Louie Doesn’t Lead the Way

While the last few weeks have been absolutely amazing and overall, very positive – they have also been quite stressful. We’re approaching the close at the mag, my next-door neighbor (and great friend) is moving back to the countryside, and a few opportunities have me biting my nails in anticipation.

And on top of all of it – it’s that inevitable time when bloating and breaking out are the norm.

So, on Tuesday, as I entered the subway, my hair frizzed up due to the rainstorm, my arms tired from carrying my gym bag, purse, and work to bring home with me – you could say I was a little annoyed. Even though I didn’t technically have to go to the gym (we never are forced, ya know?) – I knew running would help me release stress and I’d feel so much better about the spinach pasta I was anticipating making later.

When the 1 train arrived, I waited for all of the people to exit and then quickly boarded to catch a seat because standing up for 12 stops isn’t fun in four-inch stiletto heeled-boots. I sat down and started to read over an interview I was writing the story for in the December/January issue, and as I usually do, my attention inevitably turns towards the characters on the train. This is especially when I’m not in the greatest of moods. People watching, even as silly and stalkerish as it may seem, gives me inspiration and food-for-thought. This time was no different.

As I studied those around me – a homeless man, a child and her mother, an older man, a business man, a fashionista, and a sleeping woman – my eyes caught a girl, probably just a tad bit older than me in a red jacket.

She was tall and slender, with curly blonde hair, black tights, and peep-toe flats. I knew they were designer, but couldn’t pin-point which one (not a gift of mine). Her skin was beautifully flawless with just the hint of natural coloring and her silk sweater dress hugged her in all the right places. I’m as straight as a gal gets, but she was sincerely beautiful.

While I was watching her, I started comparing myself to her. I immediately thought: She has better hair. Prettier skin. Nicer clothes. She’s more cool and collected. She looks more like she belongs here than I do. She probably has a fabulous job or doesn’t work at all. And look, she’s married. She’s probably madly in love too, and never had to go through a self-made 12-step program to be happyily single and love herself. She’s probably already in love with herself – I mean, who wouldn’t be? Every man in this train is probably one flip-of-her-hair away from drooling.

Now, part of the path to self-love is shaping the language I use to talk to myself. Instead of self-defeating, non-progressive words, I’ve been attempting to use encouraging phrases and boost myself up as my mother or my best friends would. But for this day, no matter how secure or happy I am about certain parts of my life, seeing the lovely lady in the red jacket made me feel down-right awful.

When the train reached my stop, I gathered my bags and started to get up, conscious of the older man with the cane to my right. I hesitated to let him get a lead and make sure he was okay, and out-of-nowhere the pretty red jacket girl shoved her way out of the subway – using her Louie Vuitton to push away those in her path.

She nearly knocked down the poor old man and when someone huffed at her, she shot back at them an incredibly rude pout, and continued walking. I followed behind her, after letting the trembling man get off, and headed towards the stairs. Not only did she use her Louie to get down the stairs ahead of everyone, but she almost sent someone fumbling down the stairs. And again, when someone said something, she acted as if everyone was else was merely a cockroach on the subway getting in her way.

I get that people in the city are notoriously rude or in way too much of a rush, but most people I’ve encountered have been nothing but kind and gracious. While they may not be friendly, they haven’t ever been as ridiculous as Ms. Red Coat. And just because I moved to the North, doesn’t mean I forgot my Southern manners – and I try to shine as an example to those around me by being courteous, forgiving, and thoughtful.

After witnessing the complete disrespect for other people by this woman, it hit me how silly it is to compare myself to someone I don’t know. No matter how sophisticated or gorgeous or put-together someone may appear – there is no way to get underneath their skin. Just by looking at me, no one would ever guess all of the things I do, the things I stand for, or the things I feel. Looks are really just that, an image sent out that isn’t necessarily true or false.

But one truth that I’m sure of – is that Louie doesn’t lead the way. Love does.

And not romantic love – but compassionate love. That love that we give to another person simply because they are a fellow human being. Because they are breathing and they are alive, they deserve the same respect and courtesy as we give to someone we love or adore. That’s a part of love addiction that doesn’t need fixing.

Even though I may dream of the day that I can afford a real-live Louie (not a Chinatown one) – a bigger part of me longs for the day when I can be rich enough to write a check to help that innocent old man on the train have a safer life, far away from impolite women in red coats.