During the summer of 2008, when I was interning in the city, I made my way over to Union Square to meet a basketball player from Yale for dinner. We had met once and because he was quite adorable, I agreed to go on an official date with him. Because you never know how long it will take to get anywhere on the subway on the weekends, I arrived nearly 30 minutes earlier than I anticipated.
So, I saw down on the steps facing towards downtown and started reading a book I highly recommend, Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos (it is not only about romantic love but loving yourself and others). I was wearing this simple yellow sundress with white kitten heels, and a paisley scarf tied 50’s style around my neck. My hair was in light curls and I had a cardigan by my side. The sun was reflecting off my book onto my face a little and the summer breeze from the city was wondering between the buildings, making its way to me in short and quick bursts.
Completely in a daze from my book, I looked up to see an older man sitting a few steps below me, looking at me, and drawing in his notebook. Thinking he was going to try and get me to buy the picture from him, I said, “Sir, I don’t have any cash to pay you for the drawing.” He shook his head and smiled up at me (a few teeth missing and all) in broken English and said, “No, no, no! You’re just so beautiful. No money. No money. Just let me finish.” I again told him I sincerely had nothing to give him, and he reassured me that he wanted to draw my picture...just because.
A little taken back (but still flattered), I continued reading and let him draw me. After a while, someone stopped, tapped me on the shoulder, and said, “Are you some sort of celebrity or something?” I laughed it off and told them most definitely, not and concluded this was one of the most peculiar New York afternoons I had experienced to date. Soon, the Yale guy showed up, and I told him the story (to which he wasn’t that interested in hearing), and he told me we should get dinner. I walked down to the man drawing, where he said, “Not finished, but you must go. Take this, take this.” He handed me a drawing that while it did not resemble me much, was wonderful. I thanked him and wished him good luck in his career as an artist.
I never saw that man or the Yale boy again, but that 45-minute span made a lasting impression on me. As soon as I got back from the date, I started a book called The Yellow Sundress that centers around a man and a woman who cross paths several times over a year before fate brings them together at a park, while she’s wearing a yellow sundress, of course.
With so much going on with my 9-6 magazine job, this blog, and managing an online women’s mag, I had taken a nice long break from writing this book. Also, because it is ultimately a love story, I figured it wouldn’t be good for the progress.
And then, while Tumbling last week, I ran across this picture:
When I saw it, I literally took my hands off the keyboard and covered my mouth. The book had been so far out of my memory for months and to see such a clear representation of it from a total stranger was incredible. And then, as I have been, I checked my feelings and my reaction to the picture. Instead of being sad or jealous or upset that I didn’t have that great love or that I was writing a love story that I’ve yet to experience – I was just happily reminded of something that means so much to me.
Strangely enough, seeing this picture has made me believe how ready I am for Step 4. Seeing couples or seeing romance or seeing love right in my face isn’t upsetting me anymore. I’m sure it will in the future on rough days, but I’ve reached a point of contentment where I’m just hopeful.
And the thing about this journey is I don’t need to hold myself back from loving love. Loving love in every sense, dimension, and style of the word isn’t bad. Believing in the power and the strength that a loving bond can have, or how deeply rooted and sincere and eternal it can be, isn’t wrong either. The only thing that makes loving love harmful is when I put myself down about it, think negatively, or make it a main priority of my life. The key is to not obsess, but to not lose my hope either.
Loving love is part of what makes me, me. Loving love is part of why I’m full of optimism and faith. Loving love is why I’m writing this blog that’s helping me and other women, and a book that’ll maybe make it to the shelves of millions. Loving love will one day be an attractive quality to the man I will spend forever with.
Step 4 is about discovering where the obsession with love comes from. This step will be about going back into old relationships and figuring out what went wrong -not in the union, but with how I dealt with it. It will be about going back inside of me to discover what parts need mending and care. It will mean admitting to some not-so-refreshing facts and emotions. It will help me determine where my love for love became an obsession.
So, for The Yellow Sundress, for me, for that wonderful artist in the park who inspired me, and for all the things (and love) to come – onto the next path in this journey. One month down, how many more to come?