POV: Happiness.

POV ("point of view") is a series that addresses many of the same themes covered in my Equals Record column: growing up, saying yes to adventure, learning to embrace a quarter-life crisis. Each POV entry will include a photograph and a short reflection based on what’s pictured. While my previous column focused largely on ideas, POV will focus on moments - glimpses, glances, tiny stories.

“I don’t have anything to write about,” I told a friend earlier this week. We were in a coffee shop in Greenpoint. I should have been working. Instead, I flipped through a copy of Time Out.

“I’m out of ideas,” I continued, pausing on a photo of kielbasa. “Do you think it’s because I’m happy?”

Last year – single, broke, directionless, and in therapy – I’d never had any problem coming up with things to write. I drafted many of these reflections in dark corners of coffee shops in the dead of winter. If writing them made me cry, I took this as a good sign.

The act of writing was soothing, and it was made better by solitude, sad songs, poetry, rain. “We’re feeling it all,” Megan and I would say. “We’re so busy living.”

Months later, the twists and turns of that emotional rollercoaster have become less pronounced - and for the most part, this is a relief. But what else is there to write about now, apart from beauty, and magic, and flight?

I’ve often wondered (as has every creative person I know) - does the most powerful writing – and the best art – come from pain?
Recently, I got my hair cut on a whim. Knowing I wouldn’t be able to secure a last-minute appointment at my usual salon, I went elsewhere, to a little brick shop on the north side of Williamsburg. My stylist - who had brown eyes and thick lashes and long dark hair with violet tips - wore leggings printed with pink and purple stars, a tank top with some sort of magical cat on the front, and a bindi. I loved her.

Over the course of an hour, I learned that she was in her thirties and recently divorced. She believed in magic, in full moons, in manifestation.

“How exactly do you manifest things?” I asked.

“I talk about them,” she said. “I write about them.”

She told me that she was learning to be a stronger and more independent woman; that she was choosing to focus on cultivating positive relationships. She said that her divorce was the best thing that had ever happened to her, that she was happy.

Before I left, she told me about a night she’d spent with a group of women in the park. They’d written their fears on pieces of paper, folded the papers into boats, and sailed them down the East River in the moonlight. “Everything is an adventure,” she said.

“I think so, too,” I replied, and a new phrase came to mind: happiness as adventure.

I sat in silence. “This is amazing,” I said. “I’m so glad I came here by chance.”

She smoothed cream into my hair. “Nothing’s by chance,” she said.

On my way home, I passed a cheese shop and breathed it in. I listened to a busker banjo-ing in front of the subway. I browsed books on the sidewalks and ran my fingers across a row of feather dusters. It was a warm day. My limbs tingled.

I walked home. I wrote this.

You can find my previous POV entries, here, and the archive for my personal essay column on the Equals Record, hereThanks so much, as always, for reading! Photo via my Instagram.

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