Friday, February 28, 2014

Aparna @ Stella

"You've been there done that. You will always have that no matter what happens." I looked into her eyes and said it like a true believer because that's who I am, a believer.

We are always afraid of loosing things. When Rob and me finally separated I cried over the same thing for weeks. How could we move on when we've shared so much together? Where does that all go? Who will I have to remember that with? Our love is still there after all this time. Nothing was lost and nothing ever will. What we've shared will always be there. By telling her that I reminded myself. I needed to hear myself saying that out loud. There was a reason why we met at Rusalka. 

"I'm alone a lot but I don't feel lonely. I know what it is I want to feel and I'm not going to settle for anything less. I don't care if I get married or if it will last. I want to feel that again. If you're not happy with the relationship you're in then it's standing in the way of you finding your next great love. You can't live like that. There's nothing is worth loosing that opportunity over. I don't know if I'll find him but I have a chance and that makes me happy."

"How did you know?"

"Back then? I didn't. I just knew it wasn't right for me and I couldn't live like that. That was enough then but now I know better."

"You're an inspiration! You feel like that because you actually like who you are. I want to be where you are."

"You will be. It's just hard to see that now."

We talked and talked and laughed and laughed so hard I wanted to cry. She on the verge of getting out of a life-long relationship/marriage, me on the verge of launching my next great adventure. It was our first time hanging out after Rusalka but it felt as if we've been friends for a long time. I like her. She reminds me a little of myself. I know how she feels because we've been through so much of the same. I wanted to be strong for her because no one should settle for anything but great love. I'm not an optimist. I'm a believer.

I cried for three good days. On the fourth day I sat and I felt peace. The next day I smiled and I knew I was going to be ok. The thing is, I always knew. That's the thing about being a believer, it get you through even the darkest days. I keep going because I know it will get better because it always does.

And it just so happens that we had dinner at Stella, a restaurant on the 6th floor of Macy's. Believe is their logo.

 I took the D to Columbus Circle and walked home on CPW. The cold was refreshing. The Christmas lights are still up on 67th street. The reflections looked beautiful on the windows. I'm looking for my next great love and in the meantime, I live in the greatest city in the world! What can be better than this? I'm happy.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


When writing is all I can do, all I can do is to write.
I'm starting to feel a little better. I woke up at 3am but my heart wasn't pounding as heavily. You know, the ominous feeling you get when something devastating is about to happen. I felt a little anxiety in the last few days but I'm ok with it. Under the right circumstance I'm allowed to feel anxious. To fight it would only make things worse. Crying helps. Running helps. Writing helps. Talking to the right people helps.

I don't want to have to defend my feelings. People say stuff like, oh, you only feel like that because you can't have him, you wouldn't like him anyways if you got to spend more time with him, etc.

But this isn't about him, who he is or how he felt. And although he had the most incredible body, this isn't about anything physical. I know how I felt. Even if the ghost wasn't real my feeling was. I know it was real because I felt it. I'm not ready to contemplate any alternatives.

There were no sparks between us. Sparks happens when there is friction. There was no friction. There were just two people on equal footing, separately comfortable under their own skin. There was nothing between us.

I realized that when I was talking to him I wasn't explaining, justifying, conveying or defending. I just talked. He didn't make me feel pretty or ugly, crazy or special, adventurous or irresponsible. For the first time I didn't feel like an adjective. He made me feel like me. It was as if all of the weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

I knew it was his last night in N. America after three years of hiking, camping, working, vagabonding. There were lots to talk about. When we finally sat down I asked him "so, how did it all start?" I think it caught him by surprise. I could have easily asked him where he's been but I didn't. I know where things are on a map. I don't need him to tell me. I wanted to know what motivated him, what propelled him, what moved him, and what frightened him.

Marek and his girlfriend (now wife) applied for a work visa to go to Canada three years ago. They started on a 6-mos long work assignment in BC. When that ended they decided to buy a minivan and travel through the west coast. They had no plans, no expectations, no goal or destination in mind. After a few months they had to leave the US to get their passports stamped so they traveled to S. America. When they came back they met up with Marek's brother and his girlfriend at the time and visited all sorts of national parks for a couple of months. Then they drove to Canada to meet up with Marek's parents for a while, then drove across Canada, went to up Alaska, came back, worked at the ski lodge, worked at an organic farm in Central America, drove to northeast US, came to visit NYC, worked at vegetable farm in northeastern Canada and lastly a dairy farm in Edmonton. They zigzagged the whole time, sleeping in their minivan and camping at the side of the road whenever it was possible. In the U.S. they were often visited by the cops at 3am with bright lights shining into their tent. On one occasion the same happened in Canada. When they got up in the morning there was a Canadian flag on their windshield and a hand written note that said "sorry about that. Welcome to Canada!"

