That Little Prince

It’s summer but I spring cleaned my room this week, for what seemed to be the umpteenth time. It’s not that I’m messy. It’s a controlled chaos. Sometimes that controlled chaos gets a little frizzy, so I have to come around and tame it a bit, just like everyone else. Actually, not like anyone else but that’s not why I’m here. I’m here because during this so-called “spring cleaning” I stumbled across an item that sent me reeling back to a time that once was. It was a book gifted to me by someone special in the days before me moving back home from CA. The book is “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint Exupery.

The book came to me initially by recommendation. I was at my local library at the time scanning isles, nothing really jumping out at me. One thing about me and my trips to the library, which could be either good or bad or neither really, is the fact that I never went in with a plan as to what I was looking for. I would just walk up and down the row of bookshelves, with hopes that the right one would jump out at me. On one of my trips searching for that right book, I accidentally (on purpose) bumped into my crush. Now, this tall glass of water worked there restocking books. By this point we hadn’t exchanged more than a few words here and there, and definitely some stolen glances. This particular day was the beginning of something special. After apologizing for the minor collision, he asked me if there was something in particular that I was looking for. I told him the method to my madness and in turn he asked me if I was open to any recommendations. I, of course, accepted. I would have accepted almost anything by him at this point, and that’s when he mentioned The Little Prince.

Typically, I do not judge a book by it’s cover, not in any aspect that you can apply that phrase to. Taking a look at the font cover of this one, however, made me doubt my desire to read this book. It did look a bit adolescent to me, but what did I expect when taking recommendations from an almost complete stranger. That same night I sat on my bed and began reading, and by early the next morning I was finished. I closed the book amazed at the fact that something so small could pack such a big punch.

I walked to the library the next day, all the while planning on how I was going to walk up to him directly, without any pretenses other than to thank him for the recommendation. It’s not everyday that someone impresses me with a good read, and so I walk in. I dropped the book into the “return” bin and scanned the library, wondering where he could be. Maybe in the non-fiction, historical section? Religious or Spiritual isle? Or maybe in the cooking section? I couldn’t find him, but it didn’t take him long to find me.

He asked me out on a date that day. I was over the moon. I had always thought I would meet the man of my dreams in a library, and walah! It happened. From the night of our first date, we were inseparable. I found a lot of joy sharing my time with him, as we both learned and experience so much with one another. The tragedy didn’t come for months later, but it was one that I saw coming, hoping in silence that it wouldn’t. I was to return back home after a year of not being able to get my life together there. It had all been so hard, much harder than I ever thought it would be. Jobs were scarce and those that I was able to obtain never lasted long. They were either temp jobs or paid peanuts. No matter how hard I tried, no matter how little I tried to eat, no matter the times I would sit in my home with all the lights off, trying to conserve any bit of electricity I could, I never had enough money to cover life in CA. I had two major heartbreaks that year, leaving CA, and leaving him behind.

After having to deliver the news of my return home, the weeks following that were filled with happiness draped in a woven quilt of sadness. We tried to make sure that we relished in every moment that we spent together, but as the days would turn into darkness, the feeling became more desolate, each day being one day closer to that of me leaving.

On the last day that we spent together, we did nothing remarkably special. We went to our favorite burger joint, the one where we went to the day after I first spent the night and morning with him. We rode around the neighborhoods in his El Camino, taking in the last bit of Cali streets I would be seeing in what I knew would be a long time, if ever again. That night we hung out in his bedroom, and after a while of listening to music and reminiscing of our times together he mentioned that he had something for me. I closed my eyes and once reopened, there in front of me, was the library copy of The Little Prince.

Fast forward to earlier this week when I was cleaning out my room, I began dusting the books that lined the walls of my bedroom. Dusting was something that I hadn’t done the last time I cleaned, which is probably why I hadn’t noticed the book there before. The moment I saw it and picked it up, my heart skipped a beat and slightly sunk. So many memories resurfacing, pulling at my heart, instances that I had thought I tucked away so many years ago. I brushed of the dusty cover and opened the book, and there on the inside cover was the quote…

“But she in herself is more important than all of you because she is the one I watered. Because she is the one I put a glass dome. Because she is the one I sheltered behind a screen. Because it is for her that I killed caterpillars (all except for two or three who were to become butterflies). Because she is the one I have listened to, complaining, or boasting, or sometimes when she says nothing. Because she is my rose.”

Immediately after reading this, I felt almost every emotion one can feel. Happiness and sadness. Anger. Guilt. After leaving CA, it wasn’t long when I had slowly started to cease communication with him. I had been depressed. I felt as though CA was such a painful experience that I just couldn’t continue to remember. I knew I had, too, broken his heart and I didn’t feel ok in knowing that by keeping in touch, I could be hurting him even more. Before I knew it, communication completely stopped, and even though I have since reached out on a number of occasions, our talks have never been longer than just a couple sentences.

By the time I wanted to try to save even a friendship, it had been too late. I lost him.

If I could tell him anything, I would tell him how sorry I was to have let our friendship go silent. I made a mistake by closing a chapter in my life that was too painful to continue reliving and by doing so, I lost one very important highlight of what once was a time so cold. I’ve never forgotten, nor will ever forget what it was to have a person like you on my team, making some of my best memories in CA being shared with one very special Little Prince, that one who got away.

