I’m not really sure what I went looking for but somehow I knew exactly what it looked like. For months I haven’t written a single word really about what the hell it is I’m doing. Somewhere around November 2016 I lost my mind — I shouldn’t lie, I lost it in 2014. But if you take me back to November all I’ll ever think about is crying my eyes out for four hours in my Brooklyn bedroom while tripping on acid because the world was certainly coming to an end as we knew it. That December I ran off to LA for a week and then in January under a full moon in the Caribbean I decided to move across the country.
Everyone’s face did this super weird cringe thing when I said I was moving to Denver. This kinda “there’s more to this story than you’re saying” peer that shot out of the slits of their eyelids when I wouldn’t really answer their question to satisfaction. I could feel their anxiety for me pouring out of them and it was exhausting because it just sat right on top of mine like a jenga block. “Denver is so white!” was the unanimous outcry from every single person and I held back a deep laugh because the fucking world is white, man. Where the fuck have ya’ll been? I really couldn’t put it into words but this was precisely why I was leaving. The world didnt feel “better” in New York, it just felt smug-er.
When you live in your hometown for 30 years it literally does not matter where it is. The idea of the elitist coasts melts away and it just becomes a predictable place like any other. What had kept me in New York for so long was the idea that if a change was coming, if anything would be televised, it would be Live From New York. In three years I went from a kid that had been on a plane maybe a handful of times to a handful of times a month. But no matter how much I could “see myself living here” in cities all over the world there was an imperative to come back home to New Yawk. To feel the rush of running to wait, drinking too much and talking about the culture down to its threadbare hems with people who are going to change the world. But the thing about New York is when you know where to hide you can never be found by outsiders. I had been hiding in New York for a decade longer than I had planned.
As a teen I swore I would leave the continent the minute that I was old enough. My mother had been an immigrant, as had everyone in my family. I would follow the tradition and find better shores. But along the way my belief of what could be my destiny — to be somebody who told real stories and spoke for those who could not find the words — cemented the need to stay in New York. Whatever was out there in the world would not be as accessible as it was there. Home is like a shell though. You bend and grow into little wrinkles; fit in all the cracks. You move about until you’ve filled it up and then one day you try to stretch and realize there’s no more place to go. In New York I was me. I was whatever anybody said I should be and I simply filled the role. I felt however people said I should feel and only protested when I was at my wits end. Ihad lost all my instinct. I had no connection to intuition.
Since a child I read people quickly. It’s less than a skill and more like an affliction at times. I am unable to turn away energy. I soak up whatever you’re giving at a moment’s notice. But the energy I read is your end game and that confuses most people. Through your actions and words, your ultimate goal whether you are conscious of it or not, shines in my face. All my friends know about the 30 min wait: the half hour of phone scrolling silence I need when we arrive anywhere. It’s not just because I’m high. I get high because the energy is overwhelming. I must protect myself and I need time to adjust. It reads to many as me being standoffish but imagine feeling someone’s intent wash over you. By my 20s I had convinced myself that I was simply judgmental. People would often tell me that my reading of someone was wrong and I stopped fighting back. I spent so much time giving people second chances but in the end I was never wrong.
So I left home to learn how to talk back. To learn how to open up and to give up control. The thing about being an open person is that it requires the utmost confidence in yourself. The belief that you are always speaking for yourself and in that truth you are not just honest but also constantly find yourself in the presence of other truths. To have a strong intuition is not as witchy as we make it seem but to trust it implicitly is as close to nirvana as I think a human can come. But back to moving away. I was going off to molt. I had brought together so many families within the comfort of my own shell. Served as a nucleus in my own hometown. I wanted to be added to something else. I felt like I had never really put anything to the test and because of that I was floating and rotting simultaneously in the that anything that falls in the sea usually does. Familiar waters were wearing me away.
So I left but before I could leave my life changed. I fell in love on that November acid trip…to be honest I fell in love the November before that. In 2015 in California at a carnival, I spent the afternoon talking to a man. The story of how we ended up at picnic table drinking whiskey is irrelevant but I remember that I felt seen by him in a crazy way. So much so that I flaked on our lunch the next afternoon and never texted him again. But the universe brings people back to you and some sexts in May, turned into a knock at my front door in August and five days later I was praying this one wouldn’t end in tears as he asked me to consider when I could come across the country to visit. Im not the best at dating. I am affectionate, nurturing and considerate but Ido it from behind some very big walls. I have a ton of practice in telling people my story but it also allows me to hide behind my traumas which eventually become the sludge that drips on anything that feels good.
