Marooned on an Island pt.3

I became good at projecting what people wanted to see. It didn’t help that older men would arrogantly say “Why don’t you smile?” without realizing how sexist they sound. All the negative emotions, those are my memories to examine, mine to shove into the pit of my stomach, mine to hide. Whenever the conversation of my parents came up, it became instinctive to pretend they were both still very present in my life. Over the years I learned how to respond to this question, because when people actually find out what happened, their reaction was incredibly disappointing. It is bad enough that we do not have the answers, but to carry their pity is unnecessary weight that only makes it worse. I decided it was easier to deny his death toward others, and ultimately myself.

So I did what came naturally. Seemed fitting for the concrete jungle, seeing as everybody keeps their emotions to themselves anyways. It really was the perfect place to isolate my heart. Trapped on this island of bittersweet numbness until someone would rescue me, or perhaps, I would rescue myself.

It takes a lot for me to trust someone. I learned quickly in college that partners are selfish, uncompromising and continued to see it in every relationship I attracted. I was content with close friends, both men and women, and simply enjoyed that kind of love. No need to complicate it with passion that would inevitably fade. Despite the chip on my shoulder, there was one man who slipped through the cracks and appeared as a sudden beacon of light in a dark restaurant bathroom line. He came off so incredibly genuine and caring, that I couldn’t help but let my guard down as our friendship blossomed. It didn’t take me long to figure he was also carrying a small piece of baggage, but I didn’t care. It fit so well with mine. Together we took our luggage and adventured anywhere the wind took us.

Weeks turned into months and life suddenly became purposeful. Slipping into routine, I found myself looking forward to our weekly hangouts. I had never felt this way about someone before; the calm satisfaction of knowing who you are when they are around. With each romantic dinner, with each mundane bagel morning, there was this…je ne sais quoi.

It carried on like this for a while; I was regaining trust and confidence that maybe the universe wasn’t that savage after all. Life was good. So good, my roommate and I wanted to host a celebration. We decided to throw a rooftop, speakeasy-style (later got busted) taco party on our Chinatown apartment. I invited him, and to my disappointment, he avoided the text completely only to reply a week later that he was not in town and now wanted to hang out. Thus began the conflict of my close friends urging me to ditch this joke. I was confused: how could we continue to have these movable moments, yet feel so stagnant at the same time?

As silly as it seemed, this taco party was the tipping point for me. Familiar feelings quickly resurfaced. I shouldn’t have let him in. I wasn’t strong enough to go through another heartache. I soon realized that I was depending on this person to replace the people I have lost. I had not forgotten about my best friend or father, but he was distracting me from reality. What would happen if he left me and I had to face that sorrow again? I couldn’t bear the thought of crawling back into that dark hole. So I did what I do best: I ran.

I took a life-changing trip to clear my head. It was enough to give me hope for a better future and meaning to life. Months after, my job and housing situations were stuck in this vicious cycle and once they conveniently and simultaneously crumbled, I decided to take my exit. I put in my two weeks and gave notice to my not-so-nice landlord in Dumbo. I hammered the nail on the coffin by purchasing that ticket to Norway at the end of February. I would be damned if I had to spend what is always a depressing month in this lonely city. There was no turning back now – I was leaving NYC and everyone there behind.

Yet there was one thing I didn’t account for. I was so empowered and certain of my decision that I failed to predict how he would react. I assumed it wouldn’t effect him much and wrote it off. For someone who was so uncertain about their emotions, he certainly knew how to confess them all at once. Words were flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup – the sweetest love-struct sentences one would ever hear. Perhaps I hurt his ego and he didn’t like the idea of knowing yet another woman left him because of his incompetencies. Perhaps everything he said was true and he was really bad at expressing feelings. All I knew is he was depriving me of feeling wanted and I deserved someone who wanted me. At the time, I wasn’t proud of my actions, but his words never left me. I desperately wanted to believe the best in him. After all, love makes you do crazy things, right?

Wrong. It took me three years of sorting through the confusion. It became clear that he only wanted what he could not have. What kind of person is so bitter about the breakup that they don’t want you to move on either? It was bad enough that I wasted a year of my life trying to convince myself I finally deserved love. Yet he took it a step further and prevented me from experiencing love with anyone else. I may have been miles away, yet he was controlling my actions, well aware of everything he falsely promised, later writing it off as an unhealthy time in his life. If you are somehow reading this, I forgive you for being so cruel. I am at the very least thankful for the memories shared, and hopefully showed you how to love the next woman. You certainly taught me the value of feeling secure in a relationship.

