Tyler Ford is a 24-year-old poet. You can find their work at Rookie and MTV, and can tweet them @tywrent.
7:30 A beautiful friend and I are in the ocean, holding each other close. She presses her wet cheek against mine and bites my earlobe, whispering something suggestive in my ear. My breath catches in my chest. She kisses my neck as I blush and look at the water surrounding us.
7:35 I feel myself being pulled away from the water. No! I try to fight it. It’s too late. I’m awake.
7:36 I check my phone and see that my beautiful friend has texted me. She’s just arrived in Berlin. I text her about my dream and receive an “oh fuck” in response. We exchange blushy emojis before catching each other up on the previous day’s events.
Lately I’ve been going to sleep early (last night 11:30, the night prior 9:30 – that was a rough one) and waking up before 8AM. It’s been a nice routine change. My days feel longer and more productive, and maximizing my daylight hours is optimal for my mental health. I quit my day job last month in order to pursue writing/to start my own business, and in order to not feel like a complete ball of anxiety, I’ve been swapping unhealthy habits for more productive and rewarding ones. I’ve been cooking more, checking social media less, and have been filling my days with creative writing and design exercises. I never feel like I’m doing enough, but I’m not sure I ever will.
8:00 I grab the box of Cheerios from my desk and start eating them in bed. I don’t feel like making breakfast.
8:30 I receive an email from Hunter College, notifying me of my financial aid award. Tuition and fees are covered, and I am left with books, supplies, and the basics: rent, food, transportation.
I left undergrad at Vanderbilt in 2011 to pursue other interests (I couldn’t stand another day there) and haven’t been back to school since, though I do apply to school every winter in the midst of an anxiety attack about the lack of structure in my life. I never actually want to go back to school – it just always seems like a good alternative when there’s snow on the ground and I feel like I’m falling apart because leaving the house is so hard.
I don’t want to go back to school, but part of me feels that I should. I am adamantly against “shoulds” and yet, here I am. I love learning, I love taking classes, and I crave structure, but nothing that I want to pursue full-time in this life requires a degree. I’m not sure I can justify investing so much into something I don’t need or passionately want – especially since I’ve just started building the foundation for my career.
I tuck the email away and decide to think about it later. Like, maybe in a couple months.
9:41 I wonder what the hell I’m supposed to do with all of this morning time. I think I’m meeting with friends later this afternoon, but I’m so used to waking up at 11 and leaving the house/starting my day at 12 that I’m not sure what to do during this buffer period.
10:00 I resume texting my beautiful friend about music. I make a playlist of favorite songs from the playlist she made for me… of some of her favorite songs.
11:00 I make a sweet potato with cinnamon for my “real” breakfast.
12:05 I’ve been sitting in my bed for the past two hours listening to music and just… existing. It’s a nice change – I am typically so anxious that I can’t allow myself to just breathe. I’m always berating myself for not doing enough, always worrying about the future and how I’m going to survive and if I’m ever going to be financially stable, always wanting to be somewhere else. For now, I am here, and that is ok.
12:10 I check the weather. It’s supposed to rain later. I bury my face in my hands – rain is a huge sensory issue for me (I have sensory processing disorder). I do my best to avoid inclement weather at all costs, but I have social plans today, so I may just get stuck in it.
12:20 I close my eyes for 10 minutes. I’ve been up since 7:30 – I deserve this. I briefly dream of playing tennis. I’ve never played an actual game of tennis in my life. Brains are weird.
12:45 I start getting dressed for the day, even though neither my body nor my brain wants me to be wearing clothes at this moment.
13:25 I’m wearing a beanie for the first time since I started getting my hair braided four months ago and I look so goddamn cute. I take a bunch of selfies, snapchat them to my beautiful friend, and post one to Twitter.
13:30 On my walk to the train, a man pulls up to the house I’m walking in front of. A blonde woman and a baby greet him at the car. The man smiles at the baby and says, “let’s go for a ride!” It makes me smile. I like to imagine what normal families must be like. How pleasant their weekends and lives seem from the outside.
13:42 I’m on the train, headed to Central Park to meet my friends Jarvis and Doug. Being in an enclosed space with so many others makes me anxious, because there is no escape when I inevitably get harassed for being trans. I keep my headphones in and my eyes glued to the floor to block out everyone else’s existence.
14:45 I arrive at Central Park and immediately head into a nearby restaurant to visit my friend Rhahnny. Last Sunday, we hung out and he taught me the basics of both screen-printing and Photoshop, so I show him some T-shirt designs I made this week. He gives me a free sandwich, which I appreciate very much, because I am a babe on a budget.
15:00 I arrive at our meeting spot on the lawn, and there’s Jarvis… with a crowd of 20 people. He runs up to me, screaming (he’s an exuberant person) and pulls me into a giant hug. “Where’s Doug?” I ask. “He hasn’t responded to my texts all day!” Oh no. I’m at a party. I hate parties. I thought it was just going to be Jarvis, Doug, and me. Doug isn’t here. I don’t know anyone else.
