A year ago, in Washington D.C.:
“I need help.” I handed her the paperwork that I had to fill out earlier.
She looked at me. “Can I have your ID and insurance please?”
“I don’t have an ID on me right now.”
She studied my disheveled appearance. I could feel her eyes burning into me like she was trying to get inside my soul to see some essential truth about me. “Are you a student here?”
“Yes. I will be at GW Law this Fall,” I exclaimed proudly and flashed her a smile. I hoped that would melt her or at least make me appear less threatening. Maybe more human. Maybe she could understand what I really needed.
“Do you have a state ID or driver’s license or any other form of identification?”
I sighed inwardly. It just wasn’t working. I could feel a pounding headache slowly making its way to the surface as I fought to control my pain and anger.
“I have a passport. I don’t know where it is right now. I’m sorry. I just need to see a doctor. Maybe a shrink.”
“Sir, we can’t really do anything unless we can verify your ID. Also, it says here that you don’t have insurance. How do you plan to play?”
“I am a girl. And I have money. I just need help.”
I don’t know why I didn’t just tell her that I was undocumented. Would it have mattered though? I wasn’t in the mental space. After the unfortunate and accidental death of two friends, an abusive relationship, and a fruitless search for home, I was crashing. I was slowly destroying myself and everything I had created. I gathered some courage to seek help, momentarily forgetting that the same system that was leading me to self destruct cannot be the same place I go to for help.
Asking for help is a radical act for me. I have been conditioned to always keep it together, to smile, to suffer in silence and not say anything even while everything around me is falling apart. People try to cast me as their source of inspiration and live vivaciously through my courage and conviction, and while it may be a compliment, I feel caged, with no place else to go. According to some, I have no right to feel despair, to feel pain, to feel emotion, to express grief because then, I’m no longer being inspirational. Screw that.
It’s actually inspiring when people feel free enough to express all their emotions. Some days I break down and cry. Other days I think I am in so much pain but I feel nothing besides numbness. Most days, I find peace in being numb.
I think I am alright. I take it one day at a time and savor the beautiful moments so that they last much longer. I stretch them out so that my memories are full of moments and not much else. If you asked me about conversations I had yesterday, I would not be able to recollect any of them. But if you ask me to describe my first kiss from more than a decade ago, I can give you a running commentary.
It’s a victory to get out of bed in the morning. But as long as I can keep enjoying my strawberry nutella crepe and tell you that the girl who walked by just now is really hot, I am alright. That’s my totem.
But something tells me that I should strive to be more than alright. I don’t have the answer. I just know that today is not my day but I’ll try to hit a home run tomorrow.