Announcement to the Public on Service

People have often mentioned to me that I should be a comedian. Most of the people who’ve said this don’t really know me and therefore have no idea of the phobia I have of public speaking. “Oh you’re so funny!!! You should really try to do some stand up!” they say. I find the idea of this absurd. It takes balls to stand in front of a group of people and crack a few jokes that you hope are funny enough to get at least a giggle from your audience. Yes, I am witty, but most of that wit comes when no one is around to witness it, or after the moment has passed, so at a time too late. Still, I won’t lie. I have daydreamed of what it would be like to make people laugh using the examples of my either exaggeratedly boring or seemingly hectic life, because for me life is either at one extreme or the other.  I’ve imagined me standing there on my platform, my soapbox, and have thought about some of the topics I would love to cover. My number one topic would be about working with the public, primarily restaurant work.

It’s a war zone out there. A scene from a warrior movie like that of 300 where each warrior has got a million tiny missions to complete, and all of them are going on at the exact same time. Obstacles get in the way, slowing the process of completion down, and yet in this scene instead of suffering physical battle wounds, it’s the spirit of the warrior that gets shot down. So here is a public service announcement:

The server life, it is no joke, especially for those of us who live it on a day to day basis. Some days are minor battles, or maybe even a day of rest. Most days are a fight to the finish, your enemies ranging from being either your customers, to fellow coworkers, to even that of management.

When it comes to the customers, life in the server world can be totally exhausting. From the moment a server clocks in until the very second they clock out, an identity isn’t what they have.  They are service-bots, actors with script changes for each table that is under their care. Each table is different and therefore calls for a case-by-case approach on how to deal with each one. Servers are like pilots navigating a flight, each table being a flight, every destination being that of satisfaction. Servers analyze which best route to take in order to get each and every table to their destination with the least amount of turbulence as possible. For instance for one table I’ve got to play the role of the “at your beck and call” waitress who uses “yes ma’m, no sir” after every question and sentence. I chuckle at your awful white collar jokes as I top off your cucumber lemon water, and continuously kiss your ass while you shower me with compliments like, “Oh you really are great at following directions. Keep it up kiddo..” with a pat on the back, and then tipping me 15%.  Where as the table right next to them, laid back and carefree, I can around joke with and serve them effortlessly without feeling as though I am a slave to their dollar and their dinning experience. I can literally be myself while I work, which at this point it doesn’t even feel like work, and then obtain a 22% tip and minus the back-handed compliments. So can you imagine the emotional and psychological toll serving can at times have on a person? Constantly changing who you are from table to table, for hours at a time, while also being looked down upon by most of your customers. Because, people aren’t kind you know, especially in this industry where most look down upon us thinking that we’re “stupid”, and “lower class” compared to them, even if we DO, for the most part, make more money than they do. I’d like to also take this moment to mention that you, the customer, don’t need to say any of these things. It’s not like you have to say it to our faces that you think we’re incompetent.  After many years of working in the “biz” servers become exceptional people readers. It is in your actions, or lack there of, it is in the inflection of your voice, it is in the way most of you don’t even look at us while speaking. You don’t have to tell us that you think you’re better than us. You show us with every second that ticks by.

Like I described before, waiting tables isn’t for the faint of heart. In a time where we’ve never been so connected to those not only around us but also those millions of miles away, our social skills are, unbelievably almost non-existent, making dealing with the public, simply said, a pain in the ass. The consideration people have for others is limited and manners? Manners are now a rarity. Where before manners were almost a prerequisite in life, now I find myself going out of my way to actually thank those for using them, especially children.

Servers (bartenders, bussers, food runners, ect…) deal with your messes. We clean up after all of you and that means wiping away all the crumbs that have fallen out of your mouth. We pick up the dirty napkins  you’ve wiped your runny nose with. We clean up the puke that spews from your child’s lips. We take care of the pee puddle that your grandfather left behind because he didn’t realize that he had to go. Think about this the next time you decide to tip $5 on a $50 simply because you may have chosen a restaurant that was little bit above your price range, or because the kitchen messed up your unrealistically high expectation to make you something that wasn’t even on the menu to begin with. Let me add, servers aren’t heartless animals. We understand that at times, what you would like to tip us isn’t what you can manage at the time. Maybe it’s an anniversary and you wanted to take your love out to a nice dinner that normally you cannot afford. Fine, but at least don’t work us tooth and bone all the while knowing that you aren’t going to compensate us for our wonderful service. Clean up after yourself a little instead of leaving the table as if 13 unmannerly vikings were feasting before heading out on the water. Or if you’re not going to tidy after yourself because “that’s what servers are for” at least put the damn lid to the ketchup back on the bottle for fucks sake.

