Is this thing on? Should I dust off this keyboard? Are any of you....still here? Still listening? Still occasionally poking your head in the doorway to see if anything has changed? Or is it just as I feared? An empty room where my lone voice is now echoing? Or perhaps I wanted an empty room all along? A place where I could feel less pressure and fewer eyeballs on me? Whew, there I go again. Asking a million questions before I even start.
So let's do it. Let's just...start.
To be honest, I've thought about drafting this post many times, months ago. And like most things that make me anxious, nervous or just plain scared, I put it off. The longer I put it off, the more I kept telling myself, "Surely, you have other things that need to be done." Which, to be entirely fair to myself in a moment of indulgent self defense, isn't necessarily untrue. I've been busy. Or maybe a better way to describe it is a hybrid of busy and distracted — a frantic dance of staying busy to keep up with the distractions of...oh, where is that elephant in the room...ah yes, there she is hiding in the corner: social media.
Before we continue, I know what you're thinking. "Another content creator complaining about social media?" Trust me, I'm rolling my eyes at myself right now, too. I've written about my problematic relationship with social media many times so I'll spare you the tiny violin solo, but for anyone who also struggles with social anxiety to the extent I do, perhaps today's post might hit home for you. Or at least make you feel a tiny bit less alone in the never ending scrolling of 7 second videos that convince us we need to be everything and everyone, all the time.
It hit me hardest when we were in Italy this past summer. Somehow, surrounded by olive groves in the morning, Renaissance masterpieces in the afternoon and all the pasta and gelato I could muster each night, I couldn't shake a sense of mourning. A mourning for a parallel version of my life that looked and felt and smelled and tasted like mine, but one that wasn't beholden to social media in the same way. One that didn't look at a beautiful village corner and immediately think of a video idea. One that didn't automatically pull out a phone or a camera to capture the moment before the moment even happened. One that didn't obsess over how to overshare a vacation while simultaneously making it look effortless and inspiring. And one that definitely didn't spend inordinate amounts of time worrying about an opaque algorithm's effect on my self-worth as a creative.
In a very "Everything Everywhere All At Once" multiverse kind of way, I kept seeing glimpses of this other Krystal actually experiencing her vacation first hand, while my Krystal was only experiencing it second hand, afraid to let moments go without capturing them somehow to share on the internet later.
This feeling wasn't new for me. This feeling has been growing for quite some time now. I suppose that trip was the first time I saw that other Krystal very clearly and instead of indifference or curiosity, I was envious of her.
Now, I realize in the scheme of things, how obnoxious this all sounds. There are bigger problems in the world. Much bigger. And my inability to separate work and personal life is low on the totem pole of things that truly matter. So I tried to do what any sane, rational person might do when they need perspective. I decided I needed to lighten my load. Take a break in the ways that I could.
Hence, my silence here on the blog.
Perhaps that seems counterintuitive, especially when you consider how active I've been elsewhere on the internet. But as someone who loves to spend time on her writing in an age where we give less and less of our time to reading in general, it felt like the biggest weight to offload in a sense. I focused my energy on the platforms that pay my bills and I tried to disconnect beyond that. I set out to free up as much headspace as I could to try to figure out what I actually wanted to fill my headspace with. (Spoiler: the jury is still out on that one but it fluctuates wildly between moving upstate to renovate an old barn and moving to Tuscany and opening a flower/book and antique shop.)
The point is perhaps best summed up in this Austin Kleon quote I stumbled across some months ago: "Creative people need time to just sit around and do nothing. I get some of my best ideas when I'm bored, which is why I never take my shirts to the cleaners. I love ironing my shirts-it's so boring, I almost always get good ideas. If you're out of ideas, wash the dishes. Take really long walk. Stare at a spot on the wall for as long as you can. As the artist Maira Kalman says, 'Avoiding work is the way to focus my mind.'"
For over the past decade, I've been very good at filling all my waking hours with productivity. Hustle culture: the calling card of any millennial, right? And with the advent of social media necessitating so much of our attention spans to remain relevant and highly ranked in an algorithm, I needed to release some of the mounting pressure I was putting on myself to keep everything running all the time. And this space, as much as I loved it, was a strain I just couldn't juggle anymore.
I needed time back so I could be bored again. Boredom! Sweet boredom!
The only tricky thing about seeking boredom as a recovering workaholic? It doesn't come naturally. And it takes a great deal of unlearning. Many months in and I'm still unlearning. But the point isn't to demand progress. It's to encourage small habits.
Case in point: A few weeks ago, Ty and I stayed at our friends' Courtney and Eric's house in upstate New York, while they were out of the country. It was the first time since our trip to Italy where we had been in a house with lots of open space to just relax, read, make meals in a kitchen larger than ours (for the record, that's not hard to beat) and play with our puppy Etta in the backyard. A previous version of Krystal may have jumped at the chance to create a ton of content in her new environment and I'd be lying if I didn't give in to her once or twice. But for the most part? We leaned into our boredom. We watched the snow fall. We talked about life plans. We slept in. We made coffee and instead of sipping it while looking at phones, I watched out the windows for groups of deer and the occasional bunny to pass by. And generally, lost track of time. As you can imagine, it was wonderfully not productive and I felt amazing afterward.
Tap, tap, tap...is this thing on?
Well if it is and you're still here reading this rambling, poorly written update — this is my very long winded way of saying, I've been reflecting and reveling in my own boredom lately and wanted to check in to say: I miss you. I miss writing out my longwinded thoughts, even if they don't really make sense sometimes. I miss flexing this part of my brain. I miss finding solace in long form content. I miss connecting over shared Stories. I miss planning photoshoots. I miss the pace of this community. I miss this space.
I won't pretend to have a slew of prepared blog posts ready to go in the days to come because I don't. I may even drop off the grid again — who knows? But for the first time in a long time, I'm finally seeing this space not as another thing on my never ending to-do list but as a way to channel my boredom creatively again. Much like I did all those years ago when I first started This Time Tomorrow as an outlet from a day job I felt listless in. A place I took comfort in. A place where I didn't worry about perfection or performance or likes or comments. Just a place to be and explore my own boredom to see where it might lead me.
If you're here still, thank you. And if you're not, I hope you're busy being bored and loving every delicious minute of it.
There’s a Japanese form of pottery called Kintsugi — which translates to “golden joinery.” And the concept is quite simple: it’s the art of repairing broken pottery by mending the fractures with lacquer dusted in gold. Rather than disguising the imperfections, it wears them proudly, a golden traceable line of history, of character, of a life lived.
What if we did the same? What if our “imperfections” aren’t something to hide away from the world as we’ve been told to do but rather something to be celebrated? To be highlighted? To be dusted in gold and admired?
In the spirit of flipping perspectives, I wanted to jot down a few affirmations for the month of August. A few mental notes, if you will, that I'd like to keep front of mind:
Tell people how I feel about them in the moment. Stop waiting for the right time to come along.
Don't be afraid to set higher standards for who gets access to me, my energy and my time.
Curate little moments whenever possible. Feel gratitude in them.
See the value in fighting for what's right, not what seems easiest.
State less "If onlys..." and ask more "What ifs...?" There's a big difference between the two. The former sees only the obstacle. The latter sees only the possibility.
Do you have any affirmations for the month you'd like to share?
And on an unrelated housekeeping note: I've gotten a few questions as to why I will no longer be posting my inspiration photos and movie recommendations on Instagram Stories. The short answer is: an IG employee brought to my attention that these two series *may* violate intellectual property copyright regulations subsequently leading Instagram to shadow ban my account. A shadow ban is essentially a de-ranking of your account — meaning you no longer show up in organic search results (even if someone types in your entire username) and you no longer show up in hashtag, audio or Explore page results. Essentially, it makes it REALLY hard for anyone to find your account and is akin to the kiss of death for any content creator.
Henceforth, I will only share content I outright own the copyrights to — meaning only my photos and my videos.
I'll caveat all this to say, this employee couldn't definitively pinpoint the source of my shadow ban as this was outside their purview, but I'm grateful to them for giving me something actionable to try, in what has felt like a very dead end pursuit.
As much as I loved my 20s and am certainly enjoying my 30s, a big part of me is also looking forward to my 40s, my 50s, my 60s and beyond. Truthfully, I can already picture it. Summers spent visiting my friends in their different cities around the world, driving around in a classic convertible that I've maintained by hand myself, living in a remote (but modest) villa somewhere tucked away under the Tuscan sun. I'll be the eccentric former New Yorker, scarf thrown over my windblown hair with a corgi or two at my side and my love in the passenger seat. We'll make art, write stories and maybe even try our hand at wine making. I'd work to live intentionally, but I won't live to work irrationally. Maybe I'll own a little bookstore in the nearby village. Maybe I'll close early on Mondays and walk over to the piazza, where I'll sit with a bottle of something local. Maybe a dear friend from a previous chapter of my life will sit down with me and we'll chat for hours about what once was. And maybe in that moment in the sunshine with my old friend, I'll smile, thinking about all the wonderful things yet to come.
Don't get me wrong, by no means am I in a hurry to get to these future chapters of my life, but I do think it's high time we start romanticizing the art of aging and seeing it for the gift that it truly is. After all, dreams are wonderful, necessary even, in our youth. But please, whatever you do, don't let them stop there.
You're the last table in the restaurant on a Sunday night. The wait staff is starting to wind down for the evening, wiping down tables as they go, the music from the kitchen has been turned up as the cooks start their closing routine. You lean in across the table toward your friend, cheeks still hurting from a story they just told you and you clink your martini glass to theirs. Outside, it's a cold March night, but you don't mind much — you're not going home just yet. You're both dressed in your finest because like the kindred spirits you are, you always seize the opportunity for a black tie night together.
Suddenly, you're both offered another round by the bartender, your dirty tequila martinis glisten between you, basking in the unique glow of candlelight and an NYC street lamp outside the window. You've lost track of time with your friend. But that's always the case when you're together. And you smile. Because someday, perhaps 10 or 20 years from now, you'll think about this night. And your friend. And the taste of a dirty tequila martini at a window booth, where the world melted away outside. A core memory of a New York City night with a dear friend, where anything and everything felt possible.
If you're looking for a new cocktail recipe to mix up your weekend plans, may I suggest a little dirty tequila martini?
2 ounces reposado tequila
1 ounce dry vermouth
1/2 ounce olive juice, or olive brine, to taste
1 to 2 dashes orange bitters, to taste
Green olive, for garnish
In a mixing glass filled with ice, pour the tequila, dry vermouth, olive juice, and orange bitters
I think a lot of us would agree, it’s easy to identify (and swiftly ignore at our own expense) the red flags in others — the traits we find to be harmful or toxic to be around. But today, very much inspired by Molly Burford’s list on the same subject, I wanted to jot down a few green flags. Traits and qualities I personally love to celebrate in others.
Lovers of big dreams and small details. Students of empathy. Teachers of grace. Disciples of humility. People who celebrate your weirdness. And, in turn, allow you to celebrate theirs. The belly-laughers. The long story-tellers. The curiosity-seekers. People who take photos of obscure things that remind them of your interests and send them to you with a simple “thinking of you.” The ones who remember to take photos for memory sake, not just for social media sake. The ones who always take the long way home. The ones who never take you for granted.
The person whose head is in the clouds. Their heart is on their sleeve. And their feet are ready to run alongside yours. The homebodies who punctuate their lives with adventure. Quiet revelers, loud dreamers. They’re quick to dance, slow to judge. Rich in kindness and never frugal with it. They have a hint of madness but so do you. Those who remind you of your favorite heroes and heroines from literature. Those who push you to keep writing your chapters. Those who want to write chapters with you.
Now, when I opened the floor the other day for your green flags, here's a sampling of what you shared with me...
Embracing our own space and love the silent moments without having to explain it or fill it with noise.
Those who pause and reflect before speaking.
Shares the last piece of food with you.
Empathy when you are not at your best.
The selfless ones who give voice to those who cannot speak or advocate for themselves.
Not needing to be loudest in the room but whose absence would undoubtedly be felt.
One who reads. One who dares to dream and works hard to make them come true.
My boyfriend calls his grandmother every night! His best green flag.
Eyes that do no lie and speak alongside their words.
Those who share meaningful silences and conversations.
The people who genuinely ask deep questions about you and your likes to get to know you.
People who actually recognize inner beauty in another and give them a chance. Very rare.
A little weird.
Confident in themselves.
