In December 2013 I backpacked in Central America for the first time. It was all a part of my attempt to find myself and take on new challenges (that journey started here and goes on for a few posts). I returned to NYC feeling refreshed and braver than ever. I was ready to quit my job and start a freelancing career (I didn't know I wanted to full-time blog yet). I was ready to LIVE.
My attitude towards life was different. I was glowing - still on my backpacking high - and ready to take on the world. I wanted to take action. I was done complaining.
Why do you always find love the minute you start doing amazing things for yourself? That glow is contagious!
Four months later I met someone. It was at a high school alumni networking event: one I chose to attend at the last minute. His name was Alex and I'd never met him before. He knew who I was, though, and introduced himself.
Like two spirits from another life, we connected as if we'd known each other for years. While I am sure there was some BS courting coming from his end, I truly felt like his words were genuine. I could see his ego fighting with his heart as he tried to play cool, but I connected with his mind enough to understand there was something special between us - despite only knowing each other for a few hours!
That evening, Alex and I walked to midtown for an after-party. While walking, a car cut off a large, angry man crossing the street in front of us. The man threw a bottle at the car, yelling.
I felt the most calming peace in my heart to speak with the man.
"Why would you stoop to [the driver's] level and throw the bottle? You've given an unsatisfying response, because you're still mad, and now the street is dirty with your bottle. You are so much better than that. You are amazing. That driver would feel more awful for cutting you off by you just being kind. You have to show him so much kindness that he doesn't know what to do with himself. So much kindness that he wouldn't want to ever do that again."
What was I talking about? The words were spilling out of my mouth and I had no idea why I was saying it. Maybe I was drunk.
"Yeah, kill 'em with kindness!" Alex added.
Oh my God. This dude is gonna kill us.
The man stood there, paused, and laughed. "You're right, man. Kill 'em with kindness. You're right." He smiled and walked away.
From that moment I knew I wanted to be around people like Alex. People who make me want to love everyone and everything around me.
Unbeknownst to me whether this thing would last, I felt like it was a chance I should take. He was like an open road: a stark contrast to the traffic, roadblocks, and chaos I previously allowed my life to turn into. The sky was the limit with him. He respected me and my dreams. He loved my independence and shared the same life values. And I equally respected him.
Remember though - I decided to be happy before Alex walked into my life.
I refused to have a man define my happiness but also acknowledged that he added a new joy. I wanted to be around people who empowered me and encouraged me. I wanted to be around people who made me want to empower and encourage others.
Alex was one of those people, so we've pretty much been together since the day we met (we made it "official" a month later).
One of Alex's best friends once asked me if I thought Alex was "The One". I hate talking about that stuff. What does that even mean? And then if it doesn't work out does it mean I am not in tune with my own feelings? It is all too complicated. So I stuttered with no good answer, obviously (definitely passed that test, pfft).
But later that afternoon, I realized I knew the answer: Alex gives me so much love that I want to share it with the world. And because I love myself so dearly, I felt I didn't need his love to complete me. But now I welcome and share it because I realized that we all need love. As humans. As partners. As family. As strangers.
His love creates a circle of flowers around me. Flowing through an amorous breeze, my feet are light and my heart is giving. The air is calming and the rain sings to me. It's during those moments that I realize "The One" is actually love, itself.
And for me, Alex is love.
Now I travel the world with love and it is an amazing feeling.