I love to date people that live far away or have a very regimented amount of time. This allows me to juxtapose how they value me against how they prioritize me within that tight schedule or that impossible distance. I always seem to find people who do not prioritize me and this part I do not yet understand completely but I do know that it is a form of control on the narrative. A self-fulfilling prophecy inherited from my mother: a woman who turned my priority into her greatest burden and always let me know it. It’s probably not hard to realize I’m reaffirming that. But either way I’m not the best at it, though I am a great person. I’m not worried about the overall quality of my character but rather how to support that in my daily life. Behind all my actions are the inner mechanizations of a Cancer. I play devil’s advocate with myself constantly, questioning how I read people, situations, emotions and anything else. I can’t date because all I do is put others needs before my own as a way to put myself down. It’s really that simple though I could dress it up in fancier words and make it an Instagram post. Worst, I do with it every kind of relationship in my life regardless of the circumstances. (What can I say, it’s part of my foundation.)
Still, I convinced myself this was going to work and all I could think about was the man who kissed me while I cried about a moron being given power over millions of lives and those who would die in the very real possibility of the end of the world. Who said “I love you too” and sent the text “I miss you more than ever.” My heart, head and even friends told me what I was experiencing was real, what I thought might never actually be possible but my gut still had me listening at the door when he went to the bathroom, checking his pupils when he came out. These things that had become ritual for me in New York while watching friends battle demons haunted us. I knew the feeling that I kept getting in the back of my neck intimately but I was being “judgmental” again, presumptive. I decided instead to learn about taking risks.
I don’t think I ever saw that man again. Not really. A Valentine’s Day weekend spent mostly sleeping next to each other, both too bogged down in our own depression, seems too dark now to have found romantic but it was in a way. I remember the moment I saw in his eyes how hard I was to love and how shocked I was that I wanted to break through my own walls so badly. Days later we kissed goodbye and made vague plans for after I’d moved to Denver. On the way home I wept because I worried I had made it too hard and my intuition said I had failed again. The move wasn’t so we could become a real thing but so I could become a real person and wake up. I needed longer than 30 minutes of silence and I wanted to do more than just scroll my phone and avoid everyone’s eyes. I needed to be alone and sort which voices were real. I hoped that when I opened my eyes what might be waiting was the same guy who wiped snot off my face and told me I was the most beautiful person he’d ever met. The one who changed his flight and still didn’t want to leave me but I never saw him again.
After two months of telling myself Denver was the right thing, I decided to keep going like I promised myself I would. I bounced to LA, ran out of more money, and spent time with friends I never get to see face to face. I flew back and forth to watch peeps accomplish personal goals from shows to weddings to babies. And I wept on every single flight because I was heartbroken again. The realest and hardest one because this time I wanted to open up but the conditions had never been right. He disappeared for months only to pop up with deflections and fake promises to explain. “Before you hate me…” he said. That sentence seemed insane. Hate? How? I wanted to get in formation and fix everything. Love everything back to normal, feel my routine work again. I sobbed because this time I really wanted to open up and I thought I had tried.
It’s of no matter now. There’s a bright light to being alone for a while: you have nothing to fix but yourself. Unanswered calls and texts offered a door back into my shell. A failure was a good reason to stay put but unfortunately this time I had done just one extra thing: I left. I kept moving even though I hadn’t moved on. I was out of the shell and without a home, literally. On couches I would check Facebook and Instagram over and over, waiting for the update that would cement how forgotten I was. That would reassure me that life and dating and love would never change even after 2,000 miles.
It’s unreal to see someone move on without you as you literally cry for them. It’s almost too devastating to be honest about because it feels utterly pathetic. There is no winning when you are waiting to be properly dumped. The difference between the day you see a picture or you don’t wouldn’t even register on any scale except that you stare at one thing instead of another. What does register is the anger that you can’t do anything about. I recognize this anger. It was the same that caused me to leave home. The feeling that I could not shed or grow because I was still tethered to something that had evolved past me so I was forced to sit by myself.
A lack of response from him was not a lack of answers for me. I turned thinking of everything that I had done wrong into thinking of where I had not stood up for myself and for my intuition. I focused on seeing the value in being right the first time and in trusting that for nobody but myself. In not comparing myself to others and affirming that my decisions were good because they were what I wanted for myself. I focused on being my own priority and in seeing the accomplishments in myself. In finding joy in my own approval and relishing being angry not just as an excuse to pity myself but as something that could be let out on my own terms; something I have a right to.
I moved because I was angry at the state of home. I moved and got angry at a man and the world at large, then I got angry with myself but in all that rage what I learned was patience. If you can be patient with yourself and your anger, your heartbreak; if you can give it time and ample amounts of space at some point you start to heal. Often it’s so overwhelming to be mad at things or people that we rush to fix it; to get answers, to alleviate the pressure. Call, text, lurk, show up uninvited but sometimes you’re simply forced to be angry without an out. But if you run with it, if you let it push you around a bit and shake you up what settles is an impregnable calm. What it creates is a need for a new home, a new space to fit your new size. You have to trust your perspective to be angry. You have to believe yourself and what you know to be true. Even if it’s just knowing that you were in love and it didn’t work out. Or that leaving home means not just shedding a physical place but a state of being. Or simply, that your intuition is always right.