OR... When you think you know someone and how they can teach you a lot about yourself.
It's all in stride... I had just had an intense discussion with someone very important to me. I left their house infuriated and figured I’d go to my favorite coffee shop as a means to isolate myself to clear my mind (and people watch of course). I walk in, and it’s barely anyone there, except myself and an elder gentleman sitting at a table in a far corner of the shop staring out of the window. I continue to the register, and I ordered my usual Dirty Chai Latte with Almond Milk. I sat in my familiar corner table beside the window front. No laptop, no books… just thoughts and a latte. It was the 26th of December. Christmas has just passed and New Year's Eve is around the corner. I sit and think for a moment… watching the pedestrians, recapping the argument moments before, and how this year in particular has been an interesting one. With my mind racing, I close my eyes… and take a deep breath… and exhale out… in… out. I repeat for what seemed like five minutes, when – “There’s no reason you should be here…” I quickly open my eyes… only to find the elderly gentleman peering down at me, before my table. “Excuse me?” I said. I’m a bit offended, by his abruptly rude assumption. He quickly responds by asking me if the extra seat containing my belongings was available for him to sit. I thought to myself “Apparently not” – but being partly intrigued and emotional vulnerable at this very moment – without another word, I curiously welcomed this random gentleman to have a seat per his request. So he sits. “Thank you.” he says as he sits. He looks me in the eye – “I’ll be brief, and I apologize for interrupting you, but I think you will want to hear this… I just ask that you be silent as a means to receive it”. Unknowingly, I just nod “yes”.
“For me… there was a year that was particularly interesting to me in terms of relationships... particularly the one's I lost. This reflection revolves around a best friend, a girlfriend, and a former roommate. I promise this will all tie in accordingly!”
"Let's begin chronologically..." He says, "....As it only makes sense with visceral re-accounting. First, I think losing my best friend was the largest, disorienting blow that year. I had never experienced personal loss on this level. We grow up with grandparents and the expectancy that that they won't be around for very long. The passing of three (of my six, total) grandparents wasn't much of an impact on me. First my mother’s father passed when I was in the eighth grade or so. I was hurt, but only to the magnitude of losing some stoic figure in my life that loved me as his other son. This can be said of both of my grandmothers who followed. Years later into my young adult life ending with my father's mother when I was 19years old. I loved them all dearly, they were loving supporters and the elder loves in my life. In all respects, though... At the time my grandparents were alive and through their passing, I loved them with an valued appreciative love. One that I believe, any grandchild with parents and loving grandparents would. They knew of all my recent accomplishments, goals, when I would graduate at the time, and what I planned to do after. They knew nothing of my fears, my vulnerabilities, or my deepest secrets – Not even my parents. There was ONLY one person – and that person was Karington Corbin. He was my best friend, my brother, my creative partner, my confidant, my homie. I could trust him with my life and darkest secrets. I’ve had many friends come and go within my life… and some whom I have grown strong continued bonds with to this day… but I realize that my idea of friendship was built around the brotherhood I had with Karington. I innately judged the weight of my actions and intuitions with other friends based on my friendship with Karrington… and it’s something I don’t apologize for. I have great bonds and friendships that are going strong because of it. With hindsight I realize that when you are young… you see the world through immortality. You see life as if you have ample time to accomplish everything. You don’t think about growing old or dying. The plan for us was to become successful, grow old, and marry beautiful women and have beautiful kids… but the dream fell short earlier this year. The rug was pulled from beneath me leaving me on my back confused and broken. As I said… you don’t realize how short life is sometimes until something happens that shocks you into understanding the fragility of existence itself. I lost my brother, my creative partner, my best friend, my confidant, my homie. A piece of me died. But that was the easy part… it was trying to pick up and deal with the void he left behind, that became the hardest part. I believe it sent me into a subconscious depression. The day I found out about his death… the only person around who I could trust and be with at that very moment was Bell… my girlfriend and the love of my life for two years."
"I called Bell at a time in which she and I were not together or on stable terms with one another. After finding out about KC’s passing that morning, I drifted through New York City for hours, wondering what to do with myself. So I called her. I didn’t know who else to trust or turn to as a means to understand what I was feeling. Not only was she a social worker (and my ex-girlfriend), but she had dealt with sudden grief before. Once I told her that Karington had died she felt the pain in me through the phone, and immediately came over to my aid with wine and Sushi. I was vulnerable and felt it, like a sickness in the body. It was the first time I cried in front of anyone… or over ANYONE… in years… besides myself and my parents. Karington died on a Saturday, January 16th. Just the night before I was on a date (testing the waters after Bell) and for some reason that night the date wasn't going right. She was beautiful, smart, and funny… but I just wasn't feeling it. Little to my knowledge at the time... While I was out with her, my best friend of 13 years was dying in a restaurant. I remember I had the urge to call him and let him know the date was going horribly and how much I missed Bell (typical Best friend complaints)… But I didn't that night. There was something happening within the universe… something that I didn’t realize until this moment in time within this reflection to you – that I felt shifting on axis to a subconscious level. The feeling that something was leaving you, like an astronomical spiritual shift in your universe. The woman and I parted ways that night in Williamsburg, with hopes of seeing one another again… but for some reason (a reason I found out January 17th, the next day) I knew we wouldn’t.
