Friday, December 31, 2010

As the ball drops...

Dear Readers,

Please forgive me for I have sinned. It has been fourteen days since my last blog post.

The holidays are a time to be with the ones you love. I, for one, always took this to mean a romantic sort of love. The kind where your boyfriend / fiance / spouse showers you with gifts and attention, plies you with alcohol, conspires against your ridiculous family with you, snuggles you by a crackling fire, makes you breakfast in bed, and kisses you at midnight. Songs such as "I'll Be Home for Christmas" and "Baby, It's Cold Outside" perpetuate my frustration at not having someone to share these moments under the mistletoe. On long, freezing winter days when I'm stuck outside shoveling heavy, wet snow, digging out my car and trying to locate my front steps, I yearn for a sweet, warm body to go inside with, sip hot chocolate, and take an afternoon nap.

I guess I thought that this project would lead me to sharing these experiences with a tall, dark and handsome man (or in my case, not a midget, dork and moderately good-looking). I assumed that by dating as many people as I could in one year, I would find my knight in shining armor. Failing that, I'd at least meet someone NORMAL. I always assumed that 100 Cups of Coffee would have the Hollywood ending that you and I have been hoping for. Now here's the truth...

When discussing my disappointment with a dear friend, he pointed out to me that I'm doing exactly what I set out to do. I cried that I thought the project would be over by now, that I would've met someone amazing, that we'd be riding off into the proverbial sunset together. But that, he gently pointed out, was never the goal. The goal was to go out on 100 dates. Meet new people. Try different things. Expand my horizons. Get out of my comfort zone. Open myself up to the possibilities I never considered before. And I am doing ALL of those things!

I refuted this statement (half-heartedly) by claiming that I never REALLY wanted to go out on 100 first dates. It's exhausting! Getting to know all these people, their in's and out's, what makes them tick, finding out their interests, hobbies, family life, favorite radio stations. I could be running a small company by now with all the intel I gathered! Leave it to a woman to start out dating and end up taking over the world! Yet he just laughed and said that when I set my mind to something, I'm the girl to go out and DO IT. If I wanted to be exceptionally choosy, meet the man of my dreams and marry him right away, I probably would have. But that was never the point. Thus I have taken a holiday break from the crazies and losers but starting in the New Year, I can guarantee you I'll be back with a passion.

Through this year, I have discovered a lot about myself. I know so much more about me, dating, what I want, what I don't want, what I'm willing to settle for, and what I can't live without. I know what qualities I need in a partner and what constitutes a deal breaker for me. I have found exceptional strength in having to walk away from people I truly cared about and gained confidence when I felt I was making the right decision. I have made new friends. You, the readers, have been more supportive and caring that I could've possibly imagined. I've given away some great goodies and have even more amazing prizes planned for 2011. I couldn't think of a more fortunate life than being able to write full time nor a more satisfying dream than seeing my name in print. Just knowing that this blog, my insane dating life, these words have touched each of you somehow is an amazing gift for me and all I could hope for this year. So I have revised my holiday outlook.

The holidays are indeed a season to spend time with the people you love. This love is formed in friendships, old and new, family ties, and acquaintances you may have never met but care so deeply about. It is a time to perform random acts of kindness, surprise someone just to see the smile on their face, and give generously expecting nothing in return. I might not have kissed anyone under the mistletoe or at midnight on New Year's Eve (there's still time!) but the love I feel is overwhelming from every angle.

Wishing you all a LOVEly New Year!

~Kimberly Spice

Friday, December 17, 2010

No Guarantees

September 5th, 1995

My first day at a new high school. First period, Global Studies. I have a nun as my teacher for the first time in my life. I'm wearing a button down white shirt, pleated gray skirt, stockings and loafers. My blonde hair is long and straight with thick bangs. I am nervous and have no friends yet. The teacher asks us all to open our textbooks but I don't have one so the girl sitting at the desk in front of me turns around to share hers. Sister History Teacher begins calling on people to read the chapter out loud and suddenly, I hear a shy, angelic voice from across the room. He reads aloud a paragraph about World War One and while I could not tell you who started that war or the years it was fought, I could tell you exactly what he looked like that day: dark blonde hair curling slightly in front of his face, same white button down as me, gray pants (lucky boys!) and the sweetest face I've ever seen. I stared at him long after his turn to read was over and when the bell rang, I asked the girl in front of me what his name was. She said B_____ and offered to introduce me. I had my first girlfriend!

