I wrote this essay for The Frisky, “Sex With a ‘Top Chef.’”
I’m not going to apologize for my actions, because it was a learning experience. A huge one. A game-changer. I came home and though it took me a little while of fumbling and missteps and separation anxiety, I weaned myself off of the people who didn't want me the way I wanted...well, if not them, the way I want a relationship. I was in a few flirtations, shall we say, but none were ones that would lead to what I'm looking for down the road. Not now, because I'm not in a place where I can be anyone's girlfriend, haven't been for a while. I'm in an in between, messy, working-on-myself place. I joked to myself I won't have sex til I'm a size six, but it's not a weight issue so much as a closure issue. I need closure with my body, with my apartment, with my book. I need closure on being this girl I called a "wannabe housewife" in an essay Brevity just rejected. I need closure on a lot of fronts and until then, I am really happy to focus on me. It sounds so selfish even to write that, but it's true. I miss certain things about being in a relationship, certainly, but I think because of that I kept compromising my principles, allowing myself to be the booty call or the second in line or whatever it was. I let myself fall so low that there was nowhere to go but up.
It's not an easy process, because while it's simple enough to say, "That's not what I want," it's harder when there are real feelings for the various people involved. If I could take the best parts of all of them and turn them into one person who magically thought I'd be a kickass girlfriend and baby mama, that would be awesome, but that is not real life. I'm finishing up the memoir The Pioneer Woman by Ree Drummond, which is basically about this totally larger than life romance, the kind that, well, sounds utterly fictional even though I know it's true. The second I decided to stop looking, stop obsessing, stop caring, really, about all the judgments, all the ways I don't measure up, something changed, in me and outside of me. Maybe "the second" is overstating it, but I'm in such a better place than I ever was in that downward spiral known as 2010, where I almost watched any slim chance I have of being a writer disappear, where I made the same mistake too many times to count when it comes to dating. I have a few things I'm proud of myself for in 2010, like getting my tattoo, but this year is the year, I think, I'm really gonna be someone I can look in the mirror and smile at. And that will be worth all the loneliness and wistfulness and nostalgia. That will be worth everything, and the more I focus on what it will take to make that happen, the more I know that everyone else's opinions are pretty much useless to me. That doesn't mean they don't exist, but I absorb them so easily into my skin. I start horrible comparisons to people I'll never hold a candle to. I do it so instantly, instinctively, that I have to fight that urge all the time. Now that my energy is focused on, well, me, I know that I could walk around LA in my sexiest dress, even amidst the catcalls of downtown, and just be happy in my own skin.
I learned not only not to judge someone by their online resume (and not to be in the dark about a Wild Flag show I was missing), but also that I am perfectly happy on my own. I don’t need to be flattered by random attention, whether I’m in New York or elsewhere. I learned it’s not selfish to stay in and enjoy the luxury of a big bed and cable TV. I learned that I would rather fall hard for the wrong people sometimes than be totally stoic. I learned that the right person, should they come along, will not be someone who insists on being right, who wants to tell me what I should be feeling. I learned so much from it and none of it has to do with his identity per se. I am looking forward to being back in LA, where maybe I’ll ice skate and eat grilled cheese and sleep in and write and have some quality time to myself. I don’t plan on going on any dates and I just feel so much better about myself than I did back then, when I was trying to convince myself I was worthy, of Mr. Top Chef, of my ex, of all sorts of people who aren’t me. So that’s my takeaway. You are perfectly entitled to your own. I'm glad I wrote it down, but I don't want to be the girl with stories any more. I don't want to be the drama queen. That's so 2010 and all of a sudden, armed with a plane ticket for 7:30 a.m., I feel ready to let every bit of that drama disappear.