We’re engaged!

I’m sure a few of you giggled as you read my last post about changes. Those of you that were in on the secret, specifically. And for those of you who weren’t, I’ll clue you in. Just four days after I wrote that post, my guy and I got engaged!

It’s been such a whirlwind, and despite having told the proposal story just about 100 times, I’m still sort of in awe and disbelief. My fiancé (seriously not used to saying that yet) didn’t tell anyone how he was proposing – he knew I’d want to tell it (in “excruciating detail” to quote the man himself!). The detail on here isn’t going to be that severe – there are parts of it that I can’t even articulate. And I don’t want our day to lose its dreamy, intimate quality. But for those of you who are interested (and love proposal stories, like me!), here ya go.

Close girlfriends, I’ve borrowed a lot of this from the email I sent you, so it’ll sound familiar :).

F and I had plans to attend a belated Mother’s Day brunch with his family at the Central Park Boathouse. I’d been there once before for a wedding, so I knew it was really nice. My roommate told that people generally wear their “Sunday best” there, so I made sure to put on a bright summery dress (which, as you may know, is a far reach from my usual choice of neutral tops and jeans). 
We arrived at the park about 15 minutes before the reservation. F was playing it really cool the entire time, but for some reason I started getting the jitters the moment we walked in the park. He hadn’t said anything to give it away, and seemed really calm and collected, but I just couldn’t shake the feeling. About 5 minutes in, F’s sister called saying that the baby was being fussy and she had pushed the reservation back an hour. I told him we should just pick up some food and go over to their place, but he brushed off my suggestion saying it was a beautiful day and we’d just enjoy walk around and enjoy the weather. 
 
There’s an old building in Central Park that predates the park itself. On the top floor of this building (through this tiny square hole in the wall, and up a steep ladder) is a flat rooftop that overlooks the entire park, above tree level. It’s F’s favorite place in all of New York, and I had always wanted to see it. So he mentioned that since we had time to spare, we should go try and work our way up there. 
 
After a bit of a stroll, we arrived at building. The security gave us a bit of a hard time (even though F had planned everything and seen them the day before!), and then we were in the elevator. I couldn’t wait to see this place, having heard so much about it. Our first stop was on the 4th floor. We got off the elevator and walked past a ton of cubicles and through an open door onto a rooftop terrace/garden. It was really pretty and we could see all of the Central Park Zoo. F and I were standing there taking it all in and I turned to him and said “I really thought you were going to propose to me today, for some reason.” Again, he played it off really well and the thought totally left my mind. 
After a bit, we ventured up to the top. Through that small opening, and up that ladder. The view was totally breathtaking. Literally one of the most beautiful places that I’ve ever seen. There’s a book that sits up there, in a large mental casing, that everyone who’s ever been up to the roof has signed. So far, it’s only 200 or so pages in (it’s not open to the public, F’s cousin used to work to for the New York Parks Department, and hooked us up). We looked through the book and found the last time F had signed it in 2010 with his sister. It was really fun to see. I snapped a picture of it and then really wanted to sign for myself. He told me to flip to the last available page and sign. As he said this he dropped back a bit (I thought to take a picture), and I flipped to the first open page where he’d written  
WILL YOU MARRY ME?
 
The rest is sort of a blur. I know I spun around and saw him down on his knee. He had to tell me to “come here” a few times before I could even walk. His speech was beautiful and we were both pretty choked up. There was a ton of smiling/laughing/crying/hugging/omg-ing. It was the best moment of my life. 
 
And when I finally thought to look down at the ring, it was more beautiful than I could have imagined.
 
We took a few moments to catch our breath, and then had a little photo-shoot in the park. Our friend, and photographer for the day, Noeman, captured the moment beautifully. There isn’t a single “serious face” photo because neither of us could stop smiling. 
 
