BE, HERE, NOW

I wish I could say that I remember living in Queens, but I don’t. I know that I did certain things like skip home from the public library with a stack of books around the age of 3 and play in snow that nearly came up to my tiny little shoulder around the age of 2. But remember, I do not.

I don’t remember moving from Queens to Suffolk County, Long Island with my family around the age of 3-and-a-half! nor do I remember painting my new, all-to-myself room a shade of purply-pink. But what I do remember is a constant, pervasive feeling of Not Quite Liking Where I Was.

I’m one of those people who is always reaching for what’s beyond me; always seeking something better or grander and always thinking it can’t be found where I am. I don’t know why but I’ve never really liked Long Island. Well, that’s not true. I like the geography, and some of the towns, but the people—sorry to say it—embarrass me a bit. The rough and tumbled accents; the crassness and propensity for strong language; the general lack of grace and gentility; the culture of god only knows what that’s always felt very much Their’s and not at all Mine—even though a peek through a few of my family’s photo albums would tell a different story. But let’s just say that’s because I was an eccentric teenager trying, for a minute, to fit in to a place where I never fully could.

That’s the problem I guess, Long Island never felt like mine. It wasn’t a place that I could lay claim to, so when a dear friend recently said to me that there was something “so Long Island about you,” I felt my blood boil because to me, there isn’t. Worth noting: she isn’t from here.

You see, my closest friends growing up weren’t in my school district, one wasn’t even in the same state as me. My earliest boyfriends were also from different school districts, most weren’t in my grade either. My own family is mostly from the city, if not different states all together. For college, I shirked convention and hightailed it to a private school in North Carolina, much to the surprise of what felt like everyone and their mother’s who attended in-state public universities or ones within a few hours’ drive of home.

So when I came back to Long Island after college, I did so with my tail between my legs with all intentions of at least working in the city. But that was a thing that very much didn’t happen as I worked for the town I grew up in for 2 years—literally, I was in Town Hall. All the while scratching that itch of mine to leave (again). So I dated someone who lived in Brooklyn. When I finally moved to Brooklyn myself for school, it was largely a disaster and I found myself back in Long Island sooner than I ever wished to return (which at that time was never, mostly never, with the exception of birthdays and holidays and the occasional trip to the Hamptons).

So I was back here. Living in Long Island, at least working in New Jersey (words I never thought I’d say). But when that commute just got to be way. too. much., I was fully here once more—goodbye Brooklyn Boy—dating here, working here, living here. All the while scratching that itch of mine to leave (again). So I dated someone else who lived in Brooklyn; and then someone who lived further east in Long Island but had an apartment in the city; and then that one who lived in Harlem that was so good until it wasn’t good at all. And then I was fully here once again.

But not quite! Because I was still hoping for something better/different/farther away to come my way somehow. Until, quite literally last night, when a very important person in my life—mind you, this is a person I never thought I’d see again (life, you’re funny)—stopped me in the middle of yet another one of my “Why am I here? I can’t stand it here,” diatribes and looked directly at me as he said, “There’s nothing wrong with being here.”

Here.

It has literally cost me so much trying to not be here. I’ve chased down every possible avenue to have an excuse to not be here—religion, education, romance, work—and all of them have ended with an exasperated, financially-strapped, heartbroken me looking up at the sky saying, “Really? Here? Again?”

But yes. Here: apparently where I’m supposed to be now (thanks for nothing Ram Dass). My parents moved my siblings and I here, as in Long Island, for a “better life” and my stubbornness has left me trying to leave this “idyllic suburb” every chance I’ve gotten. Yet my Parent—capitalization necessary as I’m talking about God y’all—has kept bringing me back, saying all the while, “Child, will you just be Here.”

So I shall be here; and not reluctantly this time. Because maybe there’s nothing wrong with being in a place that doesn’t quite feel like Mine. Because maybe it’s not supposed to, and maybe it can’t feel like Mine yet if I am to truly make my mark on it. And maybe, just maybe, this is the biggest test of all: being fully here, in this place and in this moment, even though it’s a here I never really wanted, and finding its light and all the ways I can love it.

Aha.

P.S. Necessary listening…

 

THAT TIME I DECIDED UPON DELUSIONS INSTEAD FOR THE STORY, AT LEAST, FOR THE UNIVERSE

We smoked the screen to make it what it was to be. Now to know it in my memory… – Bon Iver

I should have just stayed away.

I knew it too. All along. That’s the worst, isn’t it? When you feel something so viscerally in your bones you can’t quite explain it or directly point to it but, it’s there. Like a ghost in your mind, haunting you as it floats back and forth, in and out. But no, it can’t be. No he must. No she isn’t. And so it begins, the lies we tell ourselves to keep the loves we want.

