There is no way around those days that are made up mostly of romantic moments in states of stillness, from making it into the bank of memories that ping your aging heart.
We really are just muscle and blood, formed out of history’s rubble and backsplash. Time, incidental, makes the made unmade, and the unmade whole. We expect it to be everlasting, and yet we can’t even hold it the moment that we have it. Seems simple enough.
On my first biggest adventure of my adult life, when my friend Eleanor and I hitchhiked across Canada for three weeks, she introduced me to the thought that love can be found in places that aren’t people. This was seven years ago, and I’ve thought about it ever since, unable to actualize it until now, on the second biggest adventure of my life, this daring east coast modeling tour that I sort of blindly threw myself into.
Since I was little, like many other young girls, I obsessed over true love and finding “the one” (mostly thanks to Media’s fabricated fables). I imagined being married at 24 years old… the same age I turned the year I hitchhiked across Canada to Maine. But I’ve never been married, though I’ve had a couple of great boyfriends and countless others who I momentarily, but falsely, fancied as “the one.”
Nearing 30, I grew increasingly conscious of the damage that fantasy does, and unfolded myself into the more complete, realistic, intentional idea that there is no future in relationships, but only the present. Change being life’s only constant, the one way to be with someone is just to be with them, in that moment, for however many uncountable, unfathomable moments you may have. It becomes far easier to love from this point of view, which also applies to platonic relationships.
When my dad passed away suddenly on May 5th, one decade ago, I never expected to lose him, and especially so young. While I feel his spirit watching over me, I sure could use his advice. I never imagined that the moments with him I took so for granted, I would wish for with the deepest essence of my being for a long time and many times after.
And so, in love, in life, I am only always trying to find the moment. Paul Bowles said it best: “Because we don’t know when we will die, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, an afternoon that is so deeply a part of your being that you can’t even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four, five times more, perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps 20. And yet it all seems limitless.”
Now I understand how to find love in places that are not people…
It is in appreciating the moment… a beautiful lightning storm, inspiration from a stranger, the wind blowing through the grass, conversation with a friend, visiting a new place, witnessing a candid moment or an act of kindness. And that is how to find love, because appreciation is really just a facet of love. When I’m living a moment, I’m loving it too. It is possible even to find love in the difficult times. They too, are unique and can make us stronger and better, building character if we choose. Life is not easy; that isn’t realistic and isn’t meant to be. The adventure isn’t about how smooth and perfect everything goes (although that should always be celebrated), it’s about how we handle it when life doesn’t meet our expectations (and perhaps, curbing those expectations in the first place). It’s not only a true test of character, but also the way in which we grow and learn, and how we make the world better, by sharing the wisdom of what we’ve learned with others who need it.
Don’t get me wrong, romantic love is absolutely incredible. There’s nothing like making love in the prettiest light through the window, a spring breeze gently blowing the curtains and making that moment feel like all there is. Or, that feeling in my body when someone special looks at me: a sunburst in the solar plexus, flaring as heat graces my waist and waves up my ribcage, heart, and throat, flushing my face and signaling synapses among my 100 billion neurons, all within a split second.
Partnership is very important, but finding love among the myriad of life moments and its impossible intricacies makes it all that much better.
A song I wrote and recorded about my father:
All original writing (except the Bowles quote), and all original photos on double exposed 35mm film (except the row of 4 thumbnails, which are digital, first and last by Paul Barton. Featured photo by Jon Bellkey)