Honest Chat About Love

A while ago, when I was grabbing drinks with a girlfriend, I was posed the question, “what is the point of dating in your twenties?” 

We discussed how these ten years are the formative years of our life. The years we are meant to be growing our careers, exploring without strings attached, and living our best lives, so if no one is looking to get married until their thirties, then why date now?

There were many reasonable answers: maybe you want to date for a while before you jump into a legally binding relationship, maybe you enjoy going out and dating and keeping things casual, perhaps you’ll find someone in your twenties, and together your relationship will continue to grow.

I have heard stories about women shopping for husbands on dating apps, but I have also heard of a woman just going on dating apps for the fun of it and never actually meeting anyone. It’s this weird time that we live in because we have people at our fingertips, but what it is you could be searching for all depends on how you are feeling in the present.

My friend and her boyfriend didn’t work out. As she now deals with the pain of heartbreak, I am confronted about what this concept of love actually is. After a couple months, she was ready to lift her life off its supports and move to be with him, which feels like the opposite of someone preaching about seeing no point of dating while we are young. To me, that is too much too fast, but on paper, their “love” or their relationship looked good. Similar interests, same career industry, a firey flame that ignites. And I want to emphasize that flame because to me, I want a slow burn.

At times, I think about where I have encountered love—the way it drove me crazy in the most magical means but hurt me as it has hurt others in my life. I know you need to experience the heat of a fire to know how how to keep yourself safe, but maybe everyone needs to feel a flame like that so you know how to move forward to grow from it.

Something I have learned is the most beautiful smoke comes from slow-burning charcoal—a growing fire that warms you for nights full of infinite memories. They burn with the most delicate oranges when they begin, the translucent smoke snakes, and dances in a steady fluid nature—however, some men, like my first love, lite bonfires with kerosene to engulf the breathable air around you. It’s like an explosion, hot, powerful, but short-lived.

My last love, and men thereafter, suffocated me. His love, our love, altered the way I breathed, thought, and felt. That kind of love, whether it be your first, third, or twentieth, burns you brightly because of how quick it is to ignite. But, when it’s put out, it leaves nothing but ash in its wake. My first love burned so many holes in my skin; it made it impossible to feel whole when he went. It paved way for heartbreak to leave me doubled over in pain.

My boyfriend today has similarities with my previous boyfriend, showing that I clearly have a type, but on paper, the two of them vs myself have little in common. However, we work. the core things that I need in life and love is time, support, care, and communication. Love to me isn’t compliments every day that are spoonfed to me. It isn’t phone calls during lunch breaks or lavish dates. Its someone who takes time for me, but also is mindful of my time. Its someone who supports me, my dreams, and my ventures, and its someone who has dreams I can support. It’s having someone there to hold you and know they will come home with a hug when you need — and when times are tough, they are there to talk it through with you.

All of that takes time. It isn’t found in a fire but rather felt like the warmth of a glowing fireplace that you need to fuel with more wood, kindling, and oxygen to make sure it survives. Tomorrow is our two year anniversary. It is the third Valentine’s Day we will be spending together, and I am very happy and lucky to be with someone who mirrors and is what I need within a relationship.

17 January 2018

I forgot about SYML. I forgot about In My Body – EP, and I forgot all about Wildfire. I’m sure for a couple weeks after the 17th of January, I listened to the song and EP, but otherwise, I haven’t listened to it since. Well, until now, as it loops on my laptop as I write this post.

This post isn’t about how I discovered a song, but rather what the song meant to me on this date two years ago. I was nervous about getting on the 6-train Uptown and meeting a man to talk my truth. I paced midtown for about an hour, scoping out a bar for the two of us to meet and talk. I know he was mad or upset at me, probably a little scared about what I was going to say. I had my headphones tethering my music to my ears. I believe I discovered SYML days before, so I shuffled the albums I had of theirs. As I approached the Bloomberg Tower on 59th, I looked up as the second verse played.

In good time, you’ll come to know
When you release, when you let go
You can find yourself where you belong
You’re not a curse, you’re not too much
You are needed here, you are enough
And nothing’s gonna hold you down for long

On the 16th, I finally let go. I couldn’t wait to tell him that I let go, and I found myself where I belonged because, for the first time since I had moved to the city five months prior I, felt like I belonged in New York — I felt like I was enough. For the prior five months, I felt as if everything that was happening was an omen to what I deserved. I thought I was cursed or destined to fail because I felt like the people I was meeting were the ones who were defining my worth here.

I stared up and looked at the mirrored panes and saw my reflection looking back at me. I saw me here in New York, and I watched as I let go of everything that had happened prior. And because of that, I saw the way my reflection smiled back at me as the orchestra grew louder and louder in my ears.

I met the man with the most fabulous smile and broke the disappointing news, but I headed his fear and showed him that it was the best thing I could have ever done. That nothing was clouding my mind, and I was ready to start fresh and take in everything ahead of me, including him. After grabbing drinks and snacks at the bar, I walked him back to the Bloomberg Tower and made him stand in the spot and listen to the song that I had played on repeat. I stood in silence and looked up.

Darling, please don’t give up
Drop your hate and sing for love
Let me be the one who sings along

I looked at him and knew the second I dropped my hate yesterday I could sing for love and sing along with him. Some days since the 17th of January, I have forgotten how I felt and picked the hate back up. It fills me with confusion and fear, and I have to remember to tell myself to put it back and move forward.

Sometimes I forget I live in New York; I’ll get lost in Central Park and forget about the skyscrapers that tower over the city blocks. But now, every time I come from out of the trees and my routine, I smile when I look up and see how the city reflects in their mirrored panes.

**Play the song above while you read this post. From 2pm on 17 January 2018, until I went to bed, it’s all I listened to.

