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September Surrender: Day Twenty-Nine

What I’m Letting Go

In a city like New York City, a lot of things can go unnoticed. Or they could be completely noticed, but none of its citizens pay it any mind. Everyone on the street has some place to be, or they’re awaiting for something to find them. But no one really cares what anyone else does. There are detrimental aspects to this apathy, but overall I kind of dig it. I can walk around singing my heart out, or dancing to my own beat, blatantly talk to myself or go to a street corner and scream at the top of my lungs that the government is hiding trafficking victims in secret underground bunkers all across the continental U.S. Okay, so I haven’t done the last thing ever. But the others are absolutely fair game.

The city has its own freedoms, as it always has. No virus has ever stopped New Yorkers from being New Yorkers. Each one of us has a million stories to tell, and about a million more emotions running through them at all times. And just because everyone else’s are different than mine is no excuse to run around judging all the time.

I’ve always had trouble with eye contact, but it’s gotten better in recent years. If I don’t like someone, I find it difficult to look at them in the eye. If I really like someone, I find it difficult to look them in the eye. So I’m in a bit of a conundrum as it is. I’m an eye-darter. I look and then look away. And if I catch someone making eye contact back, I find anything else to put my focus on. I’m sure this is why I’ve felt like I’ve lost so many connections over the years, but I’ve always felt more comfortable with someone else making the first move. Then again, how do I expect anyone to approach me when I have Resting Contempt Face? It’s not “Bitch Face,” just contempt. Just a air that there’s something on my mind with absolutely everything I find my eyes resting on. Like the dude blocking the subway stairs to roll a fat joint. Or the maskless parent carting around their masked-up child. The couple on a date who are both on their phones. Or the loud asshole blasting music while blasting the nitrous down a city street. I can’t hide how I feel when I see these things, and I’m starting to wonder if maybe it’s time to.

The worst part of all this is I can feel myself doing it. I can feel the contempt rising within me, as the judgment pushes its way out of my face. I was very clearly on the receiving end of this one time. I was working at my old local station when I had gotten some Wendy’s fries and a junior chocolate Frosty. And like any other red-blooded American, I was dipping the fries directly into the Frosty. Just sitting at my desk, paying no mind, enjoying the salty-sweetness of it all. People were around me as it was the lull between programming. I looked up mid-bite to see one of the producers staring me down, the look of disgust, bewilderment, confusion, and yes, contempt all over her face. I recognized it immediately, and we burst out laughing. She apologized and explained she had never seen someone do what I was doing. And it was fine. I felt judged for a split second, but it didn’t matter in the end. I never noticed anything like that ever again, and if I did, it wasn’t a problem. So why do I seemingly want to ‘return the favor’ to everyone else this time around?

I need to work on not letting what I’m feeling show, at least not when I’m in the zone to make eye contact about it. I don’t mind the moments where I’m lost in thought, looking off in the distance for something I can’t quite put into words. If it sometimes brings a tear to my eye, so be it. But other people don’t deserve the scorn. It’s not their fault I’m a constant bundle of emotions, unable to decipher them all after living with them for thirty-six years.

There’s still a lot of life in my eyes, regardless of how I feel at that moment. I have more gazing power than I think. Maybe a kind face can go a lot further that previously thought.

What I’ve Discovered

I’ve been working on being consistent in my ‘self-care’ routines. That means regular manicures, hair cuts, facials, pedicures, exfoliating regularly and keeping my legs shaved. I’m not sure if all that falls into the ‘self-care’ category, but it’s just routine things I like to do for myself to make me feel nice and presentable. A little consistency goes a long way. I’m finding that out the more weight that drops off my body.

Today was payday so naturally I decided to overspend on all sorts of things. I went outside for a bit to write then headed over to the nail salon for a manicure. I never do anything fancy anymore. I did get acrylics at one time in my life, but I didn’t feel like destroying my nails anymore just so I could look like a real ginzo Jersey Girl. Mostly I just get regular polish and that’s the end of it. I don’t even understand half the stuff they can do. Gels, powder, dip, the thing they bust out the little whirry machine to do. I’m not sure. I’m a simple man, as I say.

I was seated right away and apparently just missed the late-afternoon rush as people kept piling in after I was well underway. When I first walked in though, there was a girl in there getting her nails done. I assume they were fake since they were using the little machine, but that didn’t really matter. She was an obviously well-put together woman, as she had these big fake distracting filler lips that I couldn’t stop staring at. I had remembered what I wrote earlier and did everything I could not to judge her. All it did was solidify my commitment to staying as natural as I can. No fillers, no botox, no pulling and shaping things as I age. I won’t even get a breast reduction if I get down to a much more manageable size as I think they look fake as well. But I’m getting a little off track.

When I looked at her nails, they looked so nice. She had long, delicate fingers and an overall well-established look. She nailed the ‘casual cool’ look that a lot of New York young women have: designer oversized sweatshirt, skin tight leggings, and big, clunky platform slides. The lips still bothered me, but they weren’t my lips. I looked down at my nails and watched the technician filing them. She asked me if I wanted her to file them down so they looked more uniform. I said no, I’m trying to grow them all out anyway and don’t mind if some are shorter than the others. So now I have a nice, autumn manicure that I hope can help me keep my nails looking long and lovely for a good long while.

Sitting next to the lip girl made me realize that even if I did feel a bit contemptuous at the start, not only can I control it, but I can also learn a lot from it. Other people have their own routines that I could take some notes from. There’s nothing wrong with taking care of yourself in ways you think are best. As long as you’re not hurting yourself or others, how you feel about yourself is all that really matters. And doing things to yourself, for yourself, can ultimately be beneficial for all other aspects of one’s self. I’m still navigating against my contempt and judgment of other people, but I think I’m heading in the right direction. And I’ll keep looking cute doing it, too.

What I Hope to Find

Have you ever met your anti-doppelganger? Someone who is the complete opposite of you in every way? I’ve had a few of them in my life, but one stands out in particular. There was this one girl in high school who just seemed to be the Anti-Gina through no fault of her own. She got a bit part in the spring musical even though we both tried out. She was also Italian. We both signed up to become a “Peer Leader,” who’d lead all sorts of activities with underclassmen. I was rejected, she got the gig. She got a tall, handsome boyfriend like literally the second day we began school and as far as I know they’re still married to this day. She was thin, in shape, and all the boys in the class just absolutely fell head-over-heels in love with her, though I never thought her to be a looker. And look where all that contempt got me, and look how she fared in the midst of it.

I wish I hadn’t been such a scornful little bitch in the past, because as much as I say I don’t pay mind to what people think of me, I’m sure if you mentioned my name to people I went to high school with, they wouldn’t have the greatest things to say about me. They might call me a weirdo rude loner. Who knows. That’s just my perception, but it feels like a real possibility. Though I’m confident that if anyone met me now, they’d walk away after having a pleasant interaction. Bygones being bygones and all that.

Still, the past shouldn’t matter. Holding onto some bitter rivalry that only lived in my head isn’t worth a tin shilling. I need not be mad about how other peoples’ lives are going. I should just find a life that’s fully mine, not one where I’m constantly comparing myself to others. Easier said than done, but not impossible. This is my life to live, just like everyone else has theirs to live. There is no comparison. Only cues, advice, acknowledgment and appreciation. The more differences we think we have, the more similarities make their way to the surface. I’ll just be making sure to write them all down with perfectly manicured hands and less of a Resting Bitch Face this time.

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