It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time…

These days, the art of reflection has become a constant source of amusement to me.

We’ve all had them… those “WTF?” moments where we questioned our judgement and motivation in retrospect post incident, or two… or fifty.

The night of tequila-based drinks that ended in the ruin of both your purse and dignity in the eyes of a unknowing cab driver.

The time you tried desperately to fit in and divulged your deepest personal secrets to a bunch of women with superiority complexes.

That guy you met outside The Strand.

That chunk of time fondly referred to as “my Twenties”.

Okay, those are my moments of reckoning, but as long as you were able to fill in your own blanks with equally humiliating and regrettable tidbits, then my work is done.

But the key is to recall them with a lightness of heart that can only be matched with the feeling of your feet dangling in the air — because you’ve fallen off your chair laughing at how stupid they are now.

There are so many things that hold such importance in our lives to the point where we feel lost without it; material things, status, relationships, appearances. If we lost any of these things tomorrow, would it really be that big of a deal?

Is it that important for you to have that lifestyle at the risk of breaking your bank?

Do you actually give a shit if people don’t accept you for who you are, or support what you do if they don’t consider you on “their level”?

Would life really end if that person didn’t love you back?

When we read it, it seems absurd to even contemplate any of these notions. But in the heat of a moment, when phrased differently in our minds, we answer a resounding “yes” more times than we care to admit.

If we didn’t, it would be a perfect world where people didn’t go deeply into debt, succumb to insecurities to be part of a group, or feel like a breakup is proof we don’t deserve loving and respectful partners and friends.

That’s not to say we shouldn’t take anything seriously. In fact, when we reflect on how badly we cocked up a situation in our past, it should ideally give us pause and perspective on how we can get it right in life the next time.

These days, I find reason to smile even when my thoughts turn to tragic things. If I’m unable to find a funny instance in the moment, then I find comfort in knowing that whatever it was… it’s over and I survived it.

This frame of thinking might have made high school and college significantly smoother transitions, but hey, better late than never.

Happily, my relationship with tequila has since improved… vastly.

Sometimes laughter truly is the best medicine.

 

 

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Where I Wanna Be

So far… 2013 is off to a stellar start.

Despite the frigid temperature, I’m overcome with a warm feeling from the week’s events.

Coming off the high of ringing in the New Year at the Barclays Center, where I scored a floor seat near the stage just hours before Coldplay and Jay-Z took to it, it never occurred to me that anything could top that.

Then this week happened.

In addition to catching up with two of my best friends, whom I haven’t seen in a long time, my newfound sense of whimsy took me to Washington, D.C. to witness the second inauguration of President Barack Obama.

With no real plan except to brave the crowds in the National Mall at the crack of dawn, I was once again blessed by a higher power — and a cousin who was fortuitously in town — with tickets to a special standing area. Surrounded by hundreds of thousands of strangers, we found a comradery and an energy that made standing outside for hours on a blustery Winter morning bearable. We cheered, screamed and booed in unison when notable personalities appeared on the large monitors. We fell into a revered and almost church-like hush when Medgar Evers widow, Myrlie, hit the podium. We beamed with pride when the first family arrived to take their seats… and ultimately their place in America’s history.

What often escapes the glare of the media is the human stories surrounding an event as large as the presidential inauguration. Days later, the only story they’ve grasped from that moment in time is that of a singer who chose not to risk singing in a cold, dry environment two weeks before she’s to hit a much larger audience for one of the biggest sporting events of the year, in which she’s being paid handsomely. Truth be told, many of us had already made our way toward the Metro station after the president spoke, and had completely missed the performance in question. My appreciation for Beyonce, Kelly Clarkson, and the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir could never override my love and need for food and warm spaces.

But the real story was what was happening when the president spoke. Looking at the faces amongst the crowd and seeing the thrill in people’s eyes. Witnessing the veterans let out one of those “hoo-ahh” cries when he honored them. Seeing my friend’s young mentee — an LGBT advocate destined to change the world — beam with pride when he acknowledged her community. Sure, there were people who didn’t agree with everything that was happening politically, but even they got a chance to be heard that day. It was truly something to behold, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

For many, the historic day was four years ago, but much like the president, for me, it was a new day and a second chance to get it right. I’d completely missed the first inauguration, having been at work and preparing to go on vacation later that week with my then-boyfriend. The next day, the one person whom I was eager to discuss it with had passed away; born and raised in segregated south, my adoptive mother was never more excited than when Obama was elected POTUS. Upon seeing her number on my ringing phone, I excitedly answered “I was wondering when you’d call!” only to hear my sobbing brother on the other end of the line. The next few days… months… years… were a blur, but the regret of never having that moment with her was never clearer. So this year, I got to have that moment for her.

Even with the bittersweet taste of my latest adventure, the unimaginable joy of living in that moment — whether in tribute or transition — leaves me hungry for whatever comes next.

And so, I’ll continue following my heart and my gut to these unknown places. If the track record thus far is any indication, it looks like I’m in for an amazing trip.