Fast forward – Bell came back into my life again after that night of Sushi, wine, and crying… and once again we played the game of off and on. It was tough on me emotionally, but I knew I needed her. In respects it was mutual. Her being there at the time that she was meant the world to me and I can't lie about that.
The night just after KC’s funeral, I decided to leave the country. My destination was Guatemala. With hindsight? I believe I ran. A trip I planned to take, later in the year, I took within a week of burying him. I was fighting depression and I believe I didn't realize it. The trip was great, but I returned to the states with indifferences – indifferences to some to my business partners, indifferences to my career, indifferences to Bell… who was the only person who came close to the love, transparency and trust – I had with KC.
As time went on we tried the idea of us again for a few months. But… after some thought and reflection mixed with honesty, I realized the saga of Bell and myself, had reached it’s peak and I’d had enough. It took me a while to realize and admit that I loved her, but could not be in a relationship with her at this time in my life. Largely understanding that having those feelings WAS okay – was hardin itself. I loved her... but being honest with who I am and where I’m at within this time of my life was most important – despite what she or anyone else thought of me! Am I selfish? Was I inconsiderate? Did I love her? Was I using her? These are questions that would constantly arise and plague my my mind while rattling my guilt. Eventually… I learned that I couldn't be a prisoner of other people's wants, needs, and expectations – because in the end, I ended up hurting them anyway. I had to get over the fear of being alone and feeling like I was losing something that could never be gained back… the feeling that I was making a mistake when in reality… I wasn’t making a mistake at all, but instead causing more emotional and mental conflict to myself and others. By mutually separating ourselves from one another – I realized how much I was able to become closer to the human being I need to be. I began the process of repairing and rebuilding myself, while focusing on the development and maturation of my human being. Finding comfort in my identity, confidence in the loneliness, and comprehension of my psychology. I began working, and spearheading new projects and making what I believed to be the necessary moves for moving my life and career forward. I began separating myself from toxic people, and striving for some sort of peace in any stressful situation. Things were great.
Then… I got a message from my roommate whom I considered a friend at one point and time saying that he was ready for me to end our roommate-ship.
In length, that's another post for another time, haha! Yet, It certainly factors in because it came at the most Inconvenient time in my life. It was a time of transition... A time when I was just finishing co-directing a feature film, investing financially, investing in film equipment, directing and working on commercials, prepping to partner with my friend’s production company, and booking a feature film job. To top it off, most of this occurred within a 3 month span, just at the start of the holidays. He breaks the news to me of wanting to end it. Please understand that – for me – it was beyond mutual! He’s a great person… but the timing was to be reconsidered... Either way... Instead of fanning the flames, I embraced it... Instead of the falling during the climax of this saga, I rose to it. By some miracle, I successfully found a place to live and was approved within 5 days of our (my formal) lease renewal. The best part was that it was the best apartment that I had ever had since my 5.5 years at the time of living here. Talk about the benevolent universe, eh? Whew!
After everything, I struggled (and to this day at times) with the value of the relationships in my life. While balancing my career goals and expectations for myself…. everything just felt way too fragile at the time. I’m not sure that feeling will ever go away, but it’s something that makes you wiser about what’s important, and honest about what you need in your life. Since then… I have strengthened bonds and built new ones with so many beautiful people.”
I was speechless and simultaneously intrigued by this man’s story, but also wondered what he was trying to say. He concluded by stating that ‘in the end, life is not something you plan... But something you live’. I learned that life is about resilience and transparency. He said “I saw by the look on your face when you walked in today, you have had a long eventful year… but also realize how valuable it was for you. The universe loves you, my friend. There was gold in those situations. Be a living entity of growth for yourself. See… I understood that to achieve the best version of myself and more be happy – I needed to be transparent with myself and those who I surround myself with. From this transparency, true relationships and growth could occur. Life unfortunately is too short. Our friends or loved ones can leave this life at a moments notice, so cherish that time with them while you can. The people that you love? Tell them! Regardless if it's reciprocated or not! Break free of incarcerating relationships and stop lying to yourself for fear of losing something. True happiness comes from no exterior elements except for the one element within... You. Some call it blessings, I call it gold… because it’s the treasures of the universe. And when you live long enough… and descend into your ocean deep enough… the universe always gives you the treasures you are looking for.
Live life unapologetically, laugh honestly, and love without reciprocation.” He put his finger to his lips and shook his head “No” while indicating for me to remain quiet and not say a word. He casually rises from the chair, tips his hat to the café barista, and exits the shop. I sit there SPEECHLESS. What the hell was that?! I ponder it for some time longer… and realize how much that struck home for me.
I went home immediately after that, and took a long hard look into the mirror. I contemplated everything, that occurred in my universe up to this very moment. To my surprise… I realized that the man staring back at me was the man from the coffee shop.