I've read your blogs. I admire your courage. Your courage to move on. Your courage to cope, your courage to seize life by the reins, or at least try to, though you say you have experienced such great pain.
I feel the pain, I am going through it. The pain of a 'love stolen' as you put it. I pine for what I know is not mine, what I don't even think I want anymore, but long for still. My life seems like mirrors that face each other in an endless tunnel of parodoxes.
But you give me hope. Hope that perhaps slowly, but surely, things get easier. That I will start to appreciate the beauty in my life, and show more love towards the people I care about.
Your mother is a lucky woman. Do you ever feel that at the end of the day the purest love comes from your parents? I have never known love so true.
take care and merry xmas. In some ways your blog reads like therapy for me. Thanks for the present.
Posted by: A (not crazy) female admirer at December 19, 2003 10:22 AM
i'm so humbled by your message.
i've wanted to write a worthy response to it all day, but i find my fingers stumbling, pausing, shaking, as i gaze at them quietly. i can bang out a cacophonous 75wpm (it's not that impressive-- if you were an AIM/IRC junkie from 1993 onwards, you would be able to as well) without trying and i haven't been able to string together six in an entire hour.
you have affected me.
you say that i affected you, and you were generous enough to comment, and alert me to my inadvertent assist in your "recovery"...but you probably never expected that you would help me, touch me, move me so profoundly. i wish i knew who you are. i wish i could give you a hug. i wish that i could be your personal cheerleader who reminds you that you can do anything, even be happy again.
yes, i suffered. 2002 was concomitantly the best and worst year of my life; 2003 barely improved my lot.
the next paragraph is not going to make any sense to you, but i implore you to keep reading and to forgive my inability to convey the saga that was my job (and therefore, my life) last year...
this is near impossible to articulate, even for ME, that's how badly i got fucked over...okay. deep breath.
have you ever given a project everything you had and perhaps more, out of the purest intentions, only to be told that it wasn't good enough? and worse than that, that you had failed? even though you objectively know that none of this was true...even though you aren't to blame for any of what you have been accused of...even though you, least of all, you...you don't deserve such treatment. no, not after how you were set up to fail. well. that was my 2002 in a nutshell. i came, i tried and i "failed". i believed and trusted those who deserved none of such courtesies. as a result, my resume, after ten years of striving, trying, succeeding...needed to be burned. everything i worked so hard for, gone. especially my reputation. no, fuck that. destroying my name was not the worst thing they did to me-- no, the real reason they will all burn in HELL was because they made me doubt myself and my worth. i laugh bitterly as i type this; my reputation is irrelevant, and far beyond my control, for i am brown, and standard rules and logic are therefore inapplicable.
because of my spectacular professional disintegration, last year, at this time, i walked about midtown in a haze, barely existing in that liminal state between shell-shocked resignation and futile indifference. i remember that at my nadir, i was jealous of an uncle in india that had died. "lucky man", i thought. now, looking back, i want to cry at the tragedy of an adventure wasted. i was so damaged, defeated and lost; my dream come true was for naught. ever since i was a wee thing, my ultimate goal was to live in manhattan. when i actually made it there, *i* wasn't there. if my life had been a movie, it would have been one that seized control of your chest, making you edge forward in your seat, as you cringed and murmured "no! it's not fair!!". star-crossed. sad. i finally get to where i had always dreamed of, and i was a walking zombie oblivious to it all.
let me tell you about my "all"; i was in the middle of the greatest city in the world, in a fabulous apt that i adored, with doormen that coddled me like they were surrogate dads.
i'd walk in to cosi and surreptitiously find my favourite capp handed to me with a wink and a nod to scram, sans payment. they learned that i never liked anything on the menu, so the asst mgr sat with me for five minutes and determined that what i really wanted was goat cheese and basil and maybe some other thing i can't recall the name of. "done and done." i thought he meant just that one time, but every visit thereafter, "my" sandwich was prepared as soon as i walked in.
when i tried to hail cabs, limos would stop for me, and take me wherever i wanted to go, also refusing payment. on one snowy day, i pushed my luck; "um. i need to run an errand. so i'll be getting out here, but thank you so much...you are so sweet. how much?"
"madam. the car will be waiting."
i shook my head. "you don't have to do that!"
and with a wink, he waved me in to H+M and pointed to a spot a few cars away, where i could find him. i couldn't believe it when he was still waiting 25 minutes later. what did i do to deserve this? he asked me where to next, but i felt like i had been the recipient of enough magic for the day. "home, please. 52nd and 8th." he wouldn't take my money. "i saw you earlier today, coming out of st. patrick's. leave your money there." my favourite doorman carlos smiled at my latest antics, as i stepped out of a limo in front of the building. he closed the car door behind me and rushed to open the main entry to my building. "miss anna. having a good day i see?" always, carlos, i would reply. always.