A COV(ert)ID Silverlining

When all of this “virus” chatter began, I will admit that I wasn’t fully convinced at the gravity of it all. I blame our government and media outlets for that. They have broken my trust on many levels, so pardon me that it took me some time to believe what was being said. Lucky for me I learned at a young age to look outside of mainstream media sources and to dig deeper when seeking out the truth. Slowly I began to ingest what was truly going on and instead of brushing it off as, once again, another media-driven hysteria, I began to heed what was being warned. For me, it went from being “virus” chatter to serious virus talk.

I am currently on day 8 of our “official” lockdown and although I have been able to see friends and family periodically, it was only in the last three days that I have chosen to completely isolate myself, and not for the reasons that you may think. 

Amid all the calamity this virus has brought to our front doors, I’d like to think of all this as a necessary evil for society and what’s left of this starving planet Earth.

I might get shit for calling this pandemic a “necessary evil”. How could I say such a thing when so many people have died? But like a war, a battle being fought for the greater good, it has its deaths by the thousands of the guilty and of the innocent alike; it is exactly that, war. This type of war, however, isn’t to bring together land and eradicate manmade borders. This war is an internal war, not only physically but spiritually and emotionally. It’s a war to remind us of where we came from. It’s a war for time, because humanity needed time. Humanity needed a break from it all.

The last three days have been filled with a lot of self-reflection. I’ve been taking a look inside myself, asking myself questions, and having discussions that I should’ve had long ago. I limited my T.V time and within the silence, I have found sparks of creativity. I’m able to connect with nature better and I even feel as though the Universe speaks to me louder and more clearly without all the every day static I had grown conditioned to. I have learned to be a little more resourceful and a lot less wasteful. I’ve become more aware of the immediate things I must change to improve who I am.  I’ve become aware of the things I will gradually give up in order to live my version of a better life.

Some people end up finding themselves while lost at sea. Some find themselves after veering off track and getting lost in the wilderness. We have been given the chance to find ourselves within the confines (and comfort) of our own home. We have been given that extra bit of vacation time. We have been given the chance to learn from crisis hoarders, that greed leads you nowhere other than to the land of Overloaded and Nowhere To Store It.  We have been given extra time with our family, with our pets, with our crafts. We have been given the space to work on ourselves; the time to detox from everything that has been pumped into our senses.

I have read that for us here in the U.S it’s only going to get worse before it gets better. I also hear that “getting better” still means that we’re going to be set back about a decade.  Whether any of that is true or not, I don’t know. We’ll call it what it is, speculation. I say that if at the end of all of this there is more genuine happiness within homes all around the world, genuine happiness within our own home, and with one’s self than I’ll pay that price. In the end, we are all going to be going through it together and there is comfort in that. This is a covert opportunity to change humanity in wonderful ways if only we begin to choose love before greed. We have the ability to rebuild a stronger and better world by going through such adversity together. I wish that through all if this social distancing and social isolation, after all the souls who have passed on because of this virus, we end up choosing to do good to one another.

“We will have suffered together, we will have fought through it together, and we will overcome together.”

 

 

 

This Round of Retrograde

Let me tell you a bit about how I’ve been fairing during this retrograde. It has literally been kicking my ass.

It began uneventful. I remember thinking to myself, “Is it possible? Will I be able to get away unscathed this time around?” The instant I thought it, I wanted to kick myself because at that moment I felt as though I had jinxed myself.

By day four life was still smooth sailing and I figured that maybe, just maybe that by realizing I had jinxed myself days before, I had inadvertently jinxed the jinx and it had just canceled each other out. I mean, in life anything is possible, right?

WRONG!!! SO SO SO WRONG!!!

Ok, so…

If you’re not big into astrology and universal vibrations, things of this nature, you must be thinking, “What the fuck is this person even talking about? Retro-what now?” I totally understand that. I also understand that many of you won’t care for specifics as to the details of what mercury’s retrograde is and other’s who have heard of it and find it to be a bunch of baloney. Short description for those of you who are interested is a 3 week period that happens every few months in which the planet Mercury shifts differently within its rotation throwing off the balance of how certain things operate. During this period communication with others is poor, electronics malfunction, travel plans become more difficult to follow through with, and every thing is more accident prone. Luck isn’t very much on your side, anyone’s side really. If you find the topic interesting or feel as though it’s pretty relateable to you, I do suggest looking it up and doing further research on it.

I am a HUGE believer in all of this and the last few days have been a testament to its validity. Its almost as if the Universe has decided to turn my life into the poster child of the unluckiness this period of time can be.

A week ago today is when it all began. It was my last day off before I had to return to work for the weekend. I took myself out to breakfast to my favorite local diner. After a delicious meal and a bit of relaxation, it was time to head out and continue with the day’s errands. As I get into my car and go to start it, dead. Alright, no biggie. I’ve got a power box in the back seat so I hook it up to the battery and jump it.

