Holiday Anxiety

[via Behold.Her ]

I totally embody the Danish term “Hygge” shortly meaning comfort, a coziness that brings about a content feeling. I look forward to autumn, pregnant with anticipation for the inevitable show of jewel-toned leaves, warm beverages enjoyed in cozy sweaters, football games, and deep, solitary contemplations. For an introvert like me, it is undoubtedly my favorite time of the year. 

 

I generally am optimistic in the fall, as it is the precursor to the holidays. These months bring about a chance to see loved ones that live at a distance, the comfort of lazing around my family home with tall socks and leggings drinking tea by the fire, holiday music, and loads of comfort food. I spend every day from September through December sipping up the delicious colors, smells and moments these months have to offer. It’s sensory overload. 

 

With the joy of fall and holidays, comes romance. It’s all around and totally unavoidable. 

 

It’s with those glaringly cutesy-love moments that fill my social media feeds and my ears through friends’ love stories, that this time of year is also admittedly one of my most anxiety-ridden and saddening times. I am in my late 20’s and have been practically single my entire adult life. I was a late bloomer, coupled with a fiery focus on building a successful business. I had no time for dating, until I desperately wanted to date. I clung to a depressingly awful situation with a guy who didn't love me but kept me around as a “best friend”. It was always around the holidays that I would feel the painful stabs of our relationship, missing our first year when we were dating and he promised that he would take me home for the holidays to his family’s farm. It sounded so romantic and perfect, and I couldn’t wait to see his mom and grandparents again, who I had come to love so dearly. I was rudely awoken to the harsh reality when he brought another woman home—one he was newly dating and fleetingly told me about, and she got to celebrate my Christmas with them. I sat up in bed, heart racing, anxiety coursing through my veins, wondering why I was so pathetic, and when I would find someone who wouldn’t treat me this way. 

 

The anxiety around love and the holidays has only built with the passing years, leading to an inevitable night, somewhere in late December, when I notice my loneliness. It sits deep in my bones, and it hurts. I realize that I will face my family, once again, with no one to introduce them to. No one to sit next to me with their hand on my thigh in reassurance. No one to cuddle with on the couch watching cheesy holiday movies after everyone has gone to bed. 

 

I catch myself at night, lying awake, tears streaming down my face. I can almost feel his big thumbs gently rubbing my salty cheeks, wrapping his body around mine in a comforting embrace, telling me that I was dumb to ever feel this way. But I feel trapped—out of control. It is the one part of my life that I can’t do anything about besides wait, stay positive, and know that one day, we will find each other. Yet every year, my “singleness” punches me right in the gut. Its blared across social platforms, in every movie. “You are single, and you suck”, is what it all translates to.

 

Two years ago, I sat at the table with my family, and my 15 year-old cousin asked, “Do you have a boyfriend?” “Why don’t you have a boyfriend?” “You must be ugly or something”. And even though I know not to be bothered by a teenage boy’s words, it stirred up my obvious insecurities of being a viable young woman with no romantic life. And here I am, two years later, still single. I get nervous that my family is wondering what my cousin asked rudely aloud. That I have a successful business to show for, but can’t keep a personal life together? What is wrong with her?

 

I feel anxiety for another year ending with no prospects, losing precious moments to make memories with my person.

 

I realize that we live in a society where being an independent young woman is a great thing. And I know I am a wonderful person. I live freely, I travel, I am a kick-ass business owner. I come from a loving world. I am so blessed. But the very human side of me wants to share this beautiful life with someone who will celebrate it all with me. Its in this very magical time of year that I can’t help but feel the obvious disappointment of being single.

