on august 16th of 2015 i wrote “cherish kyle souza” in my journal and as hard as it is to believe, i can still find that feeling in a pot of memories that boiled to the top and evaporated into a home that had dried out. a home i poured my whole soul into but clogged on the abundance and 7 years later i find myself walking past 31 diamond st in a brooklyn snow flurry after a few gin martinis, thinking about the time your friend tommy taught me how to enjoy them, about the time we sat at the bar on the corner and decided this apartment was the answer to our emptiness. and somehow i feel a gratitude i didn’t feel when i left, when my friends carried 5 years of history down 5 flights of stairs and your only response was “i want the keys back”. grateful for all you taught me, the mirror you stood in front of me. all the insults we let burn holes in one another like a lit cigarette being thrown into the street. we always said the end would be petty because we felt too much for each other to let it feel like nothing, too much misery to not bring company to witness.
you used to deem this our neighborhood; a place we washed our dirties and claimed our relationship clean. a place we thought we could find the love we were lacking but in the end only highlighted the space in between.
i used to feel just like that; jealous and angry at the sight of anything that reminded me how fragile it all really is. how it isn’t much at all without the chaos. and how stupid i felt for not seeing it sooner. how i was just filling up the empty space he’s never learned to fill on his own. how i wasn’t chosen, just a replacement for the one smart enough to walk away before me. a short term lease renewed out of convenience. and here we are watching the reboot, knowing it’s bad before it starts because we’ve already seen the original. we’ve been the girl screaming for attention in hopes someone hears all the things we’re not saying and drags us out by our hair. we know how exhausting the never ending blending can be. how he blends into whatever surrounds him, whether that’s a sports team or another woman. blending to buffer the insecurity, blending to break you down to bits and pieces he can swallow whole.
the bqe at a tight 45 and a salt that won’t leave the air until september. a skyline that used to feel so out of reach but you smear daily keeping with the pace, keeping a finger on the pulse. everything it took to get you here collecting like dust on the dashboard trying to block your view. but it really changed your life, your perspective, and there’s no unseeing that. this place really gave you a chance. hell, a million little chances to be a million different things. new york saved you from what you would have been had you stayed. or shit…really saved you from what you would have remained: small minded, ignorant, so blind and so proud of it.
oh, honey. all fire but no flame. in over your head and hiding under an argument, flailing and fragile and trying to forgive yourself for knowing better but saying yes anyway. mad at everyone else for a choice they told you not to make. soon you’ll see the difference between what he gives and what he’s taking. soon you’ll feel the difference between who’s just barely bending and who’s breaking.
Remember why you moved here to begin with, why you hate the Union Square subway station, the way your heart was beating when you first saw the skyline sitting in Holland tunnel traffic with your things packed into a van. Remember all the things you gave up just to be here, including major food groups. Remember LES on a summer night and Central Park after a snowstorm. And if nothing else, remember that New York made you who you are today. For better or worse, but definitely more.
“what was something mean said to me in my childhood that i carry with me to this day? what would i say to my younger self now?” — in summary, “you’re mean, crazy, hateful.”
i’d say you did the best you could with what you were given. i’d say you still are. i’d say they just don’t understand, that they’ve probably never considered what you’ve endured behind closed doors to make you this way: all fight. all anger. all self preservation and no peace. i’d say the anger will get you through. that angry little girls sometimes grow up to be strong women. vocal women. self aware women. loyal women if nothing else. it’ll fuel you. let it. and then make peace with it. hell, put it on a shelf for admiration because it kept you breathing even if bloody. it said get the fuck up and show us what you’re made of.
I compartmentalized my traumas in hopes to bury them in the mess. In hopes they’d get lost in a stack of loose leaf memories or between the lines. I labeled them “Madison Heights” and thought those 7 sq miles would keep the secrets I wasn’t ready to tell New York, a self storage for the shame I’m still not ready to feel my way through to get to the other side. The shame I don’t even speak to the therapist I pay to listen. Because acknowledgement is confirmation and what difference does the distance and determination make if I’m confirmed the daughter of a drunk who’s beat every woman he’s ever loved whether it be with words or his actual fists. A daughter with the same quick tongue and self defeating sympathy. What’s years of kindness when cruelty comes in zero to sixty, insecurities coming to light through what I’d label self preservation. Groupthink at it’s best boasting “you do what you have to do” because they can’t understand choosing to do what you want to do, that struggle isn’t always strength and that cycles aren’t broken by following what came before. But crabs in a bucket, back to the bottom we go. To a world where we struggle to see the light because it only ever signified the end of another dark period.
I’m happy for all you “good vibes only” people. I really am. Because what a luxury to not know anger that makes your achilles heel tremble and your stomach turn inside out. To have been raised in a world where there was more laughter than larceny, more beauty than abuse. Some of us are angry. Angry in ways that are generational and exhausting. And it’s always the ones building a life around good vibes that want us to be bigger, to do better, to push through – even smile through – so that we don’t burst your curated bubble of bullshit. But have you ever lost faith in humanity? In your own ability to wake up and keep going?
I’m an “honest vibes only” person. You know who I like? The people who break down right in front of me and cry because that’s the shit they’re on today. Who laugh at dark humor because there’s no other way to stomach their trauma. The ones who show the fuck up regardless- happy, sad, raw, real. I don’t need good vibes, I need good people. Honest people – with me, themselves and society about what they are and what they try to be. Because too many of you think money and makeup equate to worth, that a follower count equals a following, and that if you have that you don’t need to acknowledge the ways your good vibes have allowed you to be a less than good person. An ignorant person. The kind who screams love and light but pushes people further into the dark in hopes to hide the ugly, in hopes to replace values with vibes so that you can continue casting blame outward instead of looking inward.
After long drives he says, “It happens every time, but I seriously can’t imagine my life without you”. And it feels like the one thing I’ve always needed to hear but couldn’t articulate so I’d say hurtful things instead. Things like “I don’t need you”, “You don’t deserve me” followed up by a morning of “I’m so sorry, it’s me who is unworthy.”
Followed up by years of trying to prove otherwise. Years of manipulating facts to fit my most sought after fiction. But this one, he’s a smell I remember from childhood but can’t describe. He’s like those gleams of sunshine that force you to close one eye because you’ve never seen something so bright. Giggle fits 3x a week while the bedroom floods with moonlight.
He holds a flame to a part of myself I thought was water-logged, but alas, he lights me right up. He says, “I counted, and at most we’ll get 60 years together. It’s just not enough”.
this year, though dark and trying, opened my eyes and helped me see what i tried subconsciously for years to ignore. there was a lot of loss, both inside and outside of my home; across the nation but also in people sitting across from me at dinner. i let go of a lot of dead relationships, a lot less “we should get dinner some time” and a lot more “you’re not the kind of person i want to put energy into”. and i broke down walls for the ones i felt i left undone and once deemed unworthy, a lot more “i was hurt. im sorry. you deserved more from me” and a lot less “i didn’t need you anyway”.
and truthfully no matter where they each landed not one single one has felt like a loss, probably because i gained a lot too. i gained weight and the security to know i’m so much more than what i look like. i gained a kick-ass job, i gained the best partner i could have asked for, i gained a new perspective on friendship (or lack thereof) and love and the confidence to walk away from any and all who drained me more than they filled me up; whether it be a boyfriend, best friend, or toxic instagram account. i gained the ability to see gray where i once saw black and white, to laugh and look forward more than i dwell and look back, and to listen to my inner voice(and rhonda and eddie) more than i listen to the noise. because that’s all social acquaintances, social media and social status are…noise. find the ones you love, listen closely, and you’ll find your way home.