I have so much to tell you and I’m feeling overwhelmed, so I’m just going to start where I am. Which is always the best way to start.
It is Wednesday, May 29th. I’m seated in the very cool and very swanky, newly-remodeled common space of our apartment building in North Hollywood. It’s quiet here. I’m surrounded by modern art, plants and gold light fixtures with pink-fringed trim. It works. I’m happy here.
Our apartment faces the courtyard where this space exists, and for months I’d stand at our window, watching while it was being renovated. I had big plans for this space, you see; as a freelancer, I needed my co-working space; as the founder of Brown Betties, I needed a space where I could do Be Your Own Bettie Workshops. I needed space to work! But this space was taking so long to get done. I’d always ask, “When is it going to be done? When?” “Why is it taking soooo long. Why?” And now that it’s done, I know it was worth the wait. But why should you care? Why am I telling you this? Analogy, my friends. Analogy.
Two weeks ago, while on vacation in Prague with Matthew, I was enjoying a sort of round-robin lunch with my international girlfriends, of whom I hadn’t seen since I’d left nearly two years ago. We were a hodgepodge of friends, women who had individually impacted my life in one way or another, but were now collectively seated together as one at a back table at Forrest Bistro, chosen more for it’s convenient locale in Vinohrady near Náměstí Míru, rather than anything else. It was my last day in Prague before continuing on our European vacation and I was saying goodbye, wrapping up what I hoped was a beginning to more moments together, when to my left I hear something like, “Peppur, you’ve changed my life…”
It was Matt. He looked like he was stuck trying to swallow a huge piece of cake. His face was getting red. His eyeballs were glossy. He licked his lips. He reached for my hand. “Lkshcyy, klakkjccy. lljaahakjyoya,” (That’s what I heard.)
And then he was down on one knee saying, “I wanted to do this in Prague, in a place that means so much to you, around your friends.”
Now, when I heard his low, shaky voice saying, “Peppur, you’ve changed my life…”, I felt something important was coming, because I’d heard the voice before when he asked my parents their permission to marry me. What I didn’t think was coming was a proposal in a little shop on a rainy day when my hair looked crazy. I truly was shocked and wished I’d done something else with my hair. While I knew my answer was always going to be ‘Yes’ whenever he decided to ask me, I couldn’t answer because I was so stunned it was happening. I kept thinking, “This is it. This is what it feels like! I’m being proposed to!”
I’d had anxiety about this moment. I’d wondered if he would do something publicly and I’d have to like, shriek with excitement in front of strangers, somehow putting on a show for others. I really was worried about this. I wondered how I would react and what I would do. What I did was stare at him like a crazy person which made him have to ask me again because I hadn’t said anything except, “Whaaaat? Here? NOW?!”
But as Matthew is pretty intuitive, the moment was perfect. I was surrounded by dear friends who loved me, the moment was intimate, public yet private and surprisingly, not a single Czech person in the restaurant noticed the engagement, which meant I only had my shrieking friends to (not) perform in front of.
You’ll remember that I’m not exactly the type of girl who was always wondering when she was going to get married. This hopeful event wasn’t as blaringly in the forefront of my future as it was to just simply get a boyfriend. But now that it’s here, it’s pretty fantastic.
I think so much about aaaaall of my journal entries in my late 20s all the way up to those in my early 40s where I was always asking, “Why am I alone?” or “Why didn’t he call me back?!” or “Why can’t I meet someone?” Oh my God. Over and over and over again. Asking. Crying. I got sick of my own broken record. But, instead of doing something to make real change, I’d just pick up the needle and play it again. Because, you know, easier.
During that time, I did discover one small reason for why I was alone. I learned that I was terrible at having a relationship, but I was an expert at looking for love in all the wrong places. I eventually created a webseries about it with my friend Morenike and I felt vindicated for awhile because I realized what I was doing wrong — I was going after and allowing in people who didn’t want me or the things I wanted. Repeatedly. But, doing the wrong thing inadvertently put me on the right track to love.
To get to that place, which is where I am now, I really did have to renovate myself. (Just like the co-working space, see?) I had to take inventory of what was working, what wasn’t and why. I had to shut it all down for a bit. I then had to consciously redesign myself into someone who was worthy of receiving love primarily because she now loved herself, pink fringe and all. That took a lot of freakin’ time and effort.
Luckily, I had a bit of a blueprint.
Over the past six years specifically, I’ve been surrounded by sister-girlfriends (the very same who threw me a surprise “Welcome Home You Got Engaged!” party last week) who have been leaders in becoming. They’ve shown the lot of us girls that it takes work to become who you want to be, who you want to attract and how.
