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WhyDid’s Words: Wear Your Wounds

By |July 13th, 2017|WhyDid Wisdom|

wear your wounds

“I’m ok,” I said, brushing back a loose curl.

“You sure?”

“Yeah, I’m totally fine,” forcing a smile to show just how “fine” I was.

He looked back for only a second, unconvinced, as he went through the door.  I waited for it to click behind him before I melted to the floor.  The rush of hot tears came without being called, leaving big wet polka dots on my silk turquoise robe.  They started off silently, but my sobs grew louder and more violent– noises that surely would have elicited concern from neighbors in any other city than New York.

I laid there for a while, allowing myself to feel all of the things that I was feeling and when I felt that there was no more, I slowly made my way to bed and prayed that the moonlight would be gentle with me.

This wasn’t my first heartbreak and it wasn’t my worst.  As a matter of fact, this wasn’t the first time I had found myself in a puddle of tears on an apartment floor.

why did wear your wounds

When I’d arrived back at our house in Sunnyvale to pack all of my things, I was surprised to see that he had already packed everything for me.  It was a fortress of brown cardboard boxes.  A literal wall of stuff separating us.  On one hand, I was relieved that the work was already done.  On the other, I couldn’t believe how relieved he was to be rid of me.  It was as though he was erasing me and all that we had shared for the past two years.  I never saw him again.  He only sent me a check six months later for the diamond earrings he’d bought me and later regifted to his new girlfriend.

When I later unpacked those same boxes in my West Village apartment with my mother, I found a garage door opener to our house, catnip that had belonged to his cat.

When she saw my face, she asked if I was okay.  I just smiled and said, “I’m fine.”  I probably cracked a joke.

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They say some people are like a drug.  I always thought that was terribly cliché (and he would too) until I met him.  I, a seemingly well adjusted individual, found myself staying up late, waiting for his calls.  What I once deemed late at 3am, was now considered early when I welcomed him home at 5am.  What used to anger me, merely became annoyances, and I watched as my boundaries slowly faded away.  He was both a man and a boy at the same time.  Part of me wanted to protect him, while the other part felt frightened by him.

After one particularly memorable meltdown in a motel somewhere outside of Newport, I swore I’d quit my habit cold turkey.  Like any junkie, it didn’t take long before I needed another fix.

Late into the next day, he got up abruptly and said he had to go.  He always had to go.  I never knew where.  And every time he walked out the door, I never knew when I would see him again.  I was sweating.  I didn’t know what he had given me the night before.  He asked me if I was okay.  I murmured, “I’m fine.”

After he left, I crawled to the bathroom where I spent the next three hours on the cold tile floor.

wear your wounds nyc

I walked into his office smiling.  I’d been to several doctors before for the same reason.  He didn’t smile back.

He said, “How are you feeling today?”

“I’m fine,” smiling again.

He asked me to briefly describe my symptoms: dry skin, fatigue, change in hair texture, bloating, weight gain- which I prefaced feeling guilty even saying because I was still considered small by “American standards” (he brushed this off).  After taking some notes and a brief pause, he asked me, “So, what’s stressing you out?” and motioned for his assistant to grab a box of tissues from the shelf.

I looked at him stunned for a moment then cocked my head.

He raised his eyebrows as if to signal for me to proceed.  I rattled off a few mundane details: delinquent clients, family drama, boy troubles.

“What is your addiction?”

“My addiction?”

“We all have an addiction.”

“Well, I think I probably drink too much wine.”

“No, that’s not it.”

“No?” I was both relieved that I could carry on with my wine habit but also puzzled.

“You’re a love addict.”

“A what?”

Love addict.  You really just want to be loved.”

I was silent.

His assistant handed me the tissues.

wear your wounds

“You know we would have never been friends if we’d just passed each other on the street, right?”

Christine had been cleaning my apartment for three months and in that time we had become very close.  I’m not sure how we started talking, but once we did, it was endless conversation spanning everything from religion to dating to the everyday drama of living in the city.  Two young women from two incredibly different backgrounds forging an improbable bond.  It was like a poorly scripted Lifetime movie.  She was from the Bronx and had three young children.  She was raising them on her own and had had a very tough childhood, growing up in foster homes and finding a way to stay close to her sisters when they were split apart.

I grew up in what appeared to be a picture perfect home with two loving parents and two older brothers in a beautiful home with all that I could have asked for from the outside looking in.

We laughed after she said that.  I said, “Oh yea, you’d be like, ‘Look at this prissy white girl and her white dog!'”

