start hacking off all my hair.
Because, don't you know, this is what women do when they reach a breaking point, the tears mixing with the shorn locks as they slowly fall, swirling toward our feet. When it's over, the remaining strands stick up in uneven tufts, and I would run my fingers through them, no longer crying, only giving my reflection an icy stare. For some reason, Pat Benatar's "Love is a Battlefield" starts playing in the background and I reach for a black, tight-fitting, cropped leather jacket that miraculously appears in my wardrobe, insert hoop earrings, drawn on the reddest mouth possible and give my reflection one final nod before heading out the door. Even though moments before, the floor had so much hair on it that it looked like what I would imagine as the bottom of Robin William's drained hot tub, somehow it's all swept up when the camera pans down again.
In the next scene, the tufts have, of course, arranged themselves into a perfect Anne Hathaway pixie cut and people gasp at my courageous beauty as I pass them on the street. Will I receive the same baseless hatred she does if I post the photos of my new do on Twitter?
But I didn't hack my hair off and there is no melodramatic movie about my life. At least not yet.
However, I knew it was time to change things up.
I'm just not having enough fun. Working at home long, exhausting hours, going out mainly only to work events and the occasional social meetup in many of the usual places, not making time to explore, or even see a movie, I just wasn't taking advantage of the great city I live in anymore. I realized I've been treating New York like a worn out spouse, not allowing myself to see or experience the attractive parts of it that made me want to commit to the relationship in the first place, or find better ways of bringing back its romance. I was making excuses for it - too expensive, too fattening, too late, too early, too tired. On top of all of this, by Friday, I was left blinking in the smokey trail of yet another failed romantic situation with an actual person. One that was now peeling out of view. I was angry at him, but mostly at myself for believing in the situation's all too apparent impossibility in the first place. Silly me.
Clearly, this was the moment to start having fun again.
Though I wasn't exactly feeling up to it, I met with old friends on Friday and stayed out past my self-imposed F train curfew, splurging for the cab. Saturday, on fumes of sleep and with Irish whiskey likely still jigging in my bloodstream, I honored a long standing, out of the way, brunch date with a colleague that I was slightly dreading, but ended up thoroughly enjoying. I walked all the way downtown in the crisp, but summery air, feeling confident at my newly buff body in a figure-hugging dress. Making my way through the east 30's, I allowed myself to walk past and look in to Grandma Nina's old building for the first time in years. I usually go out of my way to avoid that corner. As I paused there, I let the nostalgia and sense of loss swell into my chest and held it, almost savoring it, then felt it deflate again at the corner once the light changed.
I continued walking and observing. Through the Union Square farmer's market (no sour cherries for cocktails yet - dang!), down along the Bowery to witness a casual, broad daylight drug exchange because no one told these guys the East Village is over! The rest of the day finally taking in that movie, and loving it beyond expectation, with John. The two of us then ventured to unexplored territory in a now unfamiliar section of my old Brooklyn neighborhood, ending the night with seats at what is usually an overly crowded bar, with a snifter of Calvados and just the right vibe to end the night. I even got home on the train quickly from there. On Sunday, with Father's Day plans on hold till the next day, I skipped my work out for the first time in months, managed to run errands, clean and have enough of the afternoon left to see another movie. I let myself have two true days off in a row! A real weekend, and I did stuff, for once! My lover, the city, had done the equivalent of bringing me an unexpected bouquet of roses, and I feel a renewed affection for it.
As I type this, I realize I should probably be doing work now before cooking dinner (tequila-marinated chicken in my future!). But because this is all about me making time for myself, it feels more right to jot things down here in this neglected depot of essays.
It's nearly my birthday, dammit. And I am not letting myself go sour.