So here I am. Marooned on this island, compiled coral by coral of all the lies I have stacked. Everything leading up to this moment has been one big fantasy. I was silly to think I could actually replace someone. I subconsciously held on because I didn’t know what else to do. He reminded me both of my father and best friend, so I built up this image of someone who is not. To acknowledge that it is over is to acknowledge that my dad is gone, and Mylena as well.

Life is great at sending storms, but it also has a way of providing a life raft. Question is, will I take it? Do I know, nor care where it is going? I am so tired of carrying this self-loathing. Tired of putting my hope in false promises. Surely anything is better than this paradise of putrid.

I can now see that I deserve love. Despite my attempts to fend it off, I have wanted it all along. Perhaps you have to be deprived of all the love in the world in order to realize there is so much to be shared.

Thank you Michael, for the endless nights of listening to me babble on your boat.

Marooned on an Island pt.1 

I suppose we are all washed up on an island of our choosing. It is hard to let go of certain memories, and becomes easy to get carried away in the rip tide.

What started as a retreat to the familiar waters of the Caribbean, turned into the realization of a lifetime. I knew the basics of what I was signed up for – living off of the basics, basically. I’ve been running through life, unsure of the destination or why I feel the need to be anywhere but in the moment. It became clear that my past was catching up to me, and for once, I didn’t know how to push it back.

To understand where I am going, I must first acknowledge where I have been. Yet, my journey has been a puzzle, and for someone so strategic in the real world, I throw caution to the wind when it comes to navigating through big life decisions. The heart knows just as much as the mind during the process.

New York City.

I could argue it started many countries and cities before this one, however for the sake of time I will begin here.

New York was never on my mind. Ever. I was perfectly content living a simple life, one in which I could connect with nature and curiosity. I had just spent two magical years in small towns across New Zealand and wanted the extreme opposite to compare. I flopped between Chicago and New York, ultimately deciding I would like the subway system of the east coast. I’ll admit, at this point in my early twenties I was beyond repair looking for a place to retreat; a place where animosity knows every concrete corner and far worse souls than yourself congregate. Self-hatred does not reside in this G–forsaken megapolis. The city knows how to turn a blind eye to all your past wrongs, past hurts, and past dreams.

Like all things in life, irony quickly stumbled upon my temporary doorstep. I had just hopped off the plane, breathed the filthy air of the Port Authority Terminal and sighed with relief. There may not have been much to my name, but man did I have all the guts and guile to replace it. During this first month I was so fortunate as to live on the couch of a kind stranger, an immigrant who single-handedly made his way through University of Texas in Austin. We were comrades from the start, understanding that life does not always deal a good hand, and it takes a certain character to pick up the game so early. Everything was new, chaotic and simultaneously stimulating.

Days turned into weeks when I first heard the news. Yet something deep in my stomach knew months prior when I visited her in Italy. I couldn’t understand why I cried leaving her at the train station and brushed off the departure. The news of her death would come as a shock and foreshadow. I was alone, without a job, without a home, and so far away from anybody who knew me. The news of my best friend’s sudden passing became a cold awakening to the fleeting world we live in. I was numb for an unknown period of time, walking the crowded streets every night with black tear-stained cheeks. The city took me into her enormous, shallow arms and allowed me to shamelessly and aimlessly figure out the meaning of life. Lana Del Rey sang me through endless hours of hot water baths, one of the few things that calmed me. It became clear that I was losing grip of who I was, and who I came here to be.

Truth be told, the only people who reached out was my best friend, Phillip, and my father. Everyone else in my life was going through their own ordeals at this particular chapter. My father came as a shock, because for the first twenty years of my life, we were disconnected. It was only until I returned to America that I felt like I finally had a father who was there. Prior to this part of my life, I didn’t know the man who was around. He was quiet, strict, and taught his children how to fend for themselves. It was during my time in New Zealand that his life (along with all my siblings) changed drastically. My mom left him for traveling nursing, they sold our childhood house, and even put down the family dog, the latter two without my knowledge! It appeared a lot changed during my two years away, but one thing was clear, my father was so full of love for his children and we finally saw it.

Life has a way of closing and opening doors. While I lost a dear friend who can never be replaced, I found a new one in my father. I didn’t know it at the time, but he loved his children more than words could express and made a point to check in on me during the rough months ahead. I would later find out that his search engine had my blog as a favorite and all the years of silence didn’t matter because he was supporting from afar.

Seasons changed and I learned to cope with death, distracted by the harsh reality of living in such a fast city. Winter brought an indescribable, soft surrender; despite the struggle between bar and temp office jobs, I found peace in watching my first snow storm. The fragility of time allowed me to live each moment of exploration. Despite the setbacks and shortcomings, this was my city and she took me in when I didn’t have a home.

Congratulations, you suffered your way through this long introduction. Pat yourself on the back. You are free to carry on with your day. You are also welcome to carry on with this trilogy…