Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Twenty Seven.

It's 2:30 am and we're in the backseat of our Lyft driver's car. He has these neon phone charger cords that light up and N's phone is about to die. She plugs her phone in and asks where he got them. They do look kind of cool. He thinks about it and says he can't remember. 

"Goodwill? Craigslist? Wait, no. Ebay! Ebay! Five dollars or something like that." 

The phone charger doesn't actually work and N looks at me. I smile a little bit. I'm feeling sick from the float so I sit back and try not to speak very much. The rain is making all the lights from the stoplights and neon signs melt into a glowing puddle on the streets. It's beautiful. 

N asks if I'm okay and if I want an orange. There are three of them sitting in a white basket full of Tootsie Roll Pops, Hershey's kisses and the type of mints you grab on your way out from a Chinese restaurant. 

The driver interrupts and says, "They're tangerines! Not oranges! Everyone says oranges..." 

He laughs a hearty and heavy laugh. I peel one and hold the peels in one hand and the tangerine in the other. It is surprisingly sweet. My stomach feels unsettled and my fingers are beginning to feel numb and tingly. I wonder if I'm exhausted, hungover or if the 1,200 pounds of epsom salt I was soaking in was that detoxifying. Is my body that filthy? Are my insides that messed up?

We zoom through the Broadway Tunnel and it reminds me of the film, Fallen Angels. The tunnel looks sterile and futuristic but I find it to be inviting. I start thinking how it would be nice to walk through it at four in the morning with someone or preferably alone when N reads my mind and tells me she walked through it one time and it was disgusting. Our driver drops us off at our AirBnB. The rain is gentle and there are a million drunk people around the pizza place below where we're staying. The city is red and artificially white and soggy but there is a chaotic peacefulness. Pizza is a bad idea but it's almost three in the morning. 

"Let's get pizza"

I lean on the counter and tell N that I'm going to throw up. She rests her head on my shoulder and asks me if I'm alright. I look at myself in the mirror and I am ghost white with smeared raccoon eyes and wet hair. I look like a messy drunk, I look like a disaster, I look like someone who's lover left them a bar after telling them this was it; this was enough,  I look like someone you could deeply love. I take a deep breath and feel a roll of nausea rip through my body but I get distracted by an obnoxiously drunk Asian guy telling another man he likes his socks. He babbles incoherently and takes a deep swig out of his flask. We make eye contact for a second and I look away. He hands his flask to a man in a suit next to him. The man takes a sniff and also takes a deep sip. The drunk man's eyes are shifty and I notice he's wearing a wedding ring. Where is his wife? I start imagining his life story and wonder how he got to be here. I wonder if he is happy; if he lives a happy life. By the time we leave with our two slices of Hawaiian, he is lying down on the bench.

I don't really want to talk to him but I'm forced to as he eats his slice of pizza at the kitchen table and I sit on an overly fluffy black leather couch that is in the main room. I sit down with my pizza box and look at the time. It's 3:30 am. He says hi and I say hello back. We sit there in silence for a minute. One of us speaks but I can't remember who. Maybe it was him, it was probably me. We small talk and I ask where's from and what he's doing visiting the city. I'm picking off all the pineapples on my pizza to eat them first, and I'm disappointed that there's only six. He tells me he's from Phoenix and he's here for a conference. I nod in acknowledgment, not having anything interesting to say back. I ask how old he is and he tells me he's twenty five and I tell him I just turned twenty seven. 

"I feel weird about it though. I wasn't excited to turn twenty seven...it's a limbo age. I'm excited to turn thirty. Just not twenty seven. I was pretty depressed about it actually...I don't know if anything good will happen at twenty seven..." 

My voice trails off. He scoffs at me. He's leaning against the wall and he makes a deep impression against the stark white paint. His hands are in his pockets.

"Are you not happy with your life--"

I cut him off.

"I'm really happy with my life. I'm not saying that. The lady in the Lyft understood what I was saying. She felt the same as me. She got it."

I feel stupid for trying to validate my own feelings.

"So...why do you feel this way? What are you happy about? What brings you satisfaction in your life? What are you satisfied with?"

Suddenly, I am exhausted and I don't want to speak anymore and I don't want this strange man to try to figure me out. I don't want this conversation. I don't want this man to speak to me. I don't want to tell him who I am. I close my pizza box. The only two words that are repeating in my tired mind are: SHUT UP and they're lit up like the neon signs in North Beach that scream, 'BEST GIRLS IN TOWN!!!!'.

I slip into the bedroom and I hiss to N that I can't stand men that try to figure me out. She starts laughing and asks, "Why, what happened?" But I'm too tired to explain. I turn off the lights, keep one bedroom window open and fall asleep to the sounds of her sleep, her light snores and the coughs and occasional shouts from people outside. 
When the clock hit 12 am and it was April 3, I turned 27 completely alone and it was really nice. I’m usually surrounded by loved ones but this was the first year I spent it by myself. It felt really peaceful and calm and I was just lying in bed deleting every photo in my Instagram feed and it felt very cleansing.

I have grown so much in the past two years and I’ve become so much more in tune with myself. Although there are days I struggle with how much love I feel for myself, the love for who I am and how I am is so deep. It’s real and it’s concrete. I’ve given up a lot to become happier and to be more solid and honest in what my idea of happiness is. I’ve traded ideas of comfort for solitude because solitude is what I needed to heal. My need to be honest about my happiness meant spending some nights quietly sobbing in the shower that left my whole body quivering. My need to forgive myself meant fighting thoughts of jumping off a 10 story building with a thousand more thoughts reminding myself of how much more I want to experience and feel. And most importantly, how much more love I want to give in this life. My need to be accepting towards myself often meant struggling to understand that my loneliness was a state of mind rather than a state of being. My want for something pure and honest and beautiful meant becoming more exhausted and more heart sad until I finally realized I love myself more than the hope of love from someone else. My need to embrace life as a twenty something year old left staying out too late, eating breakfast for dinner, and giving boys my number that I had no intention of ever seeing again. My need to live for me meant accepting the hurt I’ve experienced is not a reflection on my self worth and the decisions I’ve made don’t require an explanation or reason because I’ve grown so much from the woman I used to be. I don’t know that person anymore but the great thing is: I’m still so proud.