Monday, September 7, 2015

On the Waterfront

Tomorrow I go back to school. I went with my twin and her husband and baby to a place along the waterfront, down in Jersey City.

It doesn't seem real, my old life now. I am such a different person. I pick up my pen, and think of writing, but this is the first thing I have in a year.

There was a storm. I was in it.

There was an accident. I was in it.

The WTC is now the Freedom Tower.

It is so much to put in a five word sentence.

I have almost graduated.

These are things you will never realize when I walk in a room, shake your hand, smile, and say, "Hi, I'm Jessica."

Or maybe you will, because you read this.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Memorial Day

I live with a soldier. He doesn't wear war on his face, but it's there with him. It's in his silence, the normal conversation civilians have discussing the news. I woke up today,dreaming of Eric, my friend who died in Iraq.I missed his funeral. My friend Allison was an Arabic linguist. I have war all around, but remember my dad telling me about Vietnam,about his entire fraternity enlisting,drunk. His friends died in an unpopular war. Then-I remember him telling me I was lucky,our generation had had nothing happen,nothing to challenge us, nothing to make us aware. Then,the WTC happened. Then, Iraq. Then the Recession. I go to Hunter,I go to a school where every student has fought for an education. I deal with teachers who believe students are entitled. I don't see that. I see resilience,and hunger. My life changed when I was 26. I will never take anything I have for granted ever again. People die for the right to learn, the right to be free, the right to pursue happiness. I think of that every time I walk into my school now. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

One Year Ago Today-Sandy

I am over jokes about hurricane parties.I am over traveling.I am over people telling me I am "Stronger Than The Storm." Most people who say these things mean well, but really-I am not a true navelgazer, and adding several years on rebuilding after a decade of recovery after injuries is,well, really insulting. I do not want people telling me to  "let my feelings wash over me". I am over my walkabout.I am over being inspirational.I just want to go home. I know there isn't one, though, and that stings. I miss my city,I miss my waterfront,I miss my coffee-I even mis things that were gone from before,like my cat,Gizmo. I have grown up,yes-in ways that I had no idea needed to happen, and I have formed new friendships, as well as realized who my real friends are. I had to bow out of being a bridesmaid with virtually no notice for the bride.I became my own family, the person I needed to rely on, and my invitation to all had to be ,"This is my ride.Stay if you want.Leave if you don't." I took no mercy.I learned that the men I will date fall into two categories-the ones who understand, and the ones that have no idea that even if I am not talking incessantly about Sandy,I still am a refugee. I changed my major from psychology, because-well-I have no business treating patients when I am perilously close.I am adamant in my need to take care of myself,because I am my own home. That may not make sense to anyone, but it's been a year of sporadic apartments, and,while I have lived with roommates and friends-this was my sadness to bear. I spent a lot of time alone-wanting to just reaquaint myself with my new life.And,believe me-it's new.It's like running up a flight of stairs and coming back down to a whole new landscape.
     The day of the storm,the day I didn't leave wasn't because I was being a hero, or trying to outwit nature-I had a headache. So that headache made me stay in bed and not really look at my phone.My sister left to go to her friends.I had no idea there was an evacuation.My architect called-he invited me to his place.I said no-then,when I changed my mind,the Path was taken out of service-I couldn't go. I sent him pictures of me cooking.He laughed and said he had no idea I was so domestic.I stayed dressed. My apartment flooded strangely,with 12 feet in the front, but the back being dry-and that was how I managed to get my door open.I grabbed my laptop-the one I am typing on, and my purse-and waded into water up to my waist.I had a staircase in front of that door-and held on,feeling the water grab me, and managed to jump onto the stairs going up to my landlady's place.I knocked on her door, soaking wet and freaked out.She was,too. There were 4 of us, me, her, her boyfriend, her very sick brother, and her brother's home aide. I became roommates with her brother, and we watched the water.As soon as Artie's pick up was covered,we started wondering if we should get everyone upstairs.The water was over my head.We fell asleep,finally.No lights, but cards, and my twitter. After the water went down...two days later-I volunteered to go see what was out there. I went to get cigarettes. The deli had no lights, but they had cigarettes.I found a charging station. And then-I started going through my apartment. I found my mom's photos.I tossed the rest of my life.

