Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Love + Life + Lessons

"Love is when the other person's happiness is more important than your own."

H. Jackson Brown Jr. said that (if anyone actually knows anything else about H. Jackson Brown Jr., that's a story for another time.)

In the past, I would have looked at a quote like that with what could only be described as cynical disdain and confusion.

How could you let someone take over your life like that? I would never think that. 

As time progressed, I lightened up.

Maybe someday I'll meet someone and I'll understand why people say things like that. I guess we'll see. 

Fast forward a couple more years and high school was an adventure I was well prepared to take on alone. Yes, it would have been nice to have a boy "notice me." Yes, it would have been nice to have a hand to hold every now and then. But I never let myself be defined by other people, let alone high-school boys. I had amazing friends and we didn't need anything or anyone else to have an amazing time.

Sure, there were days when I let myself feel lonely. I wondered why everyone around me seemed to be happily in love and why no one thought they'd like to share that with me. It made me sad--low self-esteem will do that to a person.

So imagine my excitement when one winter's day a boy wanted to get to know me, I couldn't contain myself. I threw all of my energy into making him happy. It became stressful. How can people dedicate their entire lives to making sure someone else is happy? 

Then, more than ever, I was sure that love was not when the other person's happiness was more important than your own.

When I said goodbye to that boy I was determined to live a life where I put myself first. Not in a selfish way. In a healthy way.

I let time go by. I let myself be busy. I was happy. And I could have continued on that way for years and I would have been satisfied.

But that uncertain girl kept creeping back to the surface. I hoped that when I got to college I would meet new people and find someone to share my time with.

But plans almost never work out the way you think they will.

Sometimes, they turn out better.

That's what happened to me. I took a chance and it turned my world upside down.

What started out as friendship grew stronger, and I found myself the happiest I'd ever been. Here was a boy who cared about me the same way I cared about him. We just clicked.

I thought maybe there was some truth to the idea that love was when the other person's happiness was more important than your own. Just maybe not in the way I was looking at it before.

Putting someone's happiness above your own can be selfless. It means you care so much about that person that you would do anything for them. It doesn't mean you can't be happy too. For me, making someone else happy, makes me the happiest.

Maybe a better way to say it would be "love is when the other person's happiness is just as important as your own."

Yeah, I like that better.


Monday, November 9, 2015


“Wow, how did you manage to get these seats?” the usher asked my mother as she showed us to our seats in the very first row of the Benedum.

It was pure luck really. My parents, my sister, and I were new to Pittsburgh and we were looking for something to do for a while to distract ourselves from the fact that we had just been uprooted from our childhood home.

We were all fans of musical theater and my mother would often play her favorite cast recordings for my sister and me. I loved it. I always sang along, I would even dress up dance on the coffee table.

I was thrilled when my parents told me we would be going to see a production of Les Miserables. I had been singing along with Castle on a Cloud for years, but I had never seen the show live before. I had never seen any show live before. I had watched Annie and The Sound of Music countless times on VHS but I had never stepped foot in a theater before.

It was a warm summer night in 2007 when we made our way into the cultural district for the first time. We had our MapQuest directions and we were ready to make some memories. When we finally made it to the theater I was awestruck. The ceilings were made of gold. The walls were draped in elegance. It was magical. We made our way into the heart of the theater and a quietly beautiful usher swept us toward our seats—in the very first row.

Turns out we bought our tickets fairly last minute and the front row had the last seats available. Our feet were practically touching the orchestra. When the curtain rose and the first song began I felt the deepest happiness I had ever experienced. I could see the microphones on the actors’ cheeks. I could hear them breathing. I felt like I was a part of the show.

I remember shedding a tear and springing out of my seat as the actors took their final bows. After the show, I clutched my playbill to my chest as my parents led my sister and I through the streets back to the dismal and gray parking garage.

I had seen live theater for the first time and it became a passion I would never lose. Every year after that I asked for tickets to the Benedum for my birthday and a few years after that I would even start to perform myself.

Theater can really change your life. I will always be excited to hold a crisp ticket in my hand and sit in a gilded theater. I will always be excited to clutch a playbill to my chest. I will always remember that production of Les Miserables and the way it fanned the flame of my lifelong passion for the performing arts.


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

It's about the journey (or something like that)

“We’re consolidating,” my father announced grimly at the dinner table one dark October night.

At the age of nine I had no idea what that word meant, let alone why it had my mother on the verge of tears.

My father’s company in Scotia, NY. was moving in with its Pittsburgh counterpart—and we would be moving with it.

I couldn’t imagine leaving behind my friends, my family, my home. I had a great life. I was in the 4th grade, I was a Girl Scout, and I had just started dance classes at a local studio.

It didn’t really cross my mind that the reason I had all of these great things was due to my father’s job. The house we loved, the cars my parents drove me to school in…we really owed it all to my father. He was the provider and we would follow him where his work led.

Just nine months later we were packing our lives into the U-Haul and kissing everyone we knew goodbye.

Very few of my father’s co-workers wanted to uproot their lives, so the few who made the trek to Pittsburgh were rewarded. If we moved at the beginning of June my father would not only get a promotion, but also a pay raise.

We moved so fast I never even got to finish 4th grade.

June 1st, 2007 is a day I will never forget. That eight hour car ride was one of the longest days of my life. My family sat in silence, each of us trying to cope with the changes ahead.

I remember sitting in the back of the car with my portable CD player and my Barbie dolls, just hoping that my old friends wouldn’t forget about me, hoping that I would be able to make some new friends, hoping that my mother wouldn’t be unhappy for the rest of her days.

When we finally arrived to our new home in Pennsylvania I didn’t want to be sad anymore. I ran around our new home excitedly, exploring each room and corner. I decided it would be a new adventure. It was a chance to do anything I wanted and I was ready to go.

Looking back eight years later I wouldn’t change a thing about my life. I am the happiest I’ve ever been, I’ve made the most amazing friends, I’ve even fallen in love.

Scotia will always have a special place in my heart, but Pittsburgh is my home now and I wouldn’t have it any other way.