Monday, September 29, 2014

Ten Miles

The only thing better than crossing the finish line is leaping over the start. If you're lucky enough to live in the metro NYC area you can qualify for the New York Marathon by running nine qualifying races with NYRR and volunteer at one event. I've started and finished eight races so far this year and I distinctly recall smiling at the start of each of the races.

I like running. At the moment I have reached an equilibrium point between overcoming physical struggle and reducing thought processing. Meaning I struggle just enough to minimize anxieties about the future but not enough that I have to stop running due to physical discomfort.

The Bronx 10 Mile is especially fun for me because it's the first out-and-back course I've done. I saw the first returning runner at mile 2 and half. I cheered him on. I continued to cheer others and felt energized. Maybe it was because the deep breathing from all the hollering. The first female I passed was an older lady, who looked like she was well into her 50s. I was surprised, inspired, and proud. Needless to say, I cheered her on. And just seeing her made me want to continue, now and in the future.

The run went extremely well considering I haven't been running all summer. Ironically, I had an extremely busy summer doing none of the things I loved doing. After a solid 13 years on the dating scene I finally realized my inability to balance my priorities and interests with those of another person and as a result, I inevitably feel trapped and resentful whenever I get into a relationship. And after the privilege of dating some really wonderful people who loved me deeply, I realized what is most important in a partner is not a list of defined qualifies or even love, but rather someone who can inspire and help me to become a better person, someone who sees me, really sees me, all of my past and future, and someone who have experienced the world on a deep level and come out full of hope. I've experienced all these things and more from different people. To find all in one neat package is a lot to ask but dear universe, that is what I am seeking. I've come this far and I will not settle for anything less than what I can bring to the table.

I'm ready to cheer you on to go farther, reach higher and catch you when you fall. Will you do the same for me?

Saturday, September 27, 2014

A Night at the Opera

"Where are you from?"
"I live here." Pause. "How about you?"
"I live in South Hampton but I was born in Peru."
"oh, nice, I was in Peru in May. I went to Lima, Cusco, and did a hike to Machu Picchu."

Second Act of La Boheme

"It must be very expensive to live here. Do you live by yourself?"
"Yes, I got very lucky and found a good place."
"Would you mind if I ask how much you pay for rent?"
"$3000/mo but I have a very large one-bedroom. It's a good price for what I have because I've looked at a lot of places around here. Most of the apartments are very small."
"That's very expensive! I'm worried about my children."
"How old are they and where do they live?"
"My daughter is 23. My son just turned 21 and lives in DC."
"oh he lives close by."
"I don't seem them much."
"You must see him on holidays?"
"Yes, I married an Irish American guy. My kids are white and very spoiled. I worked while their were little so they spent most of their time with my husband. We're divorced now. Unlike families in Latin America, my kids are not very close to me. They don't talk to me about anything. Maybe they're closer to their friends. They don't know what they will do and they're not worried but I am."
"Yes, parents always worry. I'm sure they will find their ways."
"My daughter lives in Israel now. She is very beautiful, tall, intelligent. She was the president of everything, every year in high school and then the sorority in college. She studied in George Washington. She was dating this guy from Israel for 4 to 5 years. I was so proud at first. He was a captain. She moved to Israel with him last year after she graduated from college. She could have been anything here. She could have worked for any company because she's so beautiful, smart and well-spoken. Now she lives in Israel. She doesn't speak any Hebrew or have any friends there. I don't know how anyone can live there. I read the news everyday and they are killing innocent people. I'm worried about her. Would you have moved there?"
I hesitated.
"Have you been in love?"
"You have been in love? When you were younger?"
"Would you have moved with someone?"
Ten seconds flashback of my serious relationships. "Not when I was 23. I mean, there are so many other things I wanted to do at that age."
"Exactly! She's so young! She could have done anything! Doesn't she want to do other things?"
"Is she happy?"
"She says she's happy. She wants to marry this guy and have kids with him. He's very religious."
I tried to conjure up an image of a young, beautiful Peruvian Irish girl in Israel in my mind but I couldn't. Instead, I looked at the lady, smiled in the most comforting way possible and said, "as long as she is happy."
A pause.
"I read the news everyday. News from Europe and other countries because we don't report anything here. We bomb and flatten whole villages. The Muslims are peaceful people; they pray for peace everyday, and they are always getting killed. I see little kids suffering. They have nothing to eat. I see videos of kids eating tiny bread crumbs off the ground like little rocks. I want to go and take those kids into my arms and hold them. I want to give them food and keep them safe."

My eyes watered up. I could feel the plead of a mother. A mother who didn't quite get the chance to nurture her own kids. A mother who feels the pain and suffering of others. And a mother with strong maternal instinct. I had nothing to say. I just nodded.

"I am well to do. I made a lot of money as a chef with a catering business. I invested my money. Now I have over a million dollar worth of real estate in Long Island. I'm retired. I want to do something to help people. I want to do something with kids. I think about cashing in everything I have and go help those kids."

Another smile and nod from me. "Yes, I understand. I want to too."

Lights dimmed. Music started. Third Act of La Boheme.

Tears came down my cheeks. I don't know if they were for the kids without food, old love, or Mimi dying.
Before the opera was over she said "I have to leave now."
I nodded for one last time. She was gone.

I sat in sadness. I wanted to talk to her some more. Maybe over a cup of decaf latte at Magnolia's. I wanted to tell her about myself, my life, my dilemmas.

I got up from my chair and ran after her. I asked the usher at the lobby which way she went. He pointed to the elevator. I looked down the atrium and saw no one. I ran down the stairs, out into the plaza. But she was gone.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Letter to Rose

Dear Rose,

I was awarded the fellowship I interviewed for a couple of days ago. I want to share some information with you. It looks like a great program and a chance for me to network with new/important people in the field.
Law school is always stressful (heck, what grad school is not stressful?). I think different from the first year, where I was more stressed out about classes, this year I'll be more preoccupied on making career/life decisions. People in school are constantly talking about how many interviews they have, who's got what offer, who's paying how much salary. It's easy to get wrapped up in all those comparisons. What I need is discipline. Discipline on staying positive; discipline on doing the best work I can; discipline on knowing who I am and feeling secure about that; discipline on finding what I want and what is most suitable for me; and discipline on associating with people who bring positivity into my life.

The reality is that sometimes I have doubts about school, work, money, relationship, family, children, etc. Uncertainty about the future brings anxiety and it is magnified when I don't take time to see, to be grateful for and to trust in life. I know that I have lived a very fulfilling life so far. I've been to a few places, seen a few things, and made a few tough decisions. I know I am capable of getting things done when I need to. I know happiness is a choice I can make. And most importantly, I know life is this miraculous, at times unpredictable and always exhilarating thing I'm so privileged to experience. People like you remind me of all those things. 
And even though I want to say things like as I enter into the "next chapter" or "the crucial year" I know and believe life isn't fragmented. There aren't any chapters. Every little step I took along the way brought me here and every little action moving forward will take me further along the path. Life is continuous. And like our breathe, each step is just as crucial as the one before and the one after. I understand it's the little decisions I made everyday on what I do, where I go, who I talk to that determine where my journey leads to. The tough part is to stay focused on pursuing what is for me and leave the rest. Thank you for checking up on me.