Turns out he ran track, swam, sang, and was in all honors classes. We caught up with him in the hallway and she said "B, this is my new friend Kim. Why don't you show her around to her next class. Poor girl is lost!" Thus began a second friendship that has lasted fifteen years.

I think back to that day and how different it might have been. What if my lame ass school district had bothered to provide me with a textbook? I never would've had to share DJ's, thus sparking our conversation. What if the teacher hadn't called on B to read that day? I never would've heard his voice or looked twice at him. For while he was then (and is now) very good looking, he doesn't carry himself with the confidence that attracts a lot of attention. Still, the chain of events led to us becoming very good friends, one of only a small handful of people I've never lost contact with, nor had to reconnect with on facebook.

I will say this: Facebook is amazing for bringing you back to the people you missed in your life but there's something extra special about those you never lost touch with. Friends you counted on all the years between then and now. I count these people amongst my highest blessings.

Anywho, nothing much happened between us in high school. Sure, we always flirted and it seemed like we were forever on the edge of something happening but the timing was always off. Once, in junior year, he told me that he wanted to kiss me and we should meet by the theatre after school. I spent eight periods in absolute angst when I finally spilled the beans about our first kiss plan to DJ during gym class. She looked crest fallen and admitted to having a crush on B for the last three years. Of course, I didn't kiss him that day out of loyalty to my friend but the next several weeks, it got harder and harder to see him in class without feeling like I'd missed out on something amazing.

Senior year we had another "almost but not quite" moment. The Overnight Retreat to Shelter Island is the big event for the Senior class and we were all super excited to go. Thirty-two boys & girls on one bus, headed away together for the weekend? Let's just say hormones were raging. Yes, we had religious chaperones and separate sleeping quarters and they made us do stupid things like hug trees and write letters to our older selves, but that trip was primarily about who was dating whom. I had a mega-crush on a boy we'll call C and we were both on the trip. It had been intimated that we'd make some sort of move to get together that weekend. (I had the notes from math class to prove it!) We walked on the beach together collecting shells, feeling the sand beneath our toes, playing tag football with friends and snuggling by the fire indoors. Yet when it came time for us to declare our "like" for each other, B stepped in and told C he had major feelings for me. Again, not wanting to disrespect his friend, C backed off, leaving me still single and waiting for my Prince Charming to sweep in.

Despite B saying he felt strongly about me, he never made a move. I have very cuddly pictures of us together from junior prom, senior prom, ring night, a whole bunch of theatre performances, and various graduation parties. Not once during all those times did he attempt to kiss me. It was extremely frustrating! I have always reasoned with myself that it was for the best though, because our friendship might not have endured the last decade and a half had we been romantically entwined. My guy friends mean the world to me, not because they were some fleeting romance all those years ago, but because each of them have always been true gentlemen around me and treated me like a princess.

Funnily enough, this is the first time in fifteen years that B and I are single at the same time. I got married right out of college and he dated someone seriously for the last four years. They only just split six weeks ago. Needless to say, the hurt is still very fresh and I've been trying to stay as supportive a friend as possible, while still giving him room to grieve. We've always been the kind of friends to hang out and do things together like go to the movies, play pool, go bowling, head to a party, have dinner. He comes to see all of my improv performances in the city and I go to his musicals on the island. A few weeks ago, he invited me to a hockey game and we had so much fun! I was therefore not surprised when he asked if I wanted to go see American Idiot with him on Broadway last weekend. He had an extra ticket and theatre is my passion so of course I wanted to go!

Let me rephrase: His ex-girlfriend bought tickets for his thirtieth birthday a few months back with the intention that they would see it together. I was technically taking her place. Awkward! In his defense, he told me that I was the third choice of companion. He'd asked each of his brothers if they wanted to go but neither one could. Enter Kim!

