Choose Love

“I know girl. But if the only way to avoid the lows is to avoid the highs too, it’s not worth it.”

This past weekend was one of those perfect, lazy city weekends. Despite an initial prediction of 90% chance of rain on Friday, the weather was clear and sunny, just hot enough to feel like summer and not too hot that having a picnic in Central Park after work is uncomfortable. The Nickname Posse minus C had plans to do exactly that once we realized the weather would hold, and M prepared us all a feast, cheese and meats and olives and more; the night that we all thought would end early instead found us in the Park till 10:30, laughing, finishing the last bits of sangria, and willing the bugs away so we could savor the final few moments of a perfect night. The next day evolved slowly and easily, brunch with my dearest K and M turned into drinks back at his place, turned into a walk in the parks of the Heights, summer sun and the bouncing Lakeland running ahead of us keeping the smiles that started on Friday on our faces. Sunday I finally made it back to the mat, with an early Bikram yoga class to sweat out everything from the past few weeks and rehab my back a little, and when I crawled into bed later that night, exhausted and wishing for one more day like the past few, I had to laugh a little before sighing deeply. Life is good right now, I found myself saying, just before my tired eyes shut for the night.

These types of weekends aren’t rarities, but they aren’t commonplace anymore either. Life is evolving quickly here these days, the rush of the summer’s end calling attention to some big changes in everyone’s lives, weddings, birthdays, more. It makes the next part of this year like this huge, scary unknown, like we know exactly what’s going to happen yet the situation is completely out of our control. Then again, now that it’s officially four weeks out till my birthday, maybe I’m just reacting to being in what feels like the same exact position as last year while officially entering my late 20s. These questions were on my mind last night for a while as I settled in my chair with a cup of tea and Netflix, trying to make sense of these big questions where I’m not even sure I want an answer.

Something I’ve been doing in yoga lately is switching up my usual mantra to one that carries a meaning I struggle to embrace: Choose love. This doesn’t mean dating or family or really any kind of love in particular. It’s just a reminder to choose to focus on the good things. Choose what gives back love and smiles instead of choosing to dwell on the negative; in the context of this weekend it mostly meant I needed to focus on the benefits of Bikram practice instead of how badly I wanted to pass out during the standing postures, but it has wider implications for the weeks to come (or at least I think it might). 

I was texting my soul sister E in the midst of the aforementioned Netflix-ing and contemplating, and she mentioned those words at the top, which were exactly what I needed to hear after a weekend like this one. I won’t go into the context – it’s of little consequence, really – but it started to make sense on a number of levels, and I had to write it down before I forgot. Why is it so hard to choose the positive? When the focus is avoiding what could hurt or what could be difficult, it’s too easy to miss that without the low moments, there’s nothing to make the high points that much better. It’s not a matter of seeking out the low moments to experience the high, but a reminder not to give them the attention they crave. I have a feeling in the next few months there’s going to be a lot of low moments, after a spring and a summer filled with highs, but I think in the end that’s okay. Because I also have a feeling that I can choose to look at the low moments not as things to break me down, but as teaching moments in looking to always, always choose love.

People Watching

Things I saw this weekend include: a girl in pasties, four different men in semi-offensive headdresses, at least six unicorn onesies, countless women in straight-up lingerie, many, many sunburned people and a shirtless guy playing guitar while his wife swayed next to him holding an infant. It may sound like something out of a Tim Burton drug-fueled daydream, but that’s actually a snapshot from round two of LB has a perfect weekend (and is only slightly sunburned). My lovely long weekend was a blend of relaxing and wild, just enough crazy for some hilarious stories and just enough of summer to make me so excited for the next few months.

A few weeks back, my partner-in-crime R, her Scot H and I decided to bite the budget-crushing bullet and purchase VIP passes to Electric Daisy, which we all came to agree was probably the best decision we’ve made in a long time. I woke up on Sunday to crisp sunshine after two days of rain, clear skies and a full day of drinking in a ridiculous outfit ahead of me, braided hair, cropped top, crazy shorts and all. We arrived around 12:30 to the venue, which boasted four stages and a VIP area for each, free carnival rides for anyone willing to wait in line (spoiler: I wasn’t) and the people watching of a lifetime. Throughout the day while enjoying the music and the full bar next to each VIP deck, we saw everything from brand-new friends dancing together like they’d know each other forever, a couple that couldn’t have been older than 20 having an epic fight in front of what they didn’t realize was the VIP lounge window, and two girls exchanging pinky promises that “nothing happened.”

VIP viewing

VIP viewing

We decided to join the crowd in mid-afternoon, breaking away from the secluded deck and dancing with reckless abandon, hands up, swaying with the bass and jumping as the bridge rose, faster, faster. After the final show we fought our way through the crowd to make it on the first train back, where my ears kept ringing and all I wanted to do was smile, a perfect day, a perfect festival. I had just enough wherewithal to get home and take off my makeup, jewelry and even brush my teeth, but obviously there’s a limit to how responsible I am, so rather than getting into my bed to sleep, I chose to grab a pillow, bring it to the living room and sleep on the floor. Eh, win some, lose some.

Stop and smell the summertime

Stop and smell the summertime

The next morning I woke up and found my ears were still ringing but the rest of me felt great, something I needed to face another long day. My lovely friend M and I had been planning a Memorial Day picnic uptown for a few weeks, a chance to get the Nickname Posse together to relax and catch up. It took M and I all of 45 minutes to prepare the food and we made it to Fort Tryon around 3, finding her N, R, H and D&D, my brother and his girlfriend, along the way. We stayed and picnicked in the park for almost 4 hours, ate every last bit of food washed down with beer in paper cups, napped in the summer sun while overlooking the river and just enjoyed each other’s company. We saw the aforementioned shirtless man, couples hiding in the rocks over the walking path, children running in all the trees and even a wedding party posing for pictures, a perfect day for such a celebration. Once we were out of food and exhausted from the sun, we reluctantly packed everything in around 7, promising we’d have another picnic soon.

I declined the generous offer from M and N to take a taxi back down to my apartment, in need of a good walk and some time to be on my own. It was still warm and bright by the time we left, and I was desperate to soak in as much sunshine as possible, something to keep me going during the rainy week ahead. I smiled as I checked my phone for a text from a very jet-lagged AZ and made plans for dinner, a chance to relax at home with little miss and prepare for the week ahead. I looked through pictures before going to bed that night (read: bed, not floor), laughing at the memories of people in the background, the foreground of the festival and the weekend. A perfect weekend of people watching with everyone I adore is quite the way to start the summer season, after all.