After our time in Central Park, F had invited our close New York friends to a restaurant, and we had a private party on the back patio. It was amazing to celebrate with everyone, especially those that knew us in college before we even met each other! There was a ton of champagne (and lots of gluten-free snacks!), toasts, pictures, etc.
We ended our day with the most wonderful dinner at Eleven Madison Park. We were there for four and a half hours, eating delicious food and drinking amazing wine. We recounted the entire day and just relished the moment. 
Image

And that was our day. We spent the following weekend in Ohio with our families, sharing the story and a few of the pre-edit photos. We’re still on cloud nine, just enjoying the engagement. Wedding planning will ramp up soon, though, I’m sure. For someone who used to love the idea of wedding planning so much, I have a shockingly vague idea of what I want. Needless to say, HAPPY to take any suggestions, sites to explore (esp for decor, personalized wedding websites domains etc.). Where do I start!?

Keep you all posted :)

Love,

AG

Advertisements

Things I Learned At My Birthday Party

I’m just coming off the (figurative) high from my birthday weekend. I still feel like my sister will be waiting for me on the couch when I get home, ready to go shopping (again), or eat something junky, or just talk. I still feel warm and (literally) fuzzy from having  all of my friends around. From smiling, and cheers-ing, and boozing, and eating sweets. Birthdays are so incredibly wonderful. Everyone deserves to feel that loved, even if it’s for one day a year (though the more the better, of course! Half birthdays, perhaps?).

But birthdays also always provide a huge moment of clarity. A yearly reality check, if you will. A good glimpse into the condition of your life, relationships, yourself. Here are 5 things I learn, every year, on my birthday.

1. Who my real friends are.

This year, I ended the night surrounded by my closest friends (minus a few who had to make early departures (or were forced to) & were out of town), outside Katz Deli, and then a Chicken & Rice cart. Laughing hysterically, snapping photographs, eating fries suggestively (why are there so many references to food already!?), and taking the occasional sip of Qui tequila (PLUG!) from the bottle I was cradling in my arms for the entirety of the late night. I also had a dance party with my sister as my poor poor roommate watched at approximately 4am. In the kitchen. Yes. It was that kind of night.

But these things change from year to year. Last year some people showed and others didn’t. Some people called and others didn’t. A Facebook message is never the same as a text which is never the same as a call. An e-card will never replace one that’s been handwritten. But some effort is always better than none! Even if it’s belated.

2. What my expectations of people are.

For some reason, people think that the world should stop, turn, and focus on them and them only, on their birthday. I can’t say I’ve never felt this way. In fact, on Saturday I found myself asking my sister to table a conversation because she was ” here for one night and it’s my birthday and I just want to have fun!” That’s not cool. The best way to have a good birthday is not to have expectations. Don’t let one person’s absence ruin your night. If someone wants to leave, let them. If you’re too sober, buy yourself a drink (for God’s sake!). I’m not saying you shouldn’t think your night will be fabulous – of course it will be – but fabulousness should be based on things you can control. Namely, not people. People have their own minds and their own lives and their own stories. You never know what happened to them before they arrived at your party. And that’s just it. It’s YOUR party, not theirs.

But if you really love someone, stay at their shindig as long as you can (or as long as you feel comfortable), don’t stand silently in a corner, even if you know no one, and smile to show them you’ve having a good time. Everyone’s biggest concern is that people won’t have fun at their birthday party. So all of these go a long way (a longer way than buying them a drink, I would say! Especially once they’ve had more than they can keep track of…). If you can’t make it, just let them know. They’ll understand! It’s likely that they’ve missed a birthday party in their day, too.

3. How I’ve evolved.

In college, I wanted my parties to be EPIC. And thanks to my amazing friends, they almost always were. Blue lighting, fishbowls, wall decals, speciality playlists, themes (Court, I’m talking to you!). They were quite literally the bomb.

