Standing in the kitchen of my South Beach condo, I hear in my head what my mom said during my recent visit to California. “Be more vulnerable,” she pleaded while doling out unsolicited dating advice. I break a banana from the bunch on the counter and hastily peel it, shoving it in my mouth as I think of my defense. Is my mother really asking me to expose myself to harm? Showing softness has never come easily. But then the banana reminds me of my childhood best friend, Melissa. I could be soft with her, and she with me. We were vulnerable with each other, even mushy.