Special thanks:
Pat Rubino

And every single person who told me it would all be ok in the end.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Gulf Sunset

I wonder sometimes what I will remember this year, what will remain,what will become blurry. I think of the rocky month getting to know my dad and his fiancee,which may be the hardest situation I have ever been in-which is saying quite a lot actually. I still look at my father and see the man he was,underneath the new life. I see the man who didn't know how to talk to children,so he brought me up to his level as a girl.I talked politics, and law before art,actually.I was pretty happy to.I remember refusing to sit at the kiddie table at a friends, much to the other mother's dismay.I remember Mrs.Bontecou telling me it was adult time. I had no idea what "adult time" meant. I won, I think and ended up sitting with my parent's at dinner. I still think I was a terrible child, and never learned many of the games my friends played. I loved my mom-and the more I meet other people in this world, the more I realize how great a person she was. But as a kid-my father was infinitely more interesting. He'd buckle me in-and off we'd go.Alone. I loved that time.My friends loved him,too. I remember a game of "Let's get lost" in his car filled with little girls, all going on a wild adventure, we knew not where. (This game was a favorite.We'd get in my dad's car and say "left" or "right" randomly. We usually ended up about 40 miles away from our house. We would sing Willie Nelson or Air Supply, with some Julio Iglesias. It was great. ) My father also has a faith in me that sometimes feels unearned. It is daunting and touching. He's a kind man -he picks up strays.He is getting a scooter for the beach and a dog. He's excited.
     We went for Mexican once. We looked at the Gulf.He tells me his life is different now. There's silence.He says he misses her. I nod.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Rearview Mirror

I have avoided writing about my family out of sadness.Sadness because so much has changed since my mom died, and since I had my two accidents, which happened the December after my mom died. I think the worst part is my dad. He couldn't cope-he couldn't cope with me being hurt, and while he handled some of my legal stuff, I never felt understood-or like he was able to be supportive.I understand, as my therapists have pointed out, that many people can't cope with someone who is hurt the way I was hurt. I know that the memory stuff lost, and the pain were not visible-but I see my father doting on every stray animal, and asking waiters how they feel, hurts. I am tired of explaining, and tired of trying to bring him into the world I have now-the one where I think about how to rebuild my life.And I get really angry sometimes, because he preaches that family is the most important thing ever.And doesn't seem to understand..I am family. I am staying here and trying to sort out my post Sandy life-and all I can think is-my mom would never have let this happen. It has destroyed us. I no longer feel like his daughter.I feel like an afterthought. Think of it like this-if someone were sick or in pain, don't you think they would will themselves out of it if it were possible?I come from a very difficult family, but knowing this and experiencing it is two different things. All I would tell him-if he would listen, is that it isn't my fault I got hurt. And I don't think we will ever be ok again.It's a mess.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What happened to me

They say that when you die, your life flashes before your eyes. I don't know about that, being alive, and all-but... I will say this. When I was hit by the car, right before it struck me, I heard a voice say "up". And I jumped. As the car made impact-I saw flashes of what I hadn't done yet. I was holding a very small baby, a girl. I was taking a bow on a big stage-bigger than any I had ever performed on. I kept flashing on everything I wanted and hadn't done. I never say anything to anyone, for fear of seeming crazy.But it feels like I am meant for more. Seven years later, I still haven't done those things-although I have since performed on stage and held babies. I just keep going because I feel not done yet. It reminds me of all the WTC policemen who kept in touch with me. We wouldn't talk for months, and then out of the blue, I'd get a call from the guys. We would talk a little, but mainly we told each other what we still had left to do. Tattoos were popular. Broadway was my thing. It felt good to talk about the future. I have since lost track of everyone.I will remember them forever.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Today Could Have Been Better

I am still rootless, pulling along my little suitcase. I am in nice places, true, but they are not mine.And I feel that.I feel that acutely. I am feeling like a nomad-which is funny-I am not really nomadic, but this feels a lot like my early twenties, when I was sleeping everywhere. I had jobs all over, was acting, commuting from Long Island...there is a crucial difference though. My family was here. My mother, my father, everyone.My twin.My younger sister.'s just me. My twin-who was my roommate is settled with my old friend. My dad has his girlfriend, and my younger sister is married. That leaves me. My friends have always been my chosen family, but i really don't remember being this alone. And I wish that I had family to depend on. But the fact is-I don't. Rebuilding my life will include all new people. I am using this as an opportunity to get rid of everything that doesn't make me happy. Minimalism. While I wish I had a normal family, one that got together on holidays, and wished each other happy birthday, and celebrated.I don't. And I am glad I am self reliant.I just wish the price wasn't so high.