Wednesday, August 29, 2012

beat 297 - raged

My heart used to love all the time. But a boy broke it into a million little pieces and ever since I haven't been able to love anything at all. 
When he up and left, all the hate I have inside of me came to the surface. I feel it's much easier to hate than to love. At least for now.

- CAR, NYC by way of Texas

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

beat 296 - in check

From one day to the next I decided to leave my ego at the door. That's when love came my way. I always had this obsession with finding a "perfect" girl. Someone like my mom. Weird, I know. But I grew up with parents that were madly in love. Never fought. One day my mom sat me down, I was turning 32, and she said, "listen, you aren't me. you never will be. So stop trying to have the same relationship your father and I have." 
I left dinner that night and stared at the deer antlers on my wall for hours. I don't know what it was about those damn antlers, but they mesmerized me all night. I just sat there and talked to them like they were my friend. I asked them questions and I came to my own answers. Sometimes talking out loud to no one can be therapy. 
That changed it all. I realize that night that now times are different. Women are different. Men are different. I've found love many times since that talk. I found a girl that hated the antlers, I sent her away. I found a girl that soon after bought antlers of her own. Pretty symbolic, right? Well, I love different women for different things. Most of all, I know THE ONE is out there and I will love her for her and she will love me for me. And when it happens, I will love the world even more.

- Victor Shane, Brooklyn
Photography professor

Thursday, August 23, 2012

beat 294 - unabated

I have been heartbroken more than I have been in love.  And yet, love is what dominates my life.  7 years ago this past July, my life changed - while living abroad, a man, someone I didn't know, who was someone's son, probably someone's father and husband, broke into  my apartment as I was preparing to sleep and nearly beat and  strangled me to death.  Every year that passes since that fateful day, I struggle a bit more to come up with my reflection  This year, the timing was interesting with news of the Colorodo movie theater shooting.  Whenever tragedy like that happens, we hear stories of the victims, we learn about the madman, and speculate on what possibly caused him to snap and in that moment, hurt so so many people.  We hear stories of heroism, of comraderie and bravery in the face of danger.   Out of all of the stories that came out of that shooting, the one that has stuck with me the most has been an account of the shooting from a person in the theater. That random account so accurately reflected something I experienced while facing a life and death situation and which is why, despite the scars the attack left, I am so grateful to have experienced it so early in life. 

In the moment of fear, in the moment when all of the hate and evil of one man came to fruition to cause so much pain, the individual talks about the intense feelings of love he felt while dodging bullets.    I get it. I get it exactly.   Over time, I remember fewer details of the day.  The man's face has faded.  I don't remember how it feels to be strangled, I do not have visceral reactions any longer upon entering my home after dark, and  I do not remember the physical pain caused by the injuries he caused.  What I continue to think about, every day of my life, when that day comes into my thinking (and it always does), was the love I felt when I succombed to dying.  It really really is the oddest thing.  Confusion over what was happening dominated my thoughts at first when that man, that monster appeared at my window.  Fear over getting out alive, fear about dying, dominated my thoughts when I realized that despite every kick to the balls I could give him, I was not getting away.  And one would expect that when this type of tragic event strikes, that fear and sadness would accompany one to the very end, until the moments of their last breath.  But it doesn't.  When you look eviil so close in the eye, when you are the recipient of such hurt and pain, the exact opposite is felt---you feel an overwhelming sense of love.  One would not expect that as you are being strangled, or pummelted with strikes to your brain that you could possibly feel love.  But you do.  Because, on the 7th year anniversary of my survival of an event that will live with me forever, I can tell you all with confidence, love is all we have---love for ourselves, love from our family, from friends and from life itself. The feeling of love was so intense in the moment when I gave up my fear of death in the face of it, that I think it has driven my recovery and resilence to this day.  It has caused me to not sweat the small stuff, to focus on the good in people,  to surround myself with love and to give more deeply to others.  

