My Mom and I share a birthday.
I came by means of a miracle, in the glamourous 80’s sparkling with glitter , disco music and sequins. I came way in advance of the expected time, as a gift on her own, early birthday and found the world ‘slain’ by Sabrina twirling and twerking in her denim shorts to the beat of first synth chords and simple, yet tell-it-all lyric of the simplistically early feminist ‘Boys, boys, boys’.
Every year, when the date approaches I try to call more, to be in touch more, to be present more. Transatlantically, somehow.
Our birthday is approaching so the other day we catch up.
We talk about fast fashion and the need for everyone to go vegan in order to save the planet.
In our catch ups we talk about everything starting from mom telling me that auntie Sophie broke her hip and they had guests over for dinner and me saying that the weather has been fine and I’m trying to fight a moth plague that’s eating up my winter sweaters to discussing legalizing weed and abolishing celibate in the Catholic Church.
So this other time mom says
-Child, you live in Brooklyn, right?
-The other day me and dad were watching a documentary about a pizza place where ‘Saturday Night Fever’ was shot. It’s in Brooklyn too!’
Dad cuts in ‘It’s under the Brooklyn Bridge.’
I google Lenny’s, as I’ve never been there.
-Dad, it’s not Brooklyn Bridge, it’s the railway, where the D train passes.
It’s in Bensonhurst, Ma. Not far from me. That neighborhood where I slept in a shoe room with a cat on a deflated matress for a week, When I was homeless.
We both start laughing till we hyperventilate.
-You should write a book, child.
-I’m working on it, Ma.
I am working on it, Ma.
Lenny’s is almost next door to the place I dragged Clau to that summer to get a haircut. I begged and pleaded and he looked like River Phoenix after. Ma calls Clau my ‘partner in crime’ or ‘ Bonnie and Clyde’ due to all the craziness we’ve been through together.
That Summer I was robbed, bullied and became homeless for over a month in effect. My passport was stolen, I got phone calls with threats. The man I loved was figuring out wether he preferred intimacy with teenage tourists from Europe or men on high heels. Getting intimate with the former secured him a fancy free vacation in the south of Europe. The latter secured him fame by association in neighboring states.
I cried an ocean of tears that summer. Homeless and flat broke. And proud with the pride of my superwoman grandmother who raised three kids in post War Warsaw on her own. ‘What do you mean I can’t do this’ I bit my lips till they bled.
A friend moved me out of the place where I stayed with the bully.
We carried all my belongings on our backs. The two of us. In July. Dripping with blood sweat and tears. My clothes. 3 pieces of furniture, my guitar. The heat and humid was pouring down. My matress was 6 tons. I started crying like a fifteen year old over the 6 ton matress, as we were dropping my shit at a storage in Crown Heights. ‘I can’t. I can’t do this anymore’ A hug. ‘Yes, you can, man. It’s okay. It could be much worse. You’ll be just fine’. I’m sobbing. A hug. I’m fifteen. And I can’t anymore. A hug. We made it.
I crashed with Clau and his two wonderful roommates (hosts) for a week. They gave me the ‘shoe room’ ; room dedicated to their collection of shoes where I would sleep on a deflating matress, hugging their crazy, yet lovely cat, Harley, until I moved to a couch in Bay Ridge with Matylda and Marcin, crashing in the living room, hugging their boxer, Charlie at night, till’ I eventually found my own place.
When in Bensonurst, Clau would offer listening to my broken heart pouring out. And offer his love stories in return. We’d go on like this till dawn.
-Do you love him?
-I love him.
-Would you die for him?
‘Yes.’ I’d say as if somebody asked me to pass the salt.
We would binge watch ‘Lost’ season 1 even though it was way outdated already, get a $5 order of street food to share when we got hungry and sleep in his bedroom taking turns.
‘I slept in the bed last night. Tomorrow you have to wake up early, so you take the bed and I take the shoe room’.
He would always offer his cool and a joint, which I would always turn down. I would never feel unwelcome save for my own inner urge ‘don’t be a burden, don’t be a burden, get your shit together, move on and act!’
-Ma, I love you. But I never learnt it this way. That you really, truly find out who cares for you in situations like this. When you have nothing. And have nowhere to go. No place to call home.
-Ebb and flow, child.
We laughed more.
I am working on it, Ma.
And I feel like a butterfly today.