Thursday, July 3, 2014

Swipe to the right! A little love story about putting yourself out there.

Eight years ago tomorrow I met my husband. Somehow I knew from the second we made eye contact that we would be together forever. And we were. Other than a brief three month "self-improvement hiatus" during the wild and free summer of 2008, hubby and I have been inseparable since that very first night we met: July 4th, 2006.

Our first Facebook pic together...Nov 2006. Yes, Paul had
a nasty-ass beard and I still loved him. Oh, and yes, we were
in da club...we were in da club a lot back then!

You can say that love at first sight doesn't exist. You can say that you need to "get to know" a person first or that chemistry is all about lust. You can say there's "more to selecting a mate" than feelings (bleh). You can even say there's no such thing as a soul mate (I believe that we all have many) or that there's no good men/women/humans out there who are still single. Sure, keep telling yourself that. Because cynicism ALWAYS helps situations, right?

My husband and I found love, as Rihanna would say in a hopeless place. Yes, that's right: the dancefloor of a nightclub -exactly where your mom and grandma are telling you to go meet a "nice guy." Sure we technically went to college together and had seen each other around, but that wasn't how we really and truly met. Here's the play by play: Hubby saw a guy getting handsy with me and interjected, telling the guy to back off in his loud, "I used to be in the army," kind of way. I swooned. So it's your typical girl-gives-guy drink tickets guy-gets-other-drunk-guy-off-of-girl's back kinda love story. The next morning I was in Whole Foods regaling my roommate with the tale of Mr. tall blue-eyed and handsome whilst circumambulating the salad bar when my phone rang. That's right, not a text - a CALL. It was old blue-eyes inviting me to hangout that very same night. Apparently there's a rule about not accepting day-of invitations but in love the WORST thing you can do is follow arbitrary rules. That night I found myself in his dorm room (swoon!) snuggled up watching Talledega Nights (sigh!).  Fairytale type shit right?
This was us in 2009 looking dapper. Really, we were at
Juelz Santana's birthday party. Yes, back in da club. 

But we would never have gone anywhere beyond that first night in da club if it weren't for one KEY factor in love-type relationships: putting yourself out there. And by putting yourself out there, I do NOT mean any of the following (though they certainly don't hurt): signing up for online dating sites, going to singles events, taking yoga (if you're a dude) and Crossfit (if you're a girl) hoping to meet someone fit, trolling in hospital lobbies waiting to meet your doctor or banker-bars trying to meet your Mr. Big.

What I mean by putting yourself out there is putting your Self out there. Your heart. Your soul. Your fragile little ego. Yes, I mean embracing that big old buzzword: VULNERABILITY. You can't just put your physical body in a space where other single physical bodies are and expect someone to slap a ring on it. No. You have to open your heart up to being broken. You have to be willing to look stupid. Risk rejection. Break the "rules." Even though you're not supposed to meet your husband in a club (he's probably married or worse - a promoter!), or call a girl first thing the next morning after you've met (only losers do that), or accept a day-of date invitation (you'll look desperate), you probably have to do all of those things - or similarly risky, stomach-churning, anxiety-provoking things- in order to even have a chance.
Us rocking our club gear! I am not only a (very small) part
owner of Marquee NYC, it's also where I met my love!

About 6 months into our relationship we went on our first trip together to Miami for New Year's Eve. I was running a party- literally - running bottles of champagne to wasted billionaires through a make-shift club in the sand whilst Lindsay Lohan & Lil Jon counted us down into 2007. An evening of romance if ever there was one! Hubby was somewhere on the beach with our friends, letting me work and getting unbelievably wasted. Before I even got the first sip of booze into my system, I was up in his hotel room feeding him water and room-service toast, basically slapping him out of his drunken stupor. In that moment, I remember feeling the most warm feelings I have ever felt for a human being. Like my heart was going to burst. Like a mother caring for her child or the way I feel when I look into my nieces' eyes. I knew right then I had to tell him I was in love.

