#OrdinaryStories Sad Cherries

I’m here because I’ve been challenged to write! And so I did! This is a writing challenge posed by the Mandarin Mama, Virginia Duan.

She wrote on her blog, “If we want to hear our stories, we need to write them. If we want to read our truths, we need to declare them.” Well, let me declare it girl…

Oh, man. Memorable bathroom stories? I have ones from very, very recently. And I have ones from a LONG time ago. I think a lot has gone down in bathrooms for me. Feels unusually high for 33. But what’s the one I’m gonna actually dish on? Much to the chagrin of my dear troll, I mean friend Virginia, I think I will actually tell one that is non-sexual. In fact, it’s lightweight gross-out. So read on at your own risk. (muahaha/organ flourish)

So it’s a great coming of age story predicated on a wealth of support (literally) from my grandfather in my choice to move from Orange County, California to Brooklyn, New York. I was fresh from having backpacked around Brazil, Europe, and New York for 3 months, and I had decided New York was going to be my new home. For whatever insane reason, my grandfather helped (paid) for that all to happen. But, you know, I had to get a job when I got there.

All my stuff arrived, I was staying with a friend of my aunts, things were KIND OF WEIRD FOR A WHILE THERE, but it was mostly innocuous. But it was 2008, and you know things were pretty lame in the United States around that time, particularly lame one might say. I attempted to get a job in an office, crossing my fingers it would be a non-profit, much the same way I gained employment after graduating from college. I literally walked around to different temporary employment agencies, submitted my resume, took different proficiency tests in a Microsoft word, excel, power point, the whole freaking SUITE. Also, yes young people, they were literal tests to prove you were proficient, you didn’t get to just SAY you know how to use it and Google your little heart out later.

In the meantime, I was consistently on Craigslist looking for different entry level jobs that I thought I could do, and I ended up signing up for one of the infamous “do you have a minute for ______” clipboard jobs. The pay was reasonable! If I recall correctly, not for actually supporting yourself 100% but it definitely worked for my situation. I went in to interview, they liked me, because nobody doesn’t like Justina, and I got the job!

Huzzah, it’s my first job in New York! (mostly my first job)

The day before I started I got a phone call from a former college professor that another college professor of mine, and my mentor in a lot of ways, had been murdered. And no one had known for three days.

Patrick my Australian friend staying with me at the time tried to cheer me up with magic tricks. He was not an emotional dude and I imagine this was probably one of the most extreme emotional moments that he had ever encountered. But to his credit, he did a fantastic job of keeping me company while I processed the gravity of what I had learned. I just remember being gutted and totally frozen.

All I wanted to do was watch Alfred Hitchcock and eat cherries. I ate a whole, probably VERY EXPENSIVE, bag of whole paycheck cherries that night. Does anyone in the class know what cherries will do to you in great quantity? Anyone?

Well here’s what the fuck happened to me.

It didn’t hit that night. I went to sleep in a bed of grief and woke up racing with my friend Patrick to get from Brooklyn into New York city proper via the subway. I wasn’t feeling great, but that’s to be expected after that news right?! And though I won’t try to explain the whole New York subway system, basically about 2-3 stops into my trip of maybe 10-12, things….were…not…okay…in…my…butt.

I also felt nauseous. But! I wasn’t thinking about my murdered mentor…let me tell you THAT. I was thinking, “I have to get to this job, and on time but also I might need new pants in that process….how can I achieve the former without the latter?” You’re thinking it’s impossible!

I did not believe in impossible. So I held on *SOMEHOW* to get to a stop that I knew had a bathroom (Atlantic Ave, pre-Barclay). I ripped myself through the opening doors of the subway car, tore up a flight of stairs, I think, and whipped into a bathroom. I made it!

I should go home now, right? This day is just…not a good day to start a job. Call in, tell them what happened. They will TOTALLY understand. It’s a clipboard job! Come on! But listen, ladies and gentleman, those sound like the coherent and well-reasoned thoughts of an adult. I was on some, well I’m glad I made it and THAT’S out of my system. Much to yours and I’m sure Patrick’s disbelief, I got back on the subway. Headed straight to the job in Bryant Park. So many stops away….

Yeah, it wasn’t over. I don’t remember much about that train ride between the stop I got back on the subway and getting off…I just remember once again RIPPING myself out of the subway doors, literally running to this job, hoping to be on time, but also DESPERATELY needing their bathroom. And when every stair was a risk and a misery, it was in this tiny space, inside a building, that seemed to have all the stairs in the universe. I finally got into the building and asked to use the bathroom. There were more stairs to the bathroom. Steep irregular ones.

Ya’ll. All I can say about this “most memorable” thing in a bathroom is it happened to Randy on South Park, and the best metaphor might be Aaliyah’s “back back, forth and forth” *sigh*

And I don’t understand why after the extremely traumatic events that I lived in that bathroom, I left it and decided to go ahead and work a full day in the summer sun in Chelsea, asking people if they had a minute for gay rights, and if they’d like to donate money.

My heart was broken, my body was in full revolt that I wouldn’t respect that, but my resolve was strong to stay and make it work in this city, that day. Because although my professor would NOT have approved of what all went down, he definitely would have laughed, and probably told me I definitely had what it takes to make it in New York.

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