September

This September, I am trying on my new authenticity shoes. The ‘look them in the eye and be honest’ shoes. It has made me realize that so many people (including me) are afraid to have a real conversation about stuff that hurts. Maybe these are the kind of relationships I have surrounded myself with because it keeps me from having to face too much hurt as well. I remember acutely the time when I was telling my flatmate about being racially verbally assaulted on a London tube and no comfort came from her. Nothing that acknowledged the gravity of the injustice I was feeling. I also deeply regret the time my parents told me about their racial discrimination experiences and I could not come up with words of comfort and acknowledgement, so lost was I in my own anger and hurt for them. It’s hard to face the people you love when they are hurting.

This September, I told an old ex-friend exactly how I felt about her actions and why I wasn’t her friend anymore. I had given her 2 years to explain herself and she never did, so I finally broke it off. She couldn’t face me. I didn’t have much too lose because we weren’t really friends anymore anyway. On the other hand, I shied away from telling another nest friend the excruciating detail of how I had spent the afternoon writhing in pain, hopelessness, and frustration. How I wished I could have a more normal and active social life. How I hated being disconnected from my Geneva life and how much it meant that she was coming to visit me. How her visit was what I had been holding on to to get through this very strange weekend of deep deep loneliness. Why it felt so wrong to be cut out of our plans together because of my disability. What it feels like to live a muted life, made dull by a lack of variety of the experiences I reveled in before, but sharpened by pain.

This September, I had a very close friend visit my home for the first time in the U.S. It was the best day ever. It was like my heart was full and bursting and overflowing all at once. I showed her my hood, had salad for lunch, went to town on my route, went to a museum, walked around a park, came back to eat my home-cooked dinner; then we sat down to watch a Bollywood rom-com. It was perfect. I would have liked to do more and maybe we came back home too soon but aside from the pain, it was perfect.

This September, I literally positive thinked my way out of the strangest pit of loneliness. This one took my back to London, to the rainy nights and cold winds, to the feeling of having no one and that nothing could make me happy. It was like I forgot what it was like to feel connection. And what did it take? Well the desperation to pull myself out of the pit because it would be too long to wait for HD to come back from the work trip, and some passages on feeling powerless and powerful from Amy Cuddy’s book Presence. She writes how a setback in one area of life can make us lose our identity and thus make us feel powerless in other areas of life. I didn’t really get to the solutions part of her book (if there is one) but the passage was enough to make me realize what was messing me up and how it was affecting other areas of my life. It was enough for me to stop seeing myself as ‘powerless’ but just ‘normal’ in that situation. My chances are the same as anyone’s really.

This September, I finally made it to the Renwick and a saw a bit of the Wonder exhibit.

img_1736

Do you feel at home?

This post is the #week1 #oprahblogchallenge from Jammie’s blog.

I have tried to let this title inspire me many times to write a post that I wouldn’t have to completely sensor and that would make sense. No wonder that when the answer to this question is no, there is not much more to say.

I want to shout that I don’t feel at home, that I don’t belong here, and that I hide myself, letting out the real me in small doses, like a wounded animal checking to see if it’s safe. I struggle – I struggle so badly when I don’t fit in and that is all I feel sometimes, that I don’t fit in. There are few moments of peace, of connection, when I forget about being an outsider, but no over-riding feeling of security.

The truth is I don’t know how to make a home. I feel at home when I am with my parents and when I am in Geneva. I let others define home for me and make me feel at home. Even my real home, I left it and went far away. I left for adventure, to be free to be myself, and to be more at home, but really I don’t know how to do that with myself. I know how to leave places that don’t feel like home. I know how to do it over and over again thinking that I will be better off where I am going but I am not. I know how to turn around and not look back and then cry when it’s all gone. I leave pieces of myself all over the place. I wind up lonely and disconnected wherever I go. When I return, I am again lonely and disconnected because what I left behind has moved on.

This is hard but I guess I need to make a home here. I am doubtful, I really don’t know if this is the right place. It doesn’t look right, it doesn’t smell right, and it doesn’t talk right, but I am learning to embrace imperfection.  I don’t have anyone like me to show how it’s done here. I don’t have a community, a group.

I have a few friends who I try to stitch together into a patchwork network, hoping they will catch me and not let me fall through the cracks. I also have HD and a cat and some plants. I have a mostly well-functioning body despite its serious limitations. There’s a lot I can do before I run out of steam. I have a kind face, a nice personality, and most people like talking to me. I have lived and loved expansively all over the world and I can try to live and love expansively and fully right here. I can build from the ground up.

A Moment of Calm

Today I am having a moment of calm. Possibly the calm before the storm but compared to last weekend and the weekend before that and hell, the weekend before that, this feels nice. The kitten is all tired out and snoozing on & off after terrorizing us most of this morning, the laundry is done, my share of the cleaning is done. HD is calmly doing his work and hasn’t seemed to notice that we are doing jack all for Halloween. I am moving on with my work, slowly but at least moving on slowly today instead of tomorrow! Also not feeling the panic and less of the pain.