This year, I didn’t want to do anything. Now this is almost equally bad. I didn’t want to be a Debby Downer (as you know from my last post, I love my birthday, and can’t wait to be 25), but I just wanted something small, intimate, cozy, comfortable. Namely, I didn’t want the pressure of inviting people, not having them show up, and then being sad – re how i’ve learned fabulousness must be based on things you can control. In the end, I was convinced otherwise. A smart friend told me that when the day came around, I would want it to be memorable and wonderful and at least marginally epic. So I invited friends to a bar. Not a club. A bar, where I knew people could sit if they wanted to, chat if that was their drunken thing, and still dance their butt off if they so desired. This “bar” ended up being sort of party-tastic (dark, crowded, bumpin’), but everyone had a great time. And it may not have been as massively epic as my college birthdays (none of the aforementioned lighting, etc…. Though I could probably argue that it was), but for me, it was memorable and wonderful and frankly, just what I wanted! That’s so much more than I could have asked for.

4. How much people actually love me / How lucky I am.

Isn’t it astonishing? The amount of love you feel on your birthday? The people who will go buck wild, jumping on and off the crazy train, just to celebrate you? Good Lord. It’s amazing.

This is why birthdays are the shit. Seriously.

5. How much I love certain people.

This should be relatively self explanatory. It’s a case of “IF YOU LOVE [IT/THEM] SO MUCH WHY DON’T YOU MARRY [IT/THEM]!?!” Well, I will. I will marry them. And I will use Blakey Lively’s perfect engagement ring to propose. To show them this is true love.

I also learned one more thing. I can’t quite mentally justify it needing its own paragraph, so I’ll just put it out there here. 6. How important it is to wear a really great outfit. And maybe get a good manicure.

Happy birthday to me!

AG

The Dawn of a Quarter Century

I’m so ashamed to say this. But I haven’t been writing at all the last few weeks. My pervious post was my last attempt at putting pen to paper (I wish this would still hold. Damn computers). Since then I’ve been having flings with all sorts of different books. Starting and abandoning quickly when I feel unfulfilled. I’ve been desperately seeking out some sort of inspiration, and coming up empty handed.

There have been enough distractions to keep my mind off it, though. Visitors, parties, lovely weather. And this isn’t the end of them. My sister pops into the city tomorrow for my birthday weekend, and next week I’m off to St. Lucia.

No complaints! Of course, all of these things are exceedingly wonderful and far more upbeat than bashing my head on my keyboard before bed, trying to squeeze articulate, eloquent, succinct prose from my brain.

So for now, I’m just going to let myself focus on these things. The writing will come. Or so I tell myself.

And perhaps these reflections are just a result of my impending 25th birthday. It’s my first big birthday since 21, a moment which revolved quite heavily around booze and clubbing (though I can’t say the subsequent ones didn’t pan out a bit like that…). This one feels different. Not because I suddenly feel like a sophisticated woman. I most certainly don’t and I wouldn’t want anyone to assume that. I still feel young. But this year, I’m ready, and rearing to go. 25 just seems like a good age, you know? I’m excited to be one year wiser, with more experiences under my (now classic and timeless) belt (remember those hideous chain belts people wore? That should be reserved for belly dancers and such?). I’m ready to be a little more trusted. A little more responsible. A little better at the things I do. That’s good stuff. And a lot of it just comes with time. So in this case, time is on my side.

Until I start getting wrinkles. Then we’ll be sworn enemies and I’ll bitch about time forever.

But for now, I’m excited! My 26th year of life is going to be a good one. A big one, I suspect.

XO,

AG

The Maturation of Heartbreaks

When people think about heartbreak, they almost immediately fall into the realm of romance. Having their stomach drop when they see their freshly estranged lover in an embrace, even if it’s casual and brought on by a few drinks, with a relatively attractive new friend. Passionately consuming old emails, unblinking, trying to re-imagine, for the hundredth time, what it felt like to be with them. Digging through dresser drawers and shelves with stacked clothes for something that may have retained the slightest scent. Or at least a strong memory that hadn’t been unearthed yet.

One should never undermine this sort of heartbreak, of course. For it’s the sharpest, and most enduring sort.

But there are other heartbreaks, too. And as life chugs along, they become more and more prevalent, and sometimes, comparably gut-wrenching.

