Monday, October 19, 2015

Perhaps I should've stolen that Advil...

The figure didn't not even bother to acknowledge my mere existence, as she knocked into me.  I did not proceed to make out her appearance, as it would appear useless.  The only thing I was concerned about in this moment was the throbbing headache that followed.

I was on my way to El Cheapo, to pick up some food that my mother would’ve looked down upon, from her frosty throne all the way in Poland.  The treatment I’ve received from certain people in this town was enough to make me stress-eat like crazy.  My savings were going down with every stressful encounter I had, leaving me nearly broke.  Penniless, jobless, and about to be dignity-less.  Fortunately, I was reminded of my mere blessings, as I passed a homeless woman, shivering, hugging her scrappy dog close.  I nearly shed a frozen tear, as I scavenged in my pocket for a bill or two.  I dropped the pitiful amount I found into the woman’s outstretched hand, feeling good about myself as I continued on my way to El Cheapo.  One point for Lucja. 

The chilling air bit at my cheeks, giving me a sense of nostalgia, from the comparable weather in Warsaw.  A couple weeks ago, I found myself scoffing at the weather here in Collingwood.  It appeared the weather gods dually noted my attitude, as they had indefinitely proved their abilities. 

By the time I walked into El Cheapo, it was near half past four.  I rarely ever walked into this rundown store with intent to buy any item in particular.  I left the decision up to fate, as I circled the aisles, contemplating what high-calorie food I should purchase.  A pack of crumbling Donettes and a Sprite were enough to settle the little encounter I’d had earlier with that girl.  She looked a bit familiar, I thought, as I made my way to the cash register.  Perhaps a bit too familiar.  Could’ve sworn I’d seen her roaming the halls of Collingwood Heights.  Eh.  I’d never paid too much attention to the other occupants of the apartment building.  I was far too deep in my own affairs to concern myself with those of the residents. 

The man behind the counter regarded me with a bored expression.  Setting the two items before him, I dug around in my pocket for whatever change was due.  The sound of the cash register clicking alarmed me.  “Two-seventy five”, the man said with a snap of his gum.  I pulled out a tattered dollar bill, two dimes, and a nickel.  Shit.  I completely forgot I gave the rest of my pocket change to the hobo.  The sound of the man popping his gum alerted my attention back to him.  “You gonna pay?”  I sighed.  “Sorry, don’t have enough money, sir.”  In response, he nodded to the door, signaling me to be on my way.  I reluctantly collected my pathetic pile of cash and headed to the door.  The sweets and soda sat lonely on the counter, and I felt their beckoning call upon me.  Hell no.  I was not the thieving-type, and I would certainly not become one today.  My thoughts were interrupted by the sound of snoring.  I turned my attention back to the counter.  The man, who’d been as lively as can be a minute ago, was caught in a deep slumber.  A feeling of urgency took ahold of my fingers, an itching sensation I had never felt before.  All sense of control was lost before I knew what I happened.  I dashed to the counter, grabbed the items, and was about to run out the door when a bottle of Advil caught my eye.  I quickly contemplated, decided to ditch the meds, and bolted from the shop, giving off the most suspicious appearance I had ever assumed.

Panting, I reached Collingwood Heights.  I decided not to give my thieving any more thoughts, as remorse would surely drive me mad.

The row of mailboxes awaited me when I walked into the mailroom.  My finger brushed the cold metal surface, as I searched for 11-04.  “11-04, 11-04,” I murmured.  Ah.  Found it.  I reached into my pocket and pulled out the little silver key, that I was quite capable of losing, given my track record with small objects.  I was surprised to see a non-ad related letter, when I unlocked the box.  The return address on the crisp white envelope alarmed me, and I felt a ripple go through my system. 

Lane Borowicz
805 Kelbierg St
Warsaw, Poland

My heartbeat quickened, and in a stunned response, I dropped the envelope.  I shivered, not from the cold, but rather the racing nerves in my system.  The address was written in none other than my mother’s handwriting.  My mother.  And why was my father’s name missing from the sender’s part of the address? 

When I was younger, about seven or eight, I recall running to the mailbox each evening gleefully checking the box for any sign of mail.  My parents would typically address the return label as ‘Mr. and Mrs. Borowicz’, rather than my mother alone! 

This could only mean one thing.  A separation perhaps.  My father has had a love/hate relationship with alcohol for as long as I can remember, causing nightly arguments between my parents.  It was a rather unpleasant living situation, but the streets of Warsaw were not kind to orphans, so I toughened up.

