This time of year, there are two words that can either make or break your day depending on your relationship status; couples run to it, those committed to being single scatter in opposing directions. But from time to time, almost all of us forget that the first relationship we should consider on Valentine’s Day is the one we have with ourselves. It’s a sad state of affairs when our feelings about love are dictated by our relationship status; there is so much love to be shared in each and every moment that it’s a crying shame more people can’t commit themselves to stopping and smelling the roses every once in a while, even if for a second they’re reminded of their thorns.
Love is a set of stepping stones strewn haphazardly over a river of turbulent emotions ; it would be nice if we crossed them carefully and with grace – but I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not always the case. The first stone is self-love; you can’t feasibly land on any others until you’ve conquered this step. People try to skip it and rush to other steps beyond their reach…but some slip, others fall and most curse the world that they’ll never love again. We all stumble and land in the water, but what we have to remember is that you don’t drown by falling in the water, we drown by staying there: we could dance it off and splash around, rinse our souls and start anew; start fresh.
My last relationship ended a while ago and as with most breakups, extenuating circumstances were everywhere. We weren’t just like everyone else: our breakup was different; we were different. Over the course of the few years we’d known each other, he’d been diagnosed Bipolar 1 and I was fighting as hard as I could to maintain any semblance of normalcy between us. When I love, I have a tendency to put the other persons needs before my own – and in this situation, doubly so. But trying to love someone who can’t be 100% of themselves puts unnecessary strain on a relationship, and I was doing the work of both parties. When we split I had an epiphany that I’d put so much of myself into my relationship that I’d lost sight of who I was as an individual: I had no clue what it meant to be me anymore. In turn, I decided to go on a mission – a journey into the manifest destiny of my emotional mind; it’s been the most rewarding experience I could have asked for, and the best gift he ever gave me.With so much love in the world, we don’t have to be so naive to think that as single members of society we can’t enjoy Valentine’s Day. For me, Valentine’s Day is a reason to celebrate all the love around me – the love that my friends share, that the couples in my life share, even the love that my pets share: it’s there, it’s all there, you just have to be patient enough to notice it.
At the end of the day, what truly matters is only one love: do you love yourself – and more importantly, what variables add up to love in the equation of your life?
A year and a half ago – I wouldn’t have had an answer for that – I probably would’ve given you a blank stare and said something vague like “happiness.” As delightful as that is, the education adulthood has given me screams that it’s simply not enough: what makes you happy and how do you cultivate happiness in your life or within your friendships? I’m blessed: I’ve found the most fulfilling moments in the smallest of places and they do their dose of replenishing the love in the world around me.
Art doesn’t have to be in a museum and it surely doesn’t have to have a price tag; almost all of the art I’m currently into I stumbled across while wandering the streets of Los Angeles. And it makes complete sense, if you think about it – creativity oozes from the veins of our city so it’s no wonder that it art lurks in alleyways and lays hidden to the most oblivious of people.
There’s something to be said for being awake while the city sleeps, and it goes beyond catching the glory of a sunrise – while other people are caught up in dreams that they’ll likely never remember, I’m making plans for dreams that refuse to get out of my head. To be honest, I do my best thinking when the city sleeps.
It’s taken almost five years, but I have to admit - I love LA. I love the clusterfuck of personalities and vocations, of music genres and museums; it’s like someone threw the eclectic parts of the world into a martini shaker and let it loose above the city.
The older I get, the stronger my relationships with my parents get; getting older and wiser is difficult and they make things so much easier. Whether it’s a funny anecdote comparing my life to any of their post-collegiate fumbles, or friend advise or a funny joke that no one else would get, my parents are my rocks and their support and unconditional love means the world to me.
One of the biggest understatements in the world is this: these two faces light up my life. Even though I just started, I can’t begin to explain the adoration and admiration that run through my veins every day that I get to spend with them. They’re privy to inside jokes no one else gets and see my one person dance parties on the daily. My life is richer because they’re in it; I feel love because they’re in my life
And now, in no particular order – these are the things that fill my heart on the daily:
…getting lost in a good book, autocorrect when I’m drunk, dandelions, empty email boxes, handwritten letters, strangers who share their smiles, scream laughter, catching up with friends over mimosas, mosh pits, the first rays of morning sunshine, bear hugs from close friends, fresh music, hand-me-down clothing, writing, long runs, coincidences, and most importantly - me.