Not all servers are great servers. I will say though that the majority are. There is also a small portion of shitty servers who are usually pretty great but just have had a shitty day. It happens every day in the human world, and don’t forget, servers are human too. Remind yourself that the next time you go out to eat. Think of how we servers tend to follow customer cues so if you find yourself in a situation where the service may be a little questionable, ask yourself if maybe, you the customer, set that tone, for some customers have a personality to repel anyone from wanting to deal with them and their crazy antics. Take your blinders off for a second and take a look around you, is your server insanely busy taking care of five other tables and not just yours? If they’re working hard and not just standing around joking with their co-workers, I would excuse them on certain things like timeliness or forgetting to top off your Coke for the third time. There is a difference between good service and bad service. A bad server hasn’t the personality or character to handle all that comes with this job. They simply don’t care and eventually they either leave or get fired. Most times it’s the later. A good server gets the job done. A great server is submissive to their customer, fulfilling their every request, all done with a huge smile painted on their face and with an aura about them that gives off that they care, even if deep down inside they truly don’t.  Which ever the type of server, we are all just trying to make a living. We are all trying to survive, just like you, the customer. So I say, if we aren’t allowed to treat you the way you may deserve to be treated, how about you make our job easier and more pleasant by treating us like… well… like human beings because compassion and love, even in places of work, is a wonderful motivator, and what goes around, comes around.

10541926_290656201122848_106468059_n (2) Photo Credit: Natal Galvan

 

 

Twinkie Goes Pee

There he sat, propped up at the bar, draped in an over sized t-shirt that clung to his fat and sweaty body like a wrapper on a twinkie. He took a swig of his Budweiser as he listened to his friend rant on and on about how America was going to be great again.  He sat there as if he had done nothing wrong, and this “nothing” was not going to go unnoticed.

As I am storming my way over to him I’m not even thinking about what my approach will be. My thoughts were solely focused on questioning who could have raised such an animal? I mean seriously.

He sees me out of his peripheral and  I notice that he continues to watch (not watch) me as I walk over to him.

“Excuse me?” I say loudly so my voice would carry over the loud rap music that belted from the jukebox. He takes another sip of his beer and he looks over to me. His stare already told me that he knew what was coming.

“Do you mind fixing what you just did in there?” I point towards the direction we both just came from. I stare at him in his greasy little pig face. Was this shame that flickering in his eyes?

“I know. I’m sorry. I regretted it the moment I walked out and saw you standing there waiting.” He begins to wiggle his way off the bar stool, slightly wobbling in the process. His friend stares at us in confusion.

“Don’t worry, this wont take long.” I say to his suspecting friend as I stand off to the side so that Twinkie could make his way off the stool and back towards the restroom.  The urgency within me was beginning to build up. I was two beers, three gin and tonics, and one shot in, and it was all now wanting to come out. I would have already been peeing if this idiot wouldn’t have been such a goddamn pig.

So what led us all here to this very moment?? A restroom break gone wrong, that’s what.

The Mermaid. It was a dingy, hole in the wall bar that was dimly lit with crazy blue lights, and purple tones that radiated off the jukebox. It always smelled like old beer and cigarettes, and the smoke lingered over our heads like ghost chandeliers, but I didn’t mind. This was the place all the islanders, such as myself, came to to get away from all the annoying tourists that flooded the island this time of year. While vacationers went to the overpriced bars with fruity frozen drinks and crappy live music, we residents came here, our fun and sinful safe haven. I had been standing in line waiting for the ladies room as I watched as guy after guy walked out of the men’s room. The ladies room was taking a little longer, which wasn’t so unusual but I was beginning to think that maybe there wasn’t even anyone in the ladies room, when all the sudden the door swings open and out walks the occupant.  Surprised to see this over sized man stumbling out, I giggled as I thought to myself, “Someone just couldn’t wait..” It wasn’t until I made my way into the bathroom and locked the door that I was met with an infuriating sight. Not only did this goon use the women’s restroom but he decided to use it and left it as though there would be a maid following up behind him to clean up his mess. The toilet had not been flushed, foamy yellow pee was still swirling around in there. Not only that, but it seemed as though our friend here had, for the most part, missed, leaving the entire toilet seat splattered with urine. It wasn’t just a couple droplets either. No, that I could deal with. It was as though he didn’t even try to aim properly, leaving more puddles on the seat than there were dry spots.

“Fuck this shit…” said the alcohol in me and out I went looking for this animal.

In my normal, sober life, I would have probably let the issue go and not went looking for the culprit. I probably would have flushed the piss down, layered the seat with a million sheets of t.p, and just hovered over the bowl (as women do) and done my duty. Tonight though, I was stoned, drunk, and in no mood to clean up any messes that were not my own.  So here I am walking behind this man-child whom I wholeheartedly want to kick straight in the middle of his back, but I can’t.

He walks straight into the women’s bathroom and heads straight to where the single toilet sits. “Oh geeze,” he mumbles as he rubs one hand down his face and it’s at this point that I wonder if he had even washed his nasty little hands before leaving the bathroom. “I’m sorry.” spills from his lips as he grabs a handful of toilet paper. I was in shock honestly. He looked like he actually felt bad but I still eye him skeptically.