 I was given a gift and what I know to be true is that  life will all present each of us with tragedy at some time or another.  How will you use that gift? How will you honor the lesson? Whatever it is,  I know that the message of love will dominate.

~Winter, Washington DC

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

beat 293 - unequivocal

My heart is vulnerable.

I am not vulnerable often because it's my greatest fear. My heart
beats daily, but the sounds are often muffled by the walls I put up to
hide the sound. When I think about my son, Noah, the walls of my heart
open and I am reminded that I was fortunate enough to find true love
when I was 18. He was born eight years ago today and adopted by two
wonderful human beings about two months later. This morning as the
clock struck 5:58 AM (the time he was born), I was thinking about my most recent visit with him and how he’d grab ahold of my hand, or lay his little head on my arm or across my lap. There were few moments where he wasn’t studying my face or looking for common mannerisms between me and him. I’d casually express my like or dislike for things and he’d reply, “I feel the same. I think it’s because we share DNA.”

The exchange of love over that course of three days was enduring,
joyous, and I’ll admit, at times exhausting.

That sounds bad, but I don’t mean it to.

My body’s response to all that love was, at times, completely void of energy. When you haven’t been around someone who loves you that much in a long time it takes a lot out of you to process and receive. Giving love was easy. I’ve been selflessly giving that boy love since the day he was born. Sitting and taking it all in face to face, body to body, had it’s overwhelming moments.

Most of the time I’d cry. When I’d hit an emotional peak and my fight or flight response would kick in, I’d cry. It was in complete awe of Noah and the life his adoptive parents have cultivated for him. He plays piano, is in advanced swimming, can ride a two wheeler like a champ, loves healthy food, has impeccable manners, is disciplined with his chores, sings, acts in plays, and the list goes on. He’s being raised as a devote Christian, and though I’ve battled with his adoptive mother over this, I can say that lifestyle has benefited him and adds to the amazing foundation his adoptive parents are building for him.

When you give your child away you don’t know what to expect. I thought I lost everything the day I gave him up for adoption, but I feel blessed that things have gone the way they have. There is so much unconditional love in his little body and so much gratitude for the sacrifices I have made for him. I am blessed in that Noah’s adoptive parents want his birth family included in his upbringing. I feel honored to be chosen to be his mother.  Not one ounce of regret lives in me for my decision. I planted a seed and I get it watch it grow and am fortunate to have so many loving individuals water it.

- Dana Allen

Monday, August 20, 2012

beat 292 - course

"Some people never feel real love. I'm sure this is a truth. I think people settle, especially girls. I was never one of those people because I was lucky enough to feel true love at a very young age.

She and I would escape our lives by holing up in the attic of my moms house. We would go down to the beach at night, sit on the pier for hours talking. They all suspected we were having sex. Which we were. But that wasn't it. We were having real life talks, the kind most of my friends didn't have until a decade later, after college usually. But this girl, whoa, this girl she taught me about life. She taught me how to make a girl shiver from moves with the lights off to questions that reached the core. And this girl, whoa, this girl had the power of sensuality. And so I fell in love easily.

I'd talk about my feelings to other guys, no one got it. Until much later. Of course it hurt losing her, but she always popped back in at random times. She kept a piece of my heart in her hands and the moment she came back in to my life, she would show me that she still cared for my heart with all her love.

I tried to replicate that love through the years. I tried to explain to girls that wanted to convince me to be with them that love is just love, without efforts. But some don't get it. They don't understand it because they have never felt it. They haven't felt it because they are afraid of finding out how they truly are. And if you don't know you, you cannot know anyone else. And that's why the girl in the attic will always be my love, because she taught me about me. She showed me how to love myself. That girl. That girl. That girl."