I figured if my mother wrote me, it must relate to something important.  My mother…hadn’t made any attempt to contact me since I ran away from home.  It’s been about two months, two, very peaceful months, since I heard from her, so this abrupt form of contact must’ve be urgent.  I gingerly retrieved the letter from the floor, and, shivering, tore my way through the envelope.  A thin sheet of paper was neatly folded- yup- definitely my mother’s doing- and I hesitantly unfolded it.

The tiny handwriting read (translated from Polish to English)


Don’t question how I managed to find your residency.  That is the least important issue you need to concern yourself with.  I’m planning on keeping this letter brief, as with all future forms of contact I plan on having with you. 

You have dishonored this family, Lucja, with your departure.  It has taken me two months to track down your address, and has caused the Borowicz family a lot of stress.

I simply wanted to inform you of the passing of your father.  As you presumably failed to pick up amongst your years of residing here, he was a good man.  A good husband.  A good father, although this statement you will surely contradict. 

He died too young, Lucja, and I hope you pick up on some old Catholic values, and pray for the fate of your father’s soul.  For once, I would appreciate it if you tried to follow the morals of this family. 

Your father managed to see some value in you, and as a result, has left you twenty grand.  In my mind, you certainly do not deserve an amount of money as large as this, but it was in a section of your father’s will that he failed to inform me of.  In order to respect his wishes, I will grudgingly hand it over to you.

But don’t get ahead of yourself just yet.  If you expect me to fork over this amount of cash so simply, then you are quite mistaken, my dear. 

I demand something in return.  Something that will tempt me to not keep all this money for myself.”

The last four words were all it took.

“Come back to Warsaw.”

Perhaps I should’ve stolen that Advil.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

"What you allow is what will continue" -Unknown

My hands instinctively slid into the fleece pockets of my hoodie, as they so often did in times of anxiety.  Trembling, my rosy fingers brushed against the corner of a folded piece of paper, and a sharp pain shot through the index finger.  I quickly pulled my hand to my mouth, and sucked the paper-cut clean, the metallic taste of blood lingering on my tongue.  The crisp white paper hung awkwardly out of my pocket, and I pulled it out, gingerly, as my eyes darted back and forth, a quick check of my surroundings.  Unfolding the paper, I caught sight of the word ‘Application’ in bold black text.  Tension flooded my system, and my heartbeat rose.  I began to rapidly walk away, a gut reaction in anticipation of a panic attack.  It was as if deep down, I believed I could escape the panic attack in a matter of seconds, as if carrying myself forward would leave my anxiety by the entrance of the graveyard.  The light sprinkle of rain I had been ignoring intensified, and my weak grip on the application caused it to slip from my grasp, swaying a bit in the wind, before settling on the puddle-covered ground.  I imagined raindrops splattering on the sheet, causing my inky handwriting to run, red blood-like ink trailing slowly down the page, close to the shade of the graffiti that was spread variously through the town.  My eyes glazed over, as my thoughts deepened, falling into a trance-like state.  Some might call it a unaware form of escaping reality, but I called it Dissociative Disorder.  
All of a sudden, the rubber-tipped toe of my sneaker collided with what I presumed to be a pebble, sending me barreling downwards.  I grunted as my knee entered a very personal relationship with the ground.  “Uhgh”, I slurred, waves of pain vibrating through my leg.  There had been quite a lot of blood escaping my body within the past couple of days.  I shakingly pressed my hands into the slippery cement, to steady myself.  Dark red gashes were jaggedly carved into my fingers, and proved to weaken the effectiveness of my hands.  My body reluctantly encountered the ground yet again, and my head gave way to the sidewalk.  I could only imagine how I appeared to the rest of the world, lying in the middle of the sidewalk, rain spattering my fleece hoodie, darkening the white blonde hair that was beginning to spill out of my hood.  The rain had softened a bit, and the calming sound was enough to knock me out.