He asked her first if she was cool with me going and the response was "Sure, that's cool. Just do me a favor. If you guys live happily ever after down the line and get married and have babies and stuff...don't count this as your first date cause that would be really weird!"

Well, Green Day isn't known for their romantic ballads so I don't think we'll be choosing our wedding song from them. Yet I can't help wondering why that thought would even cross her mind?

I consulted the wisest person I know: my friend Shari. Her thoughts were that we are really cute together, very natural, completely sweet. We're snuggly and comfortable and have lots of shared history. He's pretty much got his head on straight and his ducks lining up. He's stable and secure and generous and kind and considerate and good looking and talented and smart. Why wouldn't I like him?

Oh crap. Is she right? Am I falling for a friend? I mean, it makes sense and we are great together but he broke up with a girl he loved only six weeks ago. That is not enough time to recover and I am no one's rebound. I also don't want to be counted amongst the twenty-two year old floozies guys my age tend to "date" after a break up. He is, of course, not ready for another relationship nor is that what I'm looking for right now. I have at least eleven more guys to date until this "project" is over and I can get my head around things. Is this a case of bad timing or general stupidity? Why does it feel like high school all over again?

B & I sat down to talk about this situation honestly where he admitted he'd always liked me but that now was not a good time for him to start anything serious (Thank you, Captain Obvious!!!) He's afraid that if we tried something and it didn't work out, he'd be devastated about losing my friendship.

Here's the thing about that: if we dated and it didn't work out, yes, it would be awkward. If we dated and it did work it, yes, it would be fantastic. So what chances are we willing to take? I can't promise that things will go our way. I can't promise that one or both of us won't get hurt. I can't promise that this won't end really awkwardly. There are no guarantees in relationships or in life. My ex husband promised to love me forever in front of all of our family and friends...until one day, he didn't anymore. It's always sad when relationships end and people break up (ok, it's mostly sad. There are some couples you're just waiting to jump up and cheer for when it's finally over!) Yet the question remains: what risks are you willing to take in the name of Love?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Coffee To Go, Part Two

Why I drove 600 miles to get my picture taken


The deep fried lobster chapter

In 1999, something magical happened. I went to the prom. No, not my prom (that was in 1998) but a friend's prom. We'd dated in the summer of '97 and he asked if I would go as his date. Always up for a good time and having a beautiful emerald green dress on hand, I said yes. I met a group of people there that I became very friendly with very quickly. I got closest to one girl in particular. When her boyfriend tickled her in the limo, her dress strap popped off! Oh the horror! We ran around the Marriott Marquis in search of a sewing kit before the prom started and I fixed her dress, no problem. Surviving such disasters brings people closer together. Alright, I know it's not like we made it through an earthquake or anything, but trust me, at 18, your dress popping open in Midtown is considered an emergency.

A decade later and we're still in touch. Sure, we've seen our share of rainbows and storms. Life has happened to both of us. She's married now to one of those high school friends and they have a beautiful little boy together up in Cape Cod. She started her own family photography business in their gorgeous neck of the Massachusetts woods and I went to visit in the hopes of having a fabulous photo of myself taken. I was by no means disappointed.

From the moment I got there, it was tea and girl talk. We hugged like old friends do and somehow, the time we hadn't seen each other faded into the background. It was as though we'd had pizza and gossip all the yesterdays before. There's a comfort in hanging out with people who knew you back when you barely knew yourself. Sharing inside jokes that only someone who was at a certain party in the year 2000 would find funny. Hearing about how her world has changed by becoming a wife and a mother. Knowing that your paths are different but the connection is still strong. I felt incredibly blessed to sit at her kitchen table, overlooking acres of dense wooded hills, watching her son play, thinking about how far we've both come.

We did have serious business to get down to and once her wonderful husband came home from work to hang out with the toddler, we wandered into the woods to take some photos. I have this dream that one day, my books will be published and I am in dire need of a fabulous picture of myself. I'm more often behind the camera than in front of it, so I enlisted the help of a professional for the shot. The first thing she did was make me crouch down in a field of wildflowers at sunset. Yes, I know how that sounds. But I'll tell you something - the very first picture she took of me is still my favorite!

