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Bertha's List: June Edition
There is a thin line between love and attachment.

So elusively thin in fact that it is easy to mistake one for the other. Very often we equate love with ownership and out of desperation we try to grasp that which is fluid in nature. As humans we feel the need to posses because, faced with our own mortality, we like to believe in the permanence of a forever after. Osho once warned that if you love a flower not to pick it up because it then dies and ceases to be that which you loved- “If you love a flower let it be. Love is not about possession. Love is about appreciation.”

Having houseguests is one of those rare times when I feel like an adult. Beli and Eric, my sister and brother-in-law, were visiting New York for the first time and I got to play tour guide. Nights were reserved for cuddling on my pull out sofa bed watching Game of Thrones and the days were spent showing them around the city I’d chosen as my home. I shared with them the history of the Fifth Avenue Library, the sheer majesty of St. John the Devine, and the unexpected quiet of Central Park. Once they left, the inevitable sadness seeped into my empty apartment. I missed having my baby sister around. It was the same feeling I had when boarding the return flight from Cuba. As soon as I made it to the States I emailed my little sister Silvi to tell her how terribly I missed her. She replied that she missed me too but that we don’t need to see each other every day to love each other every day. It is my karma in this lifetime to be guided by far-wiser little sisters. For twenty five years my sense of self was defined by my place in my family. I was my mother’s daughter, my sister’s sister, my aunt’s niece. It was no surprise then feeling so uprooted when I initially moved out on my own. But their love was big enough to let me go in search of my happiness, so many miles away from them. To this day I am still defined by the love of my family and where I fit in our large tribe, but I’ve also gotten better at standing alone.

On the calendar the first day of summer hits closer to July but for this New Yorker it couldn’t come soon enough. The city comes alive in the blistering heat and suddenly there are a million and one things to do: rooftop parties, beach days with the girls, movies at the park, and the biggest event of them all- Pride Parade. Manhattan trades in its parka for a rainbow bra and opens up its café doors to let the sun in. It’s really my favorite time of the year. New York blossoms in the summer and so do I. Or at least my wardrobe does. Armed with the kind of confidence only a tiny dress and a pair of wedges can muster, I too was letting the sunshine in. Somewhere between dinner at an Indian restaurant and a sing-along Beatles concert I was back on the dating market. I’d also started seeing RobotBoy again. I wondered if maybe this summer fling wasn’t becoming a pattern. Hadn’t I already done this merry-go-round? After all here I was a year later none the wiser and still asking all the same questions. But this time it was different. Because this time I understood that a lovely night at The Angelika could be just that and nothing more. No name doodling and His & Hers towels. Those crazy Buddhists are right- when you’re not wasting energy on controlling the situation with the “Where is this going?” talks it turns out you’re free to simply enjoy the previews, the main feature, and even the closing credits. Relationships, like wine, need room to breathe. So taking a break from my incessant obsessing I took what my friend Gill refers to as a “mental health day.” I defrosted my fridge, got a mani, and spent the afternoon wrapped up with the only man allowed, Haruki Murakami.

A month earlier I’d run into my college professor and she told me about a two-day workshop she was offering her former students. I jumped at the chance. During a warm-up exercise we were asked to close our eyes and see ourselves doing whatever it was we wanted if money and time were no obstacles. In the middle of that studio floor I had two clear epiphanies and their force knocked the wind right out of me. I had a crystal clear image of being in the prime of my career and I realized how desperately I wanted this. It was just me and my ambition but it didn’t feel lonely. I felt fulfilled. Maybe I’ve always known and accepted that no sacrifice would ever be too big. The second epiphany was something I’d subconsciously known for a while but one I’ll keep to myself. A girl must have some secrets, after all. A week later I dressed the part to attend the Actor’s Equity Association 100th Anniversary Gala and the following day I gave an interview on
Ese Rules Radio. (You may skip to 18:53) Red carpets and interviews? I could definitely get used to this. This was, indeed, all the romance I needed. Fresh off my faux-celebrity high I went in for my monthly doctor visit. A year to the date after my surgery and the adorable MD confirmed that everything was in tip-top condition. I was having the best week ever!

On an otherwise uneventful Thursday I made my way downtown to celebrate my friend Maribel’s engagement party. With the Brooklyn Bridge as the backdrop, a place so beloved by the couple, and the East River glittering beneath us it was one of those perfect warm evenings. The bride-to-be had a glow lit from within, the kind that can only come from being in love and irrevocably happy. As they posed for pictures he gently pushed back her hair and I pushed back my cynicism long enough to realize that maybe there are more important things in life than a career. Maybe every mediocre dating story’s worth lies in the possibility of finding something as picture perfect as the love I was witnessing. Not one that stems from fear of losing; that is attachment. But one that promises to let you bloom; that is love.

Buddha in the grass
"We need a witness to our lives. There's a billion people on the planet... I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you're promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things... all of it, all of the time, every day. You're saying 'Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness'." ~Beverly Clark, Shall We Dance
Copyright © 2012 Bertha Leal, All rights reserved.
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