365 days ago, right around this time, I was at the restaurant below my apartment, having dinner for the first time with my now boyfriend, Michael Grudziecki. It was one of those perfect night where the wine was flowing and conversations went on for hours. I didn’t want the night to end so I invited him to my home and we ended up talking until it was very, very late. He left the next morning to catch a flight to Thailand. I was sad because I thought that was it, it has to end there, no? But I found myself packing a suitcase 4 days later to meet him in Bangkok and it was lovely. We parted ways at the airport and promised to keep in touch. Honestly, I didn’t think much of it. Speaking from experience, that is just what men say to be polite. I expected nothing. But somehow, things are different with this man. We had our very first FaceTime the next day. And we started sending emails which now evolved to love letters. We have datenight on Fridays – where we actually dress up and meet via FaceTime. I traveled to Munich and we went on a road trip to Marianske Laszne, Prague, Wroclaw and Berlin. I met his family and I hope they like me. 5 months later, he came to Malaysia and we traveled to Malacca, Penang, Vietnam and Hong Kong. He met my family and they love him. My mother now refers to him as “my son”. Now, I’d love to sit here and blab on about how my perfect relationship with my perfect boyfriend is in my perfect life. I’ve seen many girls raise their boyfriends to Disney prince level. We are sold such picture perfect representation, which isn’t reality and it creates a haze. I find love hard. But that sentiment is typically fueled often by my menstrual cycle, a monthly phase in my life where all men are toxic. Ridiculous, I know. But I am a woman and while we are so many wonderful things, we are all surely ridiculous. It makes us far more interesting than men, but it it also is never a smooth ride. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have nothing negative to say about Michael, quite the contrary, he is a remarkable man and one I am honoured to call my boyfriend. But we have had our problems. Just last week, we argued about a lamp and things got weird for two days. So to sit here and write about how we made it to month 12, feels like a triumph in one way or another. Anyways, so yes the road of love can be tumultuous, for me at least. I might be hard to love. I might make love too hard. I don’t know. But I will say this, this is what I’ve learned this year: he is he and you are you. I simply decided to let the expectations, the plans and the infinite what ifs to unravel and instead to love with ease. Life is manic but love should be calm.
To Michael: Happy 1 Year! Let’s try making it to 20. I love you!
There really isn’t anything more enticing to me than love. We as women, especially, seem to relish this topic, over coffee or 2 glasses of wine. If you are in love, know that it is a good thing – it is probably the best thing that can happen to anyone. Just be careful not to let anyone make it light or small for you. I’ve learned that there are two kinds of love. First would be the arrogant, mean and egotistical that uses love for self-importance. The ugly and debilitating kind. I’ve dragged myself through toxic relationships many times before. And the second would be a flood of everything good – kindness and compassion and consideration and respect. The recognition of the other person as valuable and great. It will release in you strength and courage and goodness that you never knew you had. Love – if you have it, be grateful for all the glory that comes with it. If you love someone, there is really no harm in saying so. Sometimes, what you feel the other person might not for some reason or another but always, always remember that it does not make your feeling less valuable or good. I know your feeling because I have it too and I am really happy you have it. Don’t ever worry about losing because nothing good gets away. I read this somewhere and I held and highlight it high. Everything will be okay in the end, if it’s not okay, it’s not the end.
As a 33-year-old. I still don’t know much, but what I’m about to tell you, these simple things, these I know to be true. Not because someone told me, not from a book I read, but life forced them on me. Some were liberating, others are painful to learn, but most of all, I am happy to discover these personal truths that I can call my own and share with you.
You only have yourself in this world. Your family, friends are your trampoline to bounce you up, but you have to use your own power to get back from whatever or whoever made you fall. Wine doesn’t work, dwelling makes things worse and being angry is a wasted emotion amongst all the beautiful feelings that you can feel.
Being nice is a good thing. But be careful to not let ungrateful people stab you in the back, the feeling is horrible, especially if it involves someone you love. They have their own sick ways to make you feel so fucking guilty and you will get sucked into the same game, the same vicious cycle EVERY SINGLE TIME. This is a lesson that I had to learn over and over for as long as I can remember. There are always people who will take you for granted. But remember, it is your right, your decision to be in control of your space, time and energy. Your happiness should be your first priority. You owe them nothing! In fact, they can banish to whatever sad abyss that compelled them to wrong you in the first place.
Most men are a waste of time. They are mean or controlling or lying or just lousy in a way you can’t quite define, but can feel in your uncertain dissatisfaction with them. But then, there are good ones – they are few and far between. You will only come across one or two in your lifetime, but they will be shockingly and perfectly great. You will finally have faith in something your married friends have bored you with for the longest time. I might have found one and I might just marry him.