Open minded to new things, goods, ways of life, ideas.
You know what makes me sad? We don't practice patience anymore. Everything is immediate, expected in the here and now. And in a lot of ways, I don't bemoan that. All in the name of progress, right? But if it's not delivered in under an hour, if we're not experts at something right away, if it can't be consumed/read/enjoyed in the first 2 seconds without a great deal of critical thought, we move on. Scroll to the next shiny thing, in hopes it hooks our fleeting, ever darting attention.
I don't say any of this without blame myself. I know I'm caught up in it, as well. Which is why I'm making an effort to practice more patience these days. Taking long walks without my phone. Learning and enjoying how to be a beginner again. Snapping more moments on film. Daily routines that help remind me, just because things can be instantaneous, doesn't mean they always should be.
All that said, I suppose I should also add, breaking the cycle of impatience doesn't come easy for me. Quite the opposite, really. I spend a disproportionate amount of time every day berating myself for not doing all the things that I think are expected of me. That I expect of myself. Even this blog hiatus of mine gives me anxiety. But I suppose, at some point last year, after my sweet dog Elvis passed and I tried picking up the pieces of a hustle mentality to stay relevant on the platforms that pay the bills, I knew something had to give.
Unfortunately, that something ended up being the one constant in my life that always soothes me — writing. And the longer I stayed away, the harder it became to face. And the harder it became to face, the more I convinced myself, perhaps it's for the best. Who reads long format content anymore, anyway? If something isn't packaged as a pithy 7 second video, will anyone out there care? Or notice?
Now, I realize I'm sounding quite defeated at this point. I assure you (if anyone is reading still), that I'm not. I spent a great deal of time the past few weeks weighing out what makes me feel whole. Both in the professional and the personal sense. And while I've accepted there are inevitable truths about how my industry has changed over the years (some for the better, some not), I realize I need to maintain a balance of content creation that keeps me centered. Platforms and trends will come and go and I'll try my best to interpret them in a way that feels authentic to me. But it's my writing. The practice of writing. The connection of writing. The cathartic act of writing. Even if another living soul never reads my words here on the internet — that's the pursuit I'd like to chase my whole life.
And that's something worth being patient for, don't you think?
I often feel homesick for many things. People, places I've never been, memories, moments in books I've read. You might think that sounds heavy or sad but I assure you it's not. It's actually a wonderful reminder of what it means to care for something or someone. A testament to what it means to hold things near and dear to your heart...
Not that anyone has truly asked me to explain myself or my blogging absence lately (although I appreciate those of you who have checked in with me in recent weeks), I do feel a certain responsibility, perhaps to myself, to understand why I needed this break. Or better yet, why I still need this break.
If you happened to read this blog post from a few weeks ago, you know we recently lost my sweet dog, Elvis, to lymphoma after a year or so of chemotherapy treatments. Personally, I'm still reeling from this loss, as anyone who has lost a beloved pet will understand. It's a pain that, no matter how much I tried to mentally prepare for, I still felt blindsided by and quite honestly, may feel for quite some time.
What punched me in the stomach even further after losing Elvis was the cold realization of how much of our attention, time and energy is necessitated on social media, specifically Instagram. Speaking as someone who makes her living solely online, largely on the aforementioned app, I quickly realized that my week-long social media break to grieve the loss of my dog resulted in severe account reach limitations, making it next to impossible to reach even a small portion of my audience, let alone prove to my current and potential brand partners that our collaboration was a worthwhile investment.
In short, my mental health break was damaging to my "social" presence and earning capability, because Instagram rewards the accounts who are the most active, the most consistently engaged and the most willing to forgo personal boundaries 24/7, and punishes those that are not. If you're willing to burn out on this app and dedicate all your time to it, you might get ahead. If you value some sort of offline life, you'll have an increasingly harder time marketing anything very successfully online, unless you can afford a team of people to run it in your absence, which yours truly, like many other small businesses, cannot.
I won't bore you with my long-winded complaints. Again, you likely already read them here. Let's talk about the aftermath of it all.
In the weeks that followed, I found myself spiraling in a lot of self-doubt, a lot of negative self-talk, a lot of imposter syndrome. Suddenly, I felt all my time being sucked back into this app that I fully knew didn't have mine or yours or anyones's best interests at heart, and yet, I was beholden to it. My livelihood depended on how well I could "suck it up" so speak to try to "stay relevant" in the ways I could stay relevant online (whatever that means). And when you have thousands of dollars to pay off in chemotherapy bills, work isn't exactly optional.
I felt stuck, and perhaps still feel stuck, in a cycle of diminishing returns. That's not a fun place to be for anyone, but especially a creative who's constantly being told to create content that fits an "algorithmic mold." I understand these spaces evolve quickly and rapidly — it is the internet after all, that's the name of the game — but I've been feeling particularly drained more than I ever have in my 12 or so years of doing this. That's certainly enough reason to give me pause to re-evaluate.
I suppose you could say, in some ways, I've been feeling homesick for a version of our internet lives that didn't need to be 100% online, all the time, 24/7, 365 days a year, regardless if your mental health was feeling up to it or not. I feel homesick for a time when you could maintain an online community sharing the part of yourself that you felt comfortable sharing, without having to share every other bit as a marketable commodity.
As such, I took a somewhat conscious step back from a lot of the content I typically create, including the longer format content here for the blog. I felt exhausted. And largely still do.
Now, I don't share any of this looking for sympathy or pity. A lot has happened in the past two years of this pandemic to give anyone reason enough to re-evaluate what's truly important in their life — my problems are not unique or even newsworthy in the scheme of things. But they're my problems just the same, and since I started this space over a decade ago to largely share just that — my thoughts — I figured you all, those who still visit me here, deserved an update of some kind.
Thankfully, December is typically a busy time of year for work and this time around, it's proving to look up compared to December of 2020. And with my mom now in town for a visit, I'm trying to be extremely mindful of how much of my energy I spend online and for what reasons. Not just from a creator standpoint but also a consumer standpoint. My hope for you all, is that you can do the same, in the ways that make sense to you.
Over the next few weeks, I may be somewhat present here. I may not. I'm trying to take it day by day, week by week, and whether or not I have something worthwhile to say/share. Please know, my lack of posting here should not be a reflection of how much I value this community. You've seen me through a lot of changes, good and bad, and selflessly supported me through it all. Hell, you all afford me the ability to do this as my full-time job for the better part of the past six years. I owe you a great deal for that. I just want to make sure what I'm sharing here is coming from a place of unforced honesty and lately, I've been dry on that. I hope with a little further reflection and self-internalizing, I'll be able to change that to figure out a new path that makes sense for me. One that hopefully doesn't feel as beholden to the trappings of social media whims.
I consider myself a pretty positive person. And I'll usually go to great lengths to make the best of a situation, if I can. But would you all mind if I complained for a moment? Specifically about Instagram and my relationship with it, particularly as someone who relies on it for part of her income? I promise if you get bored or want to roll your eyes (I get it, I really do!), you won't hurt my feelings if you stop reading now. Feel free to exit.
A while back, I gave up trying to "crack" the code with Instagram. I realized it was a losing battle, where my mental health usually took the biggest hit. Algorithms change. Facebook's business initiatives don't have me, a sole content creator, at the forefront. And attention spans are getting shorter by the second, meaning content has to be reverse engineered to accommodate. Personally, I think we're on a very slippery slope.
And while I usually refrain from queuing my sad, tiny violin to gripe about any of the above-mentioned "issues," I think it's gotten harder and harder to ignore in recent weeks, ever since I took time off from social media to grieve a personal family loss — the death of my dog. As I mentioned at the time and as I'll mention now, I've never been good at sharing my thoughts, feelings, emotions in real-time, in a "talking to camera" fashion. It's just not me. And as many of my managers have reminded me over the years, I realize I'd likely spike my engagement if I did it that way and perhaps queue a few tears. But you know what? It's not how I process things. I need time, space and freedom to write it out. Not a front-facing camera.
I know PTO for grievance time is a luxury a lot of people don't have so I want to underscore how fortunate I feel to be in a position to be able to step back in the way that I did. I know I needed that time to cry, to feel deeply and to reflect. So I took it, all the while knowing that returning back to a regular posting schedule would come with some setbacks, namely profile reach limitations after not being active on the app 24/7 the previous week. (Before we move on, let that sink in for a moment. I think most of us, if we're really honest with ourselves, usually think twice or at least feel guilty for taking social media breaks. That's pretty telling.)
What I didn't anticipate when I took that break was just how much my profile would be limited for weeks after the break. My typical post reach has been cut by more than half. And I seem to be getting an increasing amount of DMs from a small handful of my active readers who mention my content just doesn't show up for them anymore, despite their best efforts to "teach the algorithm otherwise."
I know what you might be thinking at this point: Does any of this really matter?
I'll pause here to say something that Shelcy and Christy of NYC x Clothes mentioned the other day that really stuck with me: numbers don't matter. And philosophically, they don't. But in a very real-world application sense, they do. Like any other business owner in any other industry, I have to focus on metrics to some degree. It would be foolish and shortsighted not to — especially when those same numbers are tracked, measured and evaluated by current and potential future brand partners. In short, numbers are tied to my livelihood, and if they're severely stunted, I think anyone would agree, it's gets harder and harder to dust yourself off in those moments to create more, to create better, to create anything at all.
Granted, nothing about the freelance work that I do is guaranteed. After working years at a corporate job, I'm very aware of the security tradeoffs. And normally, I thrive with creative challenges or constraints — it's part of the reason why I was drawn to this industry years ago well before it was a profitable venture.
But what I do take issue with is when the playbook isn't transparent. When the rules are always changing. When the tips and tricks for success seem to be a constant game of copycatting between social media platforms. And when I or you, as human beings do, experience something personally profound and decide to take time off from social media and dare to live OFFLINE for a few days, we can't seem to regain any of the footing we had before (which mind you, wavered day to day as it is).
Well, that's when you start to wonder, who is this relationship serving here? And who is it ultimately harming? Even if you don't happen to be a content creator who relies on Instagram for your income, I think we've all been meticulously trained at this point to desire, crave even, social currency.
Don't get me wrong, in a lot of ways, that social currency is a beautiful thing. It builds communities. It creates connections. It brings awareness to topics, ideas and people that otherwise may have a hard time being seen or heard. But when those platforms, almost in the same breath, are gamifying the system in a way that makes it impossible to step back from their services for fear of losing reach to said community, well, that feels terribly abusive. I'm pretty sure it's textbook gaslighting if a company says they care about their members' mental health, only to turn around and write code that diametrically opposes any personal boundaries those members could set for themselves with their app.
OK, I know what you're thinking here again: Why bother with this? Why take on the Goliath of Facebook? Facebook isn't going to change because it wouldn't serve their bottom line to change. End of story.
To which I have zero good answers and a lot of hard questions, namely for myself. The thing is, I really enjoy creating content. I don't necessarily think my creations are revolutionary or groundbreaking by any means, but I do think I can weave a story together, one that hopefully transports you all in some way, however small. It's the creative director role I always admired while reading Vogue magazine growing up, that through a lot of hard work and resourcefulness, I was able to manifest for myself on a smaller, more personal scale. I didn't get into this space to become a "celebrity personality" or a "performer" and yet increasingly, with every platform update, it seems that's the direction I have to take if I want to succeed.
And still, I rise to the challenges. If you followed me at all during the height of quarantine, I think you might agree. When new waves of Facebook business initiatives come through, I really do try my best to authentically interpret it for me and my brand. For in-feed photos. For Stories. For Reel videos. But at a certain point, I have to wonder, why am I allowing this app to make me feel so inadequate, when I'm definitely not lacking in effort, ingenuity or scrappiness? To be clear, I don't need thousands upon thousands of new followers. I'm very happy and content with the beautiful community I do have — I just want to be able to meaningfully reach them. Right now, that's very hard to do. And if I take time off? It's next to impossible.
Perhaps all of this begs a larger question about how much we value our work/life balance, especially in this country. But I think I've exhausted myself thus far (and likely some of you), so I'll stop here to end on: If anyone who is still reading this feels like they're trapped in a similar cycle of feeling owned and controlled by their work, I see you. I understand you. And I hope you find a way to break from it soon. I wish I had better answers or guidance for you. I don't. But sometimes, as my painfully positive inner voice is reminding me, just knowing that we're not alone in something, is comfort enough.