-Kingston, NYC

Saturday, August 18, 2012

beat 291 - tugged

I met the love of my life when I was 12. On the B train. In my private school pleated skirt uniform. It took a while for things to fall in place but they did and it was perfect. I'm sure you are one of the few people who can understand they joy I felt when I got to tell people that I've been with my love since I was 12 and we exchanged numbers at the 86th stop on the B train. I'm a born and raised New Yorker - so this was my cinderella story. We moved in together. Had joint accounts, bought plants and a dog. We each others initials tattooed on our ring fingers - kind of like a public reservation to the world that this finger was taken by a very special person. We planned our lives as a unit. I was going to be that girl who married her junior high sweetheart. Fuck a highschool sweetheart, I met him before I even got to high school. It was beautiful and I couldnt be happier.

Then it all got dark. He was dealing with personal demons that I didn't even know existed in him. And as a result, his actions brought out demons in me I didn't know existed. Things I would never imagine him capable of became a regular occurrence. I became angry, desperate, hysterical - all the things I swore to my mother I would never be. I had to leave this monster, because he was not the man I loved for 9 years but someone foreign instead. And I didn't want him, I wanted the man I knew back and wouldn't settle for less. I knew my love was in there somewhere. Under all the mess and lies - he was STILL THERE. But I never found my love again and as much as it killed me, I had to leave the monster.

For a long time, I never thought I would be okay. I spent 10 years with this person. Almost half of my life. But after some time, some tears and some haagen daaz, I realized I'll be okay. Not because I'll get my love back. But because I still have my half of that love in me. I still want to love and be loved. I want to know someones favorite candy so I can hide it in their jacket pockets before they leave for work. I still want to cook extravagant meals to make one singular person smile. I want to have funny stupid inside jokes that only one other person understands. I still want love. Despite the hurt and the pain - I still want LOVE.

So my heart, despite the band aids and the scotch tape - is still open and waiting. Because someone out there deserves the love I can give them.

- Mia Johnson, NYC

Friday, August 17, 2012

beat 290 - inquest

My heart is always smiling. Even on those days where my brain isn't so happy, my heart never wears a frown. One thing about my heart is that it loves everyone. What I'm searching for is to be IN love with someone. Someone I can laugh obnoxiously with. Someone I can watch movies with on a rainy day, while we share a box of cheeze-its, dried pinapple, and sour gummie worms. Someone that loves me for my inner being and at the same time, longs to stare at me, into my eyes.. and sees right through, down to the core of my soul.

Kourtney, Detroit
Interior designer

Thursday, August 16, 2012

beat 289 - NEW

The story always starts with a boy. Perhaps he's tall, with an infectious curiosity for life which she's constantly reminded of when she searches his shaved head for that childhood scar. But maybe he's someone unknown, just a mystery man waiting to be met. He's walking the same streets, crossing the same strangers, not realizing he's ready for such an encounter. But the saddest is when the boy is one she's already been with but lost along the way. 

The story takes different paths every time it's told. Somehow the pain is always the same, a constant. The love though, the love grows into a larger lump lodged in her throat. 

What she knows is she's not alone. All girls start their stories with a boy. But what she might not know is most boys start their stories with a girl. We're all just walking this life together, we have love in common. All of us.

And so this project starts again, with my heart beat. A fresh heart for new chapter in life. I've been through it all: from lusts to faux loves to obsessions to an attachment so deep I thought our hugs would morph us into one and then sadly into bathroom floor sobbing praying for a miracle. But then, out of the blue, came a hummingbird paced heartbeat, from within my belly. A baby boy. And the world became scarier, the world became new, the world filled to the brim with a love I had never known before. 

My walls are finally coming down. It's a process. Somedays I build them high, wide and deeper than before but mostly I hop over the side with my arms open, my heart open, my mind ready for love. I'll never give up on love. Never. It moves me, shakes me, breathes with me. 

My heart, it's all about love. And I know I deserve to be loved the way I love. To be loved for me, to be loved long after my heart stops beating.

-Nicole Fasolino, NYC
art director, stylist, blogger, heart lover, author of this project