I wore a blue kerchief. I was going through a kerchief faze at the time, trying to channel a casual Audrey Hepburn. Going to work that night I felt confident in my black shell and black capri pants. I was going to be working an industry party, the premiere of “The Mod Squad” and I wanted to have a good time with good people watching despite my waitressing status. My relationship with my current place of work had waned since the past year, but I felt hopeful that night that some of the magic I experienced would return.
The summer of 98 was, at that point, the most beautiful I had ever experienced. I fell madly in love with a boy and, I believe, he with me. We would leave work together after hours, drinking red wine in diners and wandering the streets of the west village. We would speak of our favorite writers and musicians and pick out the houses where we would celebrate christmas together with our children. Would would tenderly steal glances and maybe brush the tips of our fingers together. But ours was an emotional and unfortunately forbidden attraction as he had a live in girlfriend. Nearly 15 years later, I’m ashamed that I dreamed so vividly of our future knowing that he had somebody attached to him in the present. But we were young, I was in love, and for the first time I had felt that I was loved back. I felt seen.
As the night moved on, the management grew more lax with the wait staff, and as it was an open bar, we believed that as hard working citizens we should be included in the spirit of the night. On this beautiful March evening my blissed out feeling from the summer of 98 had more desperate vibes, but I felt that it was most likely an unfortunate phase rather than a precursor to a serious illness. I was in a fairly decent place. I felt completely renewed as an artist after having an amazing experience filming a commercial in Mali. But while engulfed in the richness of Africa, all I could think about was sharing my experience with my love, which was now probably more of a delusional obsession. Nights of playing Hangman using words like “time” and “patience” had given me the unfortunate illusion that I had found a soul mate, and even if no one else knew our secret, all I had to do was wait.
Each cocktail exacerbated my growing self doubt. I began slow dancing with my bisexual friend to evoke an energy of allure and sexuality, I flirted and gave coy glances to a few of the celebrities in attendance and I walked the room with all of the confidence I could muster. My love didn’t blink. In a last desperate attempt to gain his attention I frantically looked for him to at least get a quick cigarette break together. A last attempt to convince myself that there was still something there. As I climbed the stairs to the DJ booth my dancing friend stopped me. “He has a girlfriend Amy. He doesn’t love you.” And it was that simple. It was that obvious to everyone else. My desperation, like a drug fiend, became harder and harder to conceal. It dawned on me that I was a fool. And everyone knew it. And everyone thought it. And I was seen. For the weak, annoying and unlovable person I always felt myself to be.
I got out of work as quickly as I could running into the night with the 3 most supportive people I could find, a girl with a half a hit of x, my ex-boyfriend who left me because he fell in love with my best friend, and my roommate who was living in our apartment on my dime. After spending some time at the Bowry Bar waiting for a quarter hit of ecstasy to do something for me, we decided to go to my ex-boyfriends apartment. And that’s when my flutter of hope, my flutter of belief in life, my flutter of that absolute, all-consuming joy was put to rest.
I have been lucky that I never became a cocaine addict. But bringing it into my life created enough havoc to experience it’s full potential to destroy. I have never been the same. I will never be the same. I had never had the desire to do it. I actually took pride in having never done it. I actually had a pretty well established fear of it. And that one mistake that one night cost me ten years of my life. Ten years of all consuming obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety and self sabotage. Ten years that could have been spent building myself up was instead spent destroying every part my soul beyond recognition.
I feel very blessed having come out of it finally. Thirteen years later I can experience that blissful joy, I can experience genuine laughter and I feel way beyond just flutters of hope. But I would take back that night in a second if I could. I know those people who were with me would as well. My ex-boyfriend took his life this past november, and the other two have struggled greatly. If you or anyone in your life is going through an incredibly difficult time please don’t numb yourself in any way. Swim through your heartache, bath in your fear, and cocoon yourself in your shame. Know that it is temporary and that growth and beauty is awaiting you on the other side. Appreciate your life for what it is, the good, bad and the ugly and know that by avoiding any of it, you are no longer living at all.