 

Learning from Friendship

One morning while my stomach growled and my boyfriend slept, I stayed tucked in under the duvet and scrolled on Instagram like I do most every morning. It’s a trait I wished I didn’t have, an addiction maybe. It’s like my thumb mindlessly goes to the folder on my phone and selects the app that I numbingly scroll through for an hour, looking at the photos my friends posted while I was asleep.

Something I realized during those mornings is that my friendships span time zones. That means I’m never without a new post from someone, but also that means I don’t see my friends very often. Some of the people I consider best friends are here in NY, while others live in different states, countries, and continents. Social media makes it so there is always something to see, like, and comment on because my friends are updating their feed. But, if you look at mine, I’m barren.

I last posted in January, and before that was October, and before that was August of 2018. You would see that its cold in New York, that I love pumpkins, and I moved to the city nearly two years ago, but then again last time I posted was in January so for anyone else that follows me, but doesn’t speak to me on a regular basis, they may have no idea where I am at the moment.

I used to post weekly when I lived in London. That was the one time I was consistently updating social media with photos. I loved refreshing my page with my travels and adventures, yet here I am in August 2019 knowing that I’ve gone on three cross-country trips, traveled to 11 different states, to two different countries, and graduated from my Master’s degree. Could you even tell that from the look of my Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, or Twitter? No. All incredible feats and adventures, yet all I show are a few photos of my time.  

I’m okay with that, most days. I’m okay with adding the photos I have taken to my photo wall in my apartment; growing the memories for myself as opposed to showcasing it across social media. My partner took the leap in February to get rid of all his social media; deactivating and deleting everything. Sometimes it feels freeing for him, the societal pressure lifted, the popularity contest of likes is eliminated, and people stalking are gone, but sometimes he misses out on the things his family and friends share; the people he cares about the most. Sometimes I feel inclined to show him what is going on with all of them, but at the same time, I wonder if the solitude is what he needs.

However, it’s those people, the ones who tag us on social media when they post a photo of us or find a meme that reminds them of us, that has me keeping my account dormant. When I look at the photos I am tagged in on Instagram, I see the photos my friends posted with me in them. Some were from the day we took them, others flashbacks and appreciation posts. They commemorated our accomplishments, fun times, birthdays, and life-changing events. There were posed photos, candids, and selfies. There were shots taken in Naples, Florence, Boulder, London, New York, and more. There were in dorm rooms, at sorority events, concerts, sports games, and plane rides. 

Seeing all of that made me think of friendship and the connections we share with other humans. It made me think about the memories I have with others and how people impact our daily lives. It’s rare that I go a day without talking to a friend or two. My phone gives me this untethered, but a tethered connection with people all over the world. Reading these heart-warming captions about how much these people appreciate me does a lot for a person’s self-esteem. I feel lucky that people from elementary school and middle school still appreciate me as much as my most recent college and grad school friends do. It’s nice knowing you can from these core relationships at such a young age.

I am lucky my hometown friends still ask when I am coming home next or want to travel with me elsewhere. I am lucky that my college friends are inspiring and are continually encouraged me. I am lucky that I live in such a small but huge city that constantly introduces me to people of all backgrounds and interests. I meet people that matter to me and they are constantly impacting my life for the better, but I am also learning from those who help me grow as a person.

Some of my friends make me grow for all good reasons. They are my cheerleaders; the ones who encourage my dreams and are there for the nightmares. There is so much I could say to thank those who have impacted my life for the better, because I know that are the reasons why I feel connected and loved. But this post is about the “friends” that teach me about friendship and what I could do to be a better person; not just a friend, but as a daughter, girlfriend, sister, and stranger to the people I pass on the street.

I encountered a situation the other night that helped me realize that I have grown with my ideas and knowing what is good for me. Sometimes friends can let us down. Sometimes their words and their actions can belittle us into thinking we are worth less than what we are. They can blow us off, ignore our calls, and never see how their actions can hurt. I try my best to never be that friend, I try to engage with my friends anyway that I can. I like writing them letters when I can’t see them, I like FaceTiming instead of texting, and giving in ways money could never provide.

I listen to these friends, the ones who cancel on plans last minute, rant about others, and fuel the anger in their emotions, and try to learn from them. I see how they act and treat others, and I try to do my best to listen and talk kindness back into their lives. I try to encourage through my experiences and remind them that we can change what we choose to change. I think I do it because I have had people in my life who have impacted me in a positive way and left me as open to opportunities as growing points. I listen to them and hear the negative speech and wonder “why would you just give up?” 

I know I forget to text back sometimes, I know I forget birthdays and anniversaries, and I know that I have let people down in the past. I know I can act like those who speak negatively, the “friends” that I want to learn from. Sometimes when life is hard, all you want to do is rant to someone, someone who wouldn’t judge and knows what you are going through. I guess I write these posts, or journal entries, to do the same; to get out my thoughts about something, but something I have been trying to do recently is to find the positives in negative times and try to follow up negativity with something that makes me happy.

I think about the people who feel lonely and don’t want to be alone, but feel like they have no other choice but to be alone. It saddens me to think there are people who don’t feel supported or loved. It worries me that there could be someone I know, talking so negatively about someone who doesn’t deserve those words and judgment. We worry so much about our image, the one we put out in the world whether we say we do or don’t. We are aware of the implications that come with putting ourself out there and feeling the pressure of a bully saying they don’t like it.

I want more people to be cheerleaders. I want more people to donate their time to something that helps those that are struggling. I want more people to hug one another and help each other through difficult times because I don’t want anyone to feel like they are alone. If you are reading this, and feel like you could use someone to talk to, please feel free to contact me here, I will always try my best to be there for you, even if you feel like no one can be.