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(This is an excerpt from my next book Falling Madly. Get updates as they are published here.)

Six weeks into this adventure in somewhat solo city living, I’d begun to establish some local haunts. My absolute favorite is Serratto.

Their happy hour is incredible, and they serve the best cocktails in town. Generally, these expertly-crafted drinks get paired with a conical serving of twice-fried pomme frites with garlic aioli. Or maybe the tomato basil soup that is somehow magically vegan even though it’s the creamiest tomato soup you’ve ever tasted. Oh, and the ambiance!

I’m a girl who seriously values great atmosphere. Maybe it’s because I’m dramatic, and I like to surround myself with a certain mood before I dig in and write. Actually, that’s definitely it. But really, lighting can completely change how a place feels, and Serratto’s carefully curated environment is no exception.

You enter through two over-sized glass doors to a massive vase of flowers – think lilies and grass accents six feet tall – resting at the top of a short staircase before the hostess attired in a more casual version of a trend you think you saw in a magazine seats you. You follow her back past the bar to an open sea of blues, lightly-nautical-but-not-too-kitschy decor accented with wrought iron that look older than it possibly could be. She seats you at a thick wooden table framed on either side with antiqued cobalt blue chairs with wicker seats and leaves to rejoin the other offbeat but attractive waitstaff gathered around a bar, folding napkins over small talk and side glances.

Tiny acts of delightful debauchery take place in the grand room, full of tucked away corners. The wood floor is a witness to the steady stream of the feet of happy customers, content to bring in a book while they enjoy the lightness of a lemon drop stronger than anticipated. But the tipsiness merely enhances the experience.

Another day has gone ridiculously well, and I’m reveling in it. Another client engagement booked, meetings with new friends arranged, and now dressed up and out on a date with myself, things are looking very, very good.

And then there’s Daniel.

It’s only been a month since I started seeing him, and I’m in so deep already. It’s a little unnerving. This was not in the cards for me before. At least, I didn’t think so. But then he goes off saying things like how he thinks I’m fascinating. What’s strange is I believe him. Stranger still is how natural this feels. Nothing about it has been earth shattering, and that seems to be a part of why it is so remarkable. For someone in the throes of transition, I feel more peaceful than I have at any time in my life. I don’t know what that means yet.

There’s something about being with him that is so unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I wonder how much of it is biochemical. I decide I don’t care, and that I’m just going to ride it out as long as I possibly can.

God, how did this even happen? Somehow from being a trainwreck and miserable just a few months ago, I’ve completely transformed. Now I dance salsa and blues and write books and take business classes and make things and cook and have somehow become someone who sounds interesting. Like someone who might just be worth knowing.

Does thinking that makes me a narcissist? Maybe. I think it just makes me someone who is slowly learning how to follow their bliss.

A single white votive flickers on the table from the draft coming through the open doors. A table of silver-haired women at the table across from me celebrate a birthday, emanating a beauty and brilliance I hope one day I’ll have earned.