I lived in Italy for four years, and have spent three months there yearly since I was a child. When Italians found out that I was from New York, the questions began: “did you really have lockers in school like in The OC?” “Did jocks really date cheerleaders?” “Have you seen celebrities like Paris Hilton and Michael Jordan in person?” This was the usual run-down.
On my second day of università in Bologna, I met a boy, who I will call Michele, from Lima, Perù. His first question is something I will always remember; certainly less commonplace than the norm. “Where were you on September 11th?”
Not only was this question the precursor to our profound friendship, but it carries a value that unveils itself daily.
So, I have this thing with the number eleven. It all began on the day I was born, the 11th of December, and presents itself to me in apparitions. My high school graduation year was 2011 // my dorm room was number 11 (I did not choose) // the time left on my parking meter the day The ALB Standard launched (11/11) was 11 // the first draft of my business plan was, unintentionally, 11. The list goes on (I keep a running list on my phone).
The serendipitous question posed by my new Peruvian friend was more momentous than those of others, yet also involved the number 11.
I have always believed in soulmates, but more in the love sense, as in your “One.” However, the number 11 has proved otherwise; I now know that a soulmate is he whose soul is meant to meet yours; they are in sync.
Michele and I are pursuing two very different paths, but we are both traveling along parallel lines. Our lives are asymmetrical mirror images of one another; the timing is different, but the patterns are tantamount. We both moved from our places of origin to Bologna; studied together; decided to pursue passion projects; and are currently developing our own brands and businesses. We feed off of one another.
I realize now that a soulmate is someone you love and respect unconditionally (the love part is still there); they feel the same about you. You exchange wisdom; learning and teaching in perpetuity. You understand each other subliminally. You do not finish each other's sentences, but one another’s thoughts. You know what the other is thinking before he does. He is still your One, and, if you are lucky enough, you have more than one of these spectacular souls in your life.
May you each be fortunate enough to discover people like this. They are a gift. They support you without judgement, even if they disagree. You are never alone; there is always someone there. As you live, you understand the significance of those who are meant to stay. These are the beings with whom you should surround yourself. The ones that will always be connected to you, regardless of the circumstance.
Tanti auguri amico, TVB bel!
This stream of thoughts is something I will circle back to in the future: the importance of surrounding yourself with the right people and the meaning of the number 11.