On Thursday night, I attended an event called, “An Evening of Modern Love” which featured NYTimes editor of the Modern Love Column, Daniel Jones. It took place at the Sixth and I Historic Synagogue, a few blocks from the Gallery Place / Chinatown Metro. Before Daniel Jones spoke, he was accompanied by columnist and author, Sara Eckel.
I waited in line outside of the synagogue before the doors opened at 6 pm. I was in a short line of couples, mostly middle aged, immensely stylish, and gay. Therefore, I stood there listening to the music from my headphones as I waited in line. And in my mind, I kept praying that I wouldn’t be the only single young college student there spending her Thursday night at a book event about modern love and relationships. Thankfully, I wasn’t. The night went on as I proceeded inside to grab my copy of “Love Illuminated: Exploring Life’s Most Mystifying Subject (with the Help of 50,000 Strangers).” I was here to see Daniel Jones, so I didn’t know too much about Sara Eckel except for the fact that she wrote “Sometimes It’s Not You, or the Math” for the Modern Love Column.
The synagogue eventually filled up, and I found myself sitting in a sea of romantics, couples, married or not, single, and the hopeful. They held onto each others hands. A woman clutched onto Daniel Jones’ book with the deepest linger for answers, and the stylish gay couple from before had sat in front of me with their heads side by side each other with the greatest adoration for one another. I sat in the center of the synagogue, and I looked up to see the stain glassed star of David gleaming on the ceiling.
Sara Eckel came out first to introduce her piece in the Modern Love Column, which painfully introduced the struggles and awkwardness of dating after a long hiatus from a relationship. She revealed the reality of how dating creates this sense of judgement women create for themselves about what is wrong with them and why they are single. She stated, “Like single women everywhere, I had bought into the idea that the problem must be me, that there was some essential flaw — arrogance, low self-esteem, fear of commitment — that needed to be fixed. I needed to be fixed.” Nothing was wrong with her or any of us. There was no point in picking little imperfections we may have because finding the one we love could care less about them.
I applauded in relief and understanding as Sara concluded her speech. Daniel Jones came onto the stage afterwards and joked with us as he stated, ” Who knew Washington, DC would be the city of love? Not I.” He introduced his position as the editor for the NYTimes column, his favorite stories, the happy and heartbreaking. It was great being able to hear his perspective on the stories of these 50,000 strangers who have submitted their own personal love story for the entire world to read.