Humans of NY “It’s been a tough morning for me. I used to be a children’s...

“It’s been a tough morning for me. I used to be a children’s librarian. But this morning I had to call publishers and tell them not to send me any more books. I just can’t read them anymore, not like I used to. And that was hard. It felt like I was cutting off a lifeline. It’s disappointing, the sense of not being in control of my own life anymore. Everything depends on my medical schedule, and the chemotherapy, and what my limits are. The doctor has told me to expect a couple more years, but my caretaker says she’s seen a lot of sick people. And she thinks I could be one of the ones who can beat it. For most of my life happiness was automatic. I might have had the only career where you get told ‘I love you’ three or four times a week. Maybe it happens with teachers too, but so many little kids said those words to me over the years. And I miss that. I was damned lucky to have that experience. Happiness isn’t automatic anymore, these days I have to work a little bit more for it. In addition to all the pain and the fear and having to pee all the time, I choose to do a lot of things that will make me aware of the beauty and loveliness of life. It’s not magic. I don’t stop thinking about the scary stuff, I just find moments to push them aside with the ridiculous. There’s so much in life that’s ridiculous. Every Saturday morning I watch Popeye on Turner Classic Movies. It’s so ridiculous. Olive Oil is so obnoxious. And you know, she has all these men after her. It’s just really funny. And Popeye is so full of himself and somehow manages to come out of everything, eat his spinach, and win. Then there’s my laughing yoga classes, which I can’t do in person anymore. But I do them online. There’s this thing we do where people will get in lines of three or four, and we’ll pretend to have a boat race. Everyone rows as hard as they can. Someone chooses a winner, and if you lose you get to create a big scene and make an ass of yourself. It’s ridiculous. And then there’s you. You’re ridiculous. You’re stopping random people, presumably to entertain yourself. You’re sitting in the middle of the street. I mean, think about it. It’s pretty dumb.”

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Tue, 24 Oct 2023 19:38:48 +0000
“Picture it, okay? Mardi Gras. New Orleans. Bourbon Street. I’m...

“Picture it, okay? Mardi Gras. New Orleans. Bourbon Street. I’m on college break with my three best childhood friends. Zak is there with his parents. He’s got his mom and dad with him. So it’s two different vibes, but somehow we all end up on the balcony of the same bar. Everyone’s got beads in their hands. We’re all yelling to see boobs. Well, I’m yelling to see boobs. That was just me. But Zak had a perfect mustache. He used to grow it much longer and curl it with wax. And I normally don’t approach people, I’m not that person. But his whole family seemed cute. They didn’t seem like normal New Orleans vacation people. So I was like: ‘Can I take a picture with you?’ Then we ended up adding each other on Snapchat, because that was the thing back then. And we agreed to meet up the next day after his family was done with their gator cruise and I was finished visiting the strip club. That night we walked along the river until the sun came up. I remember doing handstands on the levees. Then at the end we kissed. It was just a kiss because I was leaving early the next morning, and honestly I thought that would be the end of it. I thought for sure I was never going to see this kid again. But we kept talking, and two weeks later I’m taking his virginity in a Las Vegas hotel room. There was something going on with his stomach that day. Right when we finished he went to the bathroom and started throwing up. I called my girlfriend and said: ‘I don’t think he likes me.’ But it’s been love ever since.”

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Sun, 22 Oct 2023 21:36:19 +0000
“They’re oblivious right now. They just think they’re at the...

“They’re oblivious right now. They just think they’re at the park. I’m the one who’s got to figure stuff out. I’ve got enough money for us to get home. Then I’ve got to find a way to get something to eat. I’ve got to pay bills. We’re starting to get foreclosure letters in the mail. It’s just impossible to make ends meet right now, unless you’ve got school. I’m educated, but I just don’t have any degrees. I have no way of showing to a job that’s never met me: ‘Hey, I can do this.’ Plus I never know how it’s going to turn out, and that alone scares me. Maybe I’m just a pussy, I don’t know. I’m not proud of the stuff I’m selling. I’ve seen what it’s done to my mom, which is why I don’t use it. I don’t want that for my kids. I don’t want it to fuck up their life like it fucked up my life and my mom’s. That’s how I actually learned about it. Seeing how she’d fight to get that shit, no matter what. I know I could be selling to someone else’s mom. I hear that little voice in my head, like everyone else. But I block that out. I’m on autopilot. Quick exchange: I get my money, I give them their stuff. I block everything else out and I’m only looking at what I need, you feel me? And yeah it sounds evil, or whatever. But I weigh what I need more, and I need stability. I just need money. Money for my kids. Money for me. Money for like, all of us. Money so I don’t have to feel that stress of where am I going to get this next. And it’s the most accessible thing. It’s the easiest thing to get. You know, it’s Fentanyl.”

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Thu, 05 Oct 2023 16:58:55 +0000
“The person who hurt us, hurt both of us. But it affected us...