Because it’s only appropriate that once one’s love life starts to settle down, the world finds other ways to keep them on their (now blue and battered) toes.

My number one cause for heartbreak of late has been friendships. It’s my own fault. I always approach things with the highest of high expectations, always believing that everyone will go above and beyond, pick me up when I’m down, and generally look out for me. This is ridiculous of course, because everyone has to look after themselves, first and foremost. And I, as an adult woman, should have realized that quite some time ago.

And so I find myself frequently burned. And heartbroken. And taken advantage of. And seriously confused.

The same way I felt when I was 13 and the boy I liked didn’t like me back. A lingering feeling of crushed.

I’ve realized that friendships change as people grow. I’ll never have those quixotic-type friendships again.  I’ll never feel that symbiotic, mutual reliance that makes friendships flourish. I’ll never trust in the same way. I’ll never put anyone before myself (with the exception of family). I’ve learned my lessons and know that while walls are a bit too opaque, a translucent glass shield should always exist. And I should always be prepared to retreat behind it, if only for a bit.

That way, next time, at least I’ll have preserved myself from the get-go. And I can sit back and say I knew it was coming. Because a blindsided heartbreak is the absolute worst sort.

But no big deal. This will be better for all of us.

(Shield up.)

AG

The Nature of Missing

I’ve talked places before. The places I’ve been, lived, loved, stayed, left, and currently gallivant around. And what has made these places special. Or memorable.

Being a serious and chronic homebody, homes have always held a special place in my heart. I’m the type to miss streets, grassy knolls, coffee shops, and 25 cent ice cream. I miss the feeling of the carpet in my pre-teen room, the scent of our kitchen when I arrived home from a long (ha!) day at school, calls on the landline phone, dark nights on our deck, my mom’s cold coffee, all my backyards. And there are times when I yearn for those things. I miss them so intensely, it’s like someone I love has been tragically ripped from my life. Dramatic, I know.

And then I realize. That’s exactly why we miss. Because places and things wind themselves so tightly with the people who bring them to life.

My dad sent me a picture of our old house in Chicago last night, and my reaction was so visceral, I sort of choked. I had a lump in my throat and my eyes started to burn. I know how much he misses it (the picture was accompanied by an “I miss it,” and from my emotionally contained dad, that’s saying a lot), and that made me miss it, too. It made me want to jump back to a time and a place where we were all together. And even though, at the core of my sadness, I missed my family, I wanted to BE in that house. It was a funny partnership there, between missing people I love, and missing the places where I’ve loved them. Maybe that’s why people say “Home Sweet Home,” or “Home is Where the Heart is.” Maybe that’s why I’m always Homesick.

I’m sure this is how I’ll feel about New York one day (assuming I ever leave, because how many times have we all been told, “leave New York when you have kids!”). The dirty, filthy subways. The tiny apartments. The excruciatingly long work-nights. I just know how much I’ll miss it all. But not because I enjoy the New York smog, or the stench, or the closet-less bedrooms (good Lord, you can’t believe how difficult it makes life!). I’ll miss the moments, with the people. Riding the subway home with my boyfriend after a fun night out. Watching hour upon hour of girly (and frankly, pre-teen) television with my roommate. Having an unbelievably wide-eyed, fascinating, must-absorb-every-word conversation with colleagues. It’s those moments, with those people, that ultimately make a place so irresistible. So hard to leave. Especially a place like New York.

 

AG

My First New York-iversary

Considering that this year has been so inspired, I feel ironically uninspired while setting out to write this.

Maybe it’s because New York has now become my life. The novelty of living here has worn off, and although there are still moments when I stop in my tracks, and look up at the skyline in awe, most days I’m still tired in the morning. I don’t always have a hop in a step. I don’t always feel like spending 30 minutes choosing an outfit to look like a fashionable New Yorker. I gawk every time I receive my rent bill. And I’m still disappointed that my life, somehow, hasn’t ended up like an episode of Friends.

