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Did you let love in?
Two things I wish I would’ve learned sooner.
I. 20 Something / Will it ever be enough?
We’d been on our phones for the last 3 hours. Scrolling, editing, liking, commenting, comparing. She’d barely touched her dinner, taking tiny, toothy bites of the same fry for the last twenty minutes. This was typical on shoot days: eight hours, three locations, and an agonizing obsession over the “perfect” picture. An obsession I once thought was a marker of greatness, not a byproduct of crippling insecurity.
Shit, maybe it’s both.
I knew she wouldn’t be able to enjoy our dinner until after she posted, which didn’t stop me from ordering another mango mojito and a side of shrimp. Whenever I’d grumble about food getting cold she’d tell me I didn’t understand, that my livelihood didn’t depend on it. It made me question if I could care as much as her. If I could make the internet my everything. Could a static grid of images host all my hopes and fears, friends and enemies, successes and failures spun into lessons about future successes? Could I make an app a place where I feel the most seen? Even if who people were seeing was only a fragment, a shard of one-dimensional glass held to the light of a thousand smartphones, a carefully curated image of my own making.
Hands shaking, she opened the app, scrolled, selected a picture, vacillated between two captions for ten minutes, groaned, pressed post, squealed, refreshed the flashing row of red notifications, and exhaled.
Will it ever be enough? I asked, ripping a shrimp from its skewer.
Will what ever be enough? She mumbled.
If you take the perfect picture, what amount of likes and comments will be enough?
She scoffed at the question, eyes sharp, shaking her head.
No amount, she whispered. That’s the point.
II. 30 Something / Did you let love in?
I was at dinner yesterday on the outdoor patio of an overpriced Italian spot in Chelsea. There were two friends to my left, smartly dressed, grays sweeping their shoulders.
The woman took a bite of her bread, paused, asked the man across from her,
Did you let love in?
He nodded, eyes fixed on the black pepper bits in his olive oil.
Good, she said, never breaking her gaze. Because I’ve spent the majority of my life chasing people and things that didn’t want me and rejecting those that did. Nothing and no one was ever enough. Those are two things I wish I would’ve learned sooner: the value of enough and how to let love in.
Maybe that’ll be us one day, I thought. Former friends, once close, bearing our truth over bread about what we wish we would’ve learned sooner.
Memory is a funny thing. These scenes are a decade apart. The moment I overheard the sharply dressed woman speak two things she wished she would’ve learned sooner it felt as if I was transported back to that dinner in my 20’s. A reminder, for me, that there’s still much to learn along the way, and on the path we can choose to carry an open heart and internal scorecard that no external validation or condemnation can taint.
Happy Monday, Friends.
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