Well, well, well, it has been over 300 days since I last published anything here, and surprisingly, I don’t feel overpoweringly terrible about it… Normally, this would be where I declare new aspirations and set renewed goals… but not today. This past almost-a-year has been an even more enriching one than the one before it – 445 days ago, I started this project inspired by the then-recent travels and life-lessons I have learnt – so I suppose it really isn’t a bad problem to have if I now stand here and say that I’ve been keeping on learning and growing; and despite that it hasn’t been easy (of course it wouldn’t be… who was I kidding), I still am glad that all that has happened did happen. For the adventures I had, the laughters I shared, the tears I shed, and the many entries I drafted but never published… Perhaps I felt a bit more vulnerable during this last while, perhaps unintentionally I took things into my solitude and tried to work it out more inwardly, and therefore perhaps it isn’t the worst thing that I’m only starting to write here again after so long… and here it goes.
Recently, an essay from NYTimes’ Modern Love section caught much attention: Mandy Len Catron’s “To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This,” where she refers to psychologists Arthur Aron and others’ study that explores the possibility of creating, or accelerating, the sentiment of “love” between two people (strangers, to be precise) by having them asking each other a series of 36 increasingly personal and intense questions. I first came across it in the newsfeed of my facebook page; having grown cynical towards the concept and powerfulness of love, I was intrigued, but chose to ignore it regardlessly. As days went on, with an increasing number of shares and comments resurfacing in the feed again, I gave in, and went on to check it out.
So, I read it.
And, I read the 36 questions too.
Then, I thought about my own answers to the questions, meanwhile remaining infinitely curious about the 4-minutes of silent stare mentioned in both the essay and the study… But what really stood out to me was the very last thing Catron closed her essay with: “Love didn’t happen to us. We’re in love because we each made the choice to be.”
It was a choice.
At the end of the day, it was a choice.
There have been many things I’ve chosen to do over the last year, some more personal and emotional than other, and some as public as sharing the exciting news of my upcoming graduate studies in Europe with my friends and families. I had only just realized it then that there has been another choice I’ve made, and it wasn’t to do something, but rather, to not do something – I’ve subconsciously chosen to not try to love my current city… Seattle, with all of its gray and grunginess, has been my home for over a year now… and yet I never felt quite settled in. Aside from the job at the museum which I’ve been enjoying immensely (thank goodness for it, to be honest; otherwise I may not have stayed for this long), all else seemed temporary. And then, it took me completely by surprise when I caught myself feeling saddened and nostalgic at the thought of the upcoming move, away from here, away from the new friends I’ve made and new memories I’ve acquired here… So why is it then, I sat there and wondered to myself, that I haven’t wanted to truly get to know the city?
Vancouver now seems like a distant memory. A recent visit back up north of the border left me feeling rather discontent. The nature is still there, and a few (although, very few) of my close friends still remain; but much has changed, and many have moved on. The city didn’t feel like a place where I’ve spent my most formative years in anymore, the skyline no longer appears familiar, and the associated memories had begun to fade into the background; it was quite the hollowing feeling. “I’ve outgrown it”, I shared that thought immediately with a close friend of mine, to which he echoed the same sentiment; and as it turned out, we weren’t the only ones… So as time went on, I reluctantly accepted this shift, and started speculating just how episodic one’s life could be, and where would that next episode of my life find a new home…
And with all these in mind, I looked to here, to today. I am still in Seattle, and I will still be here for roughly five more months, before I get on that one-way flight across the continent and across the Atlantic – but that’s still five whole months! As little time as it may be, according to Arthur Aron’s study, that’s plenty more than the 4 minutes and 36 questions needed to fall in love. And for one, I sure have starred at this city for longer than 4 minutes when I bathed in all of its morning glory early last June, as I stood in dawn’s crisp air and took in the sunrise over the Space Needle, the Smith Tower, the Puget Sound…
So here I am, in spite of the clearly-known temporality, choosing to make a conscious effort at a love affair with my current city. And for the next few months, I’ll share the explorations and discoveries with those who wish to listen, and save the rainy days for revisiting the adventures-had through writing. Here goes nothing.