Some moments that I wanted to remember:

The day I got my kitty and we brought her home and put her in a small corner blocked off by the screen and she was running around purring like a motor boat, all excited. She was excitedly biting a little here and there too and I remember being stressed out those days. Wtf is up with this little animal? Now having been bitten and scratched and returning the favor (okay not really) we have settled on a new normal of physical contact. I remember seeing my number on her tag and feeling a sense of pride and ownership. If this little baby gets lost, I get called because it’s mine. Now I can wipe it’s silly face and caress its paws and pick it up with one hand but I have yet to cut its nails. It’s actually getting too big now for a one hand pick, but I can still hold her with one arm.

Switching the lights on in the bedroom as dusk fell today and looking out the window. The bedroom looked nice and cozy, HD and the kitty were sleeping, I was trying to read and everything felt nice and still. Everything is okay.

Some things I like

I collect many things. Like ideas, articles, pictures on Pinterest. I am not necessarily v attached to them but I thought it would be nice to have some sort of collection of ideas that moved me over the years. I suspect the kind of stuff I like is repetitive but it kind of feels like a wondrous discovery to me every time.

https://soundcloud.com/goodlifeproject/susan-cain

This is a link to an interview by Susan Cain. The takeaway: A good life is about finding your kindred spirit/s. How to find them? Think about you like to do and what you like to talk about and in what setting and environment. I  like to meet people one on one or in v small groups. I like to talk about human nature, ideas about improving efficiency, literature, movies and TV.

All I know

This is all I know. All I can handle to know right now. All that hurts and doesn’t hurt, all that’s raw and ripe to say. I am lost. Often. Last year I couldn’t believe I was back in school. I was lost with this new identity even though I threw myself in it completely. It occupied my thoughts and days and  I wondered what it was that used to occupy my thoughts and days. I couldn’t find that girl anymore.

Now I am lost that my plans didn’t go accordingly. I was so close. After getting the grades, I thought I was a shoo-in. My heart comes into my mouth, I have no idea. No clue how what I wanted slipped so perfectly from between my fingers. Over the course of 3 weeks of interviewing it was gone. Doors closed.

All I knew was desire and wanting. Wanting what I almost had and what I never had. Entwined with wanting a baby, a cat, a job, all the things that could maybe lead to belonging. Still feeling lost and not belonging. Anywhere. Not here and not in my skin.

The Happiest in the World

photo

As far as I’m concerned, Ramzan never started this year. Previous years I have tried to conjure up the routine, the rituals, the people even, to get a Ramzan feeling going. This year, with the NY heat, the crazy work and the guest at home, it seems impossible.

Appropriately, HD and I went to a 4th of July party last night. It was actually quite lovely even though I am not so much a fireworks person. Nonetheless, it was indeed quite nice being crammed on to a Manhattan rooftop with a view of Brooklyn Bridge and then to be crammed inside a smaller Manhattan apartment. But what can I say, it transformed unexpectedly to be a dancing hip hop party; the small space lent itself to an intimate vibe and it was perfect. The music, the friends, the cool summer breeze through the balcony, the old-time hip-hop to take us back to our uni days.

I have stopped resisting having to leave this place but as I spend this one last calm weekend here alone, I can’t help but feel that this was the best place ever. I don’t know why I think that because it is certainly wrong and I have had many other moments suspended in time that were wonderful in wonderful homes; but right now it’s this one and people are partying outside with loud music appropriate for a tropical island and it doesn’t bother me. It doesn’t bother me that I slept only 6 hours last night and got back late with the man that I love because I was telling him that I had such a good time with him.

I try to tell him to enjoy what he gets now because I don’t know what lies ahead and maybe the summer will whizz by and we’ll be apart and missing each other and I will swear to myself and God that I had never wanted it to be this way. Unless HD gets a job in DC sooner rather than later, we will learn to be apart. But nothing can change the fact that we will leave the best apartment that we have ever lived in. Looking at the pictures from last night, I can’t help but wonder if I will look back at our youthful and glowing happy faces and think that this was the most wonderful time. I won’t remember the angst and the struggle and the self-doubt and the ‘where am I goings?’. I will think these two people who go to rooftop parties are the happiest in the world and they don’t have a care in the world.

I like you

This is what I jotted down on my phone while I was on the train a few days ago:

“Sometimes I’m afraid nothing will feel as good as this fucking place. That nothing will be as classy, so full, and completely filling and fulling and fulfilling. That nothing will look as cool as a giant yellow cookie in the shape of a NY taxi.”

Sometimes life feels so raw and tender and good I want to bite it. Just like a crush who wooed me for months and joked that he wanted to bite me.

Yesterday when I was worn and aching and rubbing my head in a meeting that I also happened to be leading, feeling overworked and underpaid, I looked out the window onto the Manhattan skyline and couldn’t believe it. I was sitting on the 25th floor of THE non-profit institution leading a meeting. At times like these, I don’t even know how I got here. I sometimes take a minute from work when walking around to look out the giant windows to the street below. I see yellow cabs and people crossing the street and the Chrysler building and I try to breathe it all in as if the window were open. When working late, I have gone to the window to see the view at night; what is it about city lights?

This summer can just be a giant apple and I will be eating it. Get it? 😉