Twinkie first cleans off the seat with one swooping motion and tosses the wad of dirty toilet paper into the bowl and  flushes. He then grabs another wad of paper, this time slightly wetting it first with water and goes over the seat once more, tossing that bunch into the garbage. He then washes his hands and once he’s finished he turns to look at me and again mumbles out an “I’m sorry.”

“It’s Ok. Thank you for cleaning it up.” I say almost dumbfounded. I truly wasn’t expecting him to have been not only so thorough in his cleaning but so apologetic as well. He then walks past me grabbing a bit of paper towel to dry his hands off, and walks out. I shut the door and lock it, my bladder suddenly screaming as I’m doing so. I barely have time to unbutton, unzip, and squat down when all the liquids sprayed out of me like a fireman’s hose. As I squatted there, I remember feeling pretty proud of myself. It had been out of character for me to have gone out searching for the culprit and then making him right his wrong. It had been a pretty ballsy move considering I had no back up plan if he would have ignored my request for him to clean up his mess.

I finished my business, washed my hands, and walked out of there feeling like a new woman and when I walked back to where my friends sat, they asked me what had taken me so long. As I began to quickly fill them in on my bathroom adventure, the bartender walks over to where I sit and plops a shot down in front of me. Before I can ask her about this randomly bought shot she motions over to where Twinkie sat and blurted out, “It’s on him.” and walks off. I hold up the shot in salute as does he, and in one smooth swoop we both down the shot.

Anytime I go to the Mermaid now, I always think of Twinkie. I wonder if someday I’ll run into him again and if so, will he remember me and the fleeting moment of potty solidarity we shared. Although he may have started off on the wrong foot, he quickly made it up with genuine gestures, apologetic and concerned. He taught me that we don’t always have to just eat shit and if we do go out sticking up for ourselves and what is right, you won’t always run into a confrontation.

And here I thought that I hated Twinkies.

11282848_1443650052604576_1315113879_n (2) Photo Credit: Natal Galvan

Caution To the Wind

I put to rest another small and unhappy part of my life today, for I’ve learned from my previous experiences to not let unhappiness hang around for too long.

Today I decided to quit my part-time job.

I won’t lie, walking away from any sort of commitment, whether big or small, personal or professional, it’s always difficult to do. There are always pros and cons, of course. Most times if you’re at the point in which you are weighing out the negatives and the positives of your given situation, the cons will outweigh the pros. But, if you’re anything like me, once you commit, it’s too hard to quit no matter how difficult the situation may be.

Growing up my momma made sure to raise no fool. She instilled in us kids the values and principals of working hard and sticking to what you start, no matter the sacrifice and dedication it took. As kids, there was no such thing as “sick days” unless one was contaminated with something extremely contagious such as the chicken pox. We didn’t take days off of school without an important reason, and once I got older there was no such thing as “calling out” of work either. Think of it like this, in the 30 plus years that my mother has been employed at the casino, she has only called out of work four times, and it was due to snow. You can just imagine the work ethic my mother has and in turn has passed onto us. This is why in today’s time, if I find myself committing to something, be it a job, or project, anything really, I am committed. I am your loyal little work bee until something or someone prevents me from happily doing so.

The key word there was “happily”. I am a HUGE follower of happiness. I believe that happiness is a choice. You either choose to be happy or you choose to not be happy. I believe that while we’re here experiencing this life we chose, we either decide to make this a heaven on Earth, or Hell. Much of what helps us make our decision as to which way we live has to do with listening to ourselves and allowing intuition to direct us. I mean we have feelings for a reason. Feelings help guide us throughout life, and although people listen to some feelings, they don’t seem to consider all feelings. For instance fear is one feeling people tend to not only consider but over indulge in. Yes, fear allows us to avoid many dangerous situations, but at times it also limits people’s ability to experience things outside of their comfort zone.

A follower of happiness cannot simultaneously over indulge in the feelings of fear.  Yes, a follower of happiness can experience fear, but there is no overindulgence because to follow happiness, many times (most times) you must throw caution to the wind and not allow for fear to govern decision making. Happiness is a feeling that not many people take into consideration. Are you happy at work? Do you feel happy in your romantic relationship? Does your friendship bring you happiness? If not, are you willing to go on that pursuit of happiness no matter what it takes, or will you let fear take reign of your life? Many will read this and counter that one cannot be happy in all aspects of life. Those people are Debbie Downers. You CAN be happy in all areas of your life. People do it everyday. It’s a small percentage but there are those individuals that are truly happy in all aspects of their life. You just have to choose to be happy. Sure, it takes time, but if you’ve got the drive and determination, just like with anything else in life, you too can achieve all around happiness.

There is no need for me to say that my part time job wasn’t making me happy. It was no secret. I honestly couldn’t have been more vocal about it, and although I wasn’t there for long, I still feel annoyed with myself that I ended up staying there for as long as I did. There were many days full of anguish and unease that could have been avoided if only I would have left sooner. Yet, I can’t dwell on the past. Or I could, but for what reason? To extend that negative feeling?? Instead I’ll applaud myself for leaving the unhappy situation sooner than I have previously done in the past, merely because I let fear rule over my feeling of intuition.

