Few things I know for sure. Few things I think I know for sure. I know that, to me, there is nothing more important than showing love to other people. This takes priority. And the result is that I’m not depriving myself of anything. By putting others first, I’m actually receiving the ultimate joy of providing love and support to someone who deserves it. Every single person on the planet deserves it. We didn’t choose this life.
This is what is what deserves attention…what is easy to discern as a path worth pursuing… and what is most meaningful to me. Treating people lovingly is not only the right thing to do tomorrow, or in 6 months, but is also the right decision in this moment, this very second. The right decision is timeless.
I can’t remember her name…but does it even matter? She is identified though her actions, her words. She was so interested in my life, in my trip.. asking me where I’ve been, where I’m going, who I’ve met. This soul sitting next to me fully entered my thoughts, absorbing each word as I spoke it. When someone is really listening to you, you can see it in their eyes. She told me where to go once I get off the train–take the metro to Market East station, which is where old town and historical monuments are. Once we arrived, she led me to the metro area and wished me good luck–the most genuine good luck I’ve ever heard.
IN Philly I spent the day mostly walking. No host. But feeling free. Entirely aimless. I truly loved the lay-out of the city–simple to navigate and the streets looked similar to Charlottesville. I took a train back to D.C to stay with Braden, my old host for a few days. I need to write about the conversation we had one night: him talking about his passions…what classifies a passion.. and also of how he judges someone–not based on their job/contacts/likes/dislikes but based on how they treat other people. He referenced the purposelessness and misunderstandings involved in war. People are so much more than their religious beliefs or the labels society creates for them. He said the only part he’s concerned with is the treatment of others, pointing out that couchsurfers invite me to stay with them without knowing what I believe in or without having similar interests. I’m still treated with kindness– and this treatment takes priority.
I spent the night on the train and woke up in Charlottesville, VA to witness a sunrise that makes me glad I didn’t kill myself a year ago. I would’ve died without seeing the Virginia horizon encompass a rising star, awakening my heart and my mind. It felt like waking up in a warm bed next to someone you love, whether family or friend. You open your eyes and are suddenly fully aware of how you woke up in this bed, with this person, and not in a different bed, perhaps alone. The warm bed is enough. More than enough. But sometimes you’ll wake up next to a person you care about and maybe that person is still sleeping. I just kind of take a moment to let gratitude envelope me– and, for a small part of space-time, I’m comforted by pure amazement.
The sun rose, lit the sky on fire and awakened my heart. Charlottesville was a nice, vintage looking town. I arrived in town with the intention of finding a homeless shelter to shower in. I found it, but chickened out in the end. I’m glad though. Not sure how smart that would have been– 20 y/o girl in a building with several homeless men. Also glad because I learned how to endure feeling “dirty.” Four days without a shower felt disgusting. But I conditioned myself to stop thinking about it, believing I looked OK without. The biggest problem, surprisingly, was my feet sweating and my socks stinking.
I should mention the girl I chatted with on the train out of Atlanta. Thirty-six y/o mother of two. Single mother of two. We talked about our lives, mostly about her, and I’m glad. I love learning about people. I love experiencing that circumspect feeling of knowing what others go through. Simple facts, simple conditions of her life help illuminate and redefine my own life. She was pregnant in high school with her son. The father was seemingly non-existent: in and out of jail, incapable of providing even his presence. Her kids don’t see or talk to him 18 years later. I told her about my trip and she said she admired me, told me she would love to mirror my decision if she was without children. She made me laugh and I made her laugh too. Our lives, running independent of one another, had collided on a train at 3 o’clock in the morning. When she left at 5:30 a.m, she left me sitting there and I was a different person at 5:31, alone with my thoughts. Each person I meet offers an opportunity to look at my life from an angle previously unrecognizable. What is more enriching than that?