I continue on about my day without much of glitch until later on that evening I decide to log onto my bank site to check on things when I noticed that airline tickets were purchased with my card. Living in a metropolitan area one finds that this happens all the time. Since moving to South East Florida I have had to get my account suspended and card replaced numerous times. This time was no different, it would be 5-7 business days before I would receive it. I could get a temporary card from the bank to hold me over but unfortunately it was already late in the evening and banks were closed and I worked all day Friday and the entire weekend. It was no problem really. I would just patiently wait.

The next morning it became a problem. My car wasn’t starting and I had to get t work. I was running early to work until I spent 15 mins trying to get it to start. I gave up, went upstairs to wash up, and decided on calling an Uber and dealing with the car trouble later.

Uber: “Unable to process payment. Please reenter payment option below”

FUCK!

Since my bank account is suspended any links to it would be too. I have no other forms of plastic and therefore no other means of independently getting to work so I opted to ring a friend. I made it to work an hour late but just in time to help with the rush. A nice and busy day is what my wallet needed especially now with the unexpected car troubles waiting for me once I got home.

I had a quick dinner with a coworker of mine. After work we decided on grabbing a bite to eat and then went our separate ways, her on her bike, me in an old school taxi cab. On the way home I realized that, me not being used to having to call cabs, had used most of my cash at dinner so if I wanted to leave the driver a tip Id have to run up to my apartment to grab some. We arrived and I quickly explained the situation, exited the cab, ran up, and then down again in seconds. It hadn’t been until 30-45 mins later, once I polished off the rest of my left over dinner, that I realized that my phone was missing. I had left it in the cab.

Without my phone I have no internet.  Since moving into this apartment I hadn’t splurged on buying internet for a couple different reasons, one of them being that Xfinity is the only provider in this area and I REFUSE to use Comcast/Xfinity. Instead, I decided to just use my mobile hot spot. That choice was all fine and dandy until now. Without internet or my phone, there was no way of contacting anyone. So here I am, no car, no debit card, no phone, and no internet. Great….

I set the oven timer as my morning alarm and went to bed. I had to work at 9 am the next day and I would need the rest.

Its been exactly one week since things in my life started to tank. I was able to get through the weekend, getting to work and back with the help of neighbors and coworkers. I’ve had off from work since Tuesday (its Thursday now) but haven’t really enjoyed or relaxed because I have been having to deal with one thing or the other. I’m still waiting to get my card. I’m truly hoping (fingers crossed) that it arrives today. Cabs are way too expensive.

After battling with Verizon’s RIDICULOUS process of filing a claim on a lost phone, they shipped me a phone last night so I should be getting it today. My car? It’s no more. I’ve come to the final realization that it is truly time to sell her.

Has this week been an easy week? No, not one bit. Yet, I will say that up until yesterday I have handled everything pretty well if you were to ask me. I say “until yesterday” because after realizing that Verizon still hadn’t shipped out my phone due to “insufficient documentation” I freaked out a bit. Luckily it was just the pets and I that got to bare witness to my mini meltdown. As soon as it was over (it took approximately 5 mins from start to finish) I felt so much better.

I sat and thought about my entire situation, and although many wouldn’t agree with me, I say that it all could have been much worse. I was lucky that my car hadn’t broken down anywhere else, leaving me stranded. I was lucky enough to have had a dear friend of mine (really one of the only two I have here) help me with sending in the paperwork for my phone, rides to and from work, ect. I was lucky to have had the last 3 days off so that I had time to deal with all of this. I’m also lucky in the way that I love reading, and writing, and was able to entertain myself  through these while not having a phone or internet to distract me.

In the next couple of weeks I will be going through some major life changes. I can’t help but think that this period of retrograde was a true end to all of what no longer serves me. A tearing down of what was in order to make way for the rebuild of what’s to come. I am excited. Months ago I had begun to minimize the junk in my life. I wanted to not just start over from scratch but to maintain the lightness of what it feels to be free. Free of gadgets, materialistic shit I never use, freedom of always having to stay connected, freedom from obligations or expectations placed upon me, not for my benefit but for the sake of other’s happiness. This past week has shown me a lot. It has freed me from certain things and has reminded me that life isn’t what makes it comfortable. Life is about living in the moments, embracing its natural beauty of all that is around us. Life is also about the moments of discomfort, because those are the moments that allow for us to grow much taller and s Continue reading

Judgement Free Zone Please

Human beings tend to forget that we are indeed that, human beings. Some people place certain humans on such a pedestal that when that person “fucks up” or does something that goes against what another would do, those who once supported that individual feel cheated or lied to. I laugh at that. It is one of the silliest mistakes people make.

A good person can make an “evil” mistake. A sad person can be happy. A positive person can be depressed. A selfless person can make a “selfish” decision. Who is anyone to criticize and judge the choices made by others? Do we live their lives? Do we walk in their shoes? Is it fair to question the choices they make for themselves without understanding the situation they are in?

It blows my mind to watch family members and “friends” be most critical of their loved ones. People who claim to be supportive, accepting, and understanding are actually the first to disagree over a decision made, their conditioned minds allowing them to feel as though they could have done things differently or even better. I tend to try to stay away from people of this caliber. Life can get pretty tough at times so why keep people like that close?

