Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Going Home

Thank God for the county lines that welcome you back in
When you were dying to get out...

And when you’re lost out in this crazy world
You got somewhere to go and get found
Thank God for hometowns

-Carrie Underwood

-July 2009

Disregard our TEXT typos here: "we're" and "too" (Darn iPhones :) )

I'm a New Yorker. Both my parents were born and raised in New York. Both my brother and my sister attended colleges in New York State. And now here I am living and working in New York City. It was clearly meant to be my home--one day. But for so many years leading up to now, home was somewhere else--it was a little town in Pennsylvania called Bethlehem--It was where I played baseball on the little league field, struck out boys from the pitcher's mound, and scored runs by sliding into home plate.

It where I bought and ate penny candy with my best friend on the pavement playground--which I later scraped my knees on (why are there pavement playgrounds by the way?). It was where I wore my heart on my sleeve for nearly hundreds to thousands of sporting events over 10 years. 

It was where I learned to swim.

It was where I had my first sleepover.

It was where I experienced my first bully--and overcame that bully.

It was where I got my first detention (Hehe).

It was where I went trick-or-treating.

It was where I experienced the loss of a loved one for the first time.

It was where I learned to ride my bike and to drive a car.

It was where I ate apple turnovers with my mom and drank giant glasses of milk over quiet conversation. It was where I tubed down the creek and laughed all day long.

It was where I went on my first date, snuck out past a curfew, and shared my first kiss. 

It was where I played man hunt, capture the flag, and hide-and-go-seek. 

It was where I learned to ice skate and rollerblade--where I learned to fall down--and get back up.

 It was where I met my four best friends who taught me about life and love and happiness. It was where I grew up--even if I grew out. It was where I learned to liveIt was--and forever will be my hometown.

Often, with the hustle and bustle of NYC, it's easy to lose touch with "home" to forget to call a grandparent--to forget to text your best friend back, to mindlessly lose sense of time in all possible ways. New York City is, of course, the city that never sleeps--so each day begins to blend into the next, AND before you know it, it's been two months--three months--six months--a year since you've reached out--even to one of your best friends in the entire world.

This past weekend, I was reminded why my friends are so amazing--why my HOMETOWN is so amazing. Without fail, I can return to to Bethlehem, PA and be welcomed back in as if I never left. Without fail, my best friends and I can pick up where we left off--and never look back. Without fail, I can sit poolside with a best friend who I haven't seen in nearly six months, or who had a real conversation with in a year or two--and cry and laugh and smile and feel more connected than ever. 

Without fail--my hometown can always serve as home. Even if I've made a home somewhere else.

"I always find another piece of me
Walking down these old familiar streets /

Thank God for hometowns
And all the love that makes them go round
Thank God for the county lines that welcome you back in
When you were dying to get out
Thank God for Church pews
And all the faces that won’t forget you
And when you’re lost out in this crazy world
You got somewhere to go and get found
Thank God for hometowns
Thank God for hometowns"
-Carrie Underwood

Sunday, July 8, 2012

On Loving Yourself

"Find your capacity to love yourself and then one another" - David Tierney Lerner

I met my good friend David on the side of the road last year while I was walking around Manhattan. We struck up a 45 minute conversation and parted ways. Now, over a year later, he and I spend a significant amount of time with one another--laughing, talking, smiling, living and loving life. The quote featured above was taken directly from the end of one of his brilliant Facebook status updates this past week. And I couldn't thank him any more for it. 

While David was responding to Anderson Cooper's coming out statement, in a beautiful way, in regards to himself--I believe that "finding the capacity to love yourself--and then one another" is such a good lesson that we could all try and participate in learning--no matter what that means for each person and their own insecurities. I know it's a lesson I've been working on for a long time:

My morning is pretty standard.

Wake up. Stretch. Move. Get up. Walk to the bathroom. Look in the mirror.

Look in the mirror.

Look in the mirror.

Look in the mirror.

(Had to make sure that all reflected the way I wanted it to).

If you live alone--or are single--this is likely the first person you see each day.

You are likely the first person you see each day.

Why start off the day looking at someone you don't like?--Someone you don't love?

Too often, we stare in the mirror and pick out all of our "problems." I went through a period of my life where I refused to look in any mirrors-afraid of all the flaws I might find. It wasn't just mirrors though--it was store front windows (because who wants to look into their large reflection with a slim mannequin standing by and critiquing in that mannequin silence). It was car fenders. Heck--it was even shadows. Anything that offered me a return vision of my self was off limits. I went a year, essentially, without seeing ME.

I knew myself too well to know that looking in the mirror would have yielded a self-conscious sadness and eventual self-destruction. I didn't love myself. I didn't love who I was or who I felt people were seeing. It wasn't just my hair--my body--and my face that I didn't love. Somehow the mirrors seemed to reflect a lot of internal conflict that I wasn't ready to understand-- a lot of internal feelings and self-discoveries that I am only NOW starting to explore, discover, and love.

We are only offered a short period of time on this earth and if we spend a lot of that time disliking ourselves, it will be very difficult to find someone who can learn to love us. 

And sometimes we'll find--as my acting teachers would say--that what we really think isn't working about ourselves--is the number one thing that is.


Go look in the mirror.

Look in the mirror.

Look in the mirror.

Look in the mirror.

Love the person you see.

Love you.