15:01 Jarvis introduces me to a bunch of people. “Hey everyone, this is Tyler!” No one moves. One person looks up and says, “hi!” Great.
15:02 I text Doug. “WHERE ARE YOU” and position myself on the far corner of the picnic blanket. Jarvis sits next to me and we catch up for a little bit.
15:22 Some guy I don’t know joins the party, sits directly behind me, and before saying anything to me, begins playing with my braids. WHO ARE YOU AND WHY ARE YOU TOUCHING MY HAIR? “Oh my god, yaaaaasssss!!! I could just play with this hair all day! I’ve found my spot, y’all! Hi, by the way. I’m _____” (I am too busy screaming internally to hear this person’s name)
I don’t know how to react. I don’t know anyone at this party and don’t want to make a “rude” or bad impression by suddenly being serious and firm with someone I’ve never met before. Everyone here is drinking and having a merry time; I don’t want to be a buzz kill by starting a discussion on personal boundaries.
15:25 Thankfully, this person moves away from me. Jarvis and I are in and out of conversation, as he is simultaneously talking to 6 other people (he’s very good at keeping up with people). During lulls, I sit quietly and eat my sandwich.
15:49 Strangers take too many group photos of us. I don’t know why I’m in any of these photos. I don’t know the birthday girl. I don’t know anyone here.
15:54 The party host comes up to me and asks if I’m having fun. I say “yes,” but don’t sound convincing.
16:03 WHAT AM I DOING HERE
16:22 Still sitting in the corner, occasionally talking with Jarvis. A white woman sitting across from me says, “my boyfriend is black, but I’m more black than him. He’s never had collard greens. He’s like – you’ve had collard greens? And I’m like, yeah, I’m black.”
16:23 I text Doug again, “HELP ME”
16:24 Doug: Where are you???
Me: AT THIS PARTY I WANNa leave
Doug: I’m biking, I’ll come find you/save you
16:26 “I’m more black than him” comes out of this woman’s mouth for the third time in four minutes. “I have to hit him with my Ebonics sometimes,” she adds. I text a friend and vent about the situation, screaming through my fingers instead of with my vocal cords.
16:45 Somehow, I’ve become the official DJ for this party, which at least gives me something to focus on while I wait for Doug. I pepper my playlist with Ariana Grande’s entire discography, because only her energy could save me right now.
17:00 “Bang Bang” comes on and I start rapping Nicki Minaj’s verse. The people around me are astounded. “You sound just like her!” High praise. Thanks, y’all.
17:24 Doug arrives. Yes. Yes yes yes yes yes. I run up to him and hug him for a full 2 minutes. He briefly says hello to Jarvis before whisking me away.
17:30 Doug and I walk through Central Park and catch up. I haven’t seen him in a month, which feels like a really long time because prior to that, we had been together every day for 3 weeks. It’s lovely to see his smiling face.
18:30 Doug and I sit and talk about writing. We discuss not knowing where we’re headed, but I encourage him to put everything on paper regardless (it’s so weird to be the one giving writing advice as opposed to receiving it!) and I hope he will.
19:15 Doug introduces me to his friend Shoshana, whom I have a few friends in common with. We talk about our amazing mutual friends, and get to know each other a little bit while she gets ready to go out to dinner.
19:25 Doug and I part ways – he is going out with a friend and I don’t know where I’m off to, but I’m probably going home. We hug goodbye, and hope to see each other soon.
19:27 The bar my cousin works at is in the direction of the train I need to take home, so I stop in to see if she’s there. I haven’t seen her in months. I ask the bartender if she’s around and he replies, “I don’t know who you’re talking about.”
Well, I tried.
19:28 I walk by a hotel and smile. I shared a first kiss with someone special in the lobby of this hotel a few months ago. The memory conjures a fleeting lightning storm in my stomach.
19:30 I arrive at my train. I have nowhere else to be, and can’t think of anything else I want to do, so I guess I’m headed home.
19:47 A child across from me goes through a giant bag of what is at least $50 worth of candy. I’ve never seen a candy shopping bag so large. In this child’s hands is a bag of draft beer flavored jelly beans. I am so incredibly confused. Are they for the kid or are they a gift for an adult? Who would even want to eat them? Why is the entire bag one flavor? And why that flavor? Could they possibly be any good? Do they taste like actual beer? If they do… why???
20:05 A smaller child next to me falls asleep on my shoulder. I smile and feel a little bit fuzzy inside.
20:25 Finally home. I can’t believe I’ve been up since 7:35. Who am I these days? I immediately throw my clothes in the hamper, get into my pajamas, and get into bed.
This was one weird Saturday. I typically stay at home all day – I don’t like going out on weekends because everyone is out on weekends and I prefer to be around as few people as possible at all times. Am I glad I ventured out of my comfort zone? Yeah. But next time, I’ll skip the party.