2.11. YTT

December 9, 2010.

4 missed calls. And then there was an answer. And her voice was shaky. The tears came. And I knew.

My best friend. My confidant. My puzzle piece.

He woke up and told the people in the room that he couldn’t open his eyes. And they knew he was close to the end. Because his eyes were open. He had gone blind through the night. His religious aunts called for the priest and they gave him his last rights…something I know he would find funny since he was an atheist. He spoke, his thick Italian accent flowing in his home language. He showed gratitude for his sister, forgiveness for his brother, and a message for two people so close to his heart.

A message that is mine to savor.

I can’t explain to small minds how a friendship can be so genuine, so pure, so beautiful, so intense, and so everlasting. How love can become synonymous with friend and the heart can care so deeply.

I was lucky enough to know someone who understood me, didn’t want to change me, listened, was proud of me, encouraged me, pushed me, inspired me, and taught me to never settle. I was lucky to know this person and hear words of wisdom, humor, and truth. My truth. Our truth.

It’s been two long years since that magical man left this earth. And the pessimist in me would say, “well, it’s just my luck that someone who knew me so well would be forced to leave me behind.” But the optimist in me will say that I will see him again. When it is my time to leave this earth, I will join him amongst the stars.

Because this earth wasn’t strong enough to support the bond that we had. The friendship, laughter, and love only we knew.

I miss you, Nico. I thank you for the lessons you have taught me. Someday, I will find you again. Until then, you are always in my heart.

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow.

1.158 – The Man On The Mountain

She sits.

She waits.

For something that will never come, never to be seen, never to be known and yet she cannot move.

In an endless hope, agony runs in the back of her mind beyond the seeds of elation, resting in marrow embedded with guilt.

Rivers of blood run deep, coursing through the stone, locked for eternities to come.

They build atop themselves, sheltered from light.

“Why am I deserving, love? Why should I ever know? Nothing should be so divine against me. Not after such perilous roads traveled.”

But he sits and listens, casting aside judgment though she is stricken with the thought of it, deserving it, awaiting it as it should so be delivered. But he does not, as he never really would.

The silence in his arms is deafening; a constant reminder that she doesn’t have to be on one end or the other…not perfection but not chaotically flawed.

In this room, in this space, upon his lap, within his arms…she is safe.

Stained but not tainted.

As even in the dark, he does not see the shadows of a past, the darkness of fallen moments, the marks of sins against man.

He does not point these out, he does not stare with doubt.

He sits quietly and lets her feel, reminded only that she is still alive and waits for the moment when she will smile again and be at peace – not with the world but with herself.

In this dark room, this dark space, upon his lap as night has fallen, she does not have to be flawlessly beautiful.

He sees her scars, knows them to exist despite her best attempts to hide them. Placing his hand upon her cheek, he shows her one or two of his own and smiles softly…ridding the shame from her eyes.

1.146 – National Day of Silence 4.20.2012

“Please understand my reasons for not speaking today. I am participating
in the Day of Silence (DOS), a national youth movement bringing
attention to the silence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender
people and their allies. My deliberate silence echoes that silence, which is
caused by anti-LGBT bullying, name-calling and harassment. I believe
that ending the silence is the first step toward building awareness and
making a commitment to address these injustices. Think about the
voices you are not hearing today.”

I am not a student but I am a mother.  This will be my second year participating. Thankfully, my employer was supportive of my convictions last year, as I only spoke to customers to fulfill my work duties. I appreciate the support of those around me and encourage others to participate in any way they can to show that same support to our youth. My personal Tweets, FB updates and blog posts will be down from 12am April 20th – 11:59pm April 20th.

“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.” – Mother Teresa

1.103 – A Year In The Wallet

Here is a math lesson:

A parent makes 25,240 a year. (We’re not even going into taxes…so this number is already cushioned).

So, our starting point is 25,240.

