Thursday, February 18, 2016

New York Made Me... Friendly

photo credit: the always talented Inslee

I know New York has a fearsome reputation with a history of demonstrating incivility and arrogance. I too, believed this stereotype. I'm not sure if it's my longing for friendship or the complete immersion into a culture where I am constantly surrounded by a multitudinous amount of people but New York has made me friendlier.

Not that I was unfriendly before. More distant. Those who know me laugh when I say this, but I do consider myself an introverted, private person. In Charlotte, I was sometimes intimidated to say hi to an acquaintance standing in front of me in line at the grocery store. That awkward moment of how loudly do I say their name? What if they don't recognize me? What if it's not them but a twin I didn't know they had? I'll just give my phone a perplexed look as if I were responding to an urgent email. We were all  moving along within the same space but each within our own bubble. Aside from Mr. Moo at the UPS store (remember when I thought it would be a good idea to start an online eBay shop?) or the Sales Associates at Monkees, I rarely interacted with anyone I didn't already know. I moved through the motions, space to space, going about my routine without much notice to others around me.

Now, I frantically talk to everyone. I have my regulars. The always flannel clad man who opens the cafe a block from my apartment each morning. Eric, the animated barista at Starbucks who I baked cookies for at Christmas. The woman who waits at the bus stop with her daughter each morning. While I don't know her name, we always warmly greet each other especially with the bitter cold New York has had recently. Then there are those I don't know and will likely never see again. The young girl in pigtails in a pink puffer jacket who I decided to play train conductor with one day. At each stop she would enthusiastically yell out "ALL ABOARD!" and I would share the next stop with her so she could announce to the passengers. The older woman at the gym who wanted to dish on all of her favorite late night show hosts (I'd never stay up late enough for late night) long after my hair was dry. There's Sophie the three year puppy who I sat on the floor of the subway with so I could pet her obsessively.

A few hours ago, I hopped in a shared Lyft at SFO where not along ago, I would have ridden in silence counting the miles until I was alone. Yet, I introduced myself and eagerly learned about her life. A true New Yorker (born and raised) we had much to talk about. We became so chatty, I gave her hug when we reached her destination. I sat there in utter shock of myself. I don't even like to be touched and here I was initiating a hug with a stranger.

Not too sure of the source of the above mentioned friendliness, but I'll take it and I'm going to attribute the friendliness to New York City. I had visions of becoming an all black wearing abrasive, supercilious city dweller. While the all black has certainly rubbed off on my wardrobe,  I'd like to think NYC has made me warmer and I don't mind the change.



Friday, February 12, 2016

Brie Mine, Valentine

I've always loved Valentine's Day. In elementary school, I would carefully select my valentines to be distributed to my class, likely princesses or puppies. In middle school, along with my two best friends, I homemade a meal for my friend's family is her kitchen turned restaurant named "The Sassy Sister's Beef House." Because, what is more romantic than feasting on burnt beaf stroganoff with three dramatic middle school girls?  College Valentines were filled with crush parties, themed mixers, and my loved karaoke performance of "Always Be My Baby" and last year I planned my very own Galentines Brunch. Maybe its the accumulation of all my favorite things - pink, hearts, chocolate, flowers, champagne, cheesy sayings, sparkles. Maybe its the acceptance of ridiculous romantic comedies. Or perhaps it's that I classically fall for every Valentine's Day marketing ploy (I seriously thought about who I could have a #StarbucksDate with this week) but I'm smitten with Valentine's Day.

Typically, I'm incredibly reserved when it comes to relationships and dating and I'm not one to openly share but since I love Valentine's Day and I've always been a fan of owning my follies, I thought I would share a few of my favorite awkward relationship-esque moments.

In February of the 8th grade, I had finally worked up the courage to give the boy I had been "going out" with for like three months his Christmas present. With the prolonged Christmas present exchange, there was no need to stress over Valentine's Day gifts so we went to the school dance where I proudly wore a brown corduroy skirt and pink button up - thanks Gap- and we thought about dancing together for one song and almost worked up the courage to do so, then our moms arrived to pick us up.

Flash forward to over four years later, I was in my first relationship - Facebook relationship status update and all-  as my summer crush transitioned to my boyfriend. We had been to dinner together, just the two of us, several times and I even invited him to my parent's birthday dinner that July but I still wasn't sure if he "liked" me. After about six weeks of uncertainty, we were vulnerable with our feelings and ventured into a relationship together. I'm quite certain it was another two months before I kissed him and likely December before I was comfortable holding hands in public.

Junior year of college, while most of Clemson was off meeting their future husband, I dabbled again in the relationship waters. This time, uncertain as to if we were ever actually a couple and rightfully so. I had the hopes of being like all my favorite TV characters, Ross and Rachel, Chuck and Blair, and fell into the on again off again trap that lasted entirely too long. A quick glimpse into how long, one of our endings followed an argument over my interest in Taylor Swift's album, Red.

My last relationship was probably my most clueless. After months of talking to each other everyday, the exchange of gifts with thoughtful handwritten notes, and holding hands while walking along the cliffs in Newport, I had no idea we were dating and still found myself wondering if he potentially had feelings for me. Once confirmed and stated without any ambiguity, I asked if I could call him BAE and then felt slightly embarrassed for the rendition of Four Five Seconds I had performed in the car earlier. After one week, I asked for constructive feedback on my progress as a girlfriend.

All this awkwardness aside, I still love Valentine's Day. If I could, I would proudly wear my corduroy skirt and dine at the Sassy Sistas Beef House. I made Frozen Valentines for the girls in my homeroom and will likely eat my fair share of Magnolia Bakery cupcakes this weekend. Enjoy!

Happy Valentines,