“You need us as much as we may need you.” My ex-boss said to me as we spoke about our issues. Anyone who is an employee knows these are words that draw a line in the sand. So I either choose to believe that what he spoke is true and stay in a situation that brings me no joy. A situation that I’m in only because I don’t want to let others down. OR  I choose to cross that line and step out and over into the unknown. Where the door to comfort and familiarity closes and the window to new and endless opportunities await.

I chose to cross the line. The minuet I did I felt the greatest weight being lifted off my shoulders and in that instant I knew I did the right thing. Maybe not the right thing in the eyes of others, but for me it was the right decision. Now I’ve got an array of avenues to pursue. I can go this way or that way, while nothing negative is holding me back. In this NOW moment I can say that I am truly happy in all areas of my life and I plan to keep it this way. Yes, there will come a time (many more times) where a feeling of sadness or unrest will try to creep back in, but as a follower of happiness I am committed to myself to always do what makes my soul smile. I choose to pursue that which makes me radiate joy, positivity, and love so I not only continuously live in harmony with the Universe, but so that I can also serve as an example that one can truly achieve and live in overall happiness if one chooses to.

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Threaded With Beauty

In the past few weeks women of all ages and stages have been reaching out to me for some friendly advice. In speaking with these girls, young ladies, women, some whom I know, some whom I never met before in my life, I have discovered a common thread so beautiful that it leaves me breathless. This common thread is in our want to find our way through life, that need to find our place within our journey, no matter where we come from, who we are, or what our “status” is in this lifetime.  We each question what our purpose is and if we’re on the “proper” path. We roam around aimlessly at times, with the only knowledge or feeling that all we want to do is to help.

“I’m so lost… Am I on the right path?…I’m torn between doing the things I love and the things that are expected of me….. Most times I don’t know what I’m doing…I truly just don’t know what it is that I’d like to do with the rest of my life…”

These are some of the reoccurring questions and statements that I hear throughout my conversations with these ladies. They are feelings that most of us have but no one is truly willing to be honest with themselves nor willing to share. We all want to make it seem to the world that we know what we’re doing. We want to make believe it is all ok and that we have control of  all our doubts and fears when in reality, it is those very same doubts and fears that control us.

Society, the media, the tangibilities of life all around us, it has all thrown people into a vicious cycle. It’s the cycle of comparison webbed with the feeling of inferiority. We are constantly comparing ourselves to our friends, our family, and even to strangers. What do they have? What do they look like? What’s their status? Am I close to them??? For men I believe it’s more a friendly form of competition and bonding among themselves. For women I believe it to be something more  fierce.

As women, we are always on the forefront when it comes to the gossip. We are catty and unlike guys, we are constantly caught up in a non-friendly competition with one another. T.v shows like Bad Girls Club, Housewives of (insert city here), or America’s Next Top Model, we have infused into the eyes of society that it’s Ok to mistreat each other. We are reinforcing the belief that it is Ok to call each other bitches and whores. That instead of helping each other succeed, we try to knock each other down and use that body as a stepping stone to rise to the top, always trying to one-up one another. Even if we catch our significant other cheating on us, most tend to forgive the cheater and end up going for the throat of the other women, even if she had no idea that cheater was in a relationship to begin with! It’s straight up madness and I don’t understand how it that we got to this point. Yet although I may not know how exactly we got here, I do see how it is that we can crawl out of this well of negativity.

The first step we should take is towards realizing that we are all in this together. The game of life is a tough game to play and not because life is complicated but more so because we humans are. Realize that the woman next to you, no matter what she looks like, no matter her social status or where she may have originally come from, she too has moments of wonderment and at times feelings of inadequacy. It could be in her personal life or maybe her career, but doubt has lingered there even if only for a moment’s time. We don’t always know what we’re doing or where we’re going, and that is totally ok. For those women who have most things figured out, why not help the ones that don’t. A little advice, guidance, and empathy could change the world for the girl standing next to you. It could later on spark the big changes this planet needs if we’re to prevail as a human race.

Behind every strong man there is an even stronger and more powerful woman for we are the ones who behind the daily scenes help shape society through our children and we try to make better of our men. But what good is that woman if she feels alone and lost? No good at all so instead of shutting each other down at the first sign of insecurity, let’s be there for one another. Let’s help reshape society one woman at a time and we will literally see this ugly world morph from this blinding cocoon we have made for ourselves, and watch it turn it into a beautiful butterfly soaring on the wings of change.

10369553_1429684363967982_1987139479_n (2) Photo Credit: Natal Galvan

Closet Crazy

*** Fictional Story***

Tick… Tick… Tick… Tick.

Only about thirty more ticks to go from my authentic grandfather clock that sits gallantly in the corner before I can slowly end this session.