She made me do other ridiculous things like lie down in the grass, hide behind some tall wheat stalks, and hug trees. I climbed up on rocks, straddled logs, and played peek-a-boo behind some ginormous branches. Everything I felt stupid doing in person (while she told me dirty jokes to get *real* smiles out of me) looked incredible on film. I shall not doubt her professional methods again!

We worked up quite an appetite in the Autumn dusk so we trudged back to the house to collect her husband and kid. I would like to add at this point that if all my friends were married to such kind, funny, caring, considerate, hard-working, generous men as she is, I would be VERY happy being a bridesmaid in all of their weddings. He's the kind of guy you just can't pick on (well, maybe except for his comic obsessions and video game playing - but I think that's more the rule than the exception!)

We packed ourselves into the car with their toddler listening to Jack Johnson on my iPhone. I've pretty much cemented my title in his mind as Aunt Music. The boy will probably never know my name. He'll just look at me and point to my phone for more music. Somehow, I'm ok with his. Whatever makes the kid happy.

They took me to their favorite little seafood place which closed for the season only a week after we were there. The restaurant was literally next to the Coast Guard station so of course, I took a picture and sent it to my brother! Inside, I ordered deep fried lobster and french fries which came with clarified butter. If my personal trainer is reading this, please accept my deepest apologies on behalf of my arteries. I am more than a little ashamed to admit that I dipped both the lobster and the fries into the butter and IT WAS GOOD!!!

Pretty sure my cholesterol level will not forgive me for that meal well into the next decade, but totally worth it!

You know those moments when you look around at the people next to you and think: I am so lucky! This was one of those moments. Ever since these friends moved four hours north, I haven't realized just how much I missed spending time with them until this take out dinner right now! We talked and laughed and they even tried to set me up with one of his hot co-workers who lives in Salem. I am totally ready to move to New England for a gorgeous Patriots fan (Sorry Jets peeps!) They even took a quick picture of me with the camera phone and texted it to him. Amazingly, it's a total cleavage shot. Completely unintentional, but couldn't hurt my chances!

We spend the rest of the night eating cheesecake around the kitchen table, teasing each other about old times, and scrolling through my online profile. They both laughed uncontrollably at the messages from The BirdMan of Bergen and threatened to disown me if I actually agreed to a date with him! I snuggled into the guest room for a peaceful night's sleep and in the morning, my girlfriend and I hit the beach for one more photo shoot before I got back on the road.

This time, I did everything from walking barefoot in the sand to laying down on the boardwalk (another boob shot!) My favorite moment came when a VERY cute fisherman was walking past as she had me hanging my feet over the edge of the wooden walkway. He stopped and asked us if this was an official modeling contract, if he'd violated some sort of set. We giggled and she snapped a couple photos of me next to him. Then he looked right at me and asked "Do you want to hold my pole?"

Ho. Ly. Crap. You can't make this stuff up!

He walked away, shaking his head in disbelief that those words had actually come out of his mouth when she shouted after him "This is Kimberly and she's single!!!" He laughed and I blushed and we ran back towards the car. Before we got in though, I left him a note (his was the only other car in the parking lot) that said "Hope to run into you on the beach again sometime. You seem like a great catch!"

Yes, I know how cheesy it was telling a fisherman he was a great catch. And no, in case you're wondering, he hasn't called.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Coffee To Go, Part One

This is the story of how I took 100 Cups of Coffee on the Road


Why I drove 600 miles in one week for Red Velvet Cake Bites, deep fried lobster, and popcorn

Let me begin by saying that in the fifth grade, my teacher assigned everyone in our class a pen pal. This was some random kid in another school across the country that we would exchange letters with every week. I looked forward to these letters with so much enthusiasm, even though I'd never met the little girl writing them. I adore getting mail and as a kid, you really only receive birthday cards from your aunts and if you're lucky, postcards from bunkmates at summer camp (and even those peter out once fall starts and they go back to their school friends.)

About a year ago, my ex-boyfriend's new wife found me on facebook and we chatted a few times. She's really nice and they have the cutest little family together. While he will always be my first love, he is her Prince Charming and I'm incredibly happy for them. She started reading my blog and commenting on the posts. To this day, she has not missed one single entry. The girl knows how long it's been since I last wrote. She looks forward to waking up every morning and reading about my dating disasters with her (actual) cup of coffee. It's part of the routine and if she goes too long without a posting, I WILL hear about it!