Israel

where do i even begin? i don't think there is a proper starting place, so i'll start with me as a little babe. 

my father was born in jerusalem, and i spent most of my toddler years traveling to the country. it wasn't until a trip at age 14 that i really bonded with the country. i was old enough to understand the beauty of the place, but young enough to make gutsy affirmations to the tune of, "i will live here one day". fast forward four years later, with lots of strong nudges from my parents and sister, and i ended up moving to herzilya, a sleepy beach town north of tel aviv, for university. i spent three years eating way too many pastries because for the first time i could walk to a main street [sokolov!] and pick up a casual box of rugelach and a coffee. for a gal who grew up in the actual woods where the only places you could drive to once you got your license was the dumpy mall nearby OR a movie [or both because they were in the same place], walking to a bustling street with buses that could transport you to anywhere in the country was downright revolutionary. i would meet friends for shakshouka and chai lattes at cafe cafe, study under palm trees at espresso bar, and friday mornings were always reserved for adventures to the best craft market known to man, nachalat binyamin. it was a great three years. i was emotionally immature, full of persistent acne, and awkwardly going through experimental fashion phases that one usually overcomes in high school [thanks late-blooming genes!]. 

leaving israel was like going through a really, really bad breakup. i spent an entire year pining for the country, even spending four months in barcelona because it was on the mediterranean and had to be kind of the same, right? [not at all, although alluring in its own, unique way]. i visited for graduation and realized how romantically immature i was when every man of every age that passed me by was just straight gorgeous, [wtf was i doing?! i could've snagged one if i only had my damn eyes open] and i spent every morning sucking down cafe afuchs. i've since visited about four times. each visit is unique, yet i always find a way to sneak in my staples:

 

a (thousand) cafe afuch(s) [latte]. literally anywhere. they're always good. i order mine, "chazak im harbe ketsev" which means, "strong with lots of foam". My favorite cafe is Landwer's and its a chain, spotted all over tel aviv, and other cities in the "merkaz" or "center" of israel. 

crushed fruit, nuts, and halvah frozen yogurt. there's a machine that basically smoothie-fies a block of yogurt, and a myriad of toppings including but not limited to fruits, nuts, chocolate, and halvah, and blends it into a soft serve swirl of crunchy, fruity, flavor-melding goodness. the best is at Dr. Lek.

aruchat boker. literally meaning, breakfast, "aruchat boker" is hands down one of my favorite things about israel. i love having many options when i eat-- i blame it on my bird-like eating tendencies from my tall and awkward string-bean childhood years--i love picking at many different dishes and flavors in one meal. breakfast in israel is traditionally served on approximately 8 small plates and consists of an egg cooked any way [make sure you order "havita and not "beitzim", the latter being slang for balls, yes, testicles on a dude-man], "salat catzutz" or chopped salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, and purple onion, a bread basket, tahina, jams, and other dipping options for said bread. its salty, sweet, sometimes even spicy, and satisfies every morning craving you might have. 

nachalat binyamin. when i say this is the best craft market, i'm really not joking. and its not cutesy crafts like you may be thinking, its the real deal. of course you have your puppet man, and soap lady, but you also have gorgeous metal and precious stone rings, embroidered tel aviv vignettes, and hand-dyed silk scarves. during my time spent living in israel on a student's budget, i spent way too much of my weekly food allowance in this place, but every item i've bought here i truly cherish to this day.

a cool ass, hipster tel aviv dinner or bar spot. one of my proudest moments happened this past trip to israel. i was wearing a flowy jumpsuit from anthropologie with a patterned head scarf and was just rocking life. we were told to dine at Port Said, a new[ish] spot in tel aviv, known for its innovative yet approachable dishes, vinyl on deck, and hipster crowd. but seriously, the person who recommended it to me told me that she won't dare go unless she is feeling really, really, cool. [tel aviv takes hipsterism to a whole other level, and the city is truly dripping with bohemian awesomeness at every turn.] we decided to go on a whim, and arrived at the spot around 6p which is quite early for dinner in this city. we lucked into a corner spot on the patio and sipped israeli red wine while we made our way through a charred baked sweet potato with coarse sea salt and creme fraiche. by the time we began to dig into a paper bag filled with juicy string beans, the line for seating poured out onto the street and the speakers pumped with grainy jams from vinyl records. this place is a real gem, and totally made my life when upon leaving a local singer we became friends with named Tamara told me that a few patrons touted my sister and i the "coolest people there". that's right, i'm cooler than you. 