“Hey, what the fuck are you doing in here, bitch?”  He grabbed hold of my skinny shoulders, and shoved me heavily towards the exit.  “This is the GUYS bathroom.  And you don’t look like no guy to me.”  
My body rammed against the bathroom door, the impact jolting the hood off of my head, exposing my choppy-poorly-cut-hair.  I winced, as I realized what was to come.  
“The fuck is wrong with your hair...oh.  I see.  You one of ‘em trannys, arent ya?”  I squeezed my eyes shut to stop the tears from escaping.  “Yeah..that makes sense.  Look atcha.  I thought you was either some malnourished butch, but you a tranny, huh?
My jaw clenched, and the hot tears dried up, leaving moist reminders around my eyelids.  Shame turned into rage.  I pulled my quivering hands out of my pockets.  Not an anxious quiver, as I was so accustomed to.  This sensation was new.  Heat flooded my fingers, and my heartbeat seemed to pulse through my tightly gripped hands.  An angry quiver took hold of my reddening fingers.  
Taunts continued to shoot out of the man’s mouth, but they were no longer heard.  The quickening pulse I felt through my clenched fingers engulfed my ears.  I turned to face the sneering man, my attention captured by his intense blue eyes.  Spaciness was near, I realized in a matter of seconds, before I lost sensation of the adrenaline.  
The following sequence of events could not begin with the line “Before I knew what I was doing” because that would be a lie.  I most definitely knew what I was doing, and could not label any of my actions as impulsive.  “TY PIEPRZONY DUPEK!”, I yelled.  There was no opportunity to consider the man’s presumably confused expression, as my fist flew out towards his face.  He ducked, surprising me, causing a collision of my hand and the mirror behind him.  The sound of glass breaking was followed by a scream, as the jagged pieces of glass cut into my nimble fingers.  My heavy breathing was ragged, and I shakily aimed yet again for his face.  This time, my aim proved successful, and my bony knuckles made impact on his face.  As my fist collided with his nose, I shut my eyes quick, as if to escape the non-visual sounds that followed.  A crunch.  His screams.  Slurred cursing.  The surprised screams from the bartender I had just encountered.  My small moment of indecision.  The sound of my sneakers squeaking as I pushed past the bartender, making my way to the entrance of Hot Legs.  The bell ringing as I hurriedly stumbled out the door.  More heavy breathing.  
It appeared as if my tendency to block out undesirable parts of my life might become a dangerous reliance, considering what there was to come.  How long until what I tried to block out followed me for the rest of my life?

Thursday, September 3, 2015

"It is an awful thing to be betrayed by your body." -David Leviathan, "Every Day"

        I was greeted by a rush of warm air as I pushed the lobby's revolving door with great force, noticing, with disgust, the impromptu smushed-bug-graveyard that claimed the curved glass.  The job application I was holding nearly blew away with the surge of wind that marked the unpredictable weather that Collingwood residents seemed to be experiencing lately.  To be fully prepared for these conditions, meant I would need a 'Noobs Guide to Surviving American Weather', as in Poland, the weather was remarkably different.  The current temperature, fifty-two degrees, would be considered near summer holidayweather in Warsaw.  I smirked, as I walked down the sidewalk, at the scattered residents that were heavily dressed in fleece jackets, and thick scarves, basically as if they had rounded up their "cold weather gear".  Ahh..Americans.  I am quite thankful for the entertainment they provided me.  My musing stopped sharply, as an eccentrically dressed man came out of nowhere, nearly blowing my eardrums out.  "Balloons! Get'cha balloons.  Uh...misss.....sir?  Mamnn-ssssir...uh.."  I stood patiently, watching the man twirl his mustache in deep contemplation as he attempted to identify my gender.  It was something I was quite used to, but that didn't necessarily rid me of frustration.  "Hi! You! Person!  Wouldja like a balloon?  Free!  In celebration of Collingwood's Annual Dog Festival."  Craning my neck around him, across the street, dogs of all shapes and sizes bounded about the grassy field, their owners chatting.  I turned my attention back to the balloon man.  "No..tank you veery much, though."  Stepping quickly away, I began to re-follow my route to Hot Legs, where I would be submitting my application.  I realized I would have to cross through the dog park to adhere to the rather bizarre route  I planned out.  Ugh.  My allergies would indefinitely get the best of me, what with the large number of dogs inhabiting the park.  My best bet was to rush through as quickly as possible, avoiding dog feces, soggy tennis balls, dog drool, and worst of all: overly enthusiastic dog owners.  

Keeping my gaze on the crowded park, my thoughts were disrupted by the painful sensation of two foreheads clanking together.  I stumbled backwards, my eyebrows knit in pain, as I looked up at my collision partner, an expensively dressed blonde, glaring back at me, her hand resting on her forehead. "Sorry", we both said at the same time, and I was surprised to hear an un-American accent, couldn't quite put my finger on it. She picked up her fancy purse, which was knocked onto the sidewalk during our collision, and continued on, her nose turned up ever so slightly, as if she wasn't sure how snobbily she wanted to react.  I brushed off my jeans, and resumed my dash through the festival, zig-zagging this way and that, in an attempt to avoid un-identifiable spots of mush (presumably dog shit, but with animals, who the hell knows).  Panting, I turned my head to the left, and seeing the glaring 'Hot Legs' sign, continued on my path.

