The other day I was riding the subway with a friend. A few seats from us was a very upset little girl. She was maybe six years old, and as she told it her world was falling apart. She was telling her mother about disliking the book her class was reading, the fight she was having with her friend, and how she fell down and scraped her knee during recess.
Within a couple stops, the same young girl was smiling, laughing, and declaring tonight was going to be “the best night ever.” All it took was the decisions to reread a book she likes, eating spaghetti for dinner, and a swipe of her mother’s lipstick. Watching her whole demeanor change, made me think about the little things that have been able to transform my day since I was child. These are things I must always remember.
- Street Markets and State Fairs: I love events that get all kinds of people to go to the same place for the same reason. It doesn’t matter where someone is from, who made their shoes, why their last relationship ended or what they believe in. What matters is that you are here to enjoy the act of being alive. You want to see the world from the top of the ferris wheel, you want to smell like the street foods you are trying for the first time, you want to hear the clank of the bangles from the local artisan on your arm. You want to eat too much and then spin really fast while turning upside down on a ride; you want your cheeks to burn red with life; you want to exist in a world of music, and children’s screams, and people holding hands for the first time.
- The moment you finish a good book: Ever since I was a little girl, I have been drawn to books. I thought the best homes were the ones with overflowing bookshelves that were surrounded with more books, as if the amount of text it was being asked to contain was too much, and one day it very gracefully exploded in an attempt to breath again. When I read, I can leave reality behind, and only know the fictional world I am consuming. It can seem more real to me than anything else. And every once in a while, I will finish a book that had such a hold on my heart, I will feel like part of me just died. I will never be able to go back and read that book for the first time again. It doesn’t matter if I love or hate the ending, because I will be so thankful for the emotion it made me feel and the reminder that the quickest way to feel alive is to find a book created from a great author who was brave enough to share his or her words with the world.
- Handwritten Letters: Emails are faster and more convenient. I will admit that in recent months I have spent more time writing out emails than letters because I have allowed myself to fall into the “I am too busy” trap. But, the truth is, that is why I love letters. We are all too busy. So, it truly means something when someone writes you a letter and takes, ignoring the methods that are faster and more convenient. But, opening your mailbox and finding a card or a letter carries a different weight than an email. You know the thought that went into each word since they couldn’t hit “delete” and wipe away some thought. We can all write with the same fonts, but our unique, handwritten scripts, often bring with them a different kind of love.
- Autumn leaves: Autumn is the best season. I love how everything feels new again. It is like we all have a Pavlovian effect, where the sight of red, yellow, and orange leaves mean a new beginning, long after our school years. It means we can chase new dreams, fall in love with new faces, and enjoy every moment a little bit more.
- Perfectly decorated apartments: Have you ever walked into someone’s apartment and you fell in love with every corner of the place? You fell in love with the colors, and the textures, and that moment when you realize this person has somehow captured their very essence and turned it into a tangible thing within four walls. Seeing someone’s apartment, especially someone’s room, always makes me feel closer to them. I can see what they chose to surround themselves with, what they love and need around them. So, when I love someone’s apartment, it makes me think that person is even more beautiful. I connect them with their mixed-print pillows, the flowers on the their living room table, the antique photos on their walls, and the belongings they have selected to represent the lifetimes they have already lived.
- Chandeliers: Chandeliers charm me. I become hypnotized by the beauty of light reflecting off of crystal. I don’t think there is such a thing as an ironically placed chandelier — they belong everywhere. They belong above the drunk, dancing dreamers in dirty pubs; witnessing the love, pain, and awkward moments that are fixtures at holiday dinners; lighting the old pages of well-loved books in famous libraries; draped in bras and disco balls in the beauty salon I frequent; and like in my apartment, pink, mini-sized, and plastic, hanging in the bathroom. One of my favorite things about the city is that chandeliers are everywhere. They are in coffee shops, bakeries, dive bars, night clubs, hotels, restaurants and even the bazaars at holiday markets. Each time I see one hanging somewhere, I think about the daydreams of my youth, sitting under the pink chandelier in my family’s dining room, wondering what my life would be like when I grew up and had a chandelier all my own.
- Coke Icees: Ever since I was little and would walk to Burger King with my friends after particularly bad days, I have loved coke icees. I believe they can cure a multitude of ills. I am also lucky because my best friend and my baby sister have the same belief. We have seen how sipping the cheap, gas station treat can cool off anger at friends, momentarily heal broken hearts, and temporarily make the unknown less scary. But icees aren’t just for bad times. My first solo date was in middle school. Since we didn’t want parent chaperones, we had to walk, so we walked to Burger King. We shared icees and our first kiss, and since then the taste of a coke icee, particularly on a warm day, brings me back to childhood crushes, young love, and the idea that you are the only person in the history of the world that has ever been so happy.
- When that song comes on the radio: Full disclosure, I am not a music person in the way that many people are. I am a books person, a poetry person, a fashion person, an art person, but music escapes me. I love lyrics, I love dancing, and I love that feeling of community that can only be found at concerts when groups of people find answers in the same songs. But, for me, my love of songs often have more to do with the fact they gave me hope and a sense of belonging during some moment in my life. And sometimes that feeling becomes attached to that song for more than a moment, but a lifetime . Here are some songs that have become more than songs to me, but reminders, and beacons, and wishes unspoken: Just To See You Smile by Tim McGraw, Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song) by Billy Joel, Wild World by Cat Stevens, She’s Everything by Brad Paisley, Work by Jimmy Eat World, Awake by Secondhand Serenade, In My Life by The Beatles and Brat Pack by The Rocket Summer.
- Conversations that never end: There is probably nothing I like better than when I end up with someone and spend hours talking to them about everything. The other day I met three of my favorite people for coffee and we talked for hours without pause. It made me feel more alive than almost anything. When people sit down and try to make sense of the world, it is beautiful. I love when you meet someone you are just getting to know, and that first real conversation, that first conversation with meaning, happens and alters your relationship. And I love when you sit down with a friend you haven’t been able to catch up with in months, and you are able to recharge your love story by simply realizing you still have so much to say to each other.
And a list because this post is already getting so long: I love super soft mattresses covered in fresh sheets and tons of pillows, wearing flowers in my hair, little girls running around with flowers and tutus and big dreams that have not been crushed yet, watching someone fall in love from a far, taco stands, a really good frozen margarita, a new tube of mascara, a glass of red wine and a best friend, a phone call or email from someone you deeply missed and didn’t even realize it, blazers that seem tailored for your body, when your best friend falls asleep in your bed, old books, stores that are filled with the most random collection of treasures, bananas and strawberries cut up and served in a bowl, One Tree Hill seasons 1-6, really good hair days, when the subway comes right as you get to the platform, scenes when Harry and Ginny are falling in love, story lines about the love that can only exist between best friends, that moment when you wake up and you think your dreams really happened, perfectly worded sentences, when my friends’ dreams come true, a piece of artwork that for a moment gives your life a whole new meaning.