As I’m at the tail end of my work shift as a direct care counselor, having stemmed the tide of residents cursing staff out at random and a slew of dirty grown-man diapers and clean wipes, I do wish I were with my family this day. On the other hand, I’ve had time to reflect on what I’m thankful for. In spite of working a job that pushes the limits of my patience and sanity, and in spite of a socio-political climate that’s pushed most of us in the states at wit’s end, I’m finding myself taking moments to reflect on the small things that can actually say I’m blessed to have.
I’m thankful that even though my job as a direct care counselor is difficult, and the employer that I work for is frustrating, it allows me to have something to pay the bills, keep me fed, and able to be self-sufficient to a fault.
I’m thankful that even though I still live at home with my parents, I still have a roof over my head, and I can contribute to their well-being financially.
I’m thankful that I don’t have a gym membership yet. I’ve trained harder in the comfort of my own bedroom than I ever could in a Planet Fitness or some other gym chain.
I’m thankful for being in a city with options. Even with the dividing line between the haves and have-nots widening in New York, I’m finding more opportunities to take advantage of now than I did 10 years ago.
I’m thankful for being single. Although the loneliness can get to me at times, it’s allowed me a lot more time to understand myself and what I need, and it’s given me more time to pursue my interests than being in a relationship would.
I’m thankful that at 34, even though I’m seen as “too old” for some things, I’m young enough for a fresh start.
And I’m thankful to be alive, most of all.
Growing up in the Bronx, the stables at the end of Pelham Parkway was a special place. The first time I went there, I was 4 years old, and it was a group trip for my pre-kindergarten group. It was my first time seeing horses and ponies up close. My favorite pony there was a brown mare with a jet black mane named Lucy. I loved feeding her carrots. Neither I nor my classmates wanted to leave those stables.
12 years later, my parents and I took my nephew to those same stables. Lucy was long gone, but their horses and ponies were as beautiful as ever. Seeing my nephew ride a pony for the first time reminded me of my first time all those years ago. It was an amazing thing to share.
The stables at the end of Pelham Parkway have been out of business for years now, and all that’s left of the place is a husk, along with the memories of what used to be. I miss the horses, and I miss seeing them trot up and down Pelham Parkway. The only solace I have is that I had a chance to experience these stables in their prime, filled with magnificent creatures.
I’ve been single for 3 years. The first two years, when Valentine’s Day would approach, I’d be a complete Grinch. I couldn’t stand all the imagery of happy couples being pushed into the faces of the masses, all in order to get them to fork over their money for chocolates, flowers, and even the shiniest jewelry money could buy. I hated the feelings of longing that these images would invoke, and I’d curse the existence of February 14. Suddenly, that time of year has come around again, and for the first time in a long time, it simply feels like another day.
My parents and relatives always like to bug me and point out that I’m single and not getting any younger, asking me who my next girlfriend will be, or when I’m getting married. Truth be told, I don’t care at this point if I’m destined to stay single or not. Between focusing on improving myself and pushing toward my personal goals, the supposed emptiness of being single has been replaced with a sense of solitude and peace. Being alone with my own thoughts has been a blessing in recent months, allowing me to rediscover myself. Sometimes, solitude can put things in perspective.
Don’t get me wrong. There are those rare days where I would like to wake up next to a wonderful woman. I sometimes miss those long, playful phone calls from my days with my last girlfriend. Still, looking at where I am now compared to three years ago, I don’t regret anything.
If you’re single, and you don’t have a special someone to be your Valentine, don’t worry about it. Focus on building yourself up. Don’t worry about finding somebody on that dating site, and don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t bumped into that special someone yet. Take time to do something for yourself. Hit up a bookstore and explore. Hit up a gym and get active. Take time to try something new that you haven’t done before. Be your own Valentine.
Happy Valentine’s Day.