He talked and I listened. I chimed in whenever he mentioned some place I've been. I told him about the places I've lived, what I've struggled with, and what brought me here. He told me about his depression, his knee injury, anxiety pills, said he's never told that to anyone except for maybe two people, now three. He said he admired the fact that I can just pick up my things and move. He admired the fact I talked about my depression with people. It was late. We didn't want the conversation to end. And the whole time I was completely at awe with the picture of them going through all the trials and tribulations together. For someone who has always done things on my own I can hardly comprehend what that must have felt like. And then I imagined what it wold be like when they look back to all this in their old age.
Marek left me a small gray blanket he took from a hostel in Patagonia. It's really just a thin sheet. It's clean but it smells like him, like his backpack. He had carried with him for the last two years. It now sits on my nightstand, inside a clear plastic bag. I have no idea what to do with it but I'm not really to put it away yet.

Just before he left I gave him one of my favorite books on the Pacific Crest Trial, a true story about a couple who hiked the 2,650 miles together and got married at the end. There is such thing as a modern day fairytale. It just didn't feel real until I saw one in flesh and blood.

She went back home just before Christmas because she was pregnant. I knew he didn't belong to me but it felt good to have him for just a little while. When I see their amazing pictures online I see a life I've never dreamed was possible. I don't just want him. I want to be her. I want what they have. I want the whole package.

I want to find my own person and create our own journey together. I don't know how. I don't know where. I don't know when. It pains me to know it's real; it's possible and he's out there.
We emailed each other a couple of times after he left. He went to Iceland for two days, then Berlin and then home. He said one day I will be so prepared for the PCT that I'll make it the entire way. He said he believed in me.
In my twenties I was happy to go see places. Now in my thirties I'm no longer satisfied with seeing. I want to do things, physical things, I mean really experience them with my whole being. I want to connect with people. I want to fall in love, hard and without reservation. People say pain closes you up. I say hurt me, I'm ready; I've been preparing for this all my life. I think I need an adventure, the Indiana Jones Finding Memo kind of adventure. I'm leaving this planet one way or another and I'm not leaving any stones unturned.
I finally cleaned up my place, did the dishes, put them away, ate dinner, trimmed my cats' nails. I'm a little broken but I'm ok with that. I still get teary eyed thinking about the stuff. I'm ok with that too. I need to get some school work done. It'll be done. I know that.

Sam is a good friend. I talked to him on Monday night. He made time to help me with a paper for school. I consider myself very lucky. Still, the best is yet to come. I believe in that.
I can't wait to see Rose so we can stare at the ceiling or sky or the ocean or whatever it is in front of us together.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Soup Talk

Write hard and clear about what hurts. - Ernest Hemingway

I'm having a really difficult few days. It's not that I'm sad or depressed or anything. Just hard. A lot of emotions. I feel haunted. I can't eat. I can't sleep. I can't focus. The only thing I can do is write and run. Sometimes something small happens and it looks like nothing has changed from the outside but on the inside nothing feels the same again. I think the universe was reaching out to tell me there's someone out there for me and that's what it feels like.


I was at Anna's. Talking to her about camping and hiking. She showed me how to setup a tent in her office. We made soup and then I just broke into pieces. I don't remember the last time I cried like that.

I said to her, you know I'm starting to feel the more experiences I acquire the more difficult it is to find someone who can understand and connect with me.

At first Anna didn't quite know what I meant. She thought maybe it was because of the winter, or maybe it was because I was lonely. But I've been through winters before. I've been through loneliness before and sometimes two is the loneliest number.

I don't want to sound ungrateful. I've met many people who understand me, support me, believe in me and are proud of me. I never even contemplated the irreconcilable difference between someone who understands me through my words and someone who actually saw exactly what I saw and felt exactly what I felt.
But is it possible for someone to have all the same experiences as you? They would just be a copy of you. Wouldn't it be possible for them to have a collection of different experiences and be able to relate to you?
Sure, I don't want a copy of myself but there has to be some overlap in our experiences to really connect.
It's like you can explain to someone what an anxiety attack feels like but until they've had one they'll never really understand. Meanwhile, they can still love you and try their best to understand how you feel but it's just not the same. I had no idea the same thing applied to seeing sunrise over Fitz Roy. I talked about that with so many people, forcing them to see my pictures, but not once did I feel understood.
I met someone over the weekend. I realized that when I was talking to him I wasn't explaining, justifying, conveying or defending. I just talked. He didn't make me feel pretty or ugly, crazy or special, adventurous or irresponsible. For the first time I didn't feel like an adjective. He made me feel like me. It was as if all of the weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I didn't realize the difference until now.
And this person has a girlfriend?
Yes, but that's not the point. He's not mine. I know that. It's not about him. It's the fact that I now know the difference. Yes, of course, I'm envious of the fact that they've done so much together. I don't have problem doing things on my own. I like that. But it's hard later on when I have no one to remember those moments with. A witness. I feel like that about Rose. She's seen and shared some of my most happen moments. When I see her I can see myself in those moments. I would like to be able to sit quietly next to someone years from now and say, remember that sunrise?