one memorable time, when i was lost, driving near the wtc, three nypd cars escorted brown, suspect-looking me to the holland tunnel, because they were concerned that the serpentine detours and temporary roadblocks would have me stymied. ten minutes later they were blocking part of opposing traffic and waving me in safely.
i was asked for my autograph on more than one occasion. sometimes i pretended to be salman rushdie's gf, even though i'll never be as pretty as padma. other times i murmured that i was a former miss world. hey. all brown girls look alike. ;)
in the concourse of my beloved rock plaza, the chefs at cuccina greeted me by "name" each morning as i wandered in..."our princess is here!". though forever tardy me would always miss breakfast by ten minutes, gem, the young jamaican with dreads, whose smile matched the blinding white of his uniform, would laugh at my daily moment of panic; tucked away from view, he had my favourite waiting. flawless scrambled eggs made exactly the way i loved them, steaming hot and tossed with four-and-a-half caps of tabasco. on the disposable take-away box that was nicer than the tupperware the majority of you own, two words, elegantly scrawled in inky black sharpie-- "for anna".
even though this was a tableau we recreated daily, for months, my cheeks coloured a luscious pink that makeup cannot recreate, and my smile was pure joy every time. i never took it for granted. when gem was done handing me my buttery cholesterol in a box while telling me that my "bf was a lucky bastard", i'd turn to the bagel man, who'd always pretend to be cross with me for being late. "anna you know we close at 10." i would always note with crestfallen face that my all-time favourite, cranberry cream cheese was gone. the late bird would not catch her worm, or shmear, in this case. this farce would last all of 30 seconds.
"anna, seriously, could i let you starve? if i did, gem wouldn't shut up! i need my peace!" and with his dignified smile, and a subtle wink, bagel man would hand over a bag with one plain bagel, and the holy grail of all shmears. before i could ask if there was extra-- "yes. two containers. i always save two for you."
these were moments of grace that haunt my dreams with their seemingly unreal flawlessness. i always talk about how much i love and miss new york. but i never discuss how much new york loved me. i was told repeatedly, by incredulous REAL new yorkers that "the shit that happens to you, doesn't happen to anyone else, period." i had a charmed life. i was audrey hepburn. i was someone precious and spoiled in the "hardest" city ever, and the juxtaposition was bliss. my new york is a city that feels like heaven. you can say it's rude or dirty or busy. i think it's perfect.
and i was envying my dead uncle.
the memories i boorishly recounted in excruciating detail above were moments when i was thrown a life preserver, that i clutched gratefully because i was forever in danger of drowning. drowning in my sadness, drowning in my pain. drowning in that waking slumber that coaxes you in to believing that giving up would be the best course of action now. every day, it seemed like something too-unbelievable-to-be-true would happen to me, and i felt a fleeting sort of happiness that was like coming up for a gasp of air when you are barely able to keep treading water. i was cast in to a violent, merciless sea and truthfully, i do not know how to swim.
i didn't get to enjoy the magical realism that was my life in nyc. that was "stolen" from me as well.
i never thought it would get better.
with no other option available to me, i came home, to reboot my life and heal under a mother's watchful eye and loving heart. i hated california, but i hated her heart-breaking worry for a daughter who was 3000 miles to the right, and slipping further away each day in a way that was anything but geographic, more. despite that, i needed methadone to cure me of my need for nyc.
nothing went right.
my health was shit. my hair, once a glorious ticket to a brief stint as a model, fell out in chunks. i resigned myself to a schedule that did not include sleep; many of you will recall the lyrics to the most apposite faithless song ever--"insomnia"-- as my away message every night. others will recall noticing that my emails were often written at 4:30 in the morning. i would greet friends on the east coast with a melancholy "good morning" as they got to their investment banks and law firms. "what the FUCK are you doing up when it's 7am HERE???" was often flashing in the top of an AIM message box. the usual, that's what. my brain was rotting, from the torturous lack of sleep, but i preferred that horrid situation to its emotionally macabre alternative...my "writer's" imagination, my legendary memory for detail, my insanity...all combined to create a nightmare-cocktail that would cause me to bolt upright every night, unable to breathe, my hands trying to pry open my chest b/c it hurt so much i wanted to rip my own heart out.
did i dream...? the song of the siren wails. i did not dream. i reviewed the most toxic and damaging film in my mental theater every night; "whom my ex- is potentially fucking right now." at my calmest, and most zen (i.e. now) i am dangerously jealous and possessive. i was not at my calmest, nor was i zen, then.
so sleep was not something i wanted. not with those images blinding my leaking, bleeding eyes.
i gained weight. i lost weight. i gained back even more.
i didn't care. and if there is one thing that you can be more certain of than death and taxes...it is my vanity. yet i didn't care.