Take my friend Kalia. She was often super social and the life of the party and I remember noticing a subtle shift where she wasn’t out as much; she was in — she went within herself and to her God and prayed for her person, and herself. She got clear and she got deliberate; she dated purposefully (ie, if she was on a date with someone who didn’t want to get married and have kids, then buh-bye). She waited, worked on herself and her someone came. It took awhile, maybe two years if I remember correctly, but it may have taken even longer if she hadn’t got to workin’.
For at least three years straight, my other friend Ronni was so incredibly clear with her intentions to find love, be partnered and get married. She is spiritual with the Universe and used that as her guidance. She tried new things, let go of old things and old people, and I think she even moved apartments as part of her self-renovation. Her words and actions were in line with her wants and desires. She calmed herself and those around us with her words; she ministered all of us as she ministered herself by having faith that the Universe would deliver with abundance, that her someone would come, and he did.
I was there along the way watching, taking notes and also cheering them on, because I wanted for them what they wanted for themselves and that’s what girlfriends do. Plus, their wins were wins for all of us.
For myself, I had to go within also. Hard. I knew the task of loving myself was a constant “To Do”. Dealing with self-doubt was another. When you live in Los Angeles, it’s not uncommon to be driving down Sunset Blvd and your actual real-life friend is there on a billboard advertising a new TV show. And you’re not. I had a lot of doubt about my worth that was wrapped up in my career wants and needs. I felt that I hadn’t succeeded in Hollywood and therefore didn’t have much to offer anyone else as I wasn’t offering much to myself. On top of that, I was emotionally and financially broke and that’s never a good place to be. I had to drop a lot of the clutter that was clogging my brain, downplaying my existence, depleting my energy and pulling me in too many directions that were leading to lots of unfulfilling nothing. That’s when I left LA for the Czech Republic.
When I was in Prague in 2015, lonely and in a place with language that couldn’t always soothe me, I had to find my own words. I started to tell myself stuff (“you is kind, you is smart, you is important”). I explored new places and things, I nurtured parts of myself that I’d neglected; I tried to meet new people and allowed them to show me who I was outside of and perhaps free from Los Angeles and all that this town can project on you. I began the renovation. I started to become.
This worked. I was feeling good, I was clear, I was direct with my wants and needs which, at the time – at age 45 – wasn’t love per se, but getting knocked up and being a mom. In 2017 I met someone. But then, I got a little desperate and accepted what that someone offered beyond what I was looking for. Actually…Hold up. I don’t know if I want to go down that road with those thoughts. I’m not going to call myself “desperate”; that’s mean. Instead of name calling, let’s look at actions. What I did was I ignored my instincts because I wanted something so badly. That’s more positive; I do believe you have to take risks when you are wanting something. I think you have to go outside of your comfort zone and you have to be willing to accept something that may not look and feel like you thought it would in order to get what you want. I did that (yay!), but I didn’t listen to my intuition (boo!) because I was coming from a place of fear rather than faith (preach!). If anything, I’d transferred my skills and I was looking for baby in all the wrong places. As you can guess, that relationship didn’t work out. BUT, it got me super-duper incredibly clear on what I wanted in my life: kindness.
So, I purposefully went after that as my next move. I asked myself, “Who has always been kind?”
The answer to that was Matthew.
So I went after him. We’d met way back in 2012 or so. Back then, I’d focused on what was different about us and what others would think about our differences; throw in the stuff I mentioned above and clearly, I wasn’t ready – for anyone. (If he had a blog, he’d share he wasn’t ready then, either.) Luckily, I knew he still had a crush on me, and that was all the confidence I needed in order to pursue, now that I’d gone through my upgrade and was outfitted with a deeper shade of maturity.
At the “Welcome Home You Got Engaged!” party, my friend Yvonne commented on how Matt and I are two people who have been on separate trajectories that finally came together.
Both trajectories involved personal growth and community that supported us along the way (#dontfuckthisupguys) so that we could concentrate on one another and not have to worry so much about other things. I felt like we’ve been in a cocoon sort of, and while the engagement is sort of a coming out, the strength and warmth and nurturing of our cocoon has gotten that much stronger due to the love of our community. It really is pretty cool.
This is one of the best feelings in the world and why I’m writing this post this way. I want everyone to feel this, that craves it and cries over not having it and doesn’t know how to get it.
I don’t have the type of answers that are offered in those other fun blogs with titles like, “Top 10 Reasons Why You’re Alone” or “5 Reasons Why You’ve Been Ghosted” or “3 Ways To Get Him To Marry you NOW!”.
What I do know is that there really is something to making space for someone and to taking the time to get to know what you really want and who you really are. Look within before you look out so that you’re not without. And, if necessary renovate.
One more thing. You’ve gotta believe that love is possible. This is not the part we journal about, at least I didn’t. I constantly journalled about the lack rather than the possibility of the abundance. There is a difference; Ronni showed me that and I’m hoping to carry on the torch here.