 

¡fresh juice! on almost every street corner in tel aviv, theres fresh juice being contained and served with a bright orange straw. my sister lived in tel aviv for a number of years and she led us into Uzi Eli, at the mouth of the shuk hacarmel. sage burning, reggae music pulsing, and elbow to elbow crowds fill the narrow space. one wall is lined with crates of citron (citrus fruit that looks like a cross between a lemon and a lime) and medicinal powders like maca and cinnamon. most guests are welcomed with a "health shot" served by maayan, a bubbly, bronzed-skin beauty, who also happens to be the daughter of the yemenite medicine man who owns the shop. we pounded back a pucker-y, salty + spicy shot of turmeric, cayenne, and olive oil and then spoke to maayan about our ailments and taste profiles. a couple of minutes later, we were presented with bespoke juices. on the lids of each sits artfully positioned fruits, seeds, and sauces that represent the ingredients inside. pure deliciousness is what this place is, and for a natural remedy sucker like myself, the healing properties of these juices totally roped me in to visiting this spot three times within three weeks. 

neve tsedek. tucked away behind the bustling streets of tel aviv lies neve tsedek, a small neighborhood within the city lines. everything is blooming, cobblestone streets weave in and out of luxurious boutiques, and quaint coffee shops transport you to europe. visit Dallal for delicious pastries and coffee. eat outside as bicycles whir by, and pink flowers flutter in the breeze. if you have time, catch a show at the Dallal center to be dazzled by incredible modern dance performances. 

spices, spices, spices. go to the shuk machne yehuda in jerusalem or shuk hacarmel in tel aviv and pick up these: turmeric. sumac. zaatar. curry. 

abu ghosh. if you happen to drive to jerusalem, it is always worth it to stop in abu ghosh for a real hummus experience. this arabic village really nails this dish, and its worth every swipe of pita. you also should buy a large jar of authentic tahina here, and be sure to leave enough weight in your suitcase as i did not and had to sadly leave a beautiful jar in my second home.

 

The End, Brooklyn

your intuition led you here, 522 metropolitan ave

so guys, this whole unicorn-food trend... it's kind of fun, but it's also kind of weird. i'll get down with the "unicorn farts" made from cotton candy, or rainbow cookies in the shape of the mystical horse, but when the combinations are just an attempt to get as much sugar and crap onto one plate for the sake of glitter and rainbows and likes, i have to call it out. that is, until i began noticing this multicolored drink called the "unicorn latte" conceptualized at a place called "the end" in williamsburg. what piqued my interest is the fact that these drinks aren't just a sweet-y mess of colors trying to look pretty. they are actually blended tonics--herb and plant-based alchemy that create vibrant, good-for-you lattes. 

a couple of months ago, i began drinking ashwagandha [an ayurvedic herb] in my morning coffee as per the recommendation of my good friends at greenheart juice. i began this ritual in a desperate attempt to manage my sudden and extreme rise in anxiety [a broken heart and running a business as a one-woman team will definitely do that to ya!] and was blown away by the almost instantaneous results. i've continued to drink this herb daily, and began fooling around with other herbals like he she wu and tocos. so basically, this is why the end had to happen. because its a whole cafe dedicated to this cool stuff i love.  

after wrapping up an all-day shoot in williamsburg, i found my way to the end. i was overwhelmed by the vast number of tonics, but ended up ordering the barista's favorite: the amethyst [appropriate also because i am born in february]. the amethyst was a perfect blend of lavender, maqui + goji berries, vanilla, lucuma powder, tocos and almond mylk, topped with purple glitter goodness. dudes, the sweet, lovely sips of this drink was what allowed me to make it through my hellish, traffic-filled ride home. of course, since i'm a coffee-holic, i also ordered an espresso shot, but thats beside the point. this latte was magic in a cup.

 

man, i seriously want that drink right about now. too bad we're now buried in about a foot of snow.