A Big Lesson on Tradeoffs of the Heart
I remember watching Sex and the City with my mom on DVD (this is when Netflix actually mailed out DVD’s each month and streaming wasn’t the core of their business model) that my brother had made copies of from the set he bought. We would spend an evening watching it from Season 1 through Season 6, sometimes an entire Saturday or weekend getting through the episodes. I was in High School then and had never been to New York City. I was also a virgin, and I fall more along the Charlotte side of things, even to this day (Nope, never had a one night stand even and yes, even in my early 30s, I still believe in that fairy tale romance).
And now that I live in the great and endlessly evolving “city that never sleeps” – I sometimes wonder if I’m one of those hopeful women, wanting to find a great guy, have that great job that does not consume all of my waking hours, and someday live in an apartment that does not mean leaving Manhattan (to Brooklyn or Queens or worse than any of my wildest fears in combination…to New Jersey…note: no offense to those in NJ, I just had emotional issues from the Jersey Shore days and believe that if I could edit those out of my subconscious that I would feel completely different, maybe).
Of course this great place located in Manhattan would not mean sacrificing a laundry machine (oh my God, you mean there’s a washer and dryer in the apartment!? GASP!), dishwasher (in my wildest dreams a garbage disposal and enough kitchen space that the top of the fridge isn’t needed for a mixing bowl or eggs). A place with readily hot water instead of a super who tells you that you must run it for 15-20 minutes first (trust me, this only leads to the ceiling peeling because of poor ventilation). I’m getting greedy now in my imagination, but even all of these things and a large enough elevator (perhaps high-speed and rarely broken down) AND for the bonus of never having to feel trapped when a package is stolen, you get locked out, or need to have someone access your apartment and grab something…a blessed doorman. But the reality is in Manhattan, that having any of these things or any of these means the inevitable trade off when moving and apartment shopping in New York City.
In the beginning of this last year I was dating what I would consider the equivalent to who I thought was “Mr. Big.” He was over a foot taller than me at 6’5” in height. To put things into perspective, Sarah Jessica Parker is 5’3” and the guy who plays Mr. Big, Chris North, is reportedly 6’1” although he looks about 6’4” in contrast to Carrie in the show many times. He was good looking, successful, and just sort of won me over with his quirks. We went on a vacation four weeks after meeting for an extended weekend aka FOUR DAYS beginning Thursday and ending Sunday that cost more than my yearly rent in Chelsea! He paid and we flew first class. It wasn’t the money that impressed me in the beginning. It was the strange mysterious ways, his flirty ambiguity, and how he would say or do something incredible when I did not expect it that was just enough to keep me interested in him and believe it could turn into something better.
If I’m honest, I knew when we were on that vacation he was not going to be a great boyfriend. He showed signs of instability when he worked all night and slept until 4:30 pm, took a shower and was not ready for dinner until 8:00 pm. I spent the days wandering around the island by myself, collecting seashells and reading by the ocean. I got a manicure or ordered lunch and felt a little…stranded. And just when I thought I was, he would do something to pull my emotions right back in, like shower me in affection and talk about the future and getting married. When on vacation in paradise, you begin to understand how the women on the TV hit show “The Bachelor” can fall for someone so fast…there’s one guy and nothing to do but make the best of the scenery and wait for him to be ready for a date night or dinner together. 1-1 time. You know.
If I’m even more honest, I should have ended things when we got back. But I kept thinking that things could get better and that he meant the things he said. It’s so easy to ignore the red flags or the things that we don’t like about someone when having a connection in such a big city is so rare. You want to think that it might just work out with someone who you have so much in common with – from work ethic, to brains, even religion and looks. But in the city after being here for even a year, you begin to realize that there are tradeoffs with partners just like with apartments.
Maybe you make the dinner together or if you make dinner then he does the dishes. Maybe he automatically brings up heavy packages and takes out the garbage. Or he doesn’t mind when you bring your laundry over in a suitcase to do at his house and even helps fold your stuff when you fall asleep watching a movie on his couch between loads. These are the types of small compromises you make.
But then there are the bigger compromises. We all forget the little things sometimes, but not all the time. And should work always come first? How many times should you text and wait for a response back and wonder why he does not just break up with you if he is not happy? How can he seemingly enjoy making someone else (me) so upset by messing with my emotions?
The last time I saw my Mr. Big was a month after I broke up with him. He texted me saying he was thinking about me and then asked if I wanted to come over and catch up. It was past midnight and while I knew it was late, a part of me thought…this is the city that never sleeps…and this is a guy I really like sleeping next to. Even though he was a jerk, he also didn’t have many people he talked to and I had just gotten home from a date that was a dud to say the least. So in my proper TV-show Carrie Bradshaw way, I put on a sexy dress and some heels and went for it. I was in the mood to make a regrettable decision I could rationalize later. He sent a car to pick me up and 45 minutes later we were drinking wine, enjoying our shared sense of humor and intellectual whit. We stayed up all night talking. We cuddled, kissed, and it felt like we were together again.
The next day he had to go to an appointment in…gulp…New Jersey. I woke up at 1 PM and he had left me at his place alone. I went to my bathroom (yes, he allocated an entire bathroom to me for my stuff and getting ready) and saw that even over a month later, my things were there in full view and left untouched. I took my time touching up my makeup, eating breakfast, and then called an Uber to go back to my apartment. On his way back from NJ he stopped by my place. We talked, had dinner at a nearby Italian place, and then he had to go home to work before a 13 day business trip. He kissed me on the lips goodbye.
I was left there wondering what any of this meant and it was all somewhat confusing. Did he think we were back together? Did he want to get back together? Was he just lonely? Was I the stupid girl who fell back into his trap? Should I ignore the kissy faces and photos he sent me while he was traveling? Did I make a mistake that led to never sharing a possibility of a future together?
I never saw him again after that. He returned and sent a few messages similar to the after midnight kind. His answers were short and cold.
The last message I received from my “Mr. Big” were received when I was in the arms of someone new…cuddling in my bed and not even thinking about anyone from my past. I remember seeing the message and thinking that I was wrong about something. I was wrong about people having to give up something great in order to find someone in New York. You should never have to give up feeling special – the right kind of man will make you feel that way by the very nature of his actions. You should never give up knowing where you stand with someone with regard to their feelings or as a priority because the right person will make sure you know it and are both on the same page. Most of all, the right kind of guy won’t give up on pursuing you because he sees how great you are as is and knows trade-offs are not necessary in matters of the heart. And even if tradeoffs are still necessary for NYC apartments, a BIG heart to sleep next to in the city that doesn’t, well, it makes you forget about the dishes…especially when home is where the heart is. <3