Do you look for signs? Signals and coincidences from the universe, that perhaps guide you, warn you, congratulate you or maybe comfort you? I blame my overly sentimental side (I am a Pisces after all), but I like looking for signs. I find comfort in symbolism that helps me make sense of the things that I can't make sense of myself.
On our last full day in Martha's Vineyard, Ty and I drove all over the island, visiting beaches, scenic overlooks and antique shops, all the while sharing our favorite memories of Elvis. At one particular scenic overlook, we couldn't help but notice an unusual amount of butterflies crossing our path at several points, like they were dancing for just us. Of course, upon looking into the symbolism of butterflies when it comes to after death communication signs, I wasn't entirely surprised to learn that they're often the messengers of hope and re-birth.
And as of today now back in the city, I've had two special encounters with butterflies. One at the gate of a garden I love to spend time in, which was coincidentally closed when I visited yesterday, but that didn't stop a large monarch butterfly from greeting me right at the entrance, before floating down the street in the direction of one of Elvis's favorite parks. So I followed him. And upon picking a bench to rest at in the park, I glanced down at my lap just in time to see a small, white butterfly perch next to my hands. It was fleeting, but it was just the hello I was looking for from Elvis.
My smart boy knew how much his mama loves visiting gardens so he picked the perfect way to grab my attention just when I needed it most. So I whispered "I love you," and almost as quickly as it had arrived, the butterfly flew off above me into the September air.
It is with a very shattered heart that I share with you all Elvis passed away in my arms a week ago. He was surrounded by unending love, from myself, my boyfriend, Ty, and from all of you, who sent so many kind messages of healing and strength over the past few weeks. I’m eternally grateful for how you all loved him so fiercely from afar. It meant more to us than you may have realized.
As many of you already know, his passing wasn't necessarily unexpected. We received his lymphoma diagnosis a little over a year ago — in May of 2020 — and we forged ahead with multiple rounds of chemo treatments thanks to some wonderful doctors in NYC, fully aware that we would be lucky to buy ourselves at least a year more for him. And ever the stubborn trooper, Elvis tackled it head on, usually with a big smile on his face. Thankfully, there wasn't a single day over the course of his treatments that his spirits or his energy waned (and certainly not his appetite!), and in a silver lining twist of fate, the pandemic afforded us a lot of undivided quality time at home with him. I'll always be grateful for that.
Elvis came into my life 8 years ago and like so many of the fur companions that grace our lives, he was my rock through a lot of changes. He joined me daily at my job at Google, he encouraged me to chase my dreams and move across the country to New York, he was my sounding board when I debated quitting my corporate job, he soothed my broken hearts, he championed my goals and perhaps most importantly, he reminded me to laugh (I have an album on my phone dedicated to his many booty shaking videos that is both heartwarming and heartbreaking to watch).
Truth is, I had so much more life planned with Elvis. Eight years seems terribly unfair for such a bright spirit, but that's truly the one flaw of dogs, isn't it? They don't live nearly as long as they should. Or perhaps, we just don't deserve them for much longer than that — their ability to unconditionally love is just too good, too pure. Either way, I know I was certainly lucky to be Elvis's mom for the seemingly short amount of time I was given.
Elvis, I love you deeply and dearly. Forever and always.
On a very general housekeeping note, I may be a bit sporadic here on the blog, which is likely a redundant comment as I've already been pretty sporadic here in the past few weeks, given work projects and looking after Elvis. If there's anything I've come to realize in the past few days, it's that what I thought was going to be a very hard and gut-wrenching experience, has only proven to be ten times more brutal and painful that I could have ever imagined. I'm trying to be kind to myself right now to feel the waves of grief as they come and hopefully, with time and some space for reflection, I'll be able to write out and express my feelings in the weeks to come. Until then, thank you for your kindness and your grace. It means so very much to me.
The other day, I came across the Japanese phrase “koi no yokan” which is used to describe the feeling upon first meeting someone who you will inevitably fall in love with. It literally translates to “the premonition of love.” Isn’t it lovely there are words, sometimes in other languages, that capture a feeling, no matter how rare or obscure, absolutely perfectly? And when you stumble upon them and their meaning, something clicks into place — a puzzle piece wiggled into just the right corner with just the right touch — and you realize, “I know that feeling.”
So I’m curious — how many of you know this feeling of “koi no yokan?” Of the romantic and platonic kind alike — because I’m absolutely certain we encounter friends in the same way we embrace our lovers. Sometimes, when you meet someone who’s meant to be in your life for a long time well, in a far less poetic English variation…when you know, you know.
And since I always love learning new words, in the language I natively speak, and others — I asked you all to share obscure and deeply felt feelings and concepts in languages other than English. Here's what you all shared with me! Hope you enjoy!
Jeong (Korean): Feeling, love, sentiment, passion, human nature, sympathy, heart. Although it is complicated to introduce a clear definition of jeong, it seems to include all of the above as well as more basic feelings, such as attachment, bond and affection.
Weltschmerz (German): A feeling of melancholy and world-weariness.
Glückseligkeit (German): Extreme bliss, happiness
Fernweh (German): A longing for distance, far off places, usually ones you've yet to visit
Estremercer (Spanish): When something is so beautiful, it causes you to tremble
Gezellig (Dutch): Meaning a number of things, including cozy and snug. Its definition goes beyond that, though, encompassing more social concepts such as sociable, convivial and companionable
Coup de foudre (French): Love at first sight, literally translating to lightning strike
Mimar (Spanish): To pamper; to spoil (to treat with excessive care, to indulge
Kilig (Tagalog): refers to the feeling of excitement due to various love circumstances such as making first eye contact with one's crush or watching another person propose to someone
Eunoia (Greek): well mind; beautiful thinking') is the goodwill a speaker cultivates between themselves and their audience
Wabi-sabi (Japanese): A world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of appreciating beauty that is "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete" in nature. It is a concept derived from the Buddhist teaching of the three marks of existence (三法印, sanbōin), specifically impermanence (無常, mujō), suffering (苦, ku) and emptiness or absence of self-nature (空, kū).
Ya'aburnee (Arabic): Literally translates to "You bury me" meaning that the speaker hopes to die before someone else does as they realize how difficult it would be to live without that person
Hiraeth (Welsh): The feeling of homesickness combined with grief and sadness for your homeland or a romanticized past.
Dal misk (Berber, Kabylian dialect): Meaning sumptuous, literally translating to "that's silk"
Toska (Russian): A mixture of pining, restlessness, yearning, nostalgia, melancholy, and depression
Jaysus (Indonesian): A not so funny joke that’s told so badly that you actually laugh
Tartle (Scottish): The hesitation before introducing someone when you’ve forgotten their name
L’appel du vide (French): Literally ‘the call of the void’ or the sudden desire to jump when you’re standing high up
Flâner (French): Aimlessly wandering without any destination, just to enjoy the views
L’abbioccio (Italian): The groggy, sleepy, happy feeling after a large meal
Merak (Serbian): The feeling you get from simple pleasures that adds up to a sense of happiness and fulfillment
Gluggaveður (Icelandic): Weather that looks beautiful but is unpleasant to be in
Saudade (Portuguese): Much like hiraeth, this is the longing for something beautiful that’s now gone
L’esprit d’escalier (French): Literally ‘the spirit of the stairs’ this is when you think of the perfect come back or retort after the conversation has happened
Gökotta (Swedish): Waking up early to hear the first birds sing
Komorebi (Japanese): Sunlight that filters between the leaves on a tree
Pochemuchka (Russian): A person who asks too many questions
One of you dear readers asked me the other day what was my favorite memory from July and without hesitating, I thought how lovely it’s been forging new friendships in person, especially after the past year we’ve all had in isolation. As a reserved and somewhat introverted person myself, nothing makes me happier than finding like-minded, kindred spirits who I connect with instantly and I’m so very thankful to call this group of ladies my new-found friends and creative muses (intros below) — all wearing the dreamiest silk dresses by Kes NYC.
Léanne Ansar: If you've been following along over on Instagram lately, you've likely seen a lot of my adventures with Leanne lately and that's because she's positively delightful to be around! A French-American New Yorker and a fellow content creator, Léanne has such a beautifully old world perspective on things. A breath of fresh air in what can be stale atmosphere on Instagram.
Alissa Morabito: I met Alissa earlier this summer through Léanne and now, I can't imagine photoshoots without her! She's an artist living in the most idyllic pocket of Connecticut with the most incredible imagination I've encountered in a long time.
Ashley Bernadette is the founder of L'Appartement 4F, a chic French bakery in heart of Brooklyn, and I blame my overconsumption of the yummiest croissants all on her!
Lucie is the founder of From Lucie, another bakery here in New York, crafting the most beautiful cakes that are too akin to art to eat! (But you should eat them still, because, well, they're divine.)
August! Happy August, everyone! I know this month sneaks up on everyone and in a lot of ways, it feels like the final leg of summer. The last stretch to coast downhill before we cruise into fall. If that's the case for you, perhaps today's August Check-In is for you. In no particular order, here are a few things I've been asking myself lately to make sure I'm spending my summer "me" time intentionally and with heart. A checklist to ensure the days aren't slipping by idly, but rather like every ounce has been savored, the marrow sucked dry from the bone, as Thoreau might put it.
Have I spent time with myself lately, where I'm not worried about expectations from others?
Is there someone I'm missing right now? Can I reach out to them? Is there something stopping me from reaching out?
Have I treated myself to a solo date recently? A movie? A dinner at my favorite restaurant?
Have I gone for a long walk in the neighborhood, just because?
Have I planned a trip for myself or perhaps a group of friends?
Have I watched a sunrise yet? Or a really good sunset?
Have I sat by the water's edge? Perhaps at the beach or at a river?
Have I planned a picnic?
Have I gone on a really long, scenic run?
Have I explored a new-to-me area?
Have I paid a compliment forward to a stranger?
Have I gotten dressed up, just because?
Have I taken a really indulgent, delicious afternoon nap in the sunshine?
Have I enjoyed a book outside?
Have I walked home in the rain? Held hands in the rain?
Have I sat out on my fire escape just to reflect on the past year? The past several years?
Of course, I'd love to know — what are you asking of yourself for this final month of summer?
My dress is by Keepsake the Label dress (borrowed from Léanne, similar style here) // Léanne's dress is by La Ligne dress (borrowed from me, similar style here) // Shot on location in East Marion
In a letter to her husband, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Zelda wrote: "Life has puffed and blown itself into a summer day, and clouds and spring billow over the heavens as if calendars were a listing of mathematical errors.” And seemingly, just like that, summer feels like it's slipping by too fast! The days are already a blur and somehow, we're fast approaching the last week of July. Is anyone else's head spinning from this? I know mine is!
In effort to savor more of the summer days ahead, I wanted to hit publish on my seasonal bucket list, which admittedly, I'm a bit tardy on! Would love to know, what's on your summer to-do list?
Book a room at Oheka Castle — after months of debating when the right time would be to visit, I'm finally going to stay there later in August! Stay tuned!
Tackle a big styling project. I can't share too many details at the moment, but it'll be my largest styling project to date, so I'm excited for the chance to learn.
Plan more picnics in Washington Square Park on Sundays — all the bands are out for the afternoon and it's lovely.
Book a trip to visit both my parents in October.
Visit the lavender fields out in East Marion (OK, to be fair, I already did this one!)
Take Elvis to the beach.
Attend a New York Film Festival screening.
Plan a girls' night at American Bar.
Track down the Just Like That crew while filming.
Rent another classic car for future photoshoot at the end of summer.
Take a long train ride up north.
Surprise Ty with a weekend getaway for his birthday (if you're reading Ty, there are no spoilers here!).
Bike across the Brooklyn Bridge. I've walked many times, but never biked.
More spontaneous jazz club nights.
And comedy club nights.
Visit Martha's Vineyard.
Read more in Jackson Square Park (such a quiet, secluded spot to sit and think).
Like many other children of the 90s and early aughts, I'd look forward to weekend afternoons cutting pages out of fashion magazines. Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and Vanity Fair lay scattered across the floor, as I'd sit admiring elaborate photoshoots created by a whole industry of creatives I couldn't quite yet articulate to myself. Arthur Elgort, Peter Lindbergh, Annie Leibovitz. I'd tape their work to my wall, sometimes floor to ceiling, only to start over the next month, surrounded by fashion yes, but bigger than that, surrounded by stories. Much like the books I read at the time, I loved the escapism of it all. The dream, the narrative, the simple notion of asking, "what if?" and immortalizing that idea with the click of a shutter button. A world encapsulated in a single photo that dares you to dream about something. That's what I love about photos. It starts the story. It's up to the viewer to finish it.