Since childhood we are told stories, certain tales spoken through allegories of how everyone is created uniquely different. This is what keeps the world beautiful, unique, and interesting. As children we accept this wholeheartedly. It is as if we are already born with this knowledge and aren’t aware that there is another way to think until it is brought to our attention. It is only as we become older that we forget this known little fact and begin to criticize the people around us. Whether it is because we are conditioned by society, by our loved ones, or by strangers who begin to infiltrate our minds with tainted garbage.

Times are tough right now for people all across the globe and while in some ways we have to begin to hold each other accountable for certain things, it is also time that we let up on one another. It is crucial for humanity that we begin to support those around us in ways of understanding and encouragement. This doesn’t mean that you must compromise your beliefs or ways of happiness. It just means that instead of belittling one another, we instead try to understand each other and accept  that we are individually different. So the next time someone you know makes a decision you may find questionable, try to understand and if you cant, you don’t have to. Simply support because at the end of the day, it is their lives they are trying to work out, not yours.

Headed Home

As soon as I publicly voiced my plans on moving back home I had quite a number of people reach out to me questioning why.

“Why would you ever come back here? Why leave Florida to come back to this?”

It’s a natural question especially coming from those who have never left home. For someone like me who has been away from home for 12 years now, the question is a bit silly. My answer is simple. I’m ready to head back home.

I first left NJ when I was 20 years old. I had just gone through a very painful breakup. I was tired of my town and all of the surrounding areas. I had been born and raised in the same area and although I knew quite a few people from all sorts of different backgrounds, I was bored of it all. There was an entire world to see. I would be damned if I where to just stay in one spot my whole life.

I took off to Florida in February of 2008 and I have pretty much lived in every major area of South Florida except for Miami. I also moved within that time to California and lived there for exactly one year before heading back to the East Coast with my tail between my legs (you may have won the battle but not yet the war CA! *shakes fist dramatically in the air*).

I have experienced so many different kinds of adventures, and been on so many journeys, some bad, most good. I’ve gone through many lessons and although life lessons will never cease to exist, every single one I’ve been through up until now has helped me discover who I am. I believe that without discovering and learning about who we really are, not just as people, but also as individual souls, without knowing that you can’t possibly enjoy life for what it really is. How can you enjoy it if you are always questioning yourself, your likes, your dislikes, your boundaries, your desires? How can you create your reality when you barely know your dreams? Not society’s, not your family’s, but your own. Moments of introspection and self-discovery are key to experiencing and living life in the best way we can for ourselves.

I once left home because I was tired of being around the same old, to learn more about myself, and to see what I was capable of. Now I go home because I’m ready to be around all those that know me and love me for me and always have even before I truly knew myself. I am ready to be around familiar surroundings. I can take what I’ve learned about myself and apply it to my everyday life and do something special with with it alongside of the support and love of my family and friends.

I am running towards what I once ran away from. Although I will never lose my itch to discover, that is what traveling is made for. I will always be nomadic. It is in my blood. My move back home may not even be forever, who knows!? I, however, do know that home is where the heart is and I’m headed on back.

Unexpected Unpleasantries

Try as you might to avoid certain headaches in life, it is almost certain that your plans to do so may fall short or, simply put, may not go according to plan at all.

One of the many reasons I have chosen to not have children is because I am selfish and other than my own personal issues and struggles (trust me I have many) I do not feel like I’d like to add anymore challenges to the mix. Yet, just because I have decided to refrain from bringing into this world a nondetachable relationship (because I don’t care what anyone says, children are for life) that doesn’t mean that those that are already a part of my life won’t bring in moments of turmoil or heartache. Now matter how cold and selfish I may seem sometimes, the ones I have come to love unconditionally can always count on me for help.

I recently had a friend fall from the high ranks of sobriety down into the pits of darkness. It only took a few months for his life to snake out of control and in that time it began to affect mine. It’s crazy how the mind works because I knew the signs, I had observed the escalation for months prior to me finding out for sure that they had been using again, but still, I didn’t want to believe. Prior to this I had just ended an unhealthy relationship due to the person’s substance abuse problems. After watching what I had gone through with that individual there was no way my friend was about to put me in the same position, right? WRONG. It’s in the nature of this ugly beast to muddy up reasoning, rational, and selflessness. The person tainted by this monster  is no longer the considerate loving soul you once knew but instead the shell and the soul of a stranger is what’s left. My life was full of chaos and uncertainty. I was constantly wondering if the next time I’d see this person if they would be alive or dead. It was heartbreaking for me to have lost such a confidant and friend. The person who was always there for me in the last couple years was no where to be found and instead this unco was left in his place.  Stealing, lying, and self-destruction were now what this individual was into and although I tend to avoid all unhappy and unhealthy situations, this is not one I could just turn and walk away from. How could I? At the end of the day, it wasn’t me they were truly hurting. In fact, their embarrassment and humiliation as to what they were up to lead to him completely avoid me so as to not hurt me any further than our lost friendship had already done.

To make what could very well turn into a super long story short, I recently took my dear friend to a detox center. After a few days he will be moved to an inpatient facility for some well needed addiction treatment and mental health care. It’s been a few days and it is only just now that I realize how much strain this was putting me through emotionally.