But we have to pay rent for the year. Minus 8,220 for a two bedroom apartment.

Now we’re at 17,020 for the year.

Deduct 1,500 a year for Cable and Internet. This is probably a luxury to many people. Seeing as I use the internet for my writing and to stay connected to my family back home – I don’t regret it. The cable…yeah, we could probably do without that – I’ll be honest. 

Now we’re looking at 15,520 for the year.

1,500 a year on Gas Utilities (that’s averaging for the entire year).

14,020 is our dwindling number.

Electric is a much kinder bill at 720 a year.

We’re at 13,300.

Renters insurance drops us down 180 bucks to 13120.

Childcare is a big one, taking us from 13,120 down to 9,520.

Gas for the car for the year – we’re guestimating here – is about 1,500.

Now we’re at 8,020.

Groceries/diapers…if you shop off brands and only buy what you need when you need it – 2,080 for the year.

We’re down to 5,940.

But we are still trying to pay off medical/school debts which is about 1,200 a year.

So that leaves us at 4,740.

Now, divided by 52 weeks…that’s about 91 dollars in pocket every week.

91 dollars covers emergencies, car issues, birthday celebrations, holidays, clothes, medicine, and anything else that just so happens to be needed in any given week.

Take into account that the starting amount INCLUDES child support (which we are very grateful for) and all expenses DO NOT include taxes (which we pay), car insurance and cell phone.

It’s a tight number. Very. And some days, I’m not sure if I can make it. Some days, I’m looking at my house wondering what exactly I can sell off to make sure we don’t hit a speed bump.

Why am I sharing this with you?

Today, I took my son to buy his birthday presents. I decided to stick with clothes because he needs them and because he did the toy thing just a few weeks ago for Christmas. In taking him shopping, I stopped into a local clothing store that most would define as “cheap.” Inexpensive, trendy clothes. I looked around, thinking how cute a top was and how adorable those jeans were and damn…they were only 18 bucks. I could afford that.

And then I thought about my 91 dollars for the week. I thought about my sons birthday. One pair of jeans for me is two shirts for him. One pair of shoes for me is an entire outfit for him. One entire outfit for me is a weeks worth of food for him. And so, I left the store, empty handed. I took my son to a clothing store and picked out several items to celebrate his big day.

I wish I could do more. But I’m doing what I can. I admit, sometimes I slip. I spend too much on take-out. I buy cigarettes when I know it’s just money leaking from my pocket. I buy books when I should be at the library. I put luxury in the place of necessity. I always regret it.

I’m sharing this because it’s hard. But – it is possible. I’m sharing this because I doubt myself so much on whether I’m going to make it and yet I have, for the past 10 months. I’m sharing this because I have a list of IOU’s to those people who have helped me, from a place of pure kindness. I’m sharing this because it is only through the daily support of those who love my son and I that we survive. I’m sharing this because without my son – these numbers would make me wave the white flag. I’m sharing this…for me. Because, no matter how hard it gets, no matter how much I panic, no matter how it feels like it’s all going to crumble at the drop of a hat…I’m still okay. We’re still okay.

With 91 bucks to our name.

1.66 – A Lifelong Battle

I tried jumping out of a window when I was five. Ask me why. I don’t know. I was probably sad or angry or just curious what it would be like to fly. I cant answer why that little girl wanted to jump, but she did.

Soon after getting my ass beat by my mother, I was sent to a therapist. I went regularly through the following years. Instead of opening up about the things that made me drawn to a dark place at such a young age, I learned how to lie. How to put up a show…how to wear the mask. You see, before every session, my mother would tell my sister and I that we could talk to the therapist but we couldn’t divulge anything that happened in our home. It makes no sense. I know.

I was obsessed with keeping journals from a really young age. It was the only place I could be honest and even then, I sugar coated things in case anyone read my words. I wrote in codes, using Anne Franks symbols and other forms I’d made up in my little head.

