The Relieving Rejection

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Saturated image of South Asian woman's back, in bikini, as she jumps into oncoming ocean waves.

I wish sometimes that it were a coffee shop revelation – the camera pans away from me as I enter my favorite spot (probably a bookstore café, probably crowded but with a conveniently placed open table waiting for me), where I sit down and start leafing through a bunch of books or magazines. There’s a close up of me looking longingly at those other lives, mostly ones that I wouldn’t want to have but that still inspire some sort of wanderlust. Then there’s a cut scene, and when we come back I’ve run out of the café, dramatically calling my workplace to say “I quit!” right there on the street and booking the next flight to Dhaka.

My brain’s a little melodramatic.

Whether it turns into a television drama or not, I’m leaving NYC at the end of April. I’m taking the year off to move first to Seattle, then to visit Europe, and finally to spend the better half of this year in Bangladesh - where I’ve been trying to go back to for the past two years but haven’t yet succeeded!

My decision started as a little voice nagging at me, whispering “go.” I could not ignore it. But I also couldn’t make the decision myself. I had applied to several grants – ones that would help the move to Bangladesh, ones that would root me in NYC – and held my breath. I waited on emails for weeks and months, and one by one they trickled in. We really appreciated your application… We’re sorry we cannot offer… We look forward to your... Everyone’s gotten at least one of these in their life. For almost all of last year, as I went through waves of un- and underemployment, they made me question my worth and the quality of my work just as much as the cover letters that never seemed to elicit any reply.

I made it through last year, but it was an agonizing experience (stick around for when I tell you about Roachpocalypse). Even when I felt like I was fully committing to the work I wanted to be doing – training to be a doula, organizing zine events, working with domestic violence survivors – money was still a hovering issue. Or rather, the insecurity that I wasn’t “making it in NY” was the issue. If I wasn’t putting in all my time to either monetary work or meaningful work, then what was I doing? I didn’t let myself relax for a second; I made to-do list after to-do list. I loved New York and I resented it.

Then I received an email in January. Oddly, this was at the point when I was most stable – I was paying all my bills with a job at a clinic I enjoyed working at – but my plans were set. The form letter was familiar, but my reaction had changed. It relieved and released me in a way that felt necessary.

My life since quitting my job and working freelance again as I prepare for my trip has not been TV-worthy. Mostly its involved sending a lot of emails from my couch and attending fabulous but unexciting meetings. But there’s also an ever-present excitement underneath that I will really and truly be doing something different with this year. People (my sister especially) have been telling me not to make everything a goal, so I am resisting the urge to draw up an image of the person I want to be this time next year. I am, however, getting an excellent crash course in trusting in other people. More soon!

One of the first things I’m doing this year is crowdfunding to go on a somatics retreat called Oppression in the Soma – it uses a set of body-based healing practices to restore and make you aware of how you move through the world. If you have a few dollars to support, I’d be grateful if you visited my Razoo page. Sending lots of love and gratitude.

I've also gotten something new published over at The Rumpus! It's a short story called Traditional Healing, and you should check it out.