the 75 jobs i applied for were not feeling me. my savings account was empty. i was informed that i did not qualify for a "paid vacation" aka unemployment, b/c i had worked at a non-profit and they don't pay in. i sold a tenth of my extensive wardrobe, my collection of clothing that i swore i would never part with, not just because i was consummately broke, but b/c that dangerous feeling drove me to the store to do it...i didn't care. even if i could find a job and make money momentarily, i was confused about what i wanted to be when i grew up. i felt unsure of everything and worst of all, i no longer trusted myself or valued my choices. i ran out of forebearances and extensions on my student loans and i was suddenly aware of the excruciating burden that $60,000 actually is. i idly wondered if my mom would get stuck paying that off if something happened to me.
dangerous thoughts, dangerous emotions, dangerous temptations. don't ask why.
why = i was away from my friends, my extended family, my WORLD. i had spent my whole life trying to get the fuck out of california, only to ricochet unwillingly right back. once exiled here, no one understood me. i walked too fast. talked too fast. cursed too much. dressed too well. amongst my omnipresent indifference i felt flashes of pure livid hate. no one had EVER "got" me here; my time at uc davis was torture, when i went to GW i mournfully realised that i had always been an east-coaster at heart even in the middle of those cow fields. i was born for somewhere greater than this, and what i ended up with was...this.
i sound like an angst-ridden teen. well, when i was an angst-ridden teen, i was consumed with my future hegira to the sanctuary of the right coast. i told myself ad nauseum that when i grew up, i would be okay, b/c i would be in a much better "place". i assumed that i would cautiously make every choice and accomplish every task to achieve that single, over-arching goal. i dreamed of myself in the future, successful and happy, comforting the traumatised 17-year old me that was so miserable- "don't worry. i won't let you down. you will never have to come back here again."
i let that little girl down. and i hated myself for that, too.
i would have been able to survive all of this with the steely will that many of you note and respect, would have, could have...if my heart was intact. you see, i have lived through things that would make you want to label me a pathological liar, because your own emotional defense mechanisms would shut down the possibility that the words leaving my lips are true; you would not be able to bear such truths.
so i could have survived losing my religion. if had the love of that *one* person, i would have.
when i was 16 years old i made a list of all the things my dream boy would be. there were 27 items. i was dating "25". i had fallen in love, for real, for the first time and this would be my undoing, for love wasn't something that i was meant for. for this, i hated God. how dare he make my ultimate dream come true, and snatch it all way, whilst laughing in my face. i had three months of nirvana, hope and gleeful anticipation of a future that seemed as flawless as a baby's smile, three months when i felt like every horrid thing that has ever happened to me no longer existed or mattered b/c the universe has made me the most blissful girl in the world.
i thought i was going to change my last name to my favourite last name ever, a name that *matched*, that rolled effortlessly off my tongue. i was going to walk down the aisle that creases the most sacred space in the world- st. patrick's cathedral, as strangers and tourists from around the world cheered me on from the velvet-roped public area. i was going to be in the vows section of the new york times. i was going to play the pixies at my wedding. i was going to move to connecticut. i was going to get round with little pixies planted inside, who would kick dents in my stomach that i would thrill to, because it meant that i was carrying future soccer stars. i was going to finally have breasts! i was going to create the greatest art project of my entire life; bouncing brown babies with angelically curly hair and liquid brown eyes that watered when cameras came near. i was going to be blessed. i was going to be fortunate. i was going to win.
...and then it was gone. in an instant.
my life, my precious, gorgeous dream decayed in to what was truly my worst nightmare.
no new last name.
no bouncing brown babies.
no indie rock at the coolest wedding reception ever.
i stopped wanting to breathe. when you get to the point that you are numb and indifferent, it is dangerous indeed. i gave up, pure and simple. i think, if i am brutally honest with myself, i came home to die.
someone told me that it's always darkest before dawn. then i laughed bitterly in their face.
To "A (not crazy) female admirer"... i will now promise you that they were right. you will survive. you will live, and one day you will actually laugh. and then, after a long empty time, you will love. and you will be quietly surprised that you can. and it won't be the same. no, i'm not going to delude you or sugarcoat it for you. but it will be okay. your soul will feel serene and your heart will be rehabilitated. you will gradually stop assuming that the worst will always come your way. that you were destined for shit.
i know you suffer now. and your immediate future is not fun or easy. and i repeat, it will never be the same. but that is actually all right. though time will help you repair, you will not forget this trial in your emotional desert, nor should you. hurt is the cornerstone of greatness, in my useless opinion. so. the pain never really goes completely away, but you can manage it. and you can manage to move on. i feel that i have stopped waxing useful and so i should just...stop waxing.
i can't write more.
i'm verklempt and spent. but i thank you for giving me the privilege of helping you in whatever minute way that i can. YOU take care, and please let your holidays be as happy as they can be under the circumstances.
i still cannot bring myself to believe that my words give you something as magnificent as hope, but if they do, then every one of them was a gift just for you. suddenly, every moment spent on this blog has been glorified and every second of pain and misery i survived was worth it. keep reading.
i'm pulling for you.