Today, I laugh at myself at how naive I was to believe that I am somehow am able to control what crisis I will and will not go through in life. Sure, you can try  to reduce the amount of exposure you have to certain situations. For instance not walking alone in the city at night may reduce the number of chances you have of getting robbed. To say that you won’t form bonds with people in order to avoid unpleasantries in life is delusional. It is my strong opinion that if life wants you to go through a difficult ordeal of any sort, try as you might, you will go through it. These are the life lessons that are meant to help us grow and learn. These moments truly do help us to evolve into much better, stronger, and wiser people. Watching them go through their own struggle and me having to learn how to cope with the situation has allowed me take a look at my own life introspectively.  The only thing that we can truly count on is that the lessons of life will keep on coming, there is no dodging it, and it is up to us how much we take away from it.

Laundry Mat Lemonade

“School bus yellow” is the color of the chairs that line the windows at the laundry mat I go to. They remind me of subway seats except a bit narrower yet, I don’t find them uncomfortable. I sat and read a bit to pass the time and to be honest it was one of the most relaxing experiences I’ve had in a while.

I am a bit weird, finding pleasure in the most dull activities. My days spent at the laundry mat are an example of this. The sound of the spin cycle swooshing its contents around cradle my senses. The smell of detergent mixed with the warm air expelled from the dryers amplify the feel of comfort. The soft feel of the newly dried clothes when folding it into piles to be put away at a later date (because I’m not sure why it takes me days to put away my clothes). I find all of that so soothing to me. Sure, going to the laundry mat can take away from the relaxing bit of your time off if you let it, but I try to think of what many people would find annoying as positives.

Yes, it could get crowded with all sorts of characters, and yes you may have to wait for machines, or make small talk with a stranger. Those are all still “not-so-bad” kinds of situations. Yes, you’re hauling your dirty laundry around, getting more exercise than you had hoped for in the process. Still, not-so-bad kind of a situation. And yes, you may lose a sock, a button, or a set of your favorite pillow cases (true story) but doesn’t that happen to you anyways?

I observe. I write. I read. I take moments to enjoy how different it feels to be at the laundry mat. I look at others, be it employees or patrons, and I try to create enchanted lives for them. I may even daydream and create an enchanted life of my own.

No one ideally wakes up with the need and want of spending time at the laundry mat, but sometimes life will throw you a lemon. Don’t just stare at itor make that same old, same old lemonade. Observe it from a different angle and see what else you can make of it.

Contending With Honesty

My relationship with honesty has always been irregular.

As a kid, I would make up stories even about the most typical parts of my life. I had my reasons, though. It wasn’t because I loved lying. I used to hate to think about it as lying. I chose to think of it as storytelling. I told stories to fit in with the crowd. I used to think that all the kids I met had cool lives. I wanted a cool life too and so I would spruce up certain things about mine just to make me feel like I was like them.

I did eventually grow out of it. It was exhausting, not only portraying someone that you’re not, but it was hard to realize that others would in turn read me wrong. I felt like no one really knew me, let alone understood me, and how could they? I wasn’t giving anyone the real version of me. As I got into high school being honest soon started to become my new addiction. So much so, that I became brutally honest. That began a totally new battle. Instead of before when my battle with honesty seemed more internal, now it was starting to become a more physical battle with others.

I became explosive with my honesty. If I was feeling a certain way about something, I was letting you know whether you wanted to listen or not. There was no sugar coating anything. What for? To add confusion? To allow someone to believe that things were one way when in reality it wasn’t, or to soften the blow? I felt as though that was all wasting time and why do that? Arguments with people would ensue, be it with friends or family. Then that too started to become exhausting.

It wasn’t until my 20’s, once I moved away from home and began to really look into my self, that I began looking at life and how to handle it differently. Soul searching provided me with a different view on how to approach certain aspects of life, especially that of being honest. I learned that it was important to share your thoughts and your true feelings with others so that there would less confusion and more understanding. It was OK to be brutal but just as easily OK to soften the blows, and that there was a time and place. Yet, since then I have come to understand that I now have a new hill to climb. I now struggle with the patience that must be had when it comes to others and their understanding of honesty.

To me, I see honesty as a privilege that we should be allowed to have. It should be our prerogative, as human beings, to want to express it as well as be able to receive it. The thing is, people only see life and everything about it, from their own perspective. Human beings are so self absorbed in their own lives and feelings towards it, that they tend to forget that others that they are sharing this existence with my have a different spin on what they share as the same situation. That’s how feelings get dismissed and how lives become discounted and discredited.