So the next night, when we were back from doing what all wild 22 year olds do on vacation in Miami, I told him that I loved him. I told him I knew he wasn't ready to say it back, but I didn't care. It was the truth about how I felt and I wanted him to know so that when he was ready, he wouldn't have to be as nervous to say it as I was. I literally opened up my chest, placed my still beating heart on top of the minibar fridge and walked away, heading back to my nicer hotel room that my company had paid for.

You're expecting to hear that he said it back right? Well he didn't. At least not right away. It took a couple months before my love, who had not had the abundant amount of love as a child that I had and who was not so comfortable even using the word love, returned those words to me. But it didn't matter. It really wouldn't have mattered if he had never said I love you back. Sure, it would have changed the course of my life, and we wouldn't be sitting here married eight years later. But it wouldn't have changed the way that I acted in that moment. Even if I had known that he would laugh in my face and text his other secret girlfriend to make fun of me with her and never speak to me again and tell all his buddies what a loser I was (Hey, it could have happened. That's what we're all afraid of, right?) I would still have said it. Really. It's worth risking that utter embarrassment, rejection and isolation. It's truly worth it. When honest, true feelings of love exist they MUST be expressed. Otherwise there is retraction. A shrinking back from feelings. Kinda like what happened to the Grinch's heart but in reverse. There is never a reason NOT to express how you feel to someone. Not in a demanding or aggressive way. Not in an, "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine," kind of way. But with simplicity, honesty and vulnerability.
Our wedding day! 3/15/13. Relatively happy in this pic :). 

When we stifle our feelings towards others, we preclude the chance of finding love. When we play it cool, we are left in the cold. When we hesitate, we miss out on beautiful moments of connection. When we don't make the first move, we get stuck. When we hold back, we are held back. 

Everyone is so worried about coming on too strong or being seen as desperate, needy, or aggressive. No one wants to call anyone, tell anyone how they really feel, or "swipe to the right" as I believe kids these days are doing on their smart phones. Well you know what? If everyone jumped off a bridge into a loveless cesspool of smug singleness would you jump too? I certainly hope not. If you're old enough to be looking for love than you're old enough to be bold in your proclamations!

If you meet someone and you think they're unbelievably interesting...why not tell them? If they think you're creepy they'll either a) get over their initial shock and see you for the beautiful shining open-hearted person that you are or b) they'll go away, leaving a vacuum in your love life for someone who will reciprocate your feelings. If you've been dating someone for weeks and you're still playing the waiting-three-days-to-call (or worse the "I only text") game then guess what? You just lost! Sure, you might win at the who-can-be-the-most blase, cool-guy, "whatever, she's ok...I guess," contest, but you lose the chance to truly and deeply connect with that person.

You have to be willing to risk your ego getting bruised and more than that: you have to be willing to believe that if you do express your feelings to someone, that that person might just feel the same way back! It's true! Even when I had less than lovable feelings towards myself, somewhere deep down I knew that I was worthy of love. And if I was feeling that love for someone else, there was a chance - maybe 50/50 but still a chance- that they were feeling that same love for me.
Us just a few weeks ago at the water park. 

If you're already in love, then you know. It's worth risking it all. If you're out there swinging and missing, then I bow down to you. You are what's right in the world. You are out there spreading and sharing your love, whether it's in the dating scene, to your friends, to your family, or to strangers on the street.

But if you're still out there holding back, I invite you - no, I URGE you to take a leap. Fate and love most certainly favor the bold. If you try and fail then believe me, you'll be in good company with all the other beautiful souls out there who have had their hearts broken but keep on showing up with their whole selves no matter what. And if you DO find love then you can call me up and be like dang girl what are you like Patty Stanger or something?

Happy 4th of July to everyone out there and Happy EIGHT FREAKING YEARS to my love. We've been through so much together: a shooting, heart surgery, several jobs, a wedding, and a move. Thanks for calling me that day when I was in Whole Foods. That took balls. Mad props.