Right now my mom is sleeping on the couch beside me. It’s the first time she’s come to visit me in Amsterdam (and holy cow it’s been FIVE years) so I’ve pretty much been over the moon these past few days. Prior to Mom’s visit, I had two of my closest girlfriends in town, also visiting from Maine. So I’ve taken quite a bit of time off of work lately, for a stay-cation, which I’ve never done in Amsterdam before. Every day has felt like a Saturday, with shops open, cafes buzzing, and warm weather slowly creeping into the city. As I haven’t done a personal ‘how are you feeling’ post lately, I thought I would catch up with you now, mid-spring adventure time and before the summer really kicks off.
So, how is Ali?
Being busy. With Mom here, I’m realizing how busy and constantly on the go I always am. This morning she woke up and just sat down at the kitchen table. I didn’t really know what to do with myself, so I sat down across from her and poured a cup of juice and opened up Pinterest. When I was dating B, I used to spend hours on Pinterest. It was the source of all my dreams – art I wanted to make for the house, sweets I wanted to bake, holidays I wanted to book, and hair styles I wanted to try. I used to get a handful of new Pinterest followers every day, because, to be honest, my Pinterest account kind of rocked ;) But lately, I am always out to dinner with a friend, on a date, helping someone pick out a dress for a wedding or move a heavy piece of furniture, working late, traveling, drinking tea with a girlfriend, getting too drunk, dancing until 4am, shopping for groceries, cleaning out my fridge because I didn’t eat said groceries . . . I am never just still. I don’t do yoga or meditate like I used to, I don’t read (although I still LOVE books), I don’t do puzzles (another geeky lust of mine), I don’t spend a weekend doing a long art project, I don’t go on Pinterest. I don’t even remember to print tickets before concerts or pay my rent on time. I don’t make lists like I used to. I have to force myself to stay at home and clean. It’s like I’ve evolved from an introvert to a mega extrovert in the past six months, and have developed a mild case of ADHD along the way. I am loving life. It feels so full and complete. But there’s this small part of me, the part that wants to be a mom and take care of a home and read for an hour in clean sheets before bed, that’s been tucked away somewhere, and a lot of great qualities about Ali have been tucked away with her. I don’t know if it’s possible to be these two people at once, or if what I’m living right now is a phase or a ‘new me’, but I do know that I need to slow down, make more time for myself, and not forget all of the things I loved this time last year, even if the person I loved at this time is no longer in my life.
On dreams. What dreams do you have? Do you want to go on an exotic holiday? Buy a bigger house? Get a promotion? Make a great move for your family? Fall in love? Have a baby? Create something awesome? . . . . want to know something crazy? I have no dreams. Absolutely none. I used to spend SO much time thinking about the future. A year ago, I would have told you: I want to travel around the world, never live in the same place for too long, and always feel outside of my comfort zone. I want to become a Managing Director, retire from the ad-world, and teach at a notable university. I want to illustrate children’s books. I want to have kids around thirty, save up and backpack through Asia for six months. Make my blog a success and eventually something that brings in a second income. Live closer to my family for a period of time, and experience Easters and Thanksgivings in Maine. Make enough money so I can take care of my parents when they retire, and travel everywhere, for the rest of my life. I had small dreams – the wedding dress I wanted to wear, the name I wanted to give my puppy, the recipes I wanted to try out for dinner. Hell, I even had a list of yoga studios I wanted to visit in Amsterdam, and short weekend trips I wanted to take outside the city by train. This entire list makes me chuckle, because now, I don’t really want any of these things. There’s a song by John Mayer that says “Young and full of running, tell me where is that taking me? Just a great figure eight, or a tiny infinity?” Which is how I feel a lot of the time. I’m always moving, always on the go. I don’t stop to dream, and I am constantly living in the moment. Right now, this feels so good. I love not thinking about the past, or the future, and just embracing the moment. I’ve never done this before, and as scary as it is, I’ve never felt more alive. But when you spend your time sprinting from one day to the next, you’re bound to run out of breath. Unless you stop to consider the past and the future, you’re running in a loop. It’s the milestones that move us forward, and without them, we will never grow, change, or learn. We need them to make mistakes, and to make us feel. I’m still waiting for my dreams. I hope to one day just wake up and want something. I have inklings of what would be nice, but for the most part, I’m glad not to take the driver’s seat, or waste my breath chasing something bigger.
On love. OK, so here’s the big thing I’m sure a lot of people are wondering – how’s the love life? Well, if you can’t tell from the above musings, I’m really in no place to commit to one person or one thing, or begin to consider what the next step is in life. It’s frustrating, because sometimes I think I should buy a house here, sometimes I think I should move to LA. Sometimes I want to get a cheaper apartment or a roommate, and sometimes I want to just quit my job and disappear into South America or Asia for a few months. But there’s nothing pushing me in any of these directions, and it’s like I’m just waiting for the wind to blow. And I guess, the big thing I’m waiting for, is to fall in love. It sucks, because I’m living this lost-in-the-moment-life, and those are the kind of people I end up feeling attracted to, or dating. Which obviously isn’t healthy, or the direction I should be moving in. Sometimes I wonder what comes first. Do I need to be the more mature, future-oriented Ali I used to be, and then the right love will come? Or will I meet the right person, the one who makes me want to be that Ali again? Regardless, in the past month, I actually have felt ready for a relationship (something I haven’t felt in almost a year, and haven’t been able to say with complete conviction until now) but . . . I’m ready to love someone. There’s so much drama and fun that comes with dating, and I adore (hate cringe laugh love) this, and it was a fun distraction for a while. But now that I truly feel like there’s nothing I need to be distracted from, I think I can stop bouncing from one thing (guy) to the next, and just feel content when the right thing comes along for all the right reasons. And who knows, this may take another year or two. But that’s OK, because I’m happy being me, living in the moment, surrounding myself with friends, new experiences, and days like today . . . my mom :)