Everyday I sit in this blue chair, with my freshly ironed dry cleaned clothes, polished loafers, and perfectly combed hair. I face my client while holding my notepad and pen and jot down anything I feel like I should be jotting down. It’s more for show actually. I scribble down things like their posture, words or phrases I notice them subconsciously using, ticks they may have, even when they’re lying to me. I always know when they’re lying to me. When you’ve studied people for as long as I have, it becomes second nature to spot a lie.

Most of my clients are good people. Their lives are usually quite boring which leads them to deal with their boring lives in a destructive manner. Each case different in the manner they go about getting rid of the monotony their lives have become. All similarly ending in destruction. This is why they come looking for me.

I listen to their pitiful stories. All complain, some of them while yelling. Others spend their entire session crying out without even saying an understandable word. Most of the time I just sit there and listen. I listen without having to really listen to them. During most of my sessions my brain runs on complete autopilot. I tune into the “important” parts and tune out the fillers with important thoughts of my own.

Today has been a busier day than usual. I started off my morning with a 22 year old girl who has sexual fantasies of being with an older man, a man who much resembles to that of her father. That session was followed by a husband who’s wife recently uncovered his severe gambling and cocaine addiction and gave the the ultimatum to seek help or leave. After him followed a 5th grade English teacher who absolutely hated his job and who’s never experienced a romantic relationship in his entire life. He’s 53 years old and since our last session has secretly begun diving into the depths of the deep dark web in search of deep dark fantasies. Their issues are typical for their individual circumstances. With each case I end our sessions with prescribing them drugs to help them “cope” with their issues but to be honest, they were all much more sane before they started to come to see me. Before the drugs.

Western medicine has never been my thing. When I say “my thing” I mean you will never catch me taking any type of Western medication. Garbage is the word that comes to mind when thinking about man made medicine. I am more of a meditation and homeopathic remedies man myself, yet I cannot deny the amount of money one can make by pumping patients with garbage. When done right, one can keep sick people sick, and make a killing doing so. No pun intended. So I prescribe them this, then I’ll mix it up and tell them to take that. Never once do they debate the advice given to them. As long as I listen and prescribe, that’s all they care about. I give them exactly what they want. I dope them up to help them better deal with the harsh realities of life. Realities that for the most part were self inflicted. They never question the possible side effects of what has been prescribed to them neither the long term nor short. They don’t ever question the motives one may have when prescribing such garbage, neither big nor small. No explanations are ever needed. Just a piece of paper with a solution to a symptom and a signature and off they go.

I run a very small and very private practice so there is really no one I have to answer to other than the board. Not once have I ever had to answer to the board. In fact, in order for a patient to be even seen by me you first have to be referred by someone on the “inside”, then verified by me personally. This means full background check. I look into their old medical files, their criminal record if they have one, and dive deep into their most personal affairs. Finding out a patient’s deep and darkest secrets is key to having complete dominance over them. I makes it easier to keep them eating out of your hand.

Funny, I wonder how quickly things would change if any one of my clients found out the truth of the deep dark secret I, myself, hide. A lie that stares them in the face session after session. A sick truth that patients are too blinded by their own issues to see. I thrive over that advantage I have over them. The advantage of being able to see what lies before me because unlike them, I have no issues of my own to deal with. My issues aren’t “issues” instead they are a beautiful way of life.

I am not here to help my patients. I am not here to make them feel better.  To keep my small practice small but yet thriving I make sure to keep the minds of my patients sick. I keep them coming back for more. Their repeat illness allows for my small business to make money. A visibly thriving practice and a polished look  helps disguise the truth that lies within my mind, soul, and basement. How else would I keep my secret a secret? A handsome family man, who is financially well off, and never tires to try to “better” society through is profession. There is no better cover than that.

“It amazes me how day after day you deal with the crazies, only to try to better their lives and make the world an easier place to live in. For them and us. That’s so honorable of you…” is what friends and family say.  I can only imagine the look on their faces if I told them the truth. That no, I could care less about bettering humanity. The simple truth was that dealing with the “crazies” made me appear to be normal.

I wrap up the second half of my day with two more appointments. I close up shop as the sun begins to set, and head straight home to my wife. I find her in the kitchen, happily awaiting my arrival, plating my homemade dinner that was still nice and warm.

Tonight our daughter is working her part-time shift at the mall and won’t be home for hours. I choose to dedicate this time to my wife because meeting her needs keeps her off my back.  “Happy wife, Happy life” isn’t that how the saying goes? So I ask her about her day and although I could give a shit about what this stay at home housewife has done with it, I pretend to listen. Again, mind on autopilot. Throughout our one way conversation, I make sure to interrupt her and compliment her on her cooking skills, calling her below average meal, delectable. With a final wipe of my napkin, I stare her deep into her eyes, and tell her how ravishing she looks, even after a long day like she’s had today. I then reach across the table and kiss her almost animalistically and with one quick swoop, I pick her up and take her to the bedroom where I make love to her passionately. I make sure she is exhaustedly pleased, and soon enough we both are. After much unwanted pillow talk, I get up and make her a nice cup of her favorite bedtime tea. Only  after she drinks the cup in its entirety, and her snores begin to fill the air around me, am I free to become the rawest version of myself.