In a lot of ways, I pinch myself quite often that this career path I stumbled upon years ago affords me to do what I used to only daydream about in my childhood bedroom. Sure, it may not grace a page where Vogue sits atop the masthead but it's still a little dream world of my making. And the fact that I get to share it with other fellow old souls like you all, well, that's more than 17-year-old Krystal could have ever imagined.
Photography has been my voice for so long. A means of writing those extra thousand words that I just couldn't utter myself. So now that Instagram has officially shifted to focus more on video content, I won't lie, it makes me feel a bit disheartened. Like I have to change my voice to appease something.
Of course, there's a whole argument to be made that the trend of creativity always following algorithmic whims may not be a positive one, but that's another discussion for another day. For now, what I'm trying to understand is how 17-year-old Krystal might envision her dream worlds in video form. What does that look like? What does it feel like? In a lot of ways, it's as if I'm sitting on the floor again in my bedroom, ideas sprawled at my feet and whispering, "What if...?" to the walls around me, searching for an answer.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter...how are you feeling about Instagram's recent doubling down on video content?
The other day, I watched a documentary about American author and cultural critic Susan Sontag, whose writing style and unique perspective on the world I've long admired. Naturally, I started digging through a few of her most notable quotes (of which, there are many), when I stumbled across this particular one that came from part of an address she was giving to a graduating college class. It felt too fitting for today's compilation post not to share:
“Do stuff. Be clenched, curious. Not waiting for inspiration’s shove or society’s kiss on your forehead. Pay attention. It’s all about paying attention. Attention is vitality. It connects you with others. It makes you eager. Stay eager.”
Pay attention. Stay eager. Don't wait. What wonderful advice that's so easy to forget at times, right? In case you've found yourself "waiting" for permission lately, I hope today's post is the reminder you need that the only person granting permission for your life, is YOU. With that in mind, here's what you all shared with me when I asked you to complete this sentence:
"It's never too late to..."
1. Work towards a new or different ending.
2. Start something new.
3. Pursue wonder.
4. Live authentically.
5. Start a new career.
6. Take charge.
7. Forgive. First yourself, then others.
8. Love yourself!
9. Become a better version of yourself.
10. Make that album.
11. Fall asleep on a blanket in the park.
12. Go home.
13. Make money in a different way.
14. Halting search for a relationship long enough to realize you're a damn interesting person.
15. Go back to school.
16. Pursue your dreams.
17. Find true love.
18. Move to NYC.
19. Ask for help.
20. Realize your worth.
21. Re-think your purpose in life and change directions.
22. Start over.
23. Be kind to yourself.
24. Start that photography project.
25. Just start.
27. Do better.
28. Bake a cookie.
29. Take life in a different direction.
30. Go to a music festival.
31. Love yourself.
32. Finish college. I am 29 and just completed my associate's degree and ready to continue!
33. Ask for what you want.
34. Embrace childish wonder.
35. Learn a new language! It may be harder to pick up but it's worth the challenge.
36. Get your education for the career you always wanted.
37. Reinvent yourself.
38. Change your destination.
39. Say I love you.
40. Change your mind.
41. Get a new job and start at the beginning.
42. Dream a new dream.
43. Start over...do all the things that will make you happy.
44. Start focusing on what you want and need rather than focusing on everyone else's needs.
45. Start living your life again.
46. Try again.
48. Find a new love or cause to be passionate about.
49. Send a thank you note.
51. Remove yourself from toxic relationships, heal from childhood trauma and put yourself first for once.
52. Find love in your life.
53. Be a beginner at something, such as a new hobby, fitness activity or language. To be a student in life.
54. Master dance! I won't make it my career but it's never too late to fall in love with it and start dancing.
55. Discover a new passion.
55. Find your soulmate.
56. Learn how to dance.
57. Start all over in life. In both — career and relationships at the same time.
58. Conquer a life shift.
59. Be yourself.
60. Still be searching for your passion.
61. Reach out.
62. Do the things that bring you joy!
63. Fall in love.
64. Make a new friend.
65. Learn how to horseback ride.
66. Start piano lessons.
67. Move to Italy and live the life you want.
68. Pursue graduate school!
69. Fall in love with a new dream...as you release a tired one.
Six months in. Six months into a chapter after the hardest year in recent memory. How are you feeling? How are your nerves? Are they in shock? Numb still? Or perhaps you're just reveling in the simple joy of grabbing a meal at your favorite restaurant? Maybe with a few (vaccinated) friends in tow, nervously laughing off the frantic energy of last year? Personally, I'm a bit of everything at the moment. Relief, joy, exhaustion and my fair share of anxiety. As someone who loves working toward goals each year (personal and professional), I think my anxiety has doubled down here in 2021, because I have this extra pressure on myself to make up for last year, to make up for the lost time as the world stopped spinning. The rational side of my brain keeps telling me that this expectation is simply not fair or vaguely realistic. But the emotional side of me begs to differ. And hence, the two have a stand off, which is largely why I think I failed at writing down any goals at the beginning of 2021. It felt altogether too daunting to commit to anything.
Now, six months have gone by relatively quickly and I don't feel nearly as confronted by verbalizing my goals. Moreover, I don't feel nearly the same pressure to do and be everything to make up for last year. I'm embracing a slower pace when it comes to "picking up where we left off" so to speak and I fully intend to show myself that grace when it comes to personal expectations and projects. I guess what I'm trying to say, 2020 made me realize how much I don't need the "hustle and grind" attitude that my 20s and early 30s thrived on. Instead, I'd much rather prioritize living intentionally at a pace that feels enriching, not draining. I want to breath deeply. Not constantly feel out of breath.
But let's cut my rambling here — there are just too many great goals you all shared with me that I want to get to, so I'll briefly kick us off here with mine: an assortment of big and small to-dos I'd love to see myself accomplish or start before the end of the year.
Maintain a consistent running regimen (possibly for half marathon next year)
Drink a gallon of water every day
Find a new dermatologist here in the city to address my melasma/hyperpigmentation concerns
Help my mom sell her house and explore a few new cities she'd like to move to (through encouragement and providing resources)
Finally wrap my head around the idea of writing a book (!!!!)
Define myself outside of the scope of social media (this is likely a blog post topic for another day)
Be kinder to myself
And now, without further adieu, here are your goals you shared with me...
1. "Declutter our home now that we are part-time empty nesters! Kids went back to college in January but they are now home for summer. It's a slow progress but progress nonetheless!
Also signed up for a half and full marathon this fall. First races since the pandemic hit. A little scared! But I've got this and I have friends to train with!"
2. "I'm a 61-year-old recent retiree, who wants to finish the college degree program that I left 41 years ago. I suffered from depression/anxiety, but of course at the time, I didn't know where to get help so I quit the thing that I thought would solve the issue. Little did I know that I'd suffer from anxiety to this day. So my goal is to start small, i.e. reach out to an advisor at the University of Texas at Austin to see what my options are, process for enrolling, etc."
3. "Save $5,000."
4. "Finish my post grad program at the University of Texas. I think I may have mentioned being in school (again). I started at the community college but I felt my academic pedigree was not going to make sense with an associates when I have a masters. Plus I wasn't learning anything. The program is brand new and needs more work resources poured into it to make it viable. I moved to IT and certificate program is in Artificial Intelligence — Machine Learning. I had to learn to code and still in that process. I had to level up to get the money I need to make."
5. "I want to start working out. I miss the gym!"
6. "It's been almost a year I've been single, probably the longest in my adult life, and I've experienced a lot of personal growth during this time. I'm starting to become interested in dating again, as things open up and my goal is to not settle for less than I am worth. I want to be loved so badly. I tend to become codependent, or chase the first person who shows interest in me. I've heard it phrased, "I do not chase, I attract," and I'm working on slowing myself down. I am in the thick of a major crush right now, and the person I'm developing feelings for has been busy and overwhelmed and not spending as much time with me. We haven't had a phone call in almost three weeks And while we text all the time, I have to hold myself back from continuing to message and message just to grab their attention. I'm worthy of someone who makes time for me. So that's my goal. To be comfortable enough in myself and my value not to compromise myself and my value."
7. "I'm trying to do a '100 Days of Exercise' challenge right now. I started it two weeks ago and hope to successfully finish it before my birthday in October. This is an extremely new thing for me. I have never been an active person my entire life, never working out regularly and I feel like I don't have enough discipline to go through life, so I decided to do this challenge to introduce myself to both. I haven't told a lot of people about this but it feels good to share."
8. "I would like to meet some new people so that I can find and create some friendships. Like many others, my partner and I moved overseas during Covid and meeting new people had been almost impossible with restrictions. Yes, we've kept up with people from Australia, but it would be naive to suggest these can sustain our lives in Luxembourg."
"I'm a 61-year-old recent retiree, who wants to finish the college degree program that I left 41 years ago. I suffered from depression/anxiety, but of course at the time, I didn't know where to get help so I quit the thing that I thought would solve the issue. Little did I know that I'd suffer from anxiety to this day. So my goal is to start small, i.e. reach out to an advisor at the University of Texas at Austin to see what my options are, process for enrolling, etc.'"
9. "For me, it's finally setting up a fold up table with my poster board sign asking people in Washington Square Park a question. A question about childhood and if they stop, having the ability to then ask follow up questions and interview them. To research for no other reason than I'm so curious how some people end up so, so free to be as an adult and others don't. I don't know what I'll do with all that's collected but I know I have to at some point this year, go set up my table and not be afraid to ask. And also, coincidentally I would like to finally bring a boom box to Washington Square Park on my birthday this year and have a dance party by the fountain."
10. "Dog! I want a dog."
11. "Find a Rabbi so I can continue my conversion to Judaism."
12. "I look around me at all the 'stuff' I've accumulated as an adult. I'm determined, each week, to clear out/downsize areas of my home. I'll donate, offer to family members, use consumables. The past year has made me realize I don't need anymore stuff. I need less."
13. "My goal is to write down my dreams and say them out loud to someone I trust. It's to sit comfortably with the good things that are happening and not dismiss them as ordinary. It's to recognize that I can work toward opportunities and not simply be grateful for the goodness that falls into my path."
14. "I'm working on...sharing my work. I started learning calligraphy during quarantine and I love it so much. But whenever I get to the 'sharing' part of projects, I freeze! Trying to move past that this year.'"
15. "I just graduated from USC with my doctorate in Policy, Planning and Development. My big goal is to network to find the path where I can deliver value in the field of Global Health Diplomacy and US Foreign Policy. I've started looking for an Entrepreneur-in-Residence. My small goals are: to use time efficiently, to pause and engage with nature/outdoors, to improve my cooking skills. Most importantly, family and extended family are front and center."
16. "My goal is to sink into this new era of New York. It's quite easy for me to romanticize the old New York, so much so that I can miss what's happening right in front of me. This year, I'm committing to reveling in what we have right now and what we can all create together."
17. "My main goal for this year was to get my first apartment as I have been living with family. To be honest, the idea felt a little outlandish considering what this year has been like for me. But here I am, one Google search and a few formalities later, set to move into my very first apartment by July! Terrified but hopeful and grateful for new beginnings."
18. "Quit smoking."
19. "I always shoot for more than I can chew. My professional goal is to finally launch my product (pandemic has delayed it since forever). My physical goal is to lose the last 5 pounds and get my front splits. Other goal is to practice my violin more regularly and to work more on my Korean lessons. Permanent goal is to be kinder to myself and offload the guilt I've been carrying for no reason for years."
20. "More curiosity! Get back to seeing this world (even if we can't travel far)."
21. "To start exercising. I just can't get motivated."
22. "To have confidence to start my ow project instead of being behind the scenes, helping other people with theirs."
23. "Finishing my manuscript for the book I am writing on structural racism and criminal justice reform."
24. "Meditate every day."
25. "To find a job I love. I did love my last job but I had to quit last October because my visa didn't come in time (thanks Covid and previous administration). Anyway, I got it a couple of weeks ago, took only 9 months but it's only valid for 10 months (imagine explaining this during a job interview). I don't want to compromise this time where or with whom I work with despite everything. Being assertive and listen to my inner voice is my goal. Oh also, I want my green card to come this year but I can't control that. So the right job with that right feeling inside will do."