Being away from my belongings and distancing myself from materialism shows me just how valuable clothes, jewelry, and “statuses” are. Like what…? I’ve been wearing the same outfit for over three weeks (washing whenever possible). I walk into Macy’s in downtown NY and the truth could not be any clearer. So many people long for costumes so that they might be defined in a positive, superficial light. I haven’t worn make-up in over 3 months. Nor have I worn something “stylish”, or even changed my hair. And yet I’ve gotten more attention from guys than I ever have before. Need I say more about the pointlessness of masking ourselves?
No one would believe me straight up though. If you told me five years ago that, if I stop wearing make-up, it won’t change how guys see me, I wouldn’t believe you. These types of things people only discover on their own. Having confidence feels so much better than feeling inferior and embarrassed. I would like others to believe in themselves. The least I could do is set a good example. What do I have to lose, exactly?
My Couchsurfing host took me to see Isabella Rosolini and then out to an Italian Restaurant at 11:00 p.m. We drank a few glasses of wine over a candle lit dinner. The dim light flickered on the table and created shadows on his face, accentuating the friendliness in his eyes. We talked about his divorce, his kids, his doubts over finding someone else to marry. His delicate tone and hesitant word choice had me sympathizing with him from the first sentence to the very last. How did you deal with such heartbreak? I asked and he answered as if it had happened yesterday. He told me the divorce was not mutual. She left him. This guy is one of those rare characters who is incessantly nice to people without asking for anything in return. He said his marriage was going well and was essentially blind-sided. Good people get treat like shit and there’s nothing else to it. There are no mean of prevention. As much as it hurts to endure mistreatment, it’s ridiculous to try and prevent mistreatment. It is simply a condition of life. As Marcus Aurelius says, it’s assigned to everyone.
The Holocaust Museum makes a horror story more vivid than history books. One thing stands out: After the concentration camps were cleaned, after the war, shoes of prisoners were collected. In one room of the museum, there lies about 2ft of raddy shoes (if you can ever call them shoes), all identical in style and in quality. The room is approximately 30ft x 15ft I’d say. They represent a small portion of people murdered for their belief in a certain god. The Germans killed those who were not even Jews— those who simply had Jewish parents or grandparents. A Jewish name or Jewish wife. Like what?? Also: those with handicaps– such as deafness, blindness, autism…etc. These people were killed too…as means of “cleansing” the population.
If my mom happened to live in Germany around 75 years ago, they would have sent her to a concentration camp to be killed not based on how she treats other people but because certain nerve cells are damaged in her ear. Oh ya, only logical. Some nerve cells die–>can’t hear–> deserves to be shot. It disgusts me that so many people managed to deify a horrific idea, an ideal based on such obvious inaccuracies of judgment.
Standing on the step of Lincoln Memorial, facing the Washington Monument. This is were MLK gave his famous speech.
But then I had this dream last night: I was watching the Laker game and simultaneously explaining to someone why I like Kobe Bryant. I woke up and in an intense moment of clarity, at 3 a.m, I asked myself if I would continue to idolize Kobe if he did something that went against my beliefs of right/ wrong. Then I realized he already has: he cheated on his wife and blah blah blah. But I choose to ignore this, and almost excuse this, because I like the way he plays basketball. Everything that he says or does is filtered by my admiration of him– and I put him on a pedestal because watching him makes me feel empowered and inspired. He could kill someone and I’d still make an argument for his kindness. How crazy is that? Almost as crazy as the Germans’ loyalty towards a man who slaughters innocent people but who also makes the citizens of Germany feel empowered and hopeful. It’s easy to demarcate good and bad behavior when you’ve never been forced to redefine morality. So that was in Washington D.C.
Also went to: White house, all Smithsonian Museums (amazing, AND free), Lincoln Memorial (more epic in person than in photographs), Washington Monument, World War 2 Memorial.
On the train. Should be in D.C within the hour. Maryland is beautiful; we’ve been traveling along the river for more than a couple hours. Thin, naked trees surrounding the riverbed and piles of dead leaves covering the earth. The sun is shining, illuminating the white rapids. Where the water is calm, almost completely still, it mirrors the bare forest above. How do I feel about my trip? I feel it’s important to press on. I have no idea what awaits me.