Of all of the terrible things in this world, at this moment, I feel as though hindsight is the most terrible. It rips away your self-pity, rips away the distractions you’ve piled high around yourself, rips away the shaky foundation you’re trying to stand tall on, and it says in its cruelest of voices, “Look, you tiny idiot. Look, you beautiful little fool. It was there all along. Right in front of your face.”

But, we smoke our screens. We cloud our glasses. We live in and out of our delusions because for the moment they are more beautiful than the truth. We forget all of the time that we craft our own realities, and life is never kind when our experiences are proven to be just that…our reality, our experience. Not the reality, not the true experience.

And from that moment forward, you can see nothing as the same. The jig is up, the fantasy ruined, the veil ripped, and all you are left to do is look. Over, and over, and over. Because what is passion without torture? Look at the text(s) that said it all. Look at the mouth that told explanations that raised your eyebrow. Look at the shoes you wore the last time you slept, beside them, soundly in your own ignorance. Look at your vacant eyes in the mirror and sigh at your pathetic reflection. Look at those moments, lies though they were, when you had a love in your arms. On your mouth. In your head. In your bones. At least. At least. At least.

Oh, the excuses, rationality, and delusions we cast upon our eyes, our hearts, our minds when we feel what we perceive to be love. Woe to the intense folk, the sensitive folk, the trusting folk, the hopeful folk. Woe always, forever and ever, for the lambs amongst the lions amongst the lambs.

And the most woe upon the little lamb that thought herself a lion as she ventured into the den, unafraid and willing and wanting.

LOVEOLOGY: AN INTRODUCTION

We spend our entire lives studying in efforts to ensure success.

As young children, we study and learn the alphabet so we can communicate our needs and desires. As slightly older children, we spend 12 years of our lives in public and private systems to study and learn subjects, skills, and statistics that will help us in our futures. As young adults, we study and learn to pursue specific careers. As adults, we study and learn to stay in those careers. As spiritual seekers, we study and learn from a variety of texts and teachers to be the best human we can be. And as parents, we study and learn in order to not fail our children.

No matter what we pursue in life, we know that studying will lead to success.

So why then, when it comes to the hardest subject in the the world—love—do we feel as though we can just wing it? Why do we believe that we are well-equipped to handle relationships (marital, familial, platonic, etc.) just because we’re alive? Is it brain chemicals? movies? simply because no one talks about how hard it is? because no one knows how easy that hardness should be?

Yes, relationships are work. True love requires the abandonment of the ego, honest and loving communication, trust, loyalty, second chances, and a delicate balance of our fullest dedication to another human being and honoring our independent minds and free, wild hearts. It requires a bit of universe magic and a whole lot of maturity.

And when you think about the average teenager starting their mating process when their brains aren’t even fully fused together yet, you begin to wonder why we don’t teach a course about love alongside sex ed.

We have written about love for years, conducted science experiments to determine its roots and our own personal experiments of trial and error, and in light of all that, still don’t consider it a subject that warrants proper studying.

I am changing that. Well, for me at least.

Starting now—let’s be real, sometime in the near futureI am going to become a student of love and if I’m lucky, emerge a loveologist. I will read articles, books, conduct an interview or two, geek out over books and wine with friends in a loveology study group, and apply what I’ve learned in efforts to be a better coworker, sister, friend, aunt, and daughter. And in the future once again, girlfriend, then wife, then mother.

I’m going to promise to share my findings for two reasons: 1) writing is how I grow 2) my blog has been barren for far too long.

I am excited for this journey. Because everyone wants love. And if we give out a little more everywhere we go, everyone lights up.

LITTLE SPARK

“What makes for a better relationship: passion or dedication?”

Cursor goes up and down between the two like the stock market went in 2008. Up down. Up down. Zig zag. Zig zag. This one; no that one.

I chose dedication; it was a lie. More so a half-truth.

Maybe I am idealistic, maybe I am a bit naive. But why does society pit passion against dedication and say, “Pick one.” Why are the two mutually exclusive?

Why does it make me unreasonable to want the passion of a Latin lover with the dedication of an American Puritan? 

I have my theories: love becomes more complicated when you have to stir multiple pots at once. Flitting from love affair to love affair in hot pursuit of passion is much easier than being in hot pursuit of passion with the one affair you dedicated yourself to.

It is easier to flee before the dirty socks that never find themselves to the hamper. It is easier to wear sweats day in and day out than to remember to relish and cultivate sexy moments that once were so frequent.

Maybe it is time we admit we are all a little lazy in love. Maybe it is time we admit we do not want to stir two pots. Maybe it is time to fire the agency in charge of marketing the “passionate dedication of yourself to another” and find a new one.

Maybe it could be us instead.