Alone. 9,059 miles away from what I used to call home. 9,059 miles away from anyone who knows how to say my name with soft familiarity. I walk along the cobbled pathway overlooking the Arabian Sea. It, like me, meanders from restaurant to restaurant.
I learn to tell time by the smells in India – burning trash means it’s time to rise from the humidity-soaked sheets, the smell of incense indicates dusk, and the aroma of fish, dinner.
It smells like fish.
I’m a Libra and suck at making decisions, so the overabundance of places to eat feels stressful instead of reassuring. I tentatively look at menu after menu, one blending into another.
“You vegetarian?” asks a grinning dark-haired man, complete with the Indian mustache and dark, twinkly eyes. “Yes,” I reply wondering how he knew.
“You want vegetarian fish?” He laughs at his joke as he holds up a little skinny fish from the bed of ice on the cart of freshly caught fish. “Or maybe a Chinese fish?” he laughs again as he holds up a red fish with dark, angled eyes. His politically incorrect humor and easy comfort with his own being lure me in.
“We cook with love here,” he tells me sincerely. I can feel that what he says is true. He serves me perfectly cooked garlic na’an, coconut rice and raitha. As he sits the plate in front of me he says, “Hmmmm. You need love. I hope that you find love here. I want this for you.”
“Me too,” I answer. And I feel the pain shoot through me – the pain of longing for a soul mate. If I could just have someone to love me, then I could love myself, right? Then life would be good, right? I just needed to find that soul mate.
Little did I know that I had just met a soul mate.
You see, this was before I understood that a soul mate is far more than the Hollywood idea of a person who completes you. Sadly implying you’re not whole, by the way. Which is untrue. You are. You are whole. Say that to yourself right now as many times as you need to: I. Am. Whole. And repeat until you create that as a truth. Because it is a truth, and if it’s not, you have the power to make it the truth. I’m saying this to you now because I wish someone had said it to me then. But no one did.
Nor did anyone else explain to me what a soul mate really is, so let me tell you. A soul mate is someone who helps you to see yourself more clearly, someone whom you can learn from, grow from and sometimes grow with. It doesn’t have to be a romantic partner. And we don’t just have one! A soul mate can be a Mom, Dad, brother, sister, grandparent, best friend, teacher, dog, or an Indian man named Salim who you serves you food in a restaurant overlooking the Arabian Sea thousands of miles from the last place you called home.