This has never happened to me before. I was shocked by how fiercely loyal, supportive, encouraging, and kind this woman was seeing as we'd never met in person. She quickly became my pen pal, my confidante, and my true friend. I could tell her anything and vice versa. We'd commiserate about Dancing with the Stars (really, HOW did Bristol get so far???) and share our shock over Grey's Anatomy (did anyone see last season's finale coming? I didn't!) We'd even swap stories of what we were baking and taunt each other with the delicious smells of our respective kitchens. This is girl heaven!

We eventually took our relationship to the next level. I sent up birthday gifts for the children and she sent me a gorgeous plaque for my office wall. It hangs just above my computer every day as a reminder of why I'm writing this blog. Soon, we started texting and she's programmed into speed dial on my iPhone. One day, I needed to get the hell out of dodge and planned a road trip up to see some friends in Massachusetts and my little brother. I asked if I could stop over to spend time with her (and her husband). She was thrilled and excited. I'd been a little nervous to ask cause it felt like a first date but she was as warm and welcoming as ever.

I insisted I did not need anything fancy, I'd live on cheese and crackers for dinner. She scolded me that her children eat a balanced, nutritional meal and I would too! Wow, sorry mom!!! When I arrived (after six hours instead of four) she had roasted a freakin turkey with three vegetables on the side. Oh. My. God. Not only is she raising a pre-schooler and a one year old while being pregnant with baby number three, but she cooked a holiday feast and had dessert in the freezer.

If you'll excuse me, I need to go feel inadequate now!

Yet she didn't make me feel small at all. I busted out more gifts for the little ones (books of course) and she gave me a tin of her homemade red velvet cake bites. After dinner, I made us tea and when the kids went to bed, we swapped stories of lives lived abroad. We snuggled up into opposite ends of the couch and watched Dancing on tv while eating ice cream. (She remembered my favorite kind of ice cream from a blog post. Hello Stalker!!!)

All in all, it was the most comfortable, wonderful evening I could've spent with any one of my girlfriends.

When her husband came home after a very long day at work, he was a little taken aback to find both of us relaxing in the living room. He joked that it was like the Axis of Evil, two very smart women in the same room. We all chatted for a while and after she went to bed, he and I stayed up til four in the morning just catching up.

I know what you're thinking. She went to bed and left him alone with a girl he used to date until four am??? But it's not like that. You see, they have such a profound respect for each other and their marriage that there was NO chance of anything awkward happening. They trust each other implicitly because they both know the other would simply never break that trust. Never. No chance. No way. No how.

This is a foreign concept to me. I am an inherently skeptical and suspicious person. I have a very jealous nature. Yet she just wished us both good night and sailed upstairs with nary a worry in her mind. Someday, I aspire to be like them.

As much as it pains me to say it (because I've always been the wiser of us two) he made some very good points that night. With respect to my dating life, he suggested that I was going about things the wrong way. I was looking at this whole process with a defeatist attitude. That I might be better served by being a little more selective in whom I date, thus rendering me with better outcomes. While that is true, the purpose of going out with a hundred guys is to say yes to as many people as possible. It's about finding out who I want to date and who I definitely DON'T want to date. (You can argue that I've found more Don'ts than Do's!) Yet he assured me that I am a smart, beautiful, funny, outgoing girl (I'm still 16 in his mind) with a lot to offer and that I'll make an amazing wife someday. I just need to find the right husband.

Wow, dating advice from a boy who broke my heart fourteen years ago. It's like an episode of the Twilight Zone.

Sadly, I know he's right and he bet me $10 that I'd be in a serious relationship by this time next year on one condition: that I stop actively looking. No more dating losers because it's funny. No more charity cases. No more going out with guys who aren't worth my time. I'm just supposed to let it happen.

So if anyone knows a cute, available, normal single guy, please let me know and I'll text you my location. This way, we can run into each other accidentally on purpose. I'll share my $10 with you!!!