Great friends are hard to come by. They will tell you when your mascara runs or when you have lipstick on your teeth. They are the ones who will call you from time to time instead of just texting. They will greatly despise all the men that mistreated you and defend you until their voice are hoarse. They will turn up on your doorstep unannounced. Turn their couch into a bed for you. You might not talk or meet for months, but when you do, it’s as if time had not passed at all. They will ask for favours the same casual way they’d ask their family. They will get really mad at you but will also forgive you. They will be the most important people you know in your life and I am lucky enough to have friends like this.
I wonder. I’m wondering what my priorities should be throughout the next two sweet years short of 35. Wondering will I ever settle down with a good man. Wondering if I want to have children. Wondering about coffee, the three Americanos I shouldn’t have everyday. Wondering about clean eating and if should jump on that bandwagon. Wondering about vaping, is it really not as bad as cigarettes? Wondering about living in Germany and will I ever master the language. Wondering about my brother, whom I love, but also irritates me. Wondering about one of my sisters, wondering why is she the way she is. Wondering about Instagram, wondering if I love or hate the little app I scroll through every day. Wondering about my hair, thinking about going darker, thinking about how messy it is most days. Wondering about these eyebrows of mine, last night I assertively decided that they aren’t great at all. Should I do something about them, do I care about my eyebrows at all? Wondering about how short my lashes are and that I am actually envious of my boyfriend’s long & full lashes, they are far greater than mine. Wondering what my friends in London, Rotterdam, Madrid and beyond are doing right now. Wondering if they miss me. Wondering if one friend is irritated that I’m taking too damn long to reply her letter. Wondering about all the big words that I don’t understand in this new book I’m reading. Wondering why I don’t like going out. Wondering if I’m far duller now than before. Wondering will I ever be rich. Wondering what will I do in the next years. Wondering why some people are cosmically placed in my life just to taunt me. Wondering why people can’t just respect my space. Wondering why I wonder too much. Wondering about things I’m wondering. Even the word wondering has me wondering.
It’s been raining the whole day and I just clicked the ‘x’ on my work email tab commemorating that I am done with work for the day. I have Ennio Morricone’s Cinema Paradiso score playing on my speaker and I feel a tiny comfort sweep into my little space. It’s been a series of great days that culminate in a month I tied up into a box of memories to add up to my ever expanding collection. You see, I have always envisioned the various chapters of my life as lives in themselves, simply because when I look back, the spectrum of colour seems so much different to where I am right now. I am fiercely nostalgic to a point where I’m afraid this could be just an over-sentimentalization, but then again… I see my life as a story and no good story is ever boring. As you already know, back in November, I flew to Bangkok to meet a man and ended up falling in love. Last month, I traveled 9,682 kilometres to Eastern Europe to be with him for a whole month. At first, I was afraid that he would get exasperated after a while because, let’s face it – I am insane – and that I would end up on the street should we decide after a few days that we are not well suited. But that didn’t happen. If it’s anything, I fell even more in love with him. I felt so, so loved. We went on a road trip. We had so much fun. So here we are, in month 4 of 12 and I’m looking ahead, hoping that the love I feel doesn’t abandon, fail, betray or trick me as the days go by. Now, I’m not a fan of sugar-coating stories, we’ve had our disagreements and there are a few accounts that I’ve replied his texts with one-word answers. It’s terrible. I tend to forget that now, the things I do can affect not one, but two. And vice-versa. I’m learning how to be a good girlfriend, perhaps I never knew or I forgot. But I don’t really think about it too much because a pressure like that could break a relationship all in itself. I would like to believe that Michael loves me enough to look pass my fluctuating moods and melancholic episodes. For now, my craziness and his patience coalesce well enough for him to call me every night and for me to text him I love yous, I miss yous about 20,000 times a day. For now, I don’t need to think about forever. Knowing that we had yesterday, we have today and tomorrow is ours too, that’s all I need to feel happy and okay.
23 months is 700 days or so and that’s how long I’ve been running away from emotional commitment. I’ve been dodging it at all cost. I quite like the idea of sailing through the years single, with men for fun along the way. That makes me sound like a horrible person. But unexpectedly, at the height of my pessimism, negativity and doubts, I met Michael. On our second date, we had Thai dinner and talked about nothing that is now everything. We shared a hug at a street corner in Sukumvhit 11, he held my hand and did not let go for the next 3 days. But it wasn’t until we parted ways and I was waiting to board my flight back, I realised this man wasn’t simply for fun. I was half expecting him to stop texting me anyway. But he’s still here and here I am too, and I know it seems like I hopped from one man to the next and in a way I did but there was so much doubt and hesitation between. It’s not that I’m afraid of being alone, I didn’t date for two entire years to learn how to be alone but happily so. Michael was simply life happening when I’m looking the other way. I wasn’t searching for him. There is a serene rhythm in a space where our lives now intertwined. He is easy and he was easy to fall in love with despite my inner gloom and doubts towards relationship, I glide right into love with him. Wow, I’m in love. In love and shocked to even say that, to my Mom, to you and especially written down rather permanently here. So here’s what I’ve learned, love is like a breeze. You don’t go looking for it, you have to wait. And when it comes, it’s best to let it take you away. So, with my doubts simply as a shadow behind me and with a man better than any I’ve ever met, I say embrace the people that come your way. They very well could turn into perfection. You’ll never know if you say no.