When you put it like that I understand. Do you think you're lucky?
Yes, of course, I'm as lucky as they come. I don't expect to be lucky every time but I often turn out to be. I don't rely on it. I don't take it for granted. It could have happened to anyone but it happened to me. I'm always surprised by it.
Like getting that parking spot. The only thing better than someone who knows they're lucky is one that doesn't take it for granted.

Yes, I try to do that. I was telling a friend of mine how unlikely it was for me to meet someone like him. She asked me if I've ever met someone like myself. I guess not. What are the chances for someone like me to meet someone like him? Is it better to know such thing exists and never being able to find it or not have known its existence at all?
I'd say there's a good chance. If there's one, there are more of them. It's always better to know they're out there.
I guess I'm afraid. I'm afraid I won't find him and it gets harder and harder as I have more experiences.
Yeah, sure, would you like to be back to 20 and just roll with anyone?

It was much easier back then. No one had much experiences and there was more blank spaces on the canvas.
You know, I went through a rough period two years ago. When you are younger you acquire new experiences in quick successions, especially if you're traveling. Every high is immediately topped by another high. It just goes on and on. The bar gets higher and higher. Until one day you come to a jolted stop. It's like being on drugs. You just can't get any higher any more. And then you crash. You crash hard. I have since gotten better. I've made adjustments, moved here and started to see new possibilities. The worst thing in life is to feel fatalistic. I don't feel that way anymore. I don't know what the future holds.
But the thing is, I feel like I'm having the same crisis with people. I've met lots of people. I've been in love. But this experience just blew everything out of the water. Where do I go from here? And how do I find another one like it?
I don't know. Sometimes you do. Sometimes you don't.
I think I'm afraid. I'm afraid I won't. I'm afraid the more I experience the harder it gets. But I can't slow down. I've done so many amazing things on my own and I'm not going to stop and stand still just to wait for him to show up. I don't think that would work anyways.

At this point I was bawling.
Well, is what you do conducive to finding him? I don't know how you feel about law school but that's probably not the route I would have taken.
Yes, I understand. The problem is priorities. It's like I want to have my cake and eat it too. I want to find someone like that but that's not my mission in life. I'm here to experience things and that's not going to change. I'm not willing to stop. When I go on that hike it'll just be another experience that's difficult for people to comprehend but that's not going to stop me.
You know fear is not a word I use very often. I live on the belief that I'm not afraid of anything. Nothing holds me back. I don't even think I ever said I was afraid of something. But now, I think fear is the right word to use because I can't think of any other term for it. I'm afraid.
I can see that. I'm just shocked that you're so open and honest about that.

I try to be. It's the only thing I know. I don't see the point of fooling myself. If that's what it is I have to come to terms with it.

It's good to live at a deeper level even if sometimes it hurts to the bone.
And then Anna hugged me for what seemed like a very long time. It was one of those hugs that says I wish things were different but they are not and I can feel your pain because I feel it too.

Sunday, February 23, 2014


Remember the pain that was leaving BA? I'm having deja vu all over again. Some people just refuses learn. I love it when people just come in and turn my world up-side-down. I wouldn't have it any other way. 
The danger of traveling on your own is not having to experience the magical moments alone but when you run into someone years later, who have seen exactly what you have seen and experienced exactly what you have experienced. In that moment you see all of your past lives come alive through someone else's eyes. Fitz Roy in sunrise.

He told me about his three-year journey through North and South America. I told him about my struggle with anxiety and depression. He had been through it too, office jobs, pills, and all that.

