It’s a safe assumption that we’ve all in our lives have uttered the words, “If Only” or “What If.” When we say these words, it usually based off an event that didn’t go exactly as we had planned. Maybe it was a job interview that we screwed up or a relationship that went south or even worse never getting a chance to say goodbye to someone you are close with. We often replay the events over and over in our heads to try and make sense of the situation. Was it something I said? Was it the way I acted? Was it my views on politics? The way we live our lives in today’s modern times leaves very little time for the “IF” factor. We are all so busy, self-involved and concerned about just making it through the day that we often forget how precious life can be. It takes a tragedy to force us to reflect, look back and ask the “If Only’s” and the “What If’s.” “IF” only there was a way for us not to have to wait for a tragedy to make us think about how wonderful our lives really are, then chances are we’d all probably would be a little happier. “IF”… two little words with a rather big meaning.
Three weeks ago, I was sitting in my friend’s apartment giving him the details on how J.C. just disappeared with no explanation last month. He, like so many others, said what a coward he was for not even explaining the ending of our relationship. However, the next words out of my friend’s mouth were words that I was not expecting. He said, “I give you the challenge of not going on any dates for the month of August.” He said I could talk to guys, even have casual sex (which I’m terrible at) but no more going on any dates. I accepted the challenge because I honesty did need a break from all the crazies out there and I also knew that my entire month of August was booked and that left hardly any time for dates anyhow. At first, I thought the challenge was going to be hard but turns out, it’s exactly what my soul needed. A detox for the search for this “great love.” I even took a week off from the blog last week because I needed a break from even writing about dating.
So, when last week presented itself; I was more than ready to embrace what the world had in store for me. On Tuesday, it was raining in the city and I was making my way down the few blocks from my apartment to, Arriba Arriba for dinner. I was meeting a friend of mine, whom many years ago, was someone that I dated briefly. We’ve had our ups and downs over the years with our friendship but as we are both older and wiser now; we both know how fleeting certain moments can be. He lost his mother earlier this year and he certainly played the “IF” card a great deal with his loss. It pained me to see him in such pain over the past several months but as he sat across from me, with our Mama Margaritas, I saw someone who came out the other side as someone stronger. He has an amazing boyfriend, they love each other deeply and they got each other through his difficult year. He’s a friend that I don’t see often but when I do see him; I am reminded of what a kind, generous and loving friend he truly is.
The next night, after the gym, I met another friend of mine that I don’t see often. Ironically enough, he was also someone that I went on a few dates with many years ago who also has a great boyfriend now. We agreed to meet at Barrage for a few drinks. As we sat there updating each other on our lives, it dawned on me with both of these friends of mine that I could easily play the “IF” card. Not in the sense of “What if we had worked out?” But rather, “What if I never get a chance to tell these people how great they are?” It’s a road that is hard to go down but seeing that I don’t get the opportunity to see them that often; I’ll take this platform in letting them know.
I couldn’t believe when the alarm went off the next morning that it was already Thursday. The week was flying by and I wasn’t even close to be being prepared for all that I had to do for the weekend ahead. However, that didn’t stop me from making time for my friends. The evening was originally going to be just me and a very close friend of mine for dinner. He was taking me out for an early birthday dinner since he will be at Burning Man during my actual birthday. Instead of it being just the two of us, it snow balled in the most embracing way. We tried to begin the evening at Eataly but it was so crowded on the rooftop that we opted to walk up to, 230 Fifth Avenue. There we had a couple of glasses of proseco before heading to the restaurant, Almond. As we walked from 230 Fifth Avenue to the restaurant, we stumbled upon a band playing in the middle of Madison Square Park. We all stood around, watched, listened and we all were talking about how grateful we are for these experiences. As all five of us sat down at our table, I looked around and I didn’t need to have any “IF” moments with these people. It was very obvious that we all knew how we felt about each other. Many bottles of wine later and a chocolate surprise with a candle in it; we all stumbled over the bar, XES, for a nightcap. We all said our goodbye a bit past midnight and I got in a cab and went home. Right before I went to bed, I got a text message from my friend that organized the pre-birthday dinner. He told me how much he loved me and wished me a very happy birthday. Its messages like that, that allow me to never have to go down the “IF” road with these amazing bunch of characters.
I got out of work early on Friday and rushed all over the city to get ready for the weekend ahead. I have gone many distances for love but this distance was for a different kind of love. The love of a friend. You see, this friend was getting married in the state that he’s from…New Hampshire. I had no real idea just how far New Hampshire was from the city and I wouldn’t find out till the next day. I was excited for my Friday evening. I bought a cheap bottle of red wine, put the facial mask on and relaxed. It felt rather odd being home on a Friday night but at the same time…I relished in it. I went to bed early that night and set the alarm for a rather early wake-up call.
All packed and waiting for my Uber car to come take me to Brooklyn at 8 a.m. I was fortunate enough to get a ride from my girlfriend (whom I also sharing a room with) to New Hampshire. Along for this journey was another couple and a former coworker. I sat in front and was told that I was the worse navigator in history. I tried to read the GPS thingy but a lot of the times, I needed assistance. Six hours and a landside of restroom breaks later…we arrived in Concord, New Hampshire’s Comfort Inn. We had to be at the wedding by 4 p.m. and we arrived at the hotel at 3 p.m. We had one hour to get five people ready. I don’t know how we did it but we all managed to get dressed and into a van that would be taking us to the wedding.
The wedding wasn’t at all what any of us were expecting. A big house with a big field. In that field was a cute barn that had the groom’s names on it, with mason jars tacked along the wall with your individual names as souvenirs. We signed the book, took pictures and took our mason jars and filled them up with Arnold Palmers. Games were all around, picnic tables decorated with fresh cut flowers and the grooms running around greeting everyone. The entire evening was magical and then came time for the vows.
We were asked to gather around the live band to hear a few words from family members and friends then the grooms would say a few words. As each friend and family member had their chance with the microphone, there wasn’t a dry eye on that field. Stories were shared and memories were being created. One particular moment that got me was one of the groom’s best friends spoke on how he told his best friend one day that he doesn’t believe in love. He knew there was platonic love. The love you have for your friends and family. But he didn’t believe in the love that you have in the romantic sense. Then one night he met my friend and his entire belief system went out the window. A man that is so analytical, logical and by the book was now thrown on his ass by love. While I’ve always believed in true love over this past year, my own belief system needed a reboot and hearing them exchange their vows was just what I needed. It jolted me right back to where I always have been…a believer.
We ended the night going to some dive bar and after a few more hours and several shots of tequila; it was time to call it a night. Passing out as early as midnight on a Saturday is rare but the lights were out and we all knew that the next morning we all had to be back in the car to head back to the city.
8:30 a.m. and we were already on the road with our coffee and talking about the night before. The drive back to the city wasn’t nearly as painful as the ride up but as we all saw the city skyline appear, Jay Z’s song, Empire State of Mind, came on the radio and we all had a good laugh. An hour later, I was home, in my apartment just like I left it. I love to leave the city every now and again to remind myself there is life outside of New York. But I really do know what Dorothy means when she says, “There is no place like home.”
The biggest annoyance with the “IF” factor, is that it’s usually in the past. The damage is already done. We can’t fix the past but we can certainly correct the present in hopes to make for a brighter future.
I leave you with the poem that was read by the groom’s father this past weekend
The poet is named, Rudyard Kipling and the poem is conveniently entitled, “IF.”
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