You can’t know my pain unless you have a chart that’s ruled by Pluto and Neptune. I’m no stranger to the darkness. I was born in the dark, I live in the dark. There are no shadows here. You can’t know my pain unless you’ve met my mind, precariously ruled by Mercury. I’ve spent most of my life trying to get the hell away from it, simultaneously my greatest asset and my greatest liability.I spent years damaging it, trying to drown it, hoping it would turn defective and shut the fuck up. But it ticks on, endlessly, relentlessly, tormenting me and teaching me all at the same time. I tried to end its ceaseless chatter, but eventually I conceded. I can’t win this anymore than I can end this. I wish the universe had let me go a long time ago, had allowed me the great privilege of leaving, but Pluto spoke against my wishes. I watched the blood drip, not because I wanted to harm my body, but because my body needed to feel something.And pain is as good as a feeling as any.It’s synaptic, it speaks, it a sensory lifeline that I could hold onto. And it worked for a little while. but scars spoke louder than my need for a synaptic response and I eventually had to stop, mostly because outside attention and inquisitions didn’t understand, pain is pain. Pain is not asking for attention. It’s asking for peace.At least that’s all I wanted. Some fucking peace and quiet away from myself. To be free from…me. I fed my virgo mind with science, its appetite is voracious. Mine is a mind that never tires, it keeps turning long after I’ve tired of it. the drugs and alcohol never stopped it, if I was lucky it slowed a bit, enough that I could operate on everyone else’s level, instead of always being a decade ahead. Why am I writing this? I’m writing this because Ive learned over three decades that I can’t stop this, so I surrender to it. But if I can do one thing before I go, I just want you to feel less alone. It was all I wanted when I was battling adolescence. Doing this for you makes me feel like I’m doing it for that little girl I was once too. Giving it away is giving it back to myself, all at once.
I struggle with sharing my writing. It’s how I process my emotions, how I work through my problems. I can see my emotions on the page and dissect them here. They are scattered stars in my mind, Augustus Waters told me his thoughts are stars he can’t fathom into constellations and I share his sentiment. I embrace my vulnerability here, the blank page has never betrayed me. It listens patiently, abstains from any judgement, allows me to believe something with fervent intensity, and says nothing when I abandon those beliefs in the next breath. But to share this with one person, much less the world is a breach of intimacy. The closeness I share with the blank page is mirrored only by the closeness I feel with characters from the written world. My companions, my best friends, they anchor me in a way that realBreathing human souls can not. I write in the darkness, and I live in the light. If My writing can make me feel a little less alone, then I won the battle today.And if my writing can make you feel a little less alone, then you won yours today, too.
The things you own begin to own you….-Fight Club
So I was at the mall today, attempting to buy a new pair of jeans. God, I hate jean shopping. But I did manage to snag a not-to-horrendous pair of jeans from Express, along with a few clearance tees.
I also wandered through the mall, searching for the holy grail of shopping: The perfect purse and the perfect pair or boots.
Now, I already have two perfect, no wait, three perfect pairs of boots, and some pretty close to perfect purses. But my purses are always either too big or too small and two of my boots have stiletto heels, while the other is a platform. I was searching for the perfect sized functional purse, and flat knee high boots.
Alas, I wandered the mall in vain. I found nothing.
But….I did find a whole lotta other stuff that I absolutely HAD to have. Well, actually I thought I had to have the stuff, but once I left, I realized I didn’t really need the stuff, and I already have plenty of cute stuff at home.
I’ve been thinking about the stuff I wanted to buy. And the stuff I wanted to buy wasn’t really about the stuff. It was more about what the stuff represented. And what the sweaters and coats and shoes expressed about me.
And I realized that the stuff that I wanted, the real things that I want to own, are things that I cannot buy.
I think this is true for us all.
The things that we wish we owned are things that we cannot buy.
Some people try. They buy drugs and hope that they will own their happiness. They buy cosmetic surgeries and hope that they will own their self-esteem.
So I got to thinking…..
What do I want to own?
What do I already own?
I want to own my sexuality and stop being afraid of it. Sometimes I manage to capture it for a few hours, usually under the influence of alcohol. I want to own that thing that makes me magnetic, that makes me electrically charged, that makes me confident and unafraid of what everyone around me thinks.
I want to own my happiness. I want to find that happy go lucky person that resides inside of me, that person that I rarely see, that person that rarely emerges long enough for anyone else to get to know her. That smiley, cheery faced, chatterbox child-like persona that belongs to some piece of me that I, myself, have not met. The happiness that I do find, or rather, the happiness that manages to find me, does not belong to me. It belongs to everyone around me, can be taken away by anyone around me, can be enhanced by anything around me, can instantly vanish if I am not careful, if I look too hard at it. I want a happiness that is all my own, that comes from within.
I want to own a happiness that cannot be blown out by the wind.
What do I already own? I own my intelligence. I am confident in my abilities in the academic playground. I am certain that when I want to do something, when I want to learn something, no matter the difficulty I face, I will do it, I will learn it. My intelligence has always been my most prized possession.
I am not always sure if I am a pretty girl. But I am sure that I am a smart girl.
Most recently, I have discovered that I own my ability to love. I have not always owned this, have not always understood this. But then again, I have not always loved myself. The hesitation, the discomfort, the overall itchiness I used to feel with love, that desire to strip it off, cut it out, run away from it, no longer resides inside of me. I’ve grown quite comfortable in this new emotion and my ability to express it. Receiving it has been a battle, and though I do not always receive it gracefully, I have learned how to receive it.
What do you own? What belongs to you?