The bartender studied the application, chewing on her lip.  "Uh, the manager will need to check this out.  Looks like you have no experience, hm?"  I shook my head in response, doing my best to ignore her obvious stare.  Enduring the constant stares I received on a regular basis could frustrate me on my bad days, which was definitely today.  "Well, either way, I'll have her take a look at your application, and she'll call you in for an interview if you meet our criteria."  I stood up on my tippy-toes, to make hold eye contact with the bartender for as long as possible, as I was ridiculously short, approximately five-foot-three.  "Do yew know ven dat vill be?", I asked, noticing her confused expression.  I tried again.  "Em..ven vill I geet a call?"  The bartender appeared bored at this point, and unenthusiastically responded with a shrug.  "I dunno.  Like I said, if ya fit in here, we'll let you know."  I nodded, and quickly made my way to the bathroom before I said something I might regret. 

      Pushing open the door to the Men's bathroom, I stood before myself in the dusty mirror, my reddening eyes, an intense blue, staring back at me.  My choppy short hair was hidden under a lightweight beanie, and tufts of white-blonde hair poked out unevenly. A baggy mens T-shirt covered my skinny frame, not so flatteringly, I might add, although flattery was not my ambition at this point. It wasn't until this moment that I realized how much I needed this job.  How could I complete my transition without the surgeries?  And how could I complete the surgeries without the money?  I was so tired of feeling different, and the judgmental looks I received several times today reminded me of how self-conscious I was.  I'd be damned if this move to Collingwood wasn't the fresh start I planned upon.  The bathroom door opened loudly, and the protruding figure gawked at me.  "Hey, what the fuck are you doing in here, bitch?"  He grabbed hold of my skinny shoulders, and shoved me heavily towards the exit.  "This is the GUYS bathroom.  And you don't look like no guy to me."

Monday, August 10, 2015

"It's time to undo Rahim." -Nadia Hashimi, "The Pearl that Broke Its Shell"

The day started with the rhythmic ticking of a clock.  Tick, tock, tick tock.  My eyes flicked from the job application form I was filling out, to the rustic grandfather clock that stood proudly in my newly inhabited apartment, 11-04.  I so graciously accepted an apartment floor that was uncomfortably close to the renovation of the fourteenth floor.  From my position at one of the foldout chairs that occupied random spots of the apartment, I studied the thick layer of dust resting on the clock's face.  It was quite an old clock, one of the few items I brought back from Warsaw, my family's hometown in Poland.  As I scanned the rest of the furniture that was settled, rather precariously, from the waste bin piled high with Chinese takeout cartons, to the unorganized cutlery that lay in a box on the moth eaten floor, I realized I had yet to make this into a home.  Still, one aspect of my living situation was quite nice; I lived alone.  Moving away from Poland from a strictly-Catholic-thankfully-English-speaking-household felt very satisfactory.  I don't feel so secure to label the move as much more than a chance to break my habit of..dishonesty?  No.  Not dishonesty.  Pretending is more accurate.  Hardly an opportunity, as I lacked the one component for this to qualify as an opportunity.  Simply put, I lacked money.   

    Which is why, from a bird's eye's view, I can be seen impatiently filling out paperwork to work as a bartender at Hot Legs, as I am desperate for green stuff.  I dreaded applying for a job that requires a degree, as my wall is bare.  The moment I turned eighteen, after several months of doing neighborhood chores to save for a plane ticket, I left the cold winters of Poland for the promising warmer weather in Collingwood.  And promising it has been, I think, as I view the sunny weather from my dusty window.  The sound of my pen dropping onto the floor awakens me from my ever deepening thoughts.  Spacing out seems to be happening more and more to me these days.  Not taking my eyes off the window, I reach down and pick up my pen.  A quick glance at the clock lets me know I have been sitting in the same position for the past hour and a half.  Tick, tock, tick, tock.  Screw it.  Releasing my grip on the pen yet again, my thoughts moved elsewhere, the act of spacing out retaking its place.  

  Tick, tick, tick tock.  Nostalgia was triggered.  I could feel my eyes glazing over as my eight year old self was brought to mind.  Sitting in my third grade classroom, listening to the ticking of the clock,  I pondered usually deeply for an eight year old girl.  Although, at the time, I could not bring myself to identify as any sort.  My identity, who I was...I did not know.  Perhaps these questioning thoughts could be associated with the teenage stage of life, where teenagers struggle to come to terms with their self-identity, but surely not with a pre-pubetic child.  Today, as I am fully aware of myself, I am also aware of what I need, which translates into working at a gay bar.  

As I get up from my impromptu chair, and cross over to the window, I squint, as the impending sunshine enters my eyesight.  From my view, I can barely see a statue, and what looks to be...a bra?  A bra.  A bra on the statue.  This is an unpleasant reminder, as I look down at my scarcely dressed self.  I sigh.  Unrealistic.  Impossible, maybe.  A bartender's salary brings few luxuries; certainly not the luxury of ridding one's self of a bra...