Karma Chameleon, You Come And Go

Photo May 28, 5 34 22 PM

Bad dates.

If you want to find out exactly who you are — go on some.

As much as the whole process pains me — I’ve put myself back out there. Dating in New York City is a big, boiling pot of disaster. Believe me. It’s shameless, ruthless, and largely — heartless. The gauntlet, a line of lawyers, artists, project managers, analysts, educational administrators, creative directors, and motherfucking entrepreneurs.

In the last few months, I’ve been in coffee shops, on park benches, making walkabouts through the guts of Brooklyn, and dancing to washboard bands in small, dark bars. It’s exhilarating, illuminating, exhausting, endlessly disappointing, and emotionally taxing. I feel like I’ve tried on so many different versions of myself that when I’ve actually sat down to be alone with my own thoughts, I’ve had to sort through the many women I have become, and pick out the one that best fits me in the moment.

My Year of Happiness has brought me to a place of total confidence, where, I know without a doubt, what I want most in my life. And, even in the brief moments where I am without total surety, it’s as simple as restating the word in my head: Happiness. — And, I am quickly reminded of where I am headed. I am able to focus myself to a point of clarity that, once, seemed impossible.

How does the kind of Willingness, the kind where we show up for ourselves, evolve? I’ve often wondered, what actually happened here? This Willingness is so different from the one I found when I got sober. This Willingness is born out of my boldness — not my defeat. It gives me immense power. More than I’ve ever had in my life. — And, I am not afraid to wield it.

Dating can feel a lot like the life I led before I got sober. It sometimes asks me to be a chameleon. — To participate in a complicated and colorful dance. — Moving delicately over leaves that will bend unexpectedly. Appearing one way and feeling another. And, I’ve found, over just one cup of coffee, my feelings can drift from lofty, sweet and starry-eyed to panicked and desperate as a cornered cat. All the while, I’m holding fast onto my same expression. — A closed-mouth, red-lipped smile with soft, lined, blinking eyes.

But that is not Willingness. That is acting.

Willingness is the thing that shows up for you. It’s not there to save you. When I say for you, I mean it is for you to use. A tool that you’ll have to pick up yourself. Willingness is the little alarm that rattles your ribs, the train whistle that never escapes your lungs. It’s a message, a warning: Get out! Stay put! Wait it out. This one. No. — This one.

Willingness is the thing that will convince your chameleon skin to return to its original color. It is the unexpected joy of wearing yourself, without fear. Willingness is knowing what you want, and politely, accepting nothing less.

This month, Willingness has helped me to step through my past. — To see where I have been stuck. To see where I have been a shape-shifter. To see where I have taken only what I could get, nothing more — accepting a meager ration. And, five weeks later, I know what I deserve. — What I deserved all along.

Willingness makes me more than a spectator. I have become my own superhero. A sassy chameleon, with a red mouth and red nails — who speaks to and points at anything she likes. Without apology.

Whatever your chameleon skin looks or feels like — wear it. To the coffee shop. To the park. Walking down the humid streets of Crown Heights. Dancing in the dark. When you’re clad in your Willingness — you rule the dance floor.

A return to a world where rejection has become a part of my every day, for a moment, seemed daunting. But, as I watch thousands of faces peer into subways cars, feet shuffle down avenues, smiles beam across tables and bars, and hands reach out for each other under the city lights — I know there will always be someone, something, somewhere waiting to be found. And, I, have become a willing seeker.

Willingness can be elusive, but, when it does appear — the rest will fall in line. It’s karma, baby.

So, change the color of your Happiness. Throw off the skin that no longer suits you.

And wherever you sip, sit, stand, walk, or dance — never be afraid to go it alone.




Photo Sep 16, 9 18 24 PM











Friday morning, I changed seven times.

When I looked up from buttoning the shirt I would unbutton seconds later, I expected to see someone else staring back at me in the mirror. But — it’s always her.

I turned to face my profile and pull at the bottom of my shirt. I was running late and didn’t have time to change again, but — I did anyway.

I’m not sure when this happened — but my reflection has become some strange sort of foe. It appears we agree on simple things like: cotton versus polyester, but, the clothes hang off us differently. Colors distract us.  Most of our wardrobe is black. And her expression is always sullen — to match our sweaters. But, things shift. I’m starting to see colors explode through the seams. I feel her fight the smile that creeps up at the corners of my mouth.

Across the river, at work, her reflection finds me again. She glares out from the glass doors of my office building, melting in the morning light like a Dalí painting. I shift my red tote bag around my torso to cover my waist. There’s no hiding from her though — she sees through things. Totes. Camisoles. Layers of mascara. Thick, glossy nail polish. Geeky frames. Bras. Boots. She catches me at angles that others do not.

My own disconnect still surprises me. She’s an imposter. I can’t read her.

I want her to look some other way. I want her to laugh more. I miss that — my own laughter and how it escapes wildly — a thousand big bangs imploding in my chest. Suddenly, I want to laugh at everything. I bite the side of my cheek.

I check my teeth in the ladies’ room mirror. A big, toothy smile. Is that happiness? Laughter? I’m not sure I’d even recognize it. But, truthfully, there’s not much of anything I recognize these days — It leaves me space to feel something new.

On the drive home, my eyes meet hers in the rear view. I decide only one of us will survive the summer. And — it’s me.

I turn up the stereo so loud that the bass shakes the little, white cat that’s glued to my dash. In a line of cars, waiting to cross the Ross Island Bridge, I pull my hair loose from its tight-tied bun. My auburn locks fall softly around my ears and the dying wind of summer kicks them up behind my headrest. I pull off my cardigan, in my eighth and final costume change of the day, and let my left shoulder bake in the sun.

Today, I’m showing up. — Myself. Alone. Take it or leave it. I dump my doppelgänger on the West bank of the Willamette.

As I make my way over the bridge, Mt. Hood welcomes me back to the East side. I drive up Division and turn down 16th Ave. I let myself get lost myself in a maze of circular streets, crowded with babies and bikers. I pull over. I turn off the engine. — I think I’m alone now.

Seat belt still fastened, with five minutes to spare, I throw my head back and I laugh, hard, before making my solo debut.