26. "Keep up with my fitness routine! I've been working out consistently and love the way I've been feeling!"
"My goal is to sink into this new era of New York. It's quite easy for me to romanticize the old New York, so much so that I can miss what's happening right in front of me. This year, I'm committing to reveling in what we have right now and what we can all create together."
27. "My goal is to be kinder to myself."
28. "My goal is to get into therapy. I've struggled really hard with PPD and it's time to not only admit that I need help, but actually seek out and engage in the help. I owe it to myself, my partner and my son. This project of yours is weirdly the kick I probably needed to just start."
29. "By the end of the year, I want to be more comfortable with who I am, what I've been through and into the unknown (cue the song from Frozen II of where I am going.)"
Whenever I walk through Central Park, I think about all the serendipitous meetings that have happened there over the years. Of friends and lovers, alike. Especially on that glorious first day of spring — where the world spills into the park, searching for sunshine and love. I think about the side glances that happen here, followed by a coy smile. The flipping of pages through a book that you're no longer paying attention to because "they" walked by. The sweet promise of a stranger catching your eye, a meet-cute in the making, as you both happen to read the same park bench plaque. Admittedly, I'm not single, but that doesn't mean I don't love being around the promise of love for others. If this is their opening scene in a movie that isn't actually being filmed, I do adore the idea of being an extra in it. Perhaps my ending credit will be "Woman in park with dramatic hat # 3" and my one line will be directed at our heroine, asking "Excuse me, but do you happen to know how to get to Strawberry Fields from here?" But she won't hear me. She'll have locked eyes with him well before I uttered the word "strawberry."
Call me crazy, but for as much as we love praising and bemoaning dating apps, I have this sneaky suspicion that meet cutes might be on the rise this summer as we slowly re-enter the world.
For the indoctrinated, let's define a meet-cute shall we? Ahem...
Meet-cute: noun; a cute, charming, or amusing first encounter between romantic partners as in a movie (but for the sake of today's post, let's assume platonic meet cutes are fair game too!). Notable cinematic moments include Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant in his travel book store in Notting Hill. Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the elevator in 500 Days of Summer. Eva Mendes and Will Smith in a failed pickup attempt at the bar in Hitch.
While they're usually among the most contrived moments in movies, they typically never fail in cueing the warm and fuzzies. And judging by the stories below, I think they also prove that sometimes, the best first encounters, are far better than scripted fiction. Without further adieu, here are your meet cutes you so graciously shared with me...
1. "We were both at the same party and the house we were in only had one bathroom. There was definitely some drinking involved in this story. Anyway, I noticed the guy since I first got to the party and we exchanged a few glances. I went to use the bathroom at one point, as one does. So I'm in there, I hear someone knock but I locked the door so I say, "Just a minute!" Before I can do anything else, the guy I was exchanging glances with earlier BARGES INTO THE BATHROOM, breaking the lock and part of the door itself. He notices me, says "Sorry, I really gotta go!" and then proceeds to relieve himself in the bathtub across from me. Turned away from me, thankfully.
He then introduces himself while I'm washing my hands, laughing my butt off. I introduce myself as well and then I left. We didn't hang out again for maybe five years, but now we live together and have been going strong for almost 2.5 years and he still makes me laugh every day."
2. "Back in 2012, I was working in a brew pub behind the bar. At lunch time, this guy sat at the bar and ordered a beer. He drank up, took his jacket and left without paying. I ran after him, demanding he must pay. He looked at me surprised and explained that he was the new kitchen chef. That meant, he was allowed to have a drink on the house after work. I waved him off and told him in a stern voice, "You may leave then." Rounding up a couple of years later, in 2017, we were married and last year during our first lockdown, our sweet Baby Benjamin was born. To top it off, at our wedding, we had four couples attending (partially married and with kids) who had also met at the same bar. I guess some places give off extra love vibes."
3. "I was working and studying in Florence, Italy at the time (so we got the setting), it was FIFA summer and I was sat out at a sports bar drinking 5 Euro beer waiting for some friends. Sat at the next table was a woman on vacation from NYC. We started a conversation and hit it off right away! She's like THE person I want to be when I grow up. Fast forward a couple of days, it was my birthday and she suggested drinks at one of the fancy lounge bars in town. It was the most beautiful bar in an old palazzo. While we were drinking the rosé, one of the managerrs came and asked us how we were doing, then lingered to chat. He was so charming and the whole situation just seemed so scripted I was totally enchanted. We exchanged numbers and dated for a while ... but it turns out it wasn't meant to be. However, my cool, hip NYC friend who started multiple businesses by herself and I are still going strong."
4. "I was attending my dear friend's wedding. College housemates. Not traditional students. The wedding was in a beach house. August. Hotter than the hinges of Hell. There was an attractive man who helped hold the houpa. Later at her reception, she told me she had planned to 'match' him with either me or another mutual friend at her wedding. (What in the world?!) Well, we never did meet during her reception. But at the end of the after party, he was returning from an ocean swim, came in the house, and I noticed how spotless, devoid of sand, his feet were. We said hello. I know I kept looking at his feet. There might have been some champagne on my part along the way. I went home. Four months later, we made a date for the PMA, a Saturday afternoon. Two years later we were married. And he still comes off the beach with no sand on his toes."
5. "I left my marriage last year after being unhappy for quite sometime. We shared nine years together but more bad outweighed the good. It was a loveless marriage. I was denying myself love because I felt like I didn't deserve it so I thought it was OK to stay unhappily married. Finally left after having the courage to do so. Started dating, hated it. Hated it. Took a break and started again at the end of February at the urging of a friend. Met someone, Tyler. We hit it off right away. The connected was so deep and strong, it blew me away. Both of us. Feelings were developed right away. And that scared me. It scared me how much he wanted to be with me and how much he could care for me. I kept pushing him away and breaking up with him. But he wasn't leaving. I was dealing with so much at the moment. And to be honest, I felt like I didn't deserve love. Who would want to love me after I failed at keeping my marriage together. He broke up with me finally. Last week.
I have never experienced heartbreak. I am 37. I am dying inside. I know this man is meant for me and I pushed him away. I've apologized repeatedly and I know this is my fault. I have never felt a love like this or felt this way about anyone ever. I'm just afraid that something good that could have been great, came to an end without anyone of us knowing what great memories we could have created together. He is my person. He was my heart. I fucked up and don't know what to do. I've consulted a couple of psychics and most of them said he feels the same way, he loves me and wants to be with me but he's afraid I'll break his heart again. And I know I hurt him.
They say give him time, he'll come around. But not sure how long this will last. I've lost 15 pounds in two weeks and my insides are broken. I broke my own heart and it hurts more than you'll ever know."
6. "My husband and I met while working on a production of Spring Awakening. He was a lighting design assitant and I was an intern for a college class. We got along but when the summer was over, I went back to school half a state away. A few months later on New Year's Eve, he asked for my email to send me a few pictures I needed. I sent him my email and he then asked for my number and it was okay to call me sometime. A few days later while I was in still in town, I reached out and he suggested we go get a drink. I was a friend's nearby so I agreed. Here's where the meet cute really happens...I thought we were just grabbing a drink and catching up but instead, I walked into a fancy wine bar in yoga pants and my college sweatshirt (having just been in the area). He's wearing a nice outfit, has a bottle of wine and a cheese plate. My favorite! Embarrassingly, I sit down and he acknowledges that my football team should win the big game in a few days and immediately made me feel more comfortable. We hit it off right away, had another date that Valentine's Day and the rest is history. We finally eloped this past Christmas (during the pandemic) on the day we'd gotten engaged in London a few years prior. We have a real wedding/party planned for next year once everyone is vaxed. He still loves that sweatshirt."
7. "Met my husband at a play mutual friends brought him to. He was fresh out of recovery and totally wrong on paper but I knew he was going to be my husband the first time I laid eyes on him."
8. "My boyfriend is from Michigan, I'm from Rhode Island and we met at a bar in Boston.
I was there for a friend's 21st birthday and he was visiting his brother for the weekend. I approached him at the bar knowing I had seen him somewhere but couldn't place it at first...It turned out that we both went to the same university, had taken a class together and had many mutual friends (even found him in the background of a photo from a party a few years back).
We like to think fate had a little bit to do with it as we had both been spending a lot of time working on ourselves and our goals right before we met. Just felt like we weren't ready to meet until that point but two years later and we are still as cheesy and romantic as when we first started dating."
"I met my boyfriend in our office parking lot. He would manage to come in a half hour before I arrived, we would exchange awkward smiles while getting out of the car. Walk in silence to the elevator and every day his question to me would be 'Floor 7?' Until he finally mustered the courage to ask me, 'Coffee?'"
9. "I'm from Southern California, B is from NYC. In 2008, we were both on Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited, riding overnight from NYC to Chicago.
B went to the cafe car to work for a few minutes. I came in with some people seated next to me to play cards and we asked to share the table with him. Soon, we were all playing cards. After a while. the others left and B and I talked for 9 hours, until the sun rose over the horizon. We exchanged info and got married seven years later, with a model train atop our wedding cake.
We still take the Lake Shore Limited every year and celebrated our anniversary there in 2018. Some of the conductors know us! We're excited that Biden is in office for many reason — including more funding and an expansion for Amtrak!"
10. "We lived on opposite sides of the country — he in Delaware and I was in California. We met drunkenly in a hotel hallway in Reno, Nevada. Both of us were at a convention and walking back to our respective rooms, which happened to be right next to each other. He had to walk past mine and I had to walk past him and we literally walked into each other. I mean, I stepped into his path to walk away from someone hitting on me and he was just trying to get some sleep. He laughed and introduced himself. We both were dating other people at the time, but we became best friends for a few years. We both became single three years later after we met. He was making a trip to come out to California for a work trip and I picked him up at the airport, where he met met at the gate, dropped his bags and kissed me like I had never been kissed. Seven months later, I moved across the country to be with him and it's been adventure ever since."
11. "I met my husband at a London nightclub. It was a case of third time lucky on the night. The first time we were on the dance floor with our respective friends and we said hello and small talk. Then we became separated. I met him again about an hour later, he coming down the stairs I was about to go up. He asked me if I'd like a drink so I'd said I see him back at the bottom of the stairs in 10 minutes. Unfortunately, we missed each other. Fast forward another hour or so to the last dances of the night, always slow ones! We were searching for each other at the edge of the dance floor and finally reunited, danced and exchanged phone numbers (no mobiles then!) and found we lived only a couple of miles from each other in the suburbs. Married within two years, and three and half decades later, here we are with three young adult children. My late father frequented the same club in his youth and said young men only went there to meet young ladies. Well, he was right on that one!"
12. "My husband moved to NC from Buffalo for a job. My parents and a family friend happened to work at the same place. He was hired in August, and the family friend immediately tried to set us up. He wanted me to come for a chance encounter to introduce us. I kept saying no. In February, I was having a drink with a friend and she mentioned that a friend of hers from work was going to meet up with us. I wasn't super thrilled with that notion and was starting to plot my exit when her friend joined us with his friend in tow.
After being rather standoffish, the unexpected friend came over and began chatting with me. He mentioned where he worked, and I sort of perked up. I told him that I knew people there...and as he explained his story a bit more, I said, 'Oh my gosh. I know who you are. Your boss has been trying to set us up for a while now.' David said, 'I didn't know anything about that.' To which I replied, 'Yeah, well I wasn't interested.' And he said, 'Well, are you now?'
Turns out...I was. We've been together for 10 years now."
13. "I worked in the same building as a Wawa (convenience store chain). One day, I saw him standing outside on a break and I panic-froze. So I avoided him for a month, which was hard, because I needed Wawa every day for my coffee and Twix. So I purposely never got in his line, I always tried to hide my face. It's embarrassing.
One day (Obama's Inauguration Day!) he was the only person at the registers. So I sucked it up. He was painfully adorable. We chatted awkwardly about what day it was, and I went back to work.
My coworker saw this happen and followed me in, asked me to write my number down. She went back to the Wawa and slapped it down on the counter in front of him and told him to call me after 6. And he did. A 6:15. We moved in together nine months later. We've been together ever since."
14. "I met my boyfriend in our office parking lot. He would manage to come in a half hour before I arrived, we would exchange awkward smiles while getting out of the car. Walk in silence to the elevator and every day his question to me would be 'Floor 7?' Until he finally mustered the courage to ask me, 'Coffee?'"