When I was eleven, my therapist asked me to bring in my journal. For several sessions, I read her the pages of my tweety bird adorned secret keeper. She just let me read. She didn’t ask questions, she didn’t make assumptions. But I was reading all of the surface stuff. And then, out of nowhere,  she asked me to read one of the pages I’d skipped. I was hesitant, but I felt like I could finally trust her.

I read the darkest pages of my journal. The pages that told of my hatred for my skin, my body, my face. My fears of not being smart enough, not being perfect, not making my mother happy. My wonders of why my father left despite the fact that I had a loving step-father. My confusion about my race since my mother made it abundantly clear she hates blacks, puerto ricans, whites, mexicans…everyone really. My curiosity over why I had no family. Why my mother drank so much. Why she abused my father. Why my body was not my own. I shared a lot and even then, I kept certain skeletons at bay. I read about how much I wanted to die. How I wanted to join my uncle in the grave so I could see if people would care when I was gone. The true testament whether I was loved. Would anyone cry at my funeral?

The therapist recommended I go away to this place, this magical place for the summer. A place upstate with other kids like me. A camp, where I could explore the outdoors, express myself and feel free. Yeah, it was probably a nut house. But at the time, I wanted to go so badly. I wanted to be free of the games, the pain and the confusion. I wanted to run from the darkness in my home, in my heart. I wanted a chance.

My father was supportive. But he was only my step-father and so he couldn’t sign for me to go. My mother had to do the honors. We talked the whole way back to the apartment. I asked my father if he thought I was crazy. If I was a bad seed. He said no. I just needed help. To love myself. And if it meant me going away, he would support that.

I had the paper in hand, ready to have my mother sign and pack my bags. This was my chance. This was going to set me free. I wouldn’t have to deal with my mothers voodoo practices, the secrets, the pressure,  or questioning myself anymore. I would be free to be a young girl.

I handed my mother the paper in her bedroom while my nephew received physical therapy in the living room. The door was closed to the bedroom so no one could hear what I was preparing to tell her. I begged to go. I listed all of the reasons this would be good for me. I waited in silence while my mother eyed the paper. She stood up and that face sent my heart in full fledged race mode. She pulled her arm back and came at me full force. I asked my mother to help me. She punched me in the face. Period. The conversation was over just like that.

Sending me away was not an option. Because then people would know there was something wrong with me. Instead, I was pulled from my sessions with that therapist and told to shut my mouth. The feelings would go away.

I’m 27. They haven’t. I question my worth every day. I don’t know what will ever make me feel whole. Maybe I was born with something missing. I used to be ashamed for my depression. For this cloud that has chased me. I used to. I battle the darkness. I fight to believe that I am worthy of good things. I struggle with my reflection, my thoughts, my emotions.

I sat on a ledge when I was five. I don’t know why. But I hold that little girl every night and try to convince her that she made it for a reason. That she has a purpose. My mother wanted appearances to be kept. But I didn’t want to fake being happy. I don’t want to fake it now. I want to be happy in my skin. In my thoughts. In my emotions.

I cannot put it on my son to make me happy in these ways. That is a burden he should not and will not carry. I struggle with the darkness every day. I can’t say whether I will win or not. But I will try.

1.51 – AMAZING…But Not Done

This year, with the inspiration of my son, my father and my best friend – I took the challenge to write a novel. 50K words in 30 days. As I write this post, I stand at 50,499 words…and I still have one more thing to write. I am not finished with this project by a long shot: editing, re-editing, hating it, loving it and re-re-editing. But I am 1000% proud that I hit 50k and that I still have the fuel to keep going. I am proud that I did this, for me, for us. For myself: to prove that I am capable. For my son: to show how amazing following your dreams can feel. For my father and my best friend: I will touch the stars for all of us.

Thank you for all of the love and support of my family and friends. I’m not even finished with the novel but hitting the mark is a milestone in and of itself.