She snorted and scooped up the dog, “No, I’d never make fun of Smitty.”

“Hey!”

We started laughing again.

Her phone rang and she asked if I it was okay to get it.  It was her sister.  I said of course and she went into the bathroom to take the call.

She came back a bit more somber and I asked her if everything was alright.  She said, “Yeah, I’m fine.”

I knew she wasn’t.  I knew her mannerisms by now and I knew that she always kept a strong facade for everyone else, but I didn’t want to push.  We were quiet for a bit and she went back to cleaning and then she started to sing.  She has the most beautiful voice.  Something like an angel. Part way through the song I heard her voice waver and I looked at her and I saw that she was crying.

I went to her and we sat down on the floor and I held her and we cried together.  I didn’t ask why.

wear your wounds new york

I woke up insecure and groggy.  I looked over half squinting.  The old “if I can’t see you, you can’t see me trick.”  My hair, a halo of golden curls like the ones I despised as an eight year old girl overtaking the white pillow.

“How did I get so lucky?” he said.

“What?”

“To wake up to someone so beautiful and booksmart?”

I smiled, “I look like a crazy person.”

“No, I love your hair like this.  You should never wear it straight again.  This is you.”

This was the same hair that I had battled as a child and was disappointed to see return recently along with all of my other recent symptoms.  I suddenly felt safe.

We got up and walked arm and arm to get coffee before he went to work.

“You gonna walk home?” he asked.

“Yep.”

He kissed me goodbye.

Who knew we’d end at the beginning of this story.

kirsten smith

I was talking to my dad one day because I couldn’t remember much from my childhood, which frightened me.  I told him that I really just remembered being a shy little girl hiding behind my mom’s skirt.  He audibly laughed.

“You?  You were the furthest thing from shy.  You had all the boys in the neighborhood including your older brothers following you around like puppies.  You were the ringleader.”

“What?”

“You’ve gotta be kidding.  You were the same little girl who used to stand at the top of the stairs and yell, ‘Catch me!’ and jump hoping somebody caught you– We always did, by the way.”

I hadn’t really ever thought of myself that way.  I’d engrained in my head, instead, that I was shy and awkward and I’ve lived a lot of my adult life as such– despite what my Instagram may suggest.

I started to wonder how such a brave little girl had become the scared, insecure, beaten down, self critical woman I am today.  And I realized that we (I) have created impossible standards for ourselves.

We say we are more connected than ever and that may be technically true, but I’ve never seen a society so disconnected.  People no longer know how to communicate.  No one bothers to strike up conversations with strangers– most likely because they don’t even see the stranger next to them since they’re looking down at their phone liking a photo of a stranger in Siam.  There is no real sense of community and there’s a reason why young people are incapable of commitments and IRL quality time.

We’ve become a culture of  “okay.”  When people ask how we are, we always answer “I’m fine.”  And in most cases, we are anything but fine.  We spend so much time making our digital lives look perfect that we forget to check in with ourselves and each other to see how we are really doing.  Heaven forbid we say, “You know what, I’m having a really bad day and I’m really struggling.  I need your help.  Plus, I have this pimple and that sucks too.”

So that’s how Wear Your Wounds was born.  I got sick of making myself physically sick trying to live up to the unachievable standard of perfection. WYW was created in the hope that we could all just be really honest about who we are, how we’re feeling, and what we are dealing with.  The more honest we are, the less scary it is to just be ourselves.  The more we are ourselves, the more we can see we are all the same.  I lived for years feeling like a fraud and worried that someone would “find me out,” but finally realized that I didn’t really care anymore.  I’m not perfect.  I’m not always “fine” and there were times I reached some very scary, very low points.  I was fortunate enough to have loving support to get me through those times and now it’s my turn to do that for you.

Sometimes the bravest thing we can do is be brave for someone else.

kirsten smithSHY Short Sleeve Tee 

Photos by Michael Stiegler

WhyDid’s Week, April 2

By |April 5th, 2017|Uncategorized|

santa monica pier boardwalk

You’re much more interesting when you’re gone.

A melody remembered,

A distant song.

He said, “Inspire me.”

She asked, “How?”

She left without an answer

And he’s left wondering, “Where are you now?”

WhyDid’s Week, March 26

By |March 27th, 2017|Uncategorized|

spring flower district new york

The further I get

The stranger it seems

I once was unable

To escape you in my dreams.

The more time that passes,

The longer I go

How strange it seems

You’re someone I know.

WhyDid Words: Fear and Loathing…

By |March 24th, 2017|Uncategorized|

wynn las vegas

“Did you know it is New York state law that you can’t buy alcohol before 8am?”