I wait a few beats before I make my way out of the bedroom, gently closing the door behind me. I don’t worry about my wife waking up. Not after grinding up three melatonin pills and slipping them into her already potent tea. Guiltlessly I make my way through our rustically decorated home, and shut off all the lights, only leaving the driveway light and hallway light on. A guide for when my daughter arrives. With the house dark and quiet my daughter never assumes I’m still awake. She believes I am in the room with her beloved mother, gaily spooning each other until morning. She has no idea that night time is my time.

I make my way past the kitchen and towards the door that leads down into the basement. I open it and instantly am hit with the cold that creeps up from the darkness below. I quickly find myself reaching into my pocket for my penlight. I descend the stairs quickly and point the light towards the bookcase that is randomly placed against the wall. As I reach the bookcase, I place the penlight back into my pocket. I push the heavy bookcase to the side and lift the old, dusty rug it stood on, exposing the trap door that it hid beneath it. Just simply seeing the trap door and knowing the secret that it held inside made my heart race and my dick hard.

With a strong tug I lift the trap door and once I find the proper footing on the thin iron steps, I allow for the door to come back down, lowering it gently back into place. I am again engulfed by darkness. It swallows me whole, heightening all of my senses, including that of smell. I have grown accustomed to the musky smell that this place gives off. The smell is now one that soothes me. It makes me feel at home. I slowly climb down the stairs waiting for my foot to hit the ground and once it does, I take my penlight from my pocket and point it towards the door that stands at the very end of the hall. I quickly cut down the hall, anticipation rising deep within my chest, reaching the door in seconds. I grab the door knob and twist to open. No lock needs to be undone for although what lies on the other side of this door is locked in, the side I stand on is always free, allowing me to come and go without having to fumble with a lock and key.

I open the door slowly and as I step in, I admire what lies in front of me…..

 

It’s Not Another Love Story

I had ended it a month before I was to meet who is now, the love of my life. It wasn’t like there was anything truly serious between us. It was more like we were beta testing what it would be like if it had turned into something more. Now looking it back, it is apparent to me that even if we had made us “official” the relationship between us would have never lasted.

We had been friends for years, or maybe “friends” is a term I’m using loosely. I met him through mutual friends and eventually when I had bowed out of the circle, our friendship had turned into one of acquaintances. It was only years later that we had reconnected.

When you’re living in a world  that is often cold and lonely, certain things, people, places, situations, begin to look more appealing than under normal circumstances. You begin to give life to thoughts that normally wouldn’t exist or at the very least would have quickly been dismissed. It had months since I had last seen him. I had been out one night with a few friends, and there he was chatting it up to some of his customers at the bar. As quickly as we said hi to one another, we said our goodbyes. My group and I were changing scenery but after that night we began to exchange FB messages here and there. After some time I knew there was an interest there, but knowing what I thought I knew about him, I didn’t feel the urge to pursue anything.  If I would have continued to follow my intuition, maybe the drama would have been avoided. Yet, no matter how certain you may be of something, once the seed of doubt is planted, it hardly take much for it to grow. My seed of doubt?What if I ended up dismissing something beautiful simply because I felt like I had an idea of where it may lead me to?

On the day that it had all began, I had been hours in to day drinking by myself on the beach. Season had finally begun to die down and there wasn’t much traffic so I had taken it upon myself to take advantage of the quiet, and decided to have a “me” day. Not that I had much of a choice considering I hardly had any friends on this side of town… or hardly at all for that matter. By this point, we had gone from speaking only through FB to texting and almost on a daily basis. The invite to hang out via text arrived in the early afternoon. Since I was already too buzzed to even think about driving anywhere, I insisted he meet me at a bar in walking distance to where I was. The bar I suggested was on the beach with a pool. I figured if we ever hit an “awkward silence” moment, it would provide us with, at the very least, a distraction.

Under normal circumstances I would have never been down to hang out one on one like that. Not just with him, but with any guy who I wasn’t already real friends with. Under “normal” (meaning sober) circumstances I would have known what us hanging out could have potentially meant for him, and it was more than what it would have meant for me.

Now I understand what you’re thinking,

“This b!T%* really is so full of herself that she believes that this poor guy is just going to fall in love with her and her not feel a thing. How does she know she won’t be the one falling for him?” 

I understand what you’re saying. It’s not that I am full of myself, not by any means. To give a little history here, during the time that I had initially met this particular person, it had been made very clear to me by his closest friends, that he was very interested and very smittened by me. Fast forwarding to this moment, the flirting through messages was obvious and strong. I knew right away that I wasn’t interested (in that way) and this is why that up until this particular beach day we hadn’t hung out. Up until this day I had really been the one to choose not too.