Living in New York is nothing like I had imagined. Of course, I’ve always been the idealistic type, imagining the figurative next step as something grand, idyllic, romantic, literary. Built up and written down through expectations set through the media, New Yorkers, and society in general. The Greatest City in the World, they all say.

And sometimes it is. It is the greatest city. The greatest city with the greatest food, the smartest people, the prettiest places, the toughest days. A city in which challenges abound.

I don’t love New York for New York’s sake. I don’t love it because of the cool places, or the museums, or the cocktails, or the shopping, or the Jake Gyllenhaal sightings, or the macaroons, or the pizza, or the rooftop bars  (though these are all seriously wonderful).

I love it because of what it’s done for me. It has tested my limits, taught me the importance of good people, and helped me understand the value of a real career — one that brings passion & excitement back into every day. It has made my relationships stronger, my confidence steadier, and my skin thicker. It’s helped me realize that when you find someone you love, you stick with them, because they really are one in a million.

And although I miss being closer to my family, my cozy (and unrealistically large) Chicago apartment, and the lovely feeling of the Midwest, I am pretty damn proud of myself for making it here (especially without getting kicked to the curb at work or going broke).

Here are some of my favorite memories from the last year.

Attending the US Open with BF

Bike Rides and Picnics in Central Park

Mornings at BBH New York

Afternoon Viewings at BBH New York

Birthdays Experiencing Sleep No More

Christmas-time Walks (and SantaCon HA)

Pizza Party Birthdays

Eating Macaroons with K

Soaking up the view form my first NYC apartment

Highline Funs with the Sis

St Patty’s Day with the Cuz

New York Art Crawl

Tribeca Film Festival

Boat rides on the Hudson with favorites

Rekindling Best Friendships

It’s been a doozy of a year.

XO,

AG

 

When Your Little Sister Is Cooler.

I remember when I was the cool sister. My little sis would always want to sit with my friends and I in the basement of our house on Winston Lane. We would all play Dance Dance Revolution, watch scary movies, or talk about those outside our crew, and even though Sis couldn’t wrap her head around half of our conversations, she was always there.

My parents used her as a chaperone. Anytime I was alone with a boy, there she’d be. Right around the corner. Striking up conversation, or claiming that we were listening to her favorite song; watching her favorite movie. What she never knew, though, is I always wanted her there. In fact, once I asked her, directly, to meet her friend for dinner at the same place I had a “date” – just in case I needed to glance over and make eye contact for a bit of reassurance.

Even though she was five years younger, I spilled my heart and soul to her every night. We sat awake in my full size bed and I told her about my crushes, my heartbreaks, my classes, my blogs (yup, had them back then too – Xanga anyone?). We used to cut pictures from dated Bollywood magazines that our family had brought over from India during their last visit, and make huge collages on that 25 cent poster board you could get around the corner. We made customized shorts (PHS, MYH), had photo-shoots, ate like the world’s biggest famine was about to hit any day, and were inseparable.

Her new version of the good old Bollywood collage

And, even though I now have my doubts, at the time I definitely thought I was the cool one.

Now, I know better. She’s the one that can pull of the straw bowler hats, the hot pink tattered jeans, studs, those dresses with the stomach cut outs (I would have to wear a poncho over it to ever feel comfortable in one of those). She’s the one that used Crackle nail polish before anyone else (I never used it once). She has the attitude, the strength, and the wit to whip any situation in her favor. And although I’m still her big sister, and may maintain a strong sense of big-sister-rationality, the ability to think practically, and the skills to help tame the occasional emotional hurricane, sometimes I can’t believe how much I have learned and continue to learn from her.

We’ve had a very blessed life, as a family (knock on wood). But my mom’s one complaint with her life is that she never had a sister. She sees the relationship between my sis & I and can’t believe what she’s missed out on. Luckily as we’ve gotten older, we’ve developed an amazingly close relationship with mom, too, but nothing (seriously, nothing) can beat having a sister.

Love you, sis!

AG