“It makes me sad that we are even trying to buy wine before noon.”

Kate laughs.  Her long white blonde hair covering her porcelain white skin.  She tucks it behind her ears revealing her eerily clear green eyes.

“Fuck it.  We’ll get some on the plane.”  Her Australian accent even makes curse words charming.

We struggle with our bags all the way to the gate.  I’m not even sure what we packed or why we packed as much as we did for a long weekend.  I think I always have a moment of panic towards the end of packing when my strategic outfit count goes out the window and I just start throwing random things into my suitcase– just in case.

A little eyelash batting had gone a long way at check in as both of us had gone over the allotted bag weight.  The same can’t be said for the restaurant where we attempted to procure two glasses of pre-flight, mid-hangover champagne.

I’m not sure how I even ended up agreeing to this trip.  I hate Las Vegas, but I love my friend who is in town from Tulum.  How this beautiful Australian ended up in Mexico is a longer story than I have time to tell.  We are meeting a few of her friends from Mexico City where everything is said to have been “taken care of” for us.  She had to do a good bit of convincing to get me acquiesce, but I trust her.  I have since the first time we stared up at the moon together on top of The Standard.  The best way I can describe her is an alien.  She’d take that as a compliment.

We finally board and take longer than most passengers to settle into our seats.  Maybe we are still slow from last night’s events or we just have more belongings than anyone else, most likely a combination of both.  She takes the seat closest to the window.  I nobly take the middle, praying that no one has reserved the aisle.  I pull out a book, Black Tickets, and hope that I can fall asleep before we take off as I often do.

Then my mind starts to wander.  I remember the last time I was in Las Vegas.  Much different than the first time, nearly five years prior.  The last time I set foot in the city of sin, I nearly got married.  Not in a drunken fit of fun that would have left me with much more than a hangover, but I had been with my ex as he had been hired to photograph the opening of The Cosmopolitan and they realized that they had no one to be the first couple married in the chapel.  He looked at me through his checkered glasses and shrugged, “Should we just do it?”

I considered it.  My father would be thrilled at the prospect of not having to empty his bank account for a wedding.  My mother would never forgive me for not being there.  He told me I had a few hours to think about it.  I took a nap instead.

Before I could come up with a good reason for opting out, he called to tell me that someone had volunteered.  I went back to sleep until he was done shooting.

I was jolted back to reality as the plane started to move, at which point my good luck had already begun– no one next to me.  Kate grabbed my arm and squeezed it.  Her enthusiasm never ceases to amaze me.  She makes it hard to have a bad attitude.  Kate’s sunny outlook can make you feel guilty for being anything but positive.  I smile back at her and then we both stare out the window, dark sunglasses protecting our bloodshot eyes from the early morning sun.

I flip my book open and try to distract myself.  I make it through a few pages before Kate’s gasp startles me, dropping my book.

“What?  Are you ok?”

“Look!” she says pointing to the panel next to her seat.

I burst into a fit of laughter, although there is nothing funny about her discovery.  The panel is popping out and you can feel the cold air coming in through the space.  She sticks her hand in the space and my laughter only gets louder.

“We are going to fall out of this plane!” she says, green eyes wide, as she pushes the call button to attract the attention of a flight attendant.

It takes a few minutes for anyone to arrive and as Kate expresses her concern about the panel and inevitable end of our lives, my laughter only intensifies.  The flight attendant assures us that there is nothing to worry about though her face deceives her.  She suggests that she’s going to bring us some wine to make reparations for our stress.

“Well, you’re finally getting your wine,” I manage between my fits of giggles.

Kate stares at me and then bursts into her maniacal laughter.  “This is NOT funny!”

We continue laughing until the flight attendant returns with four mini bottles of wine for us.  Surely, she doesn’t think that is going to keep us from fretting for the next four hours.  We clink clear plastic cups and I think Kate took hers down in one large gulp.

Eventually, a combination of the laughter and wine lull me into a light sleep, waking now and again to readjust my neck.  Sometimes startling myself from my own snores.  I groggily look over to see Kate asleep.  Head resting on the same faulty panel.  I smile and fall back asleep until I feel the plane make contact with the runway.

I never thought I’d be so happy to land in Las Vegas.  In a city so full of sin, surely we’ve met our guardian angel.

wynn las vegas hotels

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Photos by Skinny K

WhyDid’s Week, March 19

By |March 20th, 2017|Uncategorized|

rainbow shadow

For something to change, something has to change.