By the time I had gathered myself off the beach and walked into the bar, he was already sitting there, drink in front of him. Within minuets of our initial greet he presented me with a well thought out gift. I remember my last clear thought that day was “Well that was really nice of him,” and after that it was all a cloud.

I don’t remember much of our conversation. I know that once it got dark, we made it to the beach, where we sat and smoked a joint. I vaguely remember listening to the music that erupted from his phone. To this day I will never forget the song River. He introduced me to that song that night and I remember having made him replay it what seemed like hundreds of times while we sat there on the beach. Had we kissed that night under the deep night sky? I do not know. To this day I do not know because I had later been too embarrassed to ask.

Eventually we made our way back to my place where we said our goodbyes and once inside my apartment, I remember plopping down on my not so soft couch futon, thinking to myself, “Fuck, now what are you going to do?”

I woke up the next day to find a message from him telling me how much he enjoyed the day before. I was hungry, hungover, and thoughtful. It was over a reheated slice of pizza that I decided to weigh out the pros and cons of what would happen if it was decided to take this friendship of ours a step further. To my surprise the list was a draw. It could go either way. That’s when I decided to give this a whirl. It wasn’t like he was a bad guy, no matter how much of an asshole he tried to project. That was just a show for others, I knew that. Sure, he hadn’t looked like the man I had always dreamed up in my mind. Yes, he was a little more negative than I had hoped for my other half to be BUT those were things one could look past and even maybe with time, change. (by this very thought it should have been clear to me that this was not to be…you don’t attempt a relationship with people in hopes to change them. Not like that.  When it is pure and true, you accept them as they are. You love down to the very flaws that once would have made you think twice and if needed be, with love they evolve, on their own to be better versions of themselves, of yourself.) 

We continued hanging out after that night. At first a couple times a week. Quickly a couple times a week ended up turning into almost everyday. Days had then turned into weeks and still the doubt was there and just wouldn’t let up. I was angry at myself because I didn’t understand what was internally wrong with me. He was funny and attentive. Two qualities I had always loved in a man. He had household skills that would put many housewives to shame. A particular set of skills in the kitchen that only a true chef could master. Still, all these great qualities and I just couldn’t fall in love. Not like he wanted me to. The flame was just not igniting for me no matter how much I tried to force it.

The heart is strong and it is pure.

One cannot convince the heart to feel things that do not come natural. I learned this the first time when it came to my father. I would later learn this many more times in a number of different situations. It is a lesson hard to learn and only when one comes to accept this does life become a little tiny bit easier.

We had been “talking” for a little over a month when I had finally decided to be completely and 100% honest with him. Not only was it what he deserved, but I truly did come to love the friendship and I wanted to preserve what we had built up to that point. Silly girl.

It wasn’t at all easy for me to have the conversation. No one wants to be the bearer of bad news, news that would emotionally hurt someone for that matter. It wasn’t easy for him to hear. No one wants to stand there and get their heart broken.

His hurt wore many faces. He was angry, sarcastic, hurtful, all of which I understand. He tried many times to make me realize how perfect we were for each other. “How could two good people who deserve each other not be together?” he asked me once.

“Just because two good people come together doesn’t mean they should date. Maybe they’re in each other’s lives for a long lasting friendship.” I answered.

The friendship has now completely diminished. His anger over time built into resentment and once I made it public that I was officially in a relationship with someone, he completely let me have it.

I had known this reaction would come but I hadn’t believed it to be permanent. I thought that he would eventually see that my honesty was something that had to be. What was I supposed to do? Suck up the fact that I was’t emotionally connected to him like we had hoped I’d be? Was I to live a life forcing something there? I thought he would get over his angry and understand that I had not meant to hurt him. That he would understand that if I had continued on to force love, things would have ended way worse.

The understanding never came. Instead there was more insulting and hostility. Today we don’t speak and with all the sadness that a dying friendship brings I do morn for its loss. I move on with my life coming to the understanding that sometimes the pursuit of happiness can be difficult. You will encounter tough situations and maybe hurt others along the way, but happiness is what we’re on this earth to experience. Not for others, but for ourselves.

029-2 Photo Credit: Natal Galvan, Location: Venice Beach California

 

Sirens of Change

I can still here the sirens echoing in the background. The images of hysteria play back in my mind. To think, two decades have passed since then.

A warm and bright afternoon in July, my family from Boston had been in town visiting. It was always an exciting time when they came to visit. My aunt, an incredible cook of Colombia’s finest cuisine, my uncle the funniest and happiest man I had ever known. The two of them had two kids, my cousins, and for the most part we all got along pretty well. Leon was the oldest of the two and was awesome to hang around with. He treated me as his equal although he was 5 years older than I was. He had the humor of his father and the kind heart of his mother. Veronica, his sister, was only a couple year older than me, and by far, way cooler. Growing up, she was who I wanted to be. Anytime our families got together, my sister and I would tag along with her as if we were playing follow the leader. My sister, who was four at the time, followed because it was in her nature to. I followed because all I wanted to do was learn to be cool too.