Take, for instance, a “break up” (if we could even call it that) I had about 4 years ago. A good friend of mine and I were becoming reacquainted again after my move back from CA. We began going on dates here and there, which later then turned into midnight escapades. It was fun but only until I started realizing that he was falling hard and I, simply put, just wanted to have fun. I was honest and explained that him and I were on two different planes in life and although everything was fine, I simply did not see him “in that way” and felt that it would only be right to end what was going on. It was difficult for me to do because I knew of how he felt for me. Who wants to break someone’s heart? Yet, I couldn’t lead him on or waste his time nor mine. His reaction wasn’t good. He hated me of course and called me every name in the book. He went on to talk shit about me to all his friends, spewing all sorts of negativity to anyone who would listen. I was in shock. I knew he was going to be upset, but to the point that he had spoken so ill of me? I was in shock because I hadn’t understood what he had wanted me to do. Had he wanted me to lie to him and put up a charade all so his ego’s needs could be met? It took so much patience to not lash out the way I wanted to about that situation and that’s only one example. I see it everyday with the people I come in contact with , the battles we all have with honesty and all the internal and external struggles it comes with. So are battles with honesty that irregular then? Or is it actually more common than we considering human beings and how we think, which is in mainly an introspectively self absorbed way.

I place a high value on honesty when it comes to terms with myself and others. I choose to be a woman of integrity and want for my character to always be able to be described as open, honest, and approachable. I want to be receptive because if I want to be heard, I too need to listen in order to understand.

I guess maybe these aren’t even battles with honesty at all. It’s just learning life.

Yes We Are And This Is Why

I was apart of a very interesting conversation not too long ago which included my boyfriend and one of his good friends.  They were speaking of the best method to clean car headlights.

“Bro, all you have to do is spray your headlights with OFF bug spray and bam! They’re clean!”

“Yeah, you told me that but when I looked it up it said that it doesn’t last very long. It’s a short term fix. I’m just going to buy the special kit and clean them. I can clean yours too babe.” My boyfriend smiles, turning his attention from his friend to where I was sitting.

“Awe, I appreciate that! But don’t worry, I can just do it.” The statement spilled from my lips without a second’s thought. It has always been natural for me to do things on my own. For one thing, I’ve never liked to burden others with tedious duties, especially if it’s something I could easily just do my self. Plus, I’ve always been one to just take care of things on my own. Not so much because I want to but because I’ve been conditioned to. My boyfriend’s friend, who I just met a couple months ago, wouldn’t have a clue as to the reasoning of my reaction though and he quickly starts to lay it on thick…

“Lord.. all you women now-a-days are so independent! Can’t you girls just let us do things for you? I mean, it’s because we actually like to do things for you. It’s how we show that we care, seriously…”

He is not the only man to feel this way. I feel as though the majority of men see women as wanting to be Miss. Independent, yet to be honest, I don’t think it is so much of us wanting to be independent as it is that we have been conditioned to be this way.

My generation is the generation of the baby boomer parents. Baby boomers are the generation to have really started a new trend in parenting, instilling different values and ways of life. Whether you were married and then divorced, raising children that way, or never married to begin with and having children out of wedlock, one of the major lessons taught, be it beaten into you or subconsciously taught, was the lesson of being independent. Doing for yourself so you would never have to solely depend on others. This lesson being especially directed towards females. Men were always raised as being the “men of the house”. Families have always depended on men to bring home food, to help build and maintain shelter and order. Men were always looked as the bosses, the ones who truly ran the household. It has only been in the last 50 years or so that women have begun a new sort of revolution with what they wanted their contributions to be. More freedom to choose what, where, when, and who when it came to decisions to be made in their lives. Even women who have been in a loving marriage for decades will say that they wish a sort of different life for their daughters, one with more leeway to do what they want to do and without having to depend on anyone other than themselves.

My parents divorced when I was 4 years old. At that time, my mother had depended on my father so much that she didn’t even know to fill out a personal check on her own. She had been so utterly dependent on my father that when they split up, she felt as if she had been thrown into a world she knew nothing of. It was a struggle for her to get back on her feet and succeed as a single mother of two young girls. Her mantra always was, “Do for yourself. Depend on no man. You are all you need.” and as a kid, watching and observing, I took this in and applied it to my life. Before I knew it, it was my life.

I am no extreme feminist by any means. Yet, I do understand the thoughts behind those that are, just as I understand the frustrations plaguing men when it comes to the evolution of women and the roles men now play in their lives. But as it is a struggle for men to adapt to a woman’s newly found independence, it is also a struggle for women to find a middle ground with wanting to be independent while also allowing room for someone else to help take care of you. It is a small battle that presents itself regularly in life. One that I don’t ever see being won by either party but one that can be a bit more manageable.

For me it is a struggle to let go of the reigns a bit and allow for someone else to take on  more than what I am used to giving up. I have to remind myself that yes, although I am very independent, I also have to allow others who love me to do things for me, not because I can’t do them myself but because for them, it’s a way to show that they care. It takes effort and awareness to be able to allow for this to happen but it’s a challenge worth accepting if it means bringing a bit of joy into someone else’s life. I hope that for the women who read this post it allows for you to take a step back, however slight that step may be, in order to allow someone else to do for you. Allow them to care for you in ways that they would like to express. Give them that chance to express. I also hope that for the men who read this you may now understand that maybe it isn’t so much that we hate your help. It is that we have grown into independence and truly know nothing else.