“The person who hurt us, hurt both of us. But it affected us differently. I isolated myself. I started taking drugs when I was twelve, maybe thirteen. But she just moved on with her life. I could never understand: how can she be so happy, while I’m stuck in my head and constantly thinking about it? It was exhausting to me. She was exhausting to me, especially when we were teenagers. I couldn’t stand to be around her because she was so light and positive and funny. Everything was always so cool, and so good. It felt to me that she didn’t want to face it. She just wanted to accept that it happened, and move on. But I couldn’t move on. I didn’t have that choice. I couldn’t just choose to not think about it. I remember the bad things, and how they made me feel. And I never want to feel that way again. I couldn’t just go back out into the world like it never even happened. I know that there are a lot more good people than bad, I do believe that. But there are bad people too. And they can really hurt you deeply if you give them your trust. So I never trusted anyone. Three years ago it reached a point where I felt completely hopeless. It was all so exhausting. I was exhausted. Exhausted from carrying these heavy feelings. Exhausted from making bad decisions. Exhausted from the drugs. It felt like nothing was ever going to change for me. Around that time we went out to dinner with my mother, and we finally had a deep talk about everything. We’d talked about it before, but maybe this time I really meant it. I decided that I have to let it go. I just have to let it go. I still have dark times when I don’t want to study or work. But when I’m in a bad mood, I’ll turn to her. Her happiness doesn’t make me feel worse anymore. It motivates me. It inspires me. Now she’s the person who can most easily put me in a good mood. I let her be a part of my bad days. And because of that, she’s also become a huge part of my good days. Both of us have gotten a lot more mature, and a lot wiser. But it was mainly me, I think. I had to change. If I hadn’t found a way to let go, we’d still be too different to be this close.”

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Thu, 05 Oct 2023 14:46:08 +0000
“I grew up with strangers. I wasn’t even with my parents from...

“I grew up with strangers. I wasn’t even with my parents from first to fifth grade. All the people that were supposed to care for me, and teach me, and guide me, they all failed me. It caused a lot of anger and honestly, a lot of heartbreak. I even wondered if my family was cursed. Like all we do is come into this world and we struggle. From the age of twelve I had to go straight home from school and take care of my baby sister. I was the one making sure she was OK: feeding her, changing her, bathing her. It’s like my life was in shackles. I didn’t even start playing basketball for real until I was sixteen. That was the summer I was like: ‘I’m done. I’m not y’all’s babysitter.’ I started waking up early and going to the park for hours, doing drills. Basketball gave me a sense of control. The more I worked, the better I got, and it was like: ‘Wow. I can really do this.’ It’s like I was finally the one writing my story. I ended up trying out for the school team my senior year: no skills, no talent, just starting to understand the game. But the things I could do, I did better than everyone else: diving for loose balls, grabbing rebounds, and hustling. It was mainly hustle. And I think the coach saw that, or maybe he just felt sorry for me. Because he created an extra spot on the roster just for me. There weren’t even enough uniforms, I had a different uniform than everybody else, and during the away games the crowd would let me know. They let me hear it, but I didn’t care. I was just so happy to be there. I couldn’t shoot, but I’d go one hundred percent on defense. The coach would put me on the other team’s best player. I’d stay right up under his jersey. I’d chase him all over the court. And by the end of the year I was in the rotation. We won the city championship that year. During the final game our starters got off to a slow start, and the coach wanted some energy. So he looked down to the end of the bench and said: ‘Rey, go in.’ Right away I got a steal. The crowd was going wild. Proudest moment of my life. I took it all the way back down the court, and unfortunately, I missed the lay-up. Would have been a perfect ending, but man. I was just way too excited.”

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Sun, 01 Oct 2023 16:50:42 +0000
“Growing up I was very much in my own head, my own world....

“Growing up I was very much in my own head, my own world. Instead of getting a babysitter my mom would just go to work and leave me at the house. We didn’t have a TV or anything. And when there’s no one to talk to, you just become your own friend. I’d look out the window and try to imagine myself doing things. Like: ‘What would it be like if I was standing on that roof? What sort of things would I see?’ But when you do that too much, at some point you get lost. I didn’t even feel alone. It’s hard to explain, because I haven’t experienced nothing else. But it’s like: you don’t feel lonely if there’s never nobody else there. And there was never nobody else there. Alone was my normal. It was my comfortable. So when we first started dating, I didn’t know what to do. Every time we were alone I would speak non-stop. Then I’d stop myself mid-sentence and be like, ‘Damn. I’m speaking a lot. I need to shut up.’ And she’d be like: ‘No, just keep telling me what you were telling me.’ I was just so excited. I felt like l a kid with a new toy. I’m not calling her a toy, that’s not what I mean. But that’s how I felt. Like I don’t know how this works, but I can’t believe I have it. I’m in love now. For so long I’d told myself: ‘This is never going to happen.’ But then it actually happened. It was like: ‘What do I do? Where do I go now?’ Every day has been something new. Monday feels like Saturday, because every day has meaning. I’m figuring out about her, and about myself, and about the world. Like, I didn’t know you could have fun in winter. There’s so many indoor activities you can do, just simple things. Like wearing matching pajamas on New Years. I never knew about that stuff. It can be so fulfilling. Sometimes you don’t even have to do anything. Just having somebody sitting next to you makes you feel nice inside. And that’s how it is now. That’s how my life is. She’s my comfortable. When she’s not with me, I wish that she was. I feel what it feels to be alone.”

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Sat, 30 Sep 2023 19:16:34 +0000