Category Archives: Seriously

Nine years later: Home stretch

Nine years later: Home stretch

Larnaca, Cyprus

Firstly, I would like to apologize for my absence on this website. To those of you who sent me messages, emails and even Tweets asking if something had happened to me, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your concern, especially since some of you told me you’ve been a reader for more than a decade. I’m aware that my responses were somewhat vague and perhaps a little generic, but I do assure you that I’m fine, health-wise.

What I did not mention in my responses is that for the last three months, I have been in a transient phase of sorts. Dani and I have been trying to figure out our next step in life, exploring any avenues we can that will allow us to tie up our existence in this country as neatly as possible, set it on fire, and rebuild our life in a different part of the world. To that end, my mind has been on anything but writing, and I probably would not be writing this today were it not a very important milestone.

For today marks the end of my ninth — NINTH — year back in this country, and the beginning of the end of my life here. When I left my lonely but independent life behind in New York, nine years ago, and came back to an even lonelier subsistence here, it was with a vow to myself that, within a decade, I would find my way out again. Not to New York, if I couldn’t make it that far, but to anywhere else where I could start a new life on my own, away from all the reasons that I left here in the first place.

This date still holds its importance for me, because it is a constant reminder to myself to never get too comfortable here, and to never back down from my goal to be out of here before my 10 years are up. And if the last three months are of any indication, it’s that I have definitely overstayed my welcome in this country, and the time has come for me to let go of all the things I once thought I needed to live a life that meant something, but now seem so insignificant.

So here we are in the home stretch of our tenure in this country. We came, we saw, and we did conquer it for a little while, but we’re ready to go back under our rock now.

The continuum bubble

The continuum bubble

Frozen but flowing

Two days ago, I had coffee with someone who had discovered that I’m back in Buffalo for Christmas and New Year, and wanted to meet up because it’s been more than 10 years since we saw each other. We have somewhat of a history, this person and I, which left more of an impression on him (if the seven-hour drive up from Brooklyn is any indication) than it did on me. Still, we caught up over coffee and talked about what we had done with and to ourselves since we last spoke, and by the end of it, I like to think he had gotten some of the closure he’d driven seven hours for.

Yesterday, however, it dawned on me that he had never changed since we were in college, and whatever feelings of goodwill I had towards him the day before swiftly dissipated. While it made me a little indignant, it also left me with the same concession I had felt on my birthday: that this was just part of the lesson I had had to learn this year, coming full circle with the people who have stayed in or left my life for one reason or another.

2016 was, for me, like the coming-of-age novel I never wanted to write. I started it on a high — literally — thinking that I had found my way out of the cesspool that was Empire: Lebanon, only for that high to come crashing down around my ears within just three months. And even though things got a little better once work began on the restaurant, I was torn between being happy that I could spend those last months with Dani, but also dying for him to move back to Lebanon so that I could be free of the emotional chokehold his ex-wife had held me in for a full year.

And suddenly, before the year was half over, the tide turned and suddenly, we were faced with the very real prospect of being in a very real relationship from that point. And while it was everything that I had waited two and a half years for, it also meant having to deal with a fallout of sorts, and it’s a fallout that I’m still learning to manage.

I had gained everything I wanted at the price of so many other things I had already had, which was what led me to decide by the time I turned 32 that I would no longer hold on to the things I had to do without this year, and instead focus on what would be important for the future we always talked about. And as my bubble grows smaller and smaller with every decision that I make, my only hope for 2017 is that the world will finally open up to us again.

Full circle

Full circle

I may be 32 now, but I will never outgrow pretty cakes

Today I had lunch with Yiu Lin, whom I met in the early days of my career in publishing, and who over the years has become as good a friend as anyone has ever been to me. Even though this lunch was more for my birthday, I saw it as just another chance to catch up because we’re both always so busy that we only end up seeing each other at social events, and even then it’s difficult to have any kind of real conversation at all.

It was during lunch today, when we were talking about how social media has pretty much obliterated any kind of human appeal left in humans, that Yiu Lin burst out, “I mean, we’re in our thirties now; isn’t it time we grow out of that and let it all go?”

It was that statement, among many many others, that resonated with me because it was exactly what I had been turning around in my own mind leading up to my birthday. Every year, on the 13th, I take a bit of time to really think about everything that has transpired since my previous birthday, and I try to evaluate how much has changed in that one year. And this year, I came to the startling, but quite satisfying, conclusion that turning 32 has brought me full circle.

On this day four years ago, I celebrated my 28th birthday by making the decision to remove everything that was toxic and unnecessary in my life (read: my ex-boyfriend), and in a way, it felt as though I had bought my freedom from the guilt that had kept me chained to a fruitless relationship for so long. I spent the next four years on a roller-coaster of lessons and self-discovery. When I turned 29, I had a fun group of friends, some of whom I have remained very close to, and I had put one mistake aside for another mistake which turned out to be the greatest adventure — and now the best decision — of my life. I welcomed 30 feeling on top of the world as I truly believed that I could be happy, at least for a while, despite the gnawing resentment at having to always come in second to someone else. By the time I hit 31, I had also hit rock-bottom and struggling to lift myself out of the emotional sinkhole I had dug myself into, but also determined not to spend another year allowing my self-worth to be questioned and tested at every turn.

Then last week, I turned 32 and got off that ride to begin a new one. It may be purely coincidental that as soon as I entered my thirties I began to see things in a different light, but if the last two birthdays have taught me anything, it’s to remove all the negative aspects of one’s life, and to recognize, acknowledge and retain the positive. So with this birthday, I’ve not only cast off permanently whatever I’ve had to live without in this past year, but also come out with a profound sense of who I am and what I’m capable of.

If this is what coming full circle entails, then I’ll consider it the buttercream floral wreath on top of a 32-year-old cake.