I’m the one who suggested he read it, knowing he would, that he already wanted to. Now, that’s he’s reading it, I feel…exposed. I’ve been working in being less of an asshole and more vulnerable or whatever, and I think having him read that book is a huge step for me.
1. Tuesday I walked to my train stop, boarded the train, and only rode three stops further. The car was crowded and a man stood so close to me, I could smell his breath. When he looked down and smiled, my skin crawled. When he winked, I got off the train. Then I got sick all over the Atlantic Avenue platform.
I started having panic attacks when I was in the fifth grade. The first time was at The Boys & Girls Club. I remember feeling like I couldn’t get enough air into my lungs. I got dizzy. The staff made me lie on the floor. I begged them not to call my mother. Adults find it very strange when you don’t find your mother comforting. The fact that I didn’t want her set off a few red flags. When she arrived, I was already in the back of an ambulance. I didn’t want to look at her. I was afraid to. Once I did, she was staring right at me, her forehead wrinkled and her mouth set in a familiar hard line.
It was always easy to know when I was in trouble with my mother because I was usually in trouble with my mother. I wasn’t a bad kid, not really. She was just…generally displeased. I always wanted more from her and I think she always wanted there to be less of me. There are a few things I do very well. Being less than who I am has never been one of them.
After the train incident, I decided with my company to take a few days off. I needed the time, and they were willing to give it to me. This is one of those “i know I’m in the right place” moments. In order to make it to work, I was pretending to be less. And as usual, that wasn’t going so well.
It never does.
2. One of the things I did on my day off was visit The Strand bookstore. I’ve been there twice before. Once, years ago, with my friend Maggie. And another time back in June with Kelly. The first time was too long ago to remember much, and the last time I was in a god-awful mood.
This time was great. Now that I can walk almost as well as an uninjured person, I could really browse the aisles and take my time. I wandered over into the fashion and style sections. My first major in college was fashion merchandising and apparel design. I left the major because I didn’t feel like I was learning much more than I’d learned on my own. Also, I was super self-conscious around all of those tall, gorgeous, girls. I’ve always been a little curvier, a little round. More round now. I didn’t see anyone working in fashion who looked like me. I thought there wouldn’t be space for me. So I edged myself out.
I don’t regret majoring in English. I don’t regret becoming a writer. I do regret giving up on fashion. I was good and I was passionate. Even if I wasn’t the same kind of beautiful.
3. My friend Greg lives on a farm in Indiana. Last night, we traded videos of one another singing songs from “The Prince of Egypt”. Then he offered to read my tarot cards over FaceTime and I agreed. The thing about me and psychics, astrologers, mediums, and card readers is that I always get an eerily accurate reading. Always. And the readings all have a very specific image that I won’t share here. I’m not sure why this happens, but it does.
After Greg read my last card, a raccoon tried to come into my room through my window. It had been out on my fire escape and apparently thought whatever I had going on in here was much more worth it’s time. I screamed, of course. It ended up taking a locked window, a sleeping pill, and an Australian houseguest for me to find peace again.
Greg did not see the raccoon coming.
4. Kelly and I don’t fight super often, but when we do, I have a really bad habit of immediately thinking, “Well, let’s pack it in and go home. This ride is coming to an end.” Not because I want to break up with him but because I STILL have trouble believing that someone can remain in love with me after we fight. Isn’t that the dumbest? People fight all the time! I go into panic mode. I think, “what if this is the one? What if this is the fight that makes him understand why I am so unworthy of all this effort?”
This little voice in my head keeps a running list of all the reasons I am hard to love. It seems to me that the only think that counters that list is the fact that I’m pretty easy to get along with. So if I’m not being easy to get along with, it’s hard to fathom why they hell someone is sticking around. I’m not thin. I’m never going to be the prettiest girl in the room. I’m not rich. I’m not particularly stylish. And so on, and so on. It makes me wonder why he’s here. Then I remember.
Because I’m a-fucking-mazing. Also, shut up stupid little voice in my head.
5. Today I went for a walk in Prospect Park. I came across a little splash park. I took off my shoes and walked into it. The cold water on my feet brought down the temperature all over my body. Even my ears felt cooler. I walked in circles, the children running and splashing around me, getting my dress wet.
I didn’t mind.
It was the calmest I’ve felt in two weeks. It was wonderful. I am wonderful. More importantly, I’m okay.
There was a part of me that felt like I left something on that train two Tuesdays ago. Or that something was taken from me. But I put my feet in the water and my spine loosened. The tension that brought my shoulders up around my chin subsided. I closed my eyes and focused on the splashing sounds, the laughter of those children, and someone blasting Michael Jackson over a loudspeaker. Don’t stop til you get enough.
Maybe, the last few weeks, I felt like I’d had enough. This has not been an easy transition, moving here. There were moments I was terrified I’d made a huge mistake. But you know, maybe the cards don’t lie. Maybe the stars don’t either. Maybe what happened on the train happened on the train and I am whole no matter what. I am a woman from Indiana who moved to New York City for a dream job. I came with a torn ACL and a stuffed elephant named Hank. I have fallen down stairs, puked on platforms, and met some of my heroes. I’ve cried myself to sleep and woken up early for brunch with some of the best people I may ever know. I am scared of what’s out there, but so proud of what I’ve already become in and around this city. I am a whole woman.
I am nothing less.