I don’t totally know how I got here. I can tell you the story, but I don’t completely understand it myself.When I look back, it feels like a snowball that gained momentum and took me with it. It started with something small. I took a risk. And from that risk, I took another. And the questions in my mind slowly started to change from why to why not? The narrative started to change from “I can’t” to “why can’t I?”I watched someone do something that seemed impossible and then wondered what made them so different from me. A cousin I didn’t know that well went on a medical mission to Honduras. “That’s so cool” I thought, but I could never do that. And then one day an email from a neighboring medical school landed in my inbox asking for pharmacy student volunteers to travel to Antigua, Guatemala. I didn’t know anyone at this school nor did I have any idea what this would be like…but I took a risk and I said why not? and I replied with a yes. I was the only one in my class of 105 to reply. I went to Antigua for two weeks, met people that changed my life and flipped my world upside down. Suddenly the word “impossible” carried less weight and staying in comfort for the sake of feeding my fear felt foolish. My risk paid off in great rewards. It pushed me and inspired me to follow the fear. Do the next scary thing, not the next safe thing. I moved to California to follow my (then) dreams. I took more risks, albeit smaller ones, safer ones. I went to Nicaragua on a veterinary medical mission with a group of students I had just met a few weeks prior. I found one of my best friends on that trip and she awakened a bravery and fearlessness in me I didn’t know I had. I knew how to be brave when I had to survive, when bad things happened. But I didn’t know how to be brave for the sake of fun. Two years later I was flipping through a magazine and I read an article on yoga retreats in Bali. I thought Maybe one day I can do that. And then I thought…why not now? What am I waiting for? I’m miserable and lonely. I hated both of my jobs, but kept trying to make them work because admitting unhappiness was parallel to admitting defeat. (Turns out they are not one in the same). So I booked the retreat and a plane ticket and I took my first solo trip across the world. And I stopped letting my pride weigh more than my unhappiness. I left Northern California and relocated to Southern California. A month before Bali, a friend of mine was posting pictures on Instagram from a clinic in Kenya. A medical mission that was relatively new. I wanted to go. It seemed impossible, but the challenge attracted my attention and solidified my intent. If I said I would make it happen, I was bound by my leonine integrity to see it through. And so I emailed him, added my name to the roster of volunteers, and bought a plane ticket. Two months after that, I found myself in Antigua again, volunteering and having fun. Six months after that I boarded a plan to Iceland for my 30th birthday. From Iceland, I went to Denmark and Sweden. And that’s how this story goes: every 4-6 months, I booked a ticket and traveled. Antigua (for the 3rd time). Belize. Thailand. I’m currently in Morocco. Still not sure how I got here. I’m traveling with someone I met on that very first trip to Antigua. You take a risk. It opens a door. You take another risk. It leads to a new path. You walk it and create footprints where there are no trails. There is no one to follow, but my instinct and intent. My instinct tells me where to go and my intent ensures I follow through. If I can’t be what I say I am, then what good are these words? I grew up looking to my elder cousins to carve out new paths, to create new possibilities. I thought my older cousins would break culture and defy tradition. and they did, in their own ways. In ways that were risky for them. They married outside of Gujarati culture. They got divorced. But I was waiting for more. I was waiting for someone to create a path that showed another life. Adventure and Travel and Identity and Financial freedom. I was waiting for someone to say there was more to life than marriage and motels. But one by one, they all succumbed. They all fell prey to our social conditioning, they all followed the premarked path. I don’t know how I got here and I still can’t tell you. All I know is that there is more, I can FEEL it, and now I’m the one that my younger cousins look to. And I want another path for them. It feels like playing Super Nintendo when you’re a kid…passing a difficult level of super Mario brothers that stopped everyone else from progressing…it feels like I’m watching the other paths open up to them so they can play on. (If they so choose). But i have to keep advancing so they can see the map. This world is big and beautiful and this life is long and lonely and we’ve paid our price already. Many of us sacrificed our childhood for the sake of the greater good, for the family, for community, for lifelong security in this suffocating safety net. It’s time to stop sacrificing our identities. And our parents didn’t play by the rules, they broke them. They left everything they knew to create a better life. They didn’t stay inside their comfort zones. they let their wanderlust gene bring them to the United States. But in their success, we sacrificed. We didn’t dream big, we dreamt of what we already knew. Financial security, another hotel, a big wedding and more kids that grew up in or around hotels. Maybe a nice car. Our dreams stopped there. And we were taught and trained not to take risks. Stay in the comfort zone-they said. Marry what you know, run the family business and you will be secure. Happiness was a luxury and having an identity seemed disgraceful, selfish even. How dare we think about what we want or what makes us happy? Traveling is extravagant and having a dog was another mouth to feed. The joy these things bring you are irrelevant because you are wasting money. Your growth and experiences and personal development was wasting their money. What is this money for anyway? I still don’t know. All I know is this all started with one risk that built on itself. I just bought my first house at 31 years old. But I’ve spent the last ten years building its foundation. and No matter what happens, I know with all my heart and soul that it won’t crack. You can blow the house away with Kansas winds, you can make it crumble under California’s expensive consumer driven culture, but you can’t crack it. I laid down concrete that is composed of risk and reward, over and over again, following nothing but my instinct and my fear of sameness. If I could predict what was gonna happen, if I could see the rest of my life laid out in front of me, I knew the choice was wrong. If my decisions didn’t scare me to my core and make me feel crazy for making them, then I knew I was cheating myself out of something bigger. I stopped being afraid of a life I didn’t know and began to be afraid of a life I did know. I finally earned the right to write my own rules and decide my own values. But it all started with one risk, by replying to one email.