15. "My partner and I met at an away camp in Maine the summer before the last year of high school. He lived in Nova Scotia and I lived in Massachusetts, but we instantly clicked. We started writing illustrated letters to each other (nerds, haha) for the next two years, dated long distance for four years after that while in university (I in Boston and he in Halifax) and eventually I moved to Canada. We've been happily married for a few years now and have one cat."
16. "I lost my first husband on 9/11. Five years later, I'm having lunch with my sister and a friend. The friend gets a call. Heard him say, 'Come meet us. We're at Peter Lugers.' Next thing I know, this guy walks in. So handsome. It's his friend. Lost his wife a few months ago. Sits down with us. We spend the whole lunch talking and crying about our losses. He calls me the next evening. We speak for two hours. First date, next night. Never ever apart after that. Married a year later. He came along and saved me when I didn't even know I needed saving. He protected me and took care of me. He knew how rough 9/11 was on me with two young boys. I lost him seven months ago after 14 years. I am beyond heartbroken.
For my Lonny, my lost I lost on 9/11. Twenty years fast approaching...mind boggling. I want people to remember was really lost on 9/11. All those beautiful souls had lives and families and need to be spoken of and remembered. "
And my Berky...who was like my knight who came to save me from all the horrors of 9/11. Life can be so unfair.
I'm trying to wrap my head around how I lost both of the loves in my life. And neither one of them were able to have a funeral after passing. Life is temporary. Love the shit out of those who love you."
17. "My best friend was obsessed with the barista who worked at the coffee shop across the street from both of our respective office buildings. At the peak of my 'wing manning,' I had developed a two latte a day habit purely so I could see if he was in (or at their sister location a few blocks away). She finally got the guts to ask him to hang out. And then invited him to her housewarming party a few days later. At said party, her cousin accidentally found them making out in the coat closet. They've been married now for four years or so, and are expecting their first baby this summer. I guess my caffeine addiction was well worth it."
18. "I met my (now) husband when I was wildly tipsy with my BFF in Bushwick one night, 10 years. ago. I had a crush on him before I saw him that night. He worked at Beacon's Closet and I would always go in looking for him. The cute part was the fact that he texted me the next day and we went back to the same bar...the not-so-cute pat was that fateful night my BFF knocked half her tooth off on my toilet. What a hot mess."
19. "Didn't end happily ever after but hilarious nonetheless. I was at my favorite Italian spot in the West Village and didn't realize Jake Gyllenhaal was essentially spooning my chair and in my Italian/Colombia over-usage of hands and limbs, I got up from my chair and tried to smoothly throw on or squeeze my hands into my winter parka. As my right hand extended through the sleeve, I accidentally caressed his stomach and chest with the back of my hands or tips of my fingers (it all happened very fast and my brain momentarily stopped intake of oxygen). Anyway, it took all my training as an attorney and all the courage in the world to keep it together and not turn red (I was purple and red on the inside for sure), looking him in the eye (I'm sure he was awkwardly swallowing dry and in shock) and even though I most definitely wanted to bolt, calmly walked out of the building until I could scream outside in my native tongue — 'tragama tierra' meaning 'earth swallow me' (don't we all revert to childhood language in these situations?). I shrugged it off thinking I would never see him again but hysterically (and to my utter embarrassment and dismay) I've run into him way too many times to count, including one time at an IFC showing, and every time I think to myself, if we make eye contact (osmosis or telepathic acknowledgement) — yes, yes, that was me. I know, I know."
20. "My husband and I went to the same international school in Taiwan — we met in 7th grade on the school bus and he asked me to the winter formal. We kept in touch after high school but didn't actually start dating until after college. Our first movie 'date' (it was unclear because we've been friends for so long!), I wanted Indian food without knowing he has a sensitive stomach so he literally left the movie three or four times and had no idea what the movie was about. We got married 4.5 years ago. So we've known each other for more than half of our lives!"
21. "I met my husband under my desk at work. He was setting up my computer upgrades for me while I was out of the office in a meeting. The meeting got out early and found him there. I started talking to him. Five minutes of me just talking away, he pops his head out, realizes I'm there, and takes his headphones out."
22. "I went on a Tinder date and met my date on the corner of his block. When I walked up to him, he was talking with his neighbor. The three of us briefly chatted before our date and the neighbor invited us to our rooftop for drinks later that night. The date was enjoyable and I decided to stay for drinks on the neighbor's roof...at that point, my date became a creep and ended up making out with a friend of the neighbor. The neighbor and I ended up talking all night and he told me he saw me crossing the street earlier and thought, 'This is the girl for me,' and was surprised when I approached him thinking he had manifested it. Finding out I was his neighbor's date was a bit of a let down, but here we are, almost three years later still in love and very grateful my original date wanted to kiss other women that night."
23. "I went to a sports bar with some friends to watch a playoff basketball game. When I walked into the bar, I immediately spotted him — the tallest man in the room. His head was towering over the crowd. After an hour or two, I mustered up the confidence to approach him and offer him a shot (this seemed cool to me at 23). He said yes, we took a shot and talked the whole rest of the night. On June 16th, we celebrate our eight year anniversary of me offering him that shot!"
24. "I met my boyfriend when he was bartended at a bar in Brooklyn! My friend and I had just gone to the Brooklyn Museum and there was a neighborhood bar a couple of blocks away that we stopped in for what was supposed to be a single drink. As we were closing out our tabs several drinks later, my friend left my number for him on the receipt, and he texted me later that night. We've now been together for almost seven years! Although sadly, the bar has since been closed."
25. "My husband and I met as friends at a church Christmas party and didn't end up dating until August of that year. I admitted to him that when he walked in the door (he was with a guy who always got a lot of attention from the ladies) I immediately thought, that's my type, that's the guy I want to be with (I was dating someone else at the time). He later told me he thought the same exact thing about me and never thought I would ever go out with him. I stalked him on Facebook and asked him out! We'll be married for 10 years in November."
26. "I studied abroad my freshman year in Florence, Italy. While there, one night, I met an American stationed nearby. I remember thinking he was cute. We exchanged numbers, chatted for a bit, nothing more, nothing less. Fast forward three years, I visit an ex uptown by Columbia University. He (the American from Italy) sees me in the crosswalk — says my name — I don't see him (I remember hearing 'Tina' and wondering who had said my name). Fast forward another three years, I'm studying for the bar exam, swipe on Bumble and recognize a familiar face. It's him. Sorry to all the romantics out there, but we tried to date — it didn't work. We were more in love with the story than one another. But a DAMN good meet cute had it worked out."
"My boyfriend and I met all thanks to a collapsed building in Brooklyn. Last summer, while I was running errands in my neighborhood, a brownstone fully collapsed moments after I walked past it. Not injured but in a state of shock, I only recall a tall firefighter asking if I was hurt. He quickly ushered me away from the rubble, sat with me on the back of the firetruck, gave me water, a blanket and started a conversation. We talked for an hour before EMS took. over but not before we exchanged numbers. Today, he says it is the best call he's ever responded to and I call him my favorite first responded.
27. "I was home visiting my family in Chicago for a friends' wedding and then was flying back to NYC. My parents dropped me off at the airport and I was kind of hungover. I got on the plane was sitting next to this cute guy. We were delayed getting on the plane and I just knew I was going to fall asleep and was like well, he looks normal enough if I end up falling asleep on his shoulder. And well, I did. For the whole flight until we were landing and I woke up and then apologized and thought that was that. But then we were delayed almost two hours trying to get into a gate at the airport so we started talking and chatted the whole time. I learned he was coming to the city for the first time for a medical rotation and he didn't know anyone here. We were both really hungry since we were on a plane for almost the whole date because of all the delays so he asked if I wanted to get dinner once we got into the city. We got off the plane and both had to charge our phones so we sat there charging them on the ground and figuring out where his AirBnB was located. We then got a taxi and our driver was actually nice? He asked us where we were from and if we lived here etc. I told him I lived here but I didn't know about this guy because I just met him. He was like, 'You guys just met??' He told me I should take a picture of his license so I know he is normal and was so shocked that we. had just met each other and were now hanging out. We checked him into his AirBnB and then got dinner and walked through little Italy. Then he came back to my apartment and watched movies with me and my roommate and her boyfriend.
We went on a few more dates over the next week or so after that and then I went on a trip and then when I got back, he was going to be done with his program already and would be leaving. We talked about what we were doing and he wanted to try out dating even though we had only known each other barely a couple of weeks. I didn't think trying to date in different cities was the right choice since we still barely knew each other, especially while he was in a very busy medical program. I had just moved here and wasn't wanting to consider that with a person I barely knew so it was the right choice. It was so fun though and my friend I still joke about it."
28. "Back in 2015, I was living in Seattle, producing events. A girl volunteered to help and worked with me the day of the event. We hit it off so well! Instant friendship. We laughed and bonded over Drake's new song 'Hotline Bling' (it was new then at the least!) and spent the evening trying to photobomb the celeb guest at the event (which was Macklemore). The thing is...the next day I moved across the country to New York! We managed to stay virtual pen pals and a year later, I attended her wedding. Then three years later, she attended mine (in France). We're still in touch to this day (from afar)."
29. "I met my husband when my sister was dating his brother. It always seems very movie like to me, because when I met him, I didn't like him. I thought he was arrogant and rude. Turns out, he was just shy and lonely and we soon got together — so for a time, two sisters were dating two brothers. My sister and his brother split up a few months later, but we are now happily married, and have been together for 19 years this year. He is my soulmate, and I didn't know it was possible to be so very in love with someone. Oh — and because people always ask — my sister and his brother do still see each other occasionally. and it's not awkward or weird. My sister and his wife get along brilliantly!"
30. "My husband and I were college sweethearts. He lived five doors down the hall from me my freshman year. I was rooming with the most amazing person (actually my maid of honor) and she was on the volleyball team. My husband was on the football team. One day, she says come hang with me, I'm going down the hall to hang out with the football guys. So I went and eight years later (six dating, two married), we still very thankful we were randomly chosen to live five doors down from each other."
31. "One of my closest friends decided they wanted to go camping for their birthday. One the way there, she said she was going to invite a new guy she was dating and he was going to bring his cousin. Well that night didn't turn out so well as it rained all night long and we didn't have the rain protectors on our tents. So I got completely soaked and looked my absolute worst. I never saw that my friend's date had arrived that night with his cousin. That was until I saw him swim out of the water (we were by the ocean) and I was like, 'Who is that?' He came out and introduced himself. I was mortified because I looked horrible, but I thought, oh well. We all decided to go to have breakfast and end the trip. He confessed that he told his cousin on the car ride to breakfast that day that he was going to marry me. We have now been together for 15 years, married for five and are expecting our first baby in July."
32. "My now husband and I met at a singles event hosted by a local NPR station. I always used to joke with friends, 'I just want to meet a nice guy who enjoys listening to public radio.' So this event really spoke to me but I was skeptical, having never been to an event billed as a 'singles event' before. My now husband was maybe the second person I talked to at the event and the rest is history. We were lucky to have one of the hosts of the event (who had a show on the radio station at the time) deliver a pre-recorded toast to us at our wedding."
33. "We met at a chemical engineering conference, specifically at a luncheon for a student group that neither of us were officially a part of, but we both attended to get free food. We sat across from each other, ordered the exact same thing, and then got up the nerve to ask for his number after lunch. We texted for a few months, then he came to visit me (we lived across the county from each other) then decided to move in together after just a few months when I got a post-doc position in a different state. And ow we are awaiting our postponded-due-to-Covid wedding, nine years later!"
34. "I met my boyfriend in high school. We always had a class together but never really cared to socialize. He was a football player and I was a volleyball player for all four years — you know how that goes. Our mutual friend decided to have his birthday at my boyfriends house. I don't remember much about the party. But I sure do remember not being able to stop talking to him or hours — we just clicked! And have been together ever since then. Though the ebbs and flows of life, I wouldn't want anyone else to do life with than him, even after eight whole years!"
35. "My boyfriend and I met all thanks to a collapsed building in Brooklyn. Last summer, while I was running errands in my neighborhood, a brownstone fully collapsed moments after I walked past it. Not injured but in a state of shock, I only recall a tall firefighter asking if I was hurt. He quickly ushered me away from the rubble, sat with me on the back of the firetruck, gave me water, a blanket and started a conversation. We talked for an hour before EMS took. over but not before we exchanged numbers. Today, he says it is the best call he's ever responded to and I call him my favorite first responded."