Studies claim it takes 21 days to form a habit. I believe it. I’ve had so many in my life. It’s simply part of growing up. 21 days is how long I’ve known this man. Out of nowhere, he became a habit, like cigarettes, or my morning coffee, or me chewing on ice cubes. I never, ever anticipated this. After 2 loveless years and a series of dating disasters, I became weary, and pessimistic, and numb, and doubtful. I always expect the worst and nothing else. 21 days ago, he arrived unexpectedly and quite suddenly into my life. And 4 days later, on a whim, I packed a suitcase and travelled 740 miles to be with him. I went right ahead. I did not think. I liked him immediately and everything is a mess, not one on the floor, but the beautiful kind. I am carried away and I know that. Everything happened so fast and to be honest, I am scared. But one can never know now, can we, darling? So I won’t say no. But yes instead to the I love yous, I miss yous, let’s go away togethers, come meet my friends, come meet my parents and other whims. I am not an example to live by. I am just a girl who wants a grand story of a life, with many, many chapters. Roll your eyes, I don’t care. Life is short and it’s once and it should be nothing less than amazing. I hope you remember that. I hope you will too, give in to whims from time to time. Know that we are not as in control as we think we are. We can never know the magic that can happen between ourselves and other people. So, leave. Leave all apprehensions at the door and explore the limits of our inner beings.
Anxiety is an ache that I often feel a little too much. Some days I feel like I’m progressing, there is positivity, productivity and a confidence in what I can do. Other days, I spiral into a deep dark hole and I sink low, comparing myself to others. How terrible, right? Anxiety affects a lot of us, especially us woman and it is something that usually dissolves into uncertainty. So, in spirit of opening up here more, I just want to remind you girls of something, something that I need to be reminded of from time to time. Don’t believe everything you think. Thoughts are just that – thoughts. We swim with hundreds of different thoughts every day – and just like the books we read, the music we listen to, the clothes we put on – we choose what goes up in our brains. Choose what you believe. And, I can’t stress this enough, all we have is the moment – right now. Be mindful of that. Jump into the moment, live it! Do something real. Forget your e-mails, Facebook, Instagram for a few hours. You will feel better, you will feel more like you, and you are amazing! Anxiety, they come and go. Feelings come and go too. Our thoughts, are a flow that we can control – you are you, be you, enjoy you – appreciate all of you right now and every moment in between!
Perhaps this is an overshare. But whatever I spill here are true to how I feel. I suffer terribly from menstrual bloating. I look at myself in the mirror and I feel disgusted. Once a month I go from my usual size 32/6 jeans to elastic waistbands only. And every month it humiliates me, zaps my confidence down to zero and I will crawl into that dark place where I will call the upside-down (if you know where I got that from, I love you!). I feel uncomfortable in all my clothes and will usually do everything I can to stay home, alone. I secretly shuddered the last time the man I’m dating tried to touch me. Leave me alone! My mood is just terrible, the worst. It is borderline satanic. It is epic hard work being a woman, our hormones are total despot, capable of altering not only our moods but our body shape too. All of us, as women deserve trophies for dealing with that all the time, our entire lives. I hate it when boys think we’re over reacting and use period as an excuse to lash out incessantly. Shh, I say. You know nothing. It’s a monthly personal hell. And you know nothing. So, Shhh.
I hope you do at least one thing everyday that makes you feel happy. It sounds dumb, but it’s sincere all the same. Even the most silly things are important if it makes you happy, I hope you know that. Never ever, ever, ever feel ashamed at how you seek joy even if, to other people it seems like the most mundane of task. As for myself? I enjoy brewing my coffee in nothing but my undies in the morning. Curling my hair sitting cross legged on the floor in front of the mirror makes me happy. I like lying on the carpet in my room with all the windows wide open, and sometimes, I like to drink black coffee at midnight so I can stay up to watch foreign movies. Sitting on my sofa reading a new book is an incredible joy. There are so many small silly things around me that makes me smile. Don’t get me wrong, I too overindulge in melancholy, I do. Because sadness is a complicated one, layered like a mille-feuille and too easy to exaggerate. Perhaps, it was the intense, fun trip to Hong Kong last weekend that has evaporated all my gloom away and maybe, I grew an inch or two in emotional strength and found my way out. But I’m happy and even happier to be able to express that here. So here’s to me and here’s to you, I hope you do at least one thing everyday that makes you feel happy. You owe that to yourself. You owe it to life. Never ever forget that. Never ever forget all the silly things that make you smile. It is a crucial habit to your happiness.