On this particular day, my cousin Veronica and I were out in the yard laying on the grass, contemplating on what to do with our day. I was never the one out the the two of us to come up with any ideas for I never had any cool ones to come up with. I would take the backseat and follow her lead. This is why I was shocked when an innocent comment on my part, evolved into a moment that would change my life forever.

“I’m in the mood for some sour gummy worms.” I thought to myself out loud. Veronica shot up and mentioned what a great idea that was. “Wait, what idea??” I was clueless.

Instantly a plan was concocted to somehow obtain some money and head over to the store to buy ourselves some candy. Half of our plan was easy, getting to the store. We would just walk there. Sure, it was dangerous. We had to cross an intersection, four lanes of traffic flowing both ways, but all we needed to do was look both ways before we crossed. No biggie. The other half of our plan is what needed tweaking. How would we get money to buy candy? We couldn’t ask our parents. They’d want to know why we needed the money which would lead them to find out we were heading to the store. They’d never just let us walk there.

At that very moment her and I were brainstorming, a neighbor of mine pulls into her parking spot just a few doors down from where we lived. She was the nicest lady ever and I remembered back then I always wondered why she lived alone. That’s when I was struck by another “brilliant” idea. Apparently the second one of the day, I was on a roll. I explained to Veronica that all we had to is get the lady to chit chat with us, we would bring up the fact that it was our friend’s birthday and that we wanted to get to the store to buy her a birthday card and some candy but that we had no money. I was almost sure that the lady would give us some. I wasn’t sure if the plan was full proof but it wouldn’t hurt to try.

By mere luck, or very good acting, we had gotten the lady to donate $10 to the cause. After explaining to her that our parents never had money, her look of pity fell upon us, and due to the fact that she had nothing smaller than a 10 dollar bill in her wallet, let us have it in order to “make your friend happy”.

We couldn’t have grabbed the money any quicker when we heard my mom’s voice calling for us. I stashed the money in the pocket of my neon blue shorts as we walked up to our porch where my mother stood.

“There you two are,” she smiled. “Take your sister to play with you. But don’t go where I can’t keep an eye out for you.” I began to debate immediately. I didn’t want my sister to tag along. This was bull crap.

There’s no arguing with mom… ever. With a frown on my face and heavy stomps of my feet, the final signs of rebellion, the three of us headed down the steps, and only when my mother had gone back inside had we redirected ourselves towards the store.

The walk towards the store, reaching the intersection, those moments feel like a blur to me. Blurry snapshots of events that seem unimaginable, but that happened. One moment the three of us are giggling at nothing in particular, discussing what kind of candy we were all to get. The next moment, we’re almost to the intersection when my sister, who I was holding hands with at the time, pulls from my grasp and darts out and away from of me laughing playfully, her giggles still echoing in my ear.  The world slowed down at that very second.

A small blue car. High pitched screeching. A man runs up to me, he’s so blonde he looks like the sun, and he’s yelling.

“Where’s your mother????!!!…” and he then runs off again. I watch him to see where he runs to when I see the tiny little mound of flesh lying in the street that is my sister. She’s shouting out for my mom, her shouts then over powered by emergency sirens.

It was a miracle that my sister lived. I believe that the fact that she was so small is why she hadn’t been completely destroyed by a car that was going over 50 miles per hour. Her tiny body had been launched almost 50ft. She had broken both legs, lost most of her baby teeth, and had severe road rash to most of her body.

This phase of my life had been full of guilt and sorrow. So much so that today a lot of it still remains in the corners of my heart, shadowing the depths of my mind, only to be felt when I decide to let my guard down. It’s a pain that I will never truly lose for I feel as though I am a big reason as to much of the suffering my sister has had in the past. Even though I feel as though my sister is my twin soul and that our relationship with one another has been lived out through multiple past lives, creating much of the bond that we have today, I know that this tragic even that happened more than two decades ago has bonded us even tighter than we have ever been in any life before.

At the age of 8 is when I discovered tragedy and what it could mean for someone to lose a life. It had been the first time I got to experience first hand pure sadness and guilt knowing that I played a major part in someone  else’s physical and emotional pain. Trauma has made its way into my mind and has camped there for years. Today it’s hard for me to causally cross a street without imagining death lurking there, waiting for me.Today I still cope with what happened all those years ago with flashbacks and anxiety. Still it is a moment in life that I am grateful to have gone through, because no matter how much pain it’s dressed up in, there is a good that is greater than all the darkness it has shadowed. A beautiful light that was bestowed upon a horrific disaster. It took my sister over a year to fully recover. Today she is the most beautiful and loving person I know. She radiates the room when she walks into it with her smile. Today you would never even have imagined that she went through such an ordeal.  Today I am blessed to have her.

040-2 Photo Credit: Natal Galvan, Muse: Natal Galvan, Angie M.