I truly believe we're all meant to go through many chapters in our lives. Different chapters of where we live, who we spend our time with and what we do to pass the day. And personally, I can't wait for an epilogue chapter of mine, many, many years from now, when I live in a villa that I renovate with my own two hands tucked away in the rolling hills of Tuscany. Perhaps I'll be a winemaker, too — digging into the earth each day if my back allows for it, supplying local restaurants with the literal fruits of my labor each season. A true Tuscan dream. Until that chapter comes though, I'll happily transport myself to Italy whenever the occasion calls for it, which with all this beautiful sunshine we're having in New York, is quite often these days. I was recently introduced to Brunello di Montalcino, a varietal known for its dry, aromatic presence and harmonious body (think rich wood, berries, light vanilla and jam), making it a perfect transitional red wine in my opinion, ideal for both winter and summer occasions.
And this particular bottle is from the family run and operated estate of Beatesca, nestled in one of the many hills of the region, drenched in sunshine and rich with Sangiovese grapes. Truth be told, the more I read about their vineyards, the more I wanted to transport us all somehow to Tuscany, hence why I hunted down the perfect field of wildflowers just north of the city for an alfresco happy hour. If you're looking for a bottle for your next summer picnic, I cannot recommend Beatesca enough. Cin-cin!
What does your summer siren call sound like? Is it the nostalgia of an ice cream truck jingle as you dig for change in your pocket? Or maybe the crack of a baseball bat at the first, deliciously warm home game of the season? Or perhaps it’s my personal favorite — the sound of oars lapping the water, as you glide out for a leisurely boat ride in Central Park, the city a distant hum as you lean back and marvel at how lovely the sun feels on your skin.
Personally, I've been hearing summer's siren call more and more lately. We've been indulging in weekend day trips upstate to appreciate sweeping views of the Catskill Mountains and the Hudson River. Back here in the city, the mood feels lighter, parks are filling up with happy picnics, tickets for performances are on sale and even just a simple boat ride out at Loeb Boathouse with friends feels like a chapter from a previous summer. A summer that I know we all desperately missed last year.
Yes, I’d love to know — what does summer sound like to you this year?
Zimmerman dress (old, similar style here) // Jacquemus hat // Photographed at the Loeb Boathouse in Central Park (Tip: if you'd to get a more aerial shot of the boat, have your photographer stand on Bow Bridge.)
I often joke that someday, in a future chapter of my life when I'm living in the countryside of Tuscany, I'll have a prop shed at my villa, where I'll keep all sorts of vintage treasures, for entertaining and production purposes alike. Trinkets and baubles. Obscure pieces of furniture and books and postcards from yesteryear. Equal parts antique shop and photoshoot studio, a world of my own making. Of course, today, my storage solutions are vastly limited living in a 2 bedroom apartment in the West Village, but that certainly doesn't stop me from scooping up small pieces here and there on Etsy. I recently picked up this vintage rotary phone and judging by the response from you guys via DM, I thought you might like to see what else has caught my eye on the internet's biggest treasure trove. If you love vintage tchotchkes (especially those that double as a great photoshoot props), then this extremely niche post is for you!
The other day, as I was waiting outside the vet clinic to pick up Elvis, a woman caught my eye. She was standing nearby, impeccably dressed and presumably waiting for her fur bundle as well, at the same clinic. And something struck me. You ever get the feeling that someone is looking at you well before they realize you know that they're looking at you? A moment of serendipitous stolen glances? Obviously, in New York, sometimes these moments can be far less than ideal (and come with their own fair share of inappropriate comments, but that's another story, for another day), but other times, they're just glorious! Like kismet in the making. Of friends and lovers, alike.
Back to this woman though. I noticed a look in her eyes as she glanced over my dress. "Tell me everything about your outfit!" she said. I smiled and replied with the universal olive branch response: "Thank you! It has pockets!"
We eventually got to chatting about the dress, about the city, about why our dogs were at the clinic that day and before I knew it, I was 30 minutes into a lovely conversation with a woman whose name I didn't know! (I know, I know, where were my manners?!).
Her dog was discharged first, so our neighborly chat ended there, but before leaving with her pooch, she turned to me and said, "I know this is going to sound strange, but would you want to grab a drink sometime? It's been so hard making new friends in the city lately."
In that moment, it dawned on me how often we put ourselves out there for dating, but we don't offer ourselves in the same way when it comes to forging new friendships, especially as we get older, busier and perhaps more set in our ways.
All of this is to say, I think you'll love the friendship stories compiled here — all of them a beautiful reminder to not fear vulnerability when it comes to nurturing those nearest and dearest to us — the family of our own choosing.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to text my new friend back and arrange happy hour drinks.
1. "My cousin, who's more like a sister as I'm only eight days older, and I had dwindled in connection. It'd be over a year and a half since communication and visits ceased, and for no specific reason.
After losing relatives in 2020, I wrote a letter (because, letter writing) about reconnecting.
A dinner in February, which we both admittedly felt oddly like a job interview, allowed us to repair an unoriginal case of miscommunication. Now, we're thick as thieves once again and she'll be my Maid of Honor next October.
Pushing pride, or whatever, aside was well worth it!"
2. "I have a group of girlfriends (four of them) that I met through work. We no longer work together or at the company, but our connection stayed intact.
We immediately clicked and had so much in common...from personality similarities, to fashion, beauty, politics, likes, dislikes and more. They're definitely sisters and a squad for sure. We have a group chat on Messenger and communicate daily about anything and everything. We lean on one another and are there for one another. They inspire and motivate me daily and are positive energy and light in my life.
When I lost my dad at the end of 2019 and my best friend at the beginning of 2020, they were there for me and still are.
I'm so thankful for these humans and the sisterhood we have."
3. "For strengthening current friendships: My husband and I are 10 years apart. Incidentally, he was the last of his friends to get married and have a kid while I was the first of my friends to get married and have a kid. We both found it important to always be excited for our friends no matter what life stages they're in — single, dating, married with kids, married without kids — and to always create an inclusive space so that our friends don't ever feel like outsiders. It's awesome having friends in so many different life stages and getting to celebrate where they are in life."
4. "The old saying of "quality over quantity" is so on point the older you get. After your 20s, everyone's schedule gets busier and busier. I cherish my quality time with my quality friends that push me to grow, be better and take risks, support me when I fall, make me belly laugh and make me feel so whole. They're limited, but the few I have are so golden."
5. "Five months before Covid hit, I moved from NYC to LA. I had amazing friendships in NYC. And I never felt like I had a problem connecting with folks or meeting them. Alas, I got offered a dream gig and moved to LA where I frequented but only would call one or two people, friends that live here. The thought of making new friends was daunting. And LA is very different from NYC. My normal way of making friends just was plausible in this work and car environment. People started introducing me to their friends that they knew lived here. And while in person meet ups were nonexistent this year, we started to connect via email, text and Zoom. And now I have a little crew that I connect with so well. I would have never leaned into tech if it weren't for the pandemic as a way to meet folks. But alas, I'm coming out of this with some solid friendships!"
6. "I went on a year long solo travel trip after college graduation. The European leg of my trip had to be delayed so I headed over to Canada instead even though it wasn't on my list. Did a one-month workaway in Toronto. The dude who I helped renovate his Victorian had a stepdaughter who was visiting him my first day. You know how in movies people make eye contact and you just swoon? That's how I felt with her. We made eye contact in this gorgeous kitchen and I knew immediately she was going to be in my life forever. And the rest is history. She has consistently celebrated me and been there and we show up for each other. We had plans to see each other at her graduation but Covid changed that. As for how to strengthen your friendships — show up. That's really it — be willing to learn your friend and show the heck up for the good and the bad in the best way you can. It's so freaking easy to get lazy or get distracted but friends are such blessings. Don't sleep on them. One of my college buddies and I exchange videos from the camera in the iPhone and just message them to each other. A bootleg Marco Polo but we have gotten closer. Another — we have foodie adventures where we eat one thing at five different places in one day (each adventure has a theme)."
7. "As an adult, most of my friendships began at a workplace. They either grew from there or were just casual grab a drink after the end of the day. A lasting friendship is one with my former grade partner. From the first day she knew I was interested in being the 'other kindergarten teacher' she hand wrote a name sign and placed it on my door before the principal made the decision. Through 13 years of teaching together, we led the Halloween parade in matching costumes. We were clowns, Raggedy Ann and Andy, Dorothy and the Scarecrow, Thing 1 and Thing 2 and very convincing witches. So convincing that when we made our playground entrance, children ran away! One year from Christmas, she gave me a Christmas cactus for a gift. I still have it. It's 18 years old. Even though we see each other often, we send cards to each other. We sign them YFP. Meaning Your Forever Partner. We are both great Phillies baseball fans. Our dream has been to be on the Jumbotron at a game. One September Sunday afternoon game, we did it. We made it three times that Sunday afternoon. And when the game was over and we were walking out, people said hello and were remarking about our Jumbotron success!"
8. "My childhood best friend and I have never gone to school together (we met running track) so we've always been pretty good at making time for each other — it was never a friendship of convenience. As kids, we would talk on the phone for hours and write six page letters to each other. Fast forward several years, she went away to a military college and I went to a small liberal school four hours away. Our letter writing skills really came in handy when she was going through the school's version of basic (break you) training! Ten years later, I moved to New York and she stayed in Charleston. A couple years after that, the pandemic hit. We started working out together every day over Zoom. Then it evolved to working out and cooking dinner and eating together. We definitely wouldn't have gotten through the lockdown as easily as we did without each other."
"I think it's a great lesson in holding onto those relationships and chasing them, helping one another find a way back to the people who matter most in your life. We normalize doing so for significant others or family; why not our closest friends, too?"
9. "New York City has been the place to reconnect with old friends and I'm so thankful for that. During my first week in NYC, I realized some old friends were also in the city. On my second week, I was on a rooftop looking at Brooklyn Bridge and sharing an amazing night with old friends from two different stages in my life. They made NYC feel like home right away. And without even asking, one of them became my guarantor (when he found out I was about to pay six months deposit up front because I was moving to the US with no credit history) and the other friend added me to her family phone plan! I mean, who does that?! Friends that become family.
Three weeks later, I was moving in to my apartment in the Upper East Side and I ran into a friend (at Starbucks). Last time I saw her, we were 17. Turns out, she was also moving to the UES and we were neighbors. We are best friends now and became each other's support system during the pandemic.
Last one: Summer of 2019 — on my way to be reunited with my Torino (Italy) roommates, American Airlines canceled my flight. Little did I know, but thanks to that, I ended up meeting one of my future good friends in New York City. We were both stuck and frustrated at LaGuardia — ended up sharing an Uber back to the city and having paella at Boqueria. We connected immediately and we started making plans for concerts, dinners, hikes. Thanks to American Airlines, I was late to my reunion but I also gained a great friendship that I'm sure will last forever."
10. "When I started my last job, I was nervous to meet the other manager. She and I would be working closely together, and we were about the same age. I was nervous because I'd worked with other women who were competitive and would throw me under a bus if it could advance their career. To make matters worse, Kristi was this gorgeous blonde girl who just seemed so cool. Great style, a great sense of humor and steely eyes that made me think right away that she'd seen some shit.
Our friendship started slowly. It was founded on a mutual respect for one another's work. I was in awe of her pragmatic approach to tackling big projects. She was a whiz at creating strategic plans and seeing the big picture. She admired my ability to connect with clients and our employees on a personal level. She came to me for writing advice and editing. We complemented one another on the working level and soon began hanging out socially.
First it was working lunches where the conversation veered into our married lives. Then it was walks at the dog park with our doggos. We began texting about anything and everything — to the point where my partner Todd assumes that if I'm texting, it's to Kristi.
She and I joke that if our husbands both die before we do, we are going to become Golden Girls in a villa in Italy somewhere. Kristi may have entered my life when I was 39 years old but I have no doubt that she will be an important person in my story for the rest of my life. I never thought I would find a kindred spirit so far into my life, but I'm grateful that I was open to that possibility."
11. "I moved to Geneva temporarily in the middle of the pandemic and found it really difficult. I didn't know anyone and making friends was difficult (because of the pandemic). Had never used Bumble BFF before but I used it for the first time and met a few girls who were in a similar situation. Truly made a huge difference in my mental health and even though I left, we're still in touch today!"