Bottoms Up. Lights Out

It was like I had suddenly woken up from a century long slumber. When I say suddenly, I mean suddenly. It was like a loud mental crack back into reality. My eyes took a while to open for they felt to me as if they were swollen shut and to be quite honest my body felt like a sack of cement. My eyes roamed around but nothing to me looked at all familiar. My surroundings seemed and felt odd. I simply felt completely out of place. I slowly tried to sit up but could only prop myself up onto my elbows, I was feeling extremely groggy. I looked around the room,  a pale blue color covered the walls surrounding me. I was in some sort of hotel room it felt like. The area of the room that I was in was covered in very tacky beach decor with shells and flamingos dancing all over the place. I was on a hard couch and directly in front of me stood a balcony with its doors completely open. The white sheer curtains danced in the breeze and if it wasn’t for the fact that fear was slowly gripping me around my throat, it all would have seemed almost peaceful. I was definitely in a hotel room but who’s? I could faintly hear the ocean roaring in the distance, seagulls adding to nature’s acoustics. The sudden voices coming from behind me made me jerk around to see who and where it was coming from. 

This was my initial reaction to waking up in an unknown place with absolutely no memory of how I got there. Although I had tried to forget about this, it all came rushing back when I was watching the news today.

A good looking couple from California have made headlines after being caught drugging and raping unsuspecting women. The pair would hit the streets in search of victims, charming them, drugging them, and then leading them back to their private office to have their way with them. Over 1,000 videos were found on both of the suspect’s phones allowing authorities to believe that there are many more victims than just the two that have come forward.  The two suspects deny any such allegations and are currently out on bail.

These two were not the couple that drugged and raped me, but they might as well be.

I will never forget the duo who charmed me into inviting them to hang out with my co-workers and I one evening after work. It was about 10 pm and I had just finished my night shift at the restaurant. I had decided to wait for my co-workers at a local bar right in between our place of employment and where I lived. I sat alone at a table for six. The bar was busy with tourists. By this time most seemed drunk and those that weren’t yet would be soon getting there. The live band playing had a crowd on the dance floor and I was soaking up the good vibes while I waited. It wasn’t long before I was approached by a pretty girl and her boyfriend. They were visiting from Ohio, a quick getaway for the couple who wanted a break from their hectic family life. They were both beautiful people. She had shoulder length  shiny, black hair and ice blue eyes. He reminded me of a golden boy, with a gorgeous sun kissed tan, light brown eyes, and short golden locks that framed his face. When she approached me initially she asked if I mined if the two  could sit down at the table with me until my friends arrived and of course, me not wanting to be rude, said yes.

From that point on the entire night was anything but normal. Looking back on it, I should have suspected that something was about to go terribly wrong because of the fact that things weren’t panning out as they normally would have. Back then though, a switch of scene and people added a much needed excitement to my life. I, however, was not prepared for, nor wanted, the kind of excitement that was getting ready to present itself.

As we waited for my friends to get out of work, this girl and I were chatting away. She asked me what it was like living in a touristy spot and about my tattoos. I asked her what sort of hectic life her and her boyfriend were trying to vacation away from. We chatted and it seemed natural. I was pleased to have found company while I waited. Her boyfriend offered to buy us a round of beers. I ordered a Miller Light but for some reason I was not in the mood for too much drinking, so I babysat that bottle until my co-worker’s arrival. Introductions were barely made when the couple asked if there was a strip club in the area. They were looking to spice up their last night out on the beach,

“What a more perfect way to end our vacation than with some ass and titties!” He shouted, overly excited. She seemed a bit embarrassed by his question but there was a slight flicker in her eyes that gave way to her also wanting in on this type of fun. One of my co-workers mentioned the low quality strip joint located right before the bridge before heading out on the island and offered to drive us all if the couple paid for his beers, and just like that, we all ended up piling into his SUV driving out to Fantasy’s.

At this point, I was only one beer in and not really wanting to head to the strip joint. I had been there a coupe times with friends before and it wasn’t anything to write home about. It was small and dingy. The girls are a reminder of sadness and instead of enticing a good time all they stir up in you in an overwhelming feeling of loneliness and pity. I wasn’t motivated but I also didn’t want to go home. I wanted a night out with friends and if that meant heading to Fantasy’s for  bit then I would suck it up and go.  It wasn’t more than 15 mins after arriving at the strip joint that things took a turn, which would then land me in this couple’s hotel room, naked, vulnerable, and with no sense of what had happened to me.

We arrived and immediately everyone headed towards the bar to get their first drink, everyone but me that is. I still wasn’t in the mood to have a drink, which for everyone who knows me that’s not in my normal character. I am not sure why I wasn’t in the mood to drink that night. I’d like to think that maybe my subconscious knew that there was something dangerous lurking right around the corner. No matter the reason, I didn’t heed the warning. My friends questioned why I wasn’t drinking and I remember telling them, “Not yet. In a bit I’ll order something..” I felt like I just wanted to be alert for a little longer. I really wish I would have stood my ground when the couple approached me with a shot.

“Cheers! To the three of us! Here’s is to unexpected new friends and a wild night!” That was his speech and although I found it a bit out there, I took my glass and clinked it with theirs.

“Bottoms up!” She said and from that point on, my night a blur, then ended with lights out.

