"It's a dangerous business going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to." ~J.R.R. Tolkein
I just got back from a wonderful trip to Louisiana. You probably remember that I had some hesitations about going on this trip, and I was pretty accurate on all counts. I didn't write as much as I wanted, I played my ukulele only one day, and I had a lot of anxiety surrounding my non-yogaing self. But all that aside, it was a wonderful vacation, and I'm really glad that I let myself take time off from all of my work. I spent some serious much needed time with loved ones, and I don't regret one second of it.
However, it made returning to New York and life here that much harder. I have mentioned before that I absolutely love New Orleans and can totally see myself living there. While sipping a malbec on the patio of Bacchanal Wine, surrounded by twinkling Christmas lights, a light Louisiana dewy humidity, and the sounds of live jazz music, I felt that I never wanted to leave. I could see myself getting a little studio downtown, opening my own Bikram yoga studio that had a connected gluten/vegan cafe/juice shop... and partaking in the acting world in Louisiana. I kept describing it as feeling as though I'm in love with two men. I love them both so much and can see my life working out with either one, and I can also see it being painfully unsuccessful with both of them. I have no grand illusions of leaving New York right now. I have a lease through next February, and I have too much hard foundation work invested in my acting career to give up. But it has made returning to the harshness of New York even harder than I imagined.
Not only this, but I got some truly awful news about a very dear friend when I got home from work last night (this morning). She and I were super close last year. We were both struggling with depression and anxiety, and we were both making poor life decisions. We started going to church, joined a book club together, and overall just spent a lot of time helping each other cope. Our lives began to heal, and our co-dependent relationship was no longer necessary. We still saw each other every once in a while, but it wasn't the same. When the new year began and she fell off my radar, I wasn't too concerned. I'm aware that this happens in friendships, and I figured that she maybe felt she had outgrown me, and I didn't want to bother her. So I just poked my head into her life every now and again, and tried not to be hurt when I didn't hear back from her. But basically, I'm ashamed to say that I wrote her off.
I kept up with her via facebook and was shocked when I realized she had moved home to Indiana. I didn't ask why but assumed that she had grown tired of New York. (A feeling I can certainly sympathize with.) I worried about her as I followed her facebook statuses, but I realized she was home with her family, so things couldn't be that bad. Then last night she posted a blog she had begun, and I, of course, instantly clicked on it. I was eager for an explanation as to why she had disappeared.
I was unprepared for what I read on her blog. My beautiful, strong, funny, deeply spiritual, loving friend was raped in a New York City cab by, not one but, three men. I know I'm writing a lot, but please take the time to read her story on her blog. I can't possibly relate to you what happened as she can.
I know far too many women who have been touched by rape. I truly feel it's important to share these experiences, because it makes us all more aware of how fragile this life can be.
Today was rough. I was having trouble adjusting to being back in this huge, concrete jungle. This city can be both the most wonderful, sunny, golden days of brunch and sangria wonderful loving friends... and also the harshest, grittiest, grey cold wind whipping in your eyes as strangers judge you and you feel tiny... place. So since I was already having my doubts about my life here and how much I'd rather be living in New Orleans, Louisiana where I could pop over to my parents for dinner once a week and be near some of my oldest friends and living a safe, secure life... well... her story sent me over the edge.
I haven't struggled with anxiety in quite some time. But today it felt as if a huge weight was squashing my chest and making it difficult to breathe. I was reminded of a Kyrgyz demon a friend once told me about. He's this evil little guy who sits on your chest while you're sleeping and makes you have bad dreams and feel like you can't breathe. But I wasn't sleeping and it unfortunately wasn't a dream. I couldn't get the image of my beautiful friend being raped out of my head.
It's a dangerous world. That same thing could happen to any one any where. New Orleans. Chicago. St. Louis. Timbuktu. But it didn't happen in any of those places. It happened to my friend. Here. In NYC. 20 blocks from where I live. And it changed her life forever.
I realize I can't live in fear. Bad things happen. Bad people are out there. But I can do something about it. I'm going to try to get some of my girl friends together to take a self defense class (there is NOTHING she could have done to protect herself in her situation, unfortunately. But I'd like to be as prepared as I can). I'm going to take note of the driver's names that are posted in EVERY cab I get in. I'm only going to pay for cabs with my credit card. And I'm going to pray. A lot. For my friend. For every woman out there in a dangerous situation. For every man out there in a dangerous situation. And I'm just going to try to spread the awareness. Starting here. Because I love you, whoever you are reading this.
"In the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer... there's some good in the world, and it's worth fighting for." J.R.R. Tolkein
|She and I four years ago in a production of |
"Les Mis" at the Barn Theatre in Michigan.