I said: when you travel each high is topped easily by another high. At some point you have to come to a stop. And at that point you can no longer imagine a high higher than all the ones you've experienced. You question the meaning of it all. What's the purpose of continuing on when there are no more surprises left? Where did all the passion go? I cried. I started running. I started volunteering at the nursery. I started to meditate. Rose said I've always wanted to have kids. After a lot of thought I realize I do want to have kids. I researched into how to have kids on my own. I read books about it. Sperm banks and list of things I needed. I have no problem with men or marriage or any of that. If I could find someone to have kids with that would be great. If not, the answer is still the same. I want to have kids. That's the answer. How I get there is not important. Little by little things shifted within me. Instead of driving my life, I let it come to me. I switched from being the driver to the passenger. I started to see its small wonders. Life can be unpredictable if I let it. Now I'm here I don't know what will happen next.
He said: let me tell you what's going to happen next
He leaned in and kissed me. I was completely caught by surprise.
Is this ok?
We kissed. He stood up and pulled me into him. I couldn't comprehend it all.
Through him I can feel the hot sun on his back as he worked in strawberry fields in California, what it is like to camp out in a minivan, in a tent along the highway, the hard surface of the earth, the cool lakes, the rainy season in northeastern Canada. I could see the Tetons through his eyes, Yellowstone, national parks, endless miles under the wheels. He was built by the earth, cut by its elements, the embodiment of all of its wonders and sum of all of its wanderers. In that instant, his experiences, three years of it all, became mine. If all of life was meant to be lived for that single moment it would have been worthwhile.
We talked about the triple crown: the Pacific Crest Trail, Appalachian Trail, and the Continental Divide. I imagined what it would be like to camp in a tent on the PCT one night and think back to this moment.

We took a walk in Central Park the next day. He said, "you know the way time stands still when you visit places? I was here back in August and it feels like I was here yesterday." As we walked back along Central Park West I imagined what it would be like when I come back to visit many many years from now. Would I remember running in there as if it was yesterday? What will that feel like? Happiness? Sadness? Nostalgia?
And then the inevitable goodbyes.
I don't know when I'll be here again
When you come back you'll have lots of stories to tell
You will too
I hope so
When I see you again, however long from now, it will be as if we just saw each other yesterday.

Saturday, February 22, 2014


Sometimes the only history you need to make is your own. And if you're really lucky you get to be part of someone else's too. To travel is to feel the roundness of the earth. Stand still you feel it evolve around you. His eyes were watery. I couldn't tell whether it was because he hasn't slept on the three-day train ride here or that he was on the verge of crying. It was his last night in North America. He repeated the phrase over and over again as if each iteration would make the concept seem more real. I've been there. The inevitable separation, like a muscle is being pulled from your left ventricle. We're not leaving someone, something, or even some place. It's a world, the only reality you've ever known and once the plane takes off you doubt that you'd ever touch down again. But we always do, because that is what we do. Before we were here we were there and somehow now we end up neither here nor there. Still, we touch down. We struggle. We bounce back. We build new realities, grow new roots. As time goes on, we are almost convinced that we've always belonged here until one day you encounter another lost soul, drifting just like you. And just for those few precious seconds, the world becomes still.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Subway Moment

I like to watch people read. On the long idle evening rides on the red line. The guy next to me with the latest issue of the New Yorker; a wall street type living vicariously through Anthony Bourdain's Nasty Bits, and then there was the lady in maroon stockings making her way to the end of For Whom the Bell Tolls. “I loved you when I saw you today and I loved you always but I never saw you before.”

“There is nothing else than now. There is neither yesterday, certainly, nor is there any tomorrow. How old must you be before you know that? There is only now, and if now is only two days, then two days is your life and everything in it will be in proportion. This is how you live a life in two days. And if you stop complaining and asking for what you never will get, you will have a good life. A good life is not measured by any biblical span.” 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


The best way to get through the winter is to stay active. Despite the runs in the park, including three ten-miles Sundays, the cardio cross-training, and even climbing the Empire State Building last week, the cold is finally getting hold of me.

I can pin point to the exact moment when things shifted within me. We were standing in a crowded subway, the 1, going uptown to Pio Pio, my favorite Peruvian restaurant in town. I was dressed in my winter finest: the ladybug trapper hat I picked up in Madrid(?), the black and white scarf Misha got for me more than ten years ago, a knee length dark brown down coat like every other one in Manhattan and a pair of red snow boots. There was not a scant of sensuality even with the wildest imagination. Not only was I oblivious to my appearance I was indifferent. It's one of the liberties I've acquired since moving here. Then he looked at me in a different light.

What are you looking at?
You, all this you're wearing, no one would know there's a supermodel figure underneath it all.
How do you know?
I've seen you.

And then, it dawned on me, this is winter. It's been an especially old one, they say, but I've been through worse. Underneath the down overcoat is still the little girl longing to be discovered. It felt good.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014