The rest of the evening I can only recall in small bits and pieces. I do not remember leaving the strip club although I was told that we stayed there for about 45 mins. A co-worker informed me that I didn’t want to leave and had even given a wad of cash to one of the dancing girls after she told me a story about her and her kid “just trying to survive.” My memory only holds a picture of the club and then all of the sudden, we are back at the same bar we had all previously met up at. I vaguely remember feeling extremely tired and wanting to go home. I was told that at this point I had told the others that I was going to the bathroom and that I had gotten up to leave stumbling on my way out and never returning. For my friends, it was not unusual for me to disappear like that. I have always hated good-byes and so when I am ready to go home I make my way out using one excuse or another and simply disappearing. What was unusual for them was the fact that I seemed overly intoxicated even though I had only had a beer and a shot. That was not normal for me. I’ve always been known to handle my alcohol so that did raise  few eyebrows, but not enough for anyone to assume that something was wrong.

A couple minuets after me leaving for the “bathroom” the new couple said their good-byes and disappeared into the night.

I have no idea how things transpired from here on out. Considering I have no memory of even leaving my friends behind at the bar, I for sure have no clue how it was that I ran into this couple while on my journey home. My next snapshot of the night is of me in their hotel room standing out on the balcony but barely able to hold myself up. The next snapshot is of me sitting on the bed and the girl playing with my hair. After that? Nothing.

I woke up the next morning feeling like I had been hit by a semi-truck. It took me a few seconds to muster up the energy to sit up and look around and that’s when I discovered the severity of my situation. I was completely naked  barely wrapped up in only a thin bed sheet. I was laying on the couch and when I looked around the room that’s when I saw the couple, each laying on the bed sprawled out and also naked. At that very moment I was overwhelmed with many emotions, embarrassment, violated, bewilderment, sadness, guilt. But before being able to fully ingest all that I was feeling, all I wanted to do was to get out.  I quickly got up and quietly gathered my things. I grabbed my purse, my clothes, my phone and snuck into their bathroom to get dressed. It wasn’t until I put  my shoes on that I felt dread. My work shoes were severely scuffed, the soles of both shoes peeling away  the tops as if I had been dragged.

I left their bathroom and headed towards the door not once looking back. It was as if I just couldn’t bring myself to see the reality of my situation. I exited the room and soon realized I was only two blocks away from my home. I walked the two blocks in a fog. I felt bruised all over. My arms had bruises running from underneath my armpits all the way down to my wrists. My legs felt like lead. I felt soreness on both sides of my rib cage.

Once I arrived at my apartment, completely drained, I collapsed on my bed and slept for hours. It wasn’t until I woke up at almost 5 pm that I really was able to dissect the situation and try to understand what had happened to me. My body felt like a sack of bruised potatoes and that immediately brought tears to my eyes because with how I felt, how could I not remember what had happened to me? I immediately headed to my local walk-in clinic and after explaining what I had gone through got tested on any possible STD out there. The sorrow in the physician’s eyes should have been comforting but instead it made me feel ten times worse. It was at this point, when sitting on the medical table getting swabbed and blood work done, that I looked down and saw on my left wrist a beaded pink bracelet. It was the same bracelet that the girl had on the night before and here I was wearing it, undeniable proof as to what transpired the night before. I still have the bracelet to this day. I’m not sure why I kept it but it is put away in a jewelry box, a small reminder to always stay on alert.

Once I arrived back home from the clinic I messaged my sister and told her somewhat of what happened. I kept out the part of me waking up naked and seeing the couple sprawled out on the bed, also bare. My mother still doesn’t know. I’m sure that soon she will read this and her heart will be broken into a billion little pieces. I was also seriously dating someone at the time and although I did tell him what happened, I also left out the details of how I woke up and what I believed really happened. Do I think they would have negatively judged me? Not really, but I do believe that in their mind I maybe asked for it by putting myself in the situation when befriending the strange couple.

Now that this incident is over a year old, I am ready to talk honestly about the situation and what happened to me where as before I had no strength to do so. The level of guilt and embarrassment one feels when something like this happens to you is something no one is really prepared to talk about. It is almost as if one would rather sew up the lips than to ever utter a detail, and the feeling of reliving it all over again through speech is terrifying.

When I came across the news headline of the couple in California who were going around doing what was done to me to others, ice ran through my veins. All of the emotions I had bottled up and stored away came rushing back and my heart truly went out to the women affected by such trauma.

Sadly, our cases aren’t unique or seldom. What happened to us happens everyday to countless women and men alike. I feel as though one of the biggest mistakes we commit as a society is to cover up any situation that doesn’t seem ideal. We don’t really talk about the dangers that lurk around every corner and if we do, we speak of it as though it could never happen to us, making it that much more difficult to speak about when it does. One shouldn’t feel embarrassed or guilty after going through something like this and it is society that makes us feel this way. Being honest and speaking up over such monumental occurrences is what will allow for healing as well as encouraging awareness. We as a society need to become more aware. We need to start standing up for one another in being protective not only of ourselves but of those around you. Together we are a single unit. When will we start to realize that if one of us hurts, society as a whole hurts? It’s time we become more available to those who need a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, without the judgment and give only support needed to overcome the unpleasantries that life sometimes has in store for us.