Thursday, May 3, 2012

Laughing To Keep From Crying

A heavy weigh felt like it was dropped on my shoulders as I stood in front of a Wells Fargo ATM machine, withdrawing my last $20 bill from my account. I took the money and quickly stashed it carefully into my wallet. ‘This is it,’ I thought to myself. As I walked home, carrying the very last change I have left to my name, I couldn’t help but feel a strange sense of calmness. With my shoulders still dropped and my head down, I wondered why I wasn’t at the brink of tears. This $20 has to last me for the next 3 days until I finally get paid. Wouldn’t that make one nervous? But I wasn’t crying. Nope. I wasn’t anxious or nervous, or even worried. Have I finally become numb enough to not feel anything anymore?

It has been 6 months since I have been “let go” from the company I had been working for since my move to New York City and 4 months since I have been off Unemployment. I have been living—literally—paycheck to paycheck, stretching every penny as far as I could, and have yet to secure a real, full time job that’ll put me back above the poverty line. Has my life really come to this? Yes. Do I feel like I’ve hit rock bottom? I don’t know. Right now I can’t feel a thing. Again, no tears.

That same morning, I had an interview with a company I am hoping to work for. The interview was informal and held over coffee at the cafĂ© inside the New York Times building. I couldn’t even afford my own cup of coffee. It was $2.72. You have to laugh. It was 2 fucking dollars and seventy-two fucking cents and my card got declined. In this situation, you can't cry. You really have to laugh. I'm still waiting to hear back about the job.

Two nights before that, I was woken up from my sleep from completely crashing onto the floor as I realized the $30 bed frame I had bought from IKEA a year ago had decided to give out and break in some odd pieces. ‘SHIT,’ I said loudly in my head as I scrambled to pick myself up in the middle of the dark. I cannot afford a new bed, I told myself. But who’s crying. I’m not crying.

Some days before that, I found myself standing in front of an angry, screaming hair client who was hilariously upset that her appointment was 20 minutes late and wrongly blaming me for it. I’ve about had it with these over-privileged, entitled Manhattan women. I don’t remember saying much to her except wondering why I hadn’t vocally cussed her out and walked out on the job. But still, no tears.

A week before that, a statement came in the mail from Sallie Mae, threatening my account to go into default from my months of over delinquency. The minimum payment has reach $1500 per month. Default means they can now go straight into my paycheck each month and take out money. Is this a laughing matter? Absofuckinglutely not. But am I laughing? Yes. Why? I’m laughing to seal in the embarrassment. I’m laughing to repel the rejection. I’m laughing to justify the disappointment. I’m laughing to numb the pain. I’m laughing to push back the tears.

I am laughing to keep from crying.

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