In years past, going to the movies alone was one of my favorite solo activities. There's something special and comforting about it to me, and also equal parts quiet and grand—like I'm treating myself to an event. I've been trying to do it more. I'm not sure if this is normal, but lately when I'm watching a movie with someone, I am super conscientious of their presence and their reaction to the film, and I can't focus on it the way I'd like. I also like to sit with it a while. Like reading a book, I'm always excited to discuss the experience, but would rather initially process it alone. (Also, I'm a crier and I still get embarrassed whenever I'm moved to tears and I'm trying to stifle my sniffles and stealthily wipe my tears off my face next to my companion, ha. For some reason, I'm more comfortable doing all of this with strangers when the movie calls for it.)
This is all to say—a few days ago, I went to see Call Me By Your Name alone after having delayed for weeks. It's a beautiful film and the experience of watching it by myself was really lovely for a myriad of reasons, but it wasn't until the last third I felt fully able to appreciate and love it. Mr. Perlman's speech. His words. (Michael Stuhlbarg, I love you.) Cue alllllll of the tears. This post is a bit of a cheat because I haven't read the novel the movie is based on (by André Aciman), but it's said the dialogue was pulled almost word for word from the text. To hear it's OK for both joy and sorrow to be deeply felt was great validation for me, right now.
I write this at the close of a year I find hard to put into words that suffice.
At the end of 2016, I leaped, I left New York. This year, in contradicting that decision—returning—I took a bigger risk. As a result, I became elevated versions of myself, versions I didn't know I could be.
I became a boss. I was terrified I'd be terrible, but I think I've done well considering the circumstances. There's more to do and more to learn and that excites me. I almost didn't come back for fear I couldn't do it. I'm glad I did.
I don't know how to characterize my relationship this year. Initially, a wonderful whirlwind. The more time passes and the more information I've acquired on what was said and felt about me for the duration of it—the more my perspective on it changes and I remember it less fondly. Hard not to feel the fool. But the positive things I can take away: I was open, and being open to feeling and love—whether it existed or not, or did but unrequited, or didn't but seemed possible—was rewarding in so many ways. At the time, it was fun, new, warm, and an idea of what could be when the stars align under different circumstances with someone else who can reciprocate the love. And it's confirmed: being open is the better option, always! Even when it hurts your heart! Not just with romance, but with any relationship, and with your life. I will never again regret choosing to be open.
I moved into my own apartment, a place that feels more and more like home every day. I've always wanted to create a cozy, safe space for myself and I am accomplishing that. More on this another time.
In the past two months, I've slept, eaten, and exercised better than I have all year. I've had trouble with all of the above and I'm experiencing the benefits of making changes in my routines and diet. (Very proud to say I am now on day #60 of my yoga streak!)
I learned to say no and establish my boundaries, even when I felt scared about offending the other person(s). Sometimes saying no was well-received and one time it cost me communication with a parent indefinitely. While that's been really hard, being able to say yes and no on my own terms as a form of self-care is a necessary empowerment, and I don't take that freedom of choice for granted.
I learned about unconditional love. In 28 years, I never considered what that really meant but one day it occurred to me it's something I have from my mama. To be loved and supported through every high and low, without expectation of anything in return—what a gift! I am a better human for it. I could never thank her enough except to provide as much love and support while I can.
I've been forgiven. Immensely humbling.
I've acknowledged my fears. I'm still trying to figure out the best way to write about all of them; the words have been swirling in my head for some time. But I've been afraid of many things my whole life and it's affected me in ways I'm not proud of and I'm ready to move away from.
I've made peace with my balance of light and dark. I can't always be good and it's made me feel ashamed. It is really hard to be good, to be kind, to be light, to be forgiving, to be loving, to be understanding, to be patient, to be fun, to be present all of the time. Being good requires effort and sometimes I fail. But I found a beacon in this truth: rising up to the challenge is enough. I have encountered people who succumb to their darkness; it's made them bitter, resentful, cruel. I want to be as little like those people as possible. I can't always be good, but I will always try.
In this moment, I'm at peace and I cherish it. To more books and words and poetry, to more film (sometimes alone), to more feeling, to more safe spaces, to more health, to more risk, and openness, and life, and growth, and meaningful darkness, and light in 2018.
"Then let me say one more thing. It will clear the air. I may have come close, but I never had what you two had. Something always held me back or stood in the way. How you live your life is your business. Remember, our hearts and our bodies are given to us only once. And before you know it, your heart is worn out, and, as for your body, there comes a point when no one looks at it, much less wants to come near it. Right now there’s sorrow. Pain. Don’t kill it and with it the joy you’ve felt...
In my place, most parents would hope the whole thing goes away, or pray that their sons land on their feet soon enough,” Mr. Perlman says. “But I am not such a parent. In your place, if there is pain, nurse it, and if there is a flame, don’t snuff it out, don’t be brutal with it. Withdrawal can be a terrible thing when it keeps us awake at night, and watching others forget us sooner than we’d want to be forgotten is no better. We rip out so much of ourselves to be cured of things faster than we should that we go bankrupt by the age of 30 and have less to offer each time we start with someone new. But to feel nothing so as not to feel anything—what a waste!”