12. "My closest friend is 73 and I'm 41. She's young at heart and I have a bit of an old soul. It just works."
13. "Just be yourself."
14. "My now husband and I moved to a new area nine months pre-pandemic, and I've struggled to find a space where I fit in. We're in a midwestern university town, but I feel like, in our late 20s, we're in an anti-sweet spot between nowhere ready to join the 'parent crowd' but well beyond the 'young party crowd' that seems to surround us. I'd cultivated deep friendships at university and then law school, where I (a fellow old soul) connected with ambitious, fun, intellectual, well-rounded peers. While I've been keeping up these long distance friendships, I've spent the last few years mourning the day-to-day of the way things were — apero-dinners, drop-ins, our casually ritualistic nights together. One upside of the new ways of working coming through the pandemic has been so much more freedom in where to live and work. Now, as it happens, a close friend and another mutual-friend couple, through a series of perfect opportunities, are moving here this summer. I'm eternally grateful. I think it's a great lesson in holding onto those relationships and chasing them, helping one another find a way back to the people who matter most in your life. We normalize doing so for significant others or family; why not our closest friends, too?"
15. "I made good meaningful friendships through TikTok, Discord and Instagram. Finding ways in Covid is rough but can be done if you are open to it.
Regarding tips, I guess just making sure you are genuine when engaging in a conversation. Not just spamming the comments with meaningless word blobs.
There are definitely different levels of online friendship. I don't know how to describe it, it's just a vibe. But you'll know, if you really know yourself. You'll know when you've made a friend online.
And yeah, it's scary, you'll think of all the people who catfish and scam online but I've been lucky to have met great friends who won't stop FaceTiming just for quality time. Some just want to hang out while drawing/reading/cleaning/whatever mundane tasks that needs to be done. Which has created a strong bond where we've shared intimate stories about our lives and plan on meeting up once it's safe to travel between countries.
We're all somewhat deprived of human interactions due to lockdown and Covid around the world, but because of how humans are quite the social beings, life finds a way. We. just need to be open to the possibility."
16. "Leading with heart and not being afraid to be vulnerable has expanded my capacity to be a friend."
17. "I had just relocated to Wilmington, DE from LA for work and I was seeing a man who also worked for the same company. I didn't know anyone really; I'm friendly and I would go out after work for drinks or happy hours or activities, what have you. Then, one evening, about maybe 6-7 months in, I was working late and so was another coworker who I really liked, but we hadn't really hung out ourselves. We were friendly, you know? Got along real well, but never took that "next step." I swear, it's like I'm writing a romance story. But a 'frie-mance!' So we're both closing that evening and I pinged her via Office Communicator and just asked, 'Do you want to have dinner/drinks one night?' And she responded immediately with 'YES.' So a few nights later, we had sushi together and she brought me Dunkin Donuts that snowy Saturday morning when I had an opening shift.
Up until September last year when I moved back west for family, we were almost inseparable. Eight plus years and counting. It was part of my wedding thank you speech: 'Jesse — oh my god, Jess, who knew a sushi date and a Dunkin' Donuts Saturday delivery would turn into this? The ying to my yang, as the Great Hair Debacle of Mexico unfolded showed. Thank you for your support, because without you, I would've had half the vision.'
Just like dating — I took a chance and put myself out there to her for her to accept or decline my invite. And here we are!"
Our old handbags are such time capsules, aren't they? Gateways to our past, messengers bearing the odds and ends once upon a time we deemed important enough to carry with us for the day, month, or perhaps, in certain instances, even years. In them, you might find old credit cards you assumed were lost, lipstick shades you once loved, a stray bobby pin or two or, if you're lucky, little hand written notes, reminders for a rainy day that never came (or that guy you never called!). I love cleaning out old bags of mine — they're treasure troves of insights to a yesterday out of reach.
So the other day, as we drove out to Staten Island for our first COVID vaccination shot, I couldn't help but wonder how I might feel on a random Tuesday, in a distant future, when I'm cleaning out a few of the bags I toted around with me during 2020. What might the clues look like? Would I find a spare mask? Perhaps some hand sanitizer? An "I Voted" sticker? Or maybe, just maybe, tucked away as a bookmark in an old poetry book, I'll find my vaccination card — the harbinger of light at the end of a very long and dark year, in which the heroism of brave men and women answered the call to selflessly carry us all on their backs. Of course, we have a long way to go from here, as my future self likely knows all too well, but I like to think as she’s sitting there in this distant daydream future of mine with old bags all around her and 2020 well behind her, she’ll vividly remember exactly how she felt after her first shot — so terribly grateful she could burst.
For all my fellow New Yorkers, be sure to check out the CVS website between midnight and 1am each evening, as they tend to add new appointment slots around this time. Just be patient and keep refreshing! And starting tomorrow, everyone over the age of 16 is eligible — so let's go New York, let's do this!
There's an alchemy to a good book — it can change you, devour you, move you, inspire you and fully immerse you. I don't think I'm alone when I admit over the past year, I've lost myself in many good books, more so than usual. And if you pass me an equally transportive cocktail while reading — perhaps one with a single malt whisky — well, you'd be hard pressed to break me from that spell. Today, in celebration of Glenmorangie's beautifully cinematic new campaign, I've put together a vignette inspired by these everyday transportive moments, like finding yourself in a really, delicious and yes, wonderful story in a book.
Now tell me, what are you reading at the moment? And moreover, what are you sipping alongside that story?
Ginger Lemon Sour
What you'll need:
1 1/2oz Glenmorangie Nectar D’Or (or any whisky will do) 1/3oz Orange Curaçao 1/2oz lemon juice 2 bar spoons ginger jam
How to make it:
Break out your cocktail shaker and pour everything in, stirring well to dissolve the jam.
Then fill the shaker with ice cubes and shake well.
When you’re done, strain the serve into a chilled coupe or martini glass – and set off the cocktail’s color with an orange wheel.
Just last week, as I was casually browsing through Helmut Newton photos on Pinterest for a moodboard I was working on, I stumbled across a strange looking word. Kalsarikännit. My tongue hurt at the prospect of trying to pronounce it — uncertain of what to do with that many consonants strung together. And don't get me started on the umlaut— the two dots over the a, to indicate a short "eh" sound. "Lots to unpack with this word" I thought to myself. Let's look it up.
Kalsarikännit, which I came to learn is pronounced like cal-sar-y-cuhn-eet, is the Finnish concept of drinking at home, alone, usually in as little clothes as possible, typically your underwear. Ah, this makes sense this word popped up with a Helmut Newton photo now— a beautiful black and white film shot of a woman, perhaps getting ready for an evening or maybe unwinding afterward, clad in just in black, slightly opaque tights, bra and jewelry. A bottle of wine sits next to her as she gazes at her reflection in the mirror.
And, I guess when I really think about it, we've all been that Helmut Newton woman this year to a certain extent. Sure, we may not be able to fully take advantage of our wardrobes for events, parties and big dinners, but, and perhaps this is the homebody in me talking here, sometimes the getting ready part, is the best part. The anticipation of an evening out sometimes feels sweeter than the actual evening itself.
What could a Kalsarikännit evening look like? I'd start by throwing on a great evocative playlist, pouring a cocktail or two and strutting around your apartment like you know you're going to charm the hell out of your date that evening, even if you're not seeing another living soul aside from your dog or cat. Throw on a movie, wrap yourself up in a silk robe or perhaps velvet. Read poetry in bed. Write a letter to an ex-lover, that you never intend to send. Light candles. Eat decadent takeout in bed — oysters, steak, caviar. Or if you're feeling adventurous, cook a meal in said underwear— just be aware of prying neighbor eyes!
Don't get me wrong, I also love lounging at home in my most comfortable clothes while sipping red wine, but I think the feeling of slinking around your own home in something that makes you feel undeniably sexy is quite appealing. Whether it's just you or your now pleasantly surprised partner, I think it helps reclaim some of that "I'm going out tonight magic" without ever having to step a foot outside the door.
Now tell me, do you ever partake in Kalsarikännit?
I'm not an overly fussy person when it comes to birthdays. In fact, perhaps it's the Pisces in me, but a big celebration in my honor stresses me out just to think about — let alone, plan. Which is why I'll always tend to favor small and intimate gatherings — the unavoidable theme of this past year perhaps for us all, whether we liked it or not.
A few weeks ago, on a cold February Friday, I turned 35. It was a quiet day of heads down work and creative tasks for campaigns I had in flight, followed by dinner and a movie at home with my two favorite guys. It snowed for most of the day, which was the perfect extra excuse I needed to sit at my window as dusk settled, waiting for the glow of the apartment windows around us to pepper the palpably cold darkness outside.
You see, birthdays always bring a heavy dose of introspection for me. That might sound overly despondent, and perhaps it is, but I don't mind it much. The truth is — the further I move along into my 30s, the more comfortable I feel actually sitting with things, reflecting on them, understanding what it is about them that makes me happy and similarly, what it is about them that makes me sad. And this past year, this past trip around the sun? There was plenty to be thankful for, to celebrate, to cherish, to learn from, and yes, there was plenty to mourn as well — each one no more valuable than the other, each one deserving of headspace, especially as I closed out yet another proverbial chapter, in preparation for the next.
In the past, I might have written a pithy collection of 35 things I've learned in 35 years but I have a feeling that's been done many times before. So instead, I'd rather leave you with one particular truth I've come to underscore time and time again and that's a certain Maya Angelou quote that I think applies so beautifully to practically everything: "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
As for these photos? Well, let's just say, while I may turn down a big fancy, soirée in my honor, that doesn't mean I'll skip out on dressing up for any and all other occasions, formal or not.
It's a conscious and deliberate decision to wake up each day and seize the beautiful. To sing the beautiful. To craft the beautiful. To narrate, to shape, to mold, to speak truth to the beautiful. Not so much in expensive things or grand buildings or what your hair looks like on a given day, although those things are wonderful in their own right, but it's in the quiet in between moments, too. Perhaps even more so. The imperfect moments. The humbling moments. The no-one-is-looking-and-perhaps-no-one-is-noticing moments. The moments that don’t garner a social currency online. Seize those. And run with them. Run and don't look back, until your appetite for them becomes so second nature it's like breathing or reaching for your morning coffee or better yet, a Friday night glass of wine.
For the better part of the past 11 years or so of running This Time Tomorrow, I've always wanted this idea to be the forefront of my content, that being the pursuit of beauty. And certainly not in the conventional way we're trained to think of beauty. To me, beauty is so much more than how you put yourself together or how expensive your wardrobe totals out to be — and it's not a blessing only bestowed on the young and seemingly wrinkle-free. And I freely admit that as someone who has had to spend years retraining herself to see beauty through a different lens. Through a multi-faceted lens. Through a wider lens.
And that's what I hope to do for you here on This Time Tomorrow. To encourage you to see, to craft, to seek out the beautiful in your every day, no matter what it looks like. To appreciate a beautiful dress just as much as a beautiful, historic building. To appreciate the craftsmanship of an investment bag just as much as the craftsmanship of a captivating documentary, memoir or photograph. To appreciate the beautiful bodies we're all given as well the minds we have the privilege of cultivating. Both need attention and care and in my opinion, celebration.
Simply put — beauty is in the everyday details, if we just take the time to slow down, stop scrolling and truly notice.
I've felt pretty strongly the past few years that I want this site to be about far more than just a conversion rate. Personally, I don't want my "internet legacy" to depend solely on how much I encouraged you to buy at my recommendation. In fact, to be perfectly honest, I would much prefer I played a role in encouraging you to take that disposable income and invest it wisely — stocks, real estate, education instead. It'll serve you far better and far longer, I promise.
So when it came down to writing a succinct manifesto for this new chapter, this new look that you now see for This Time Tomorrow, I kept coming back to this notion of substance. These days, I feel empty if there isn't an emotional substance to what I'm consuming or creating and my sincere hope is that you feel nourished in some way after visiting my site. Whether that's through an outfit you'd like to emulate with items in your own closet, a beautiful location with an equally arresting story behind it, a trip that inspires a cultural curiosity in you or perhaps, it's in the storytelling itself — getting lost in the words and visuals. Whatever the reason, I hope there's something that grabs you here, shakes you gently by the shoulders and whispers, "Let's get lost in the details together."
With that — I just want to say, welcome (or welcome back) to This Time Tomorrow — the discerning soul's destination for all things style and substance. I'm so honored to have you here. I hope you stay a while.