Letters from Me, Day 29: Michael Wertlieb, Bali, Indonesia

Dear Michael,

You are like a bright, colorful ball of light, draped in scarves and silver, riding a magic carpet around the world, bringing peace and love to everyone who's life you touch. I'm so lucky to be counted among your friends, and look forward to every time we get to see one another, whether it's my house or yours, East Coast or West.


I first felt your energy almost 10 years ago, and it burned as bright then as it does now.

It was love at first sight when we met at the Full House party at my place in Allston. So much so, that we decided to embark on a week-long tour of San Francisco during spring break with our mutual friends. The trip proved to be one of epic proportions, with adventure, intrigue, lots of amazing food and wine, very little sleep, dancing galore, new friends in every city and stories to be told for years to come. Regardless of the difficult parts of that journey, I look back at our time fondly. We were 21, we had all the energy in the world and a Chevy Malibu to take us wherever we could imagine. 


Over the next year, we spent time together in and around Boston. I remember attending your film premiere in Harvard Square and getting cocoa together in the cool months of late 2006. 

Time and space separated us, but not for long, as we collided time after time up and down the eastern seaboard.

For several years, we met up, for day trips or overnights, here and there. We picnicked, we shopped, we dined, we napped, we did yoga, we took road trips, we picked apples, we experienced the sunshine (and the dark and sparkling night life) of Philadelphia, we explored cafes in Fair Lawn and tooled around New York. We exchanged adventures and excitement like friendship bracelets. You baptized me with water blessed by Amma in my driveway in Bryn Mawr. I sent you home with a bag of tiny pancakes and tubes of honey. Our stories were as varied as our hair length, and we never stopped taking risks and living large.


When you invited me to relive our San Francisco trip, I don't think you thought I'd say yes immediately. It was just days before you moved south to LA, but you welcomed me with open arms. We paid homage to Lesbian Redwood Day (March 9th!) and made new memories up and down the coast, at a charming bed and breakfast in the mountains, in a sweet neighborhood in Santa Cruz with Ocean, at the Harbin Hot Springs, taking in the gorgeous views and kale salad. I think that was the first vacation I returned cleansed, healthier than when I'd left Philly. It was a joy to spend those few days with you, soaking in your world and meeting your friends and feeling the sun on my face in California, the long distance crush I'd harbored for 7 years. I felt born anew - world's farther along than I'd been in college, more myself than I'd been in my life, and with you, who had come into your own and was about to embark on a new chapter of life very soon. It was all so perfect, like most of our serendipitous sojourns.


Since then, life has skyrocketed you to even greater heights, all the way around the world to Bali. Your life there is such a joy to follow - the colors, the foods, the scenery, the people you've met along the way. You're doing work that you love and treating your body with the utmost sacred care and it shows. You positively glow. I am so thrilled you're on this adventure, and I look so forward to the next time our paths cross, wherever that may be.


Thank you for all that you've given me over the years. You're a true friend who will always tell me the truth, always with kindness, compassion and warmth. Your light brightens any room you enter and I've been lucky enough to bask in that glow more times than I can count. I hope to see you someday soon, and hope this letter finds it all the way across the world to you. You mean the world to me, Michael. Be well.



California, I'm Coming Home


It's been seven years since that trip to California. Since I flew too high and crashed into the sun. Since I felt my brain connecting in a million new ways. It's been seven years of rebuilding, rebirth. Seven years of pills and talking about my struggles and my challenges. Seven years to reclaim what I lost in California and start a new life - one I could be proud of and feel I worked hard for.

It's been a long road to get back here - to get back to a place where I could be on hundred percent ready for these experiences - emotionally, financially, mentally. It's important to me now to do things right - do them well and for the right reasons. I came to California this time for much the same reason I came last time - to experience a new world and and new people, new foods and new sights. To spend time with friends of course, as well, but ultimately, to find adventure and on the way, find out a bit more about myself.

What I have found that is dramatically different about the last time I was here is that I am much more confident in myself, my opinions, my needs and in the things that will make me happy. I feel I was much less likely to speak up for myself at twenty-one than I am at twenty-eight. I am much more fully myself, and while I felt a part of things when we came last time, I feel now I am more present, more connected to the people I'm with and the experiences we share.

To embody this spirit of being truly oneself, speaking up for what you want, being who you are and connecting with everything and everyone around you, is to be more fully alive. I find myself remembering a lot of insecurities from when I came here at twenty-one. I wanted people to like me and I wanted to fit in, I wanted to sound intelligent and I wanted to be desirable. Now that I already feel an internal confidence about these aspects of myself, I am no long seeking this approval elsewhere.

I by no means feel finished these days - I do not feel enlightened or necessarily more empowered than I did seven years ago. But I do feel more myself, more grounded in what I believe and who it is I want to be. I think that the longer we live, the more of ourselves comes out of us and the more sure of who we are we become.

But we will never be finished becoming who we are. We will never wake up to discover that, yes, today is the day I am the person I will be, unchanging, for the rest of my life. We will continue to grow, to build upon our lives in ways that change us and make us more ourselves than we've ever been.

Maybe I can come to California again - if not in another seven years, then sometime in the future. Maybe I can come for new experience, to reset my brain and truly think about what it is that I believe in. I don't know who that woman will be, but I think I have an idea that I'll like her very much.