“I’m turning thirty in July. And I’m still working out a lot of childish things in my dating life. I’m learning how to communicate. I’m learning to ask myself: ‘What do I want?’ instead of ‘What can I take?’ I’m learning that another person can never ‘complete me.’ And I’m learning that in certain moments it’s OK to not like somebody—even if you love them. It’s taken me longer to figure this stuff out because I had to hide my identity for so long. I know that nobody ever fully arrives, but heterosexuals definitely have a head start.”
“I’m practicing French right now. I want to move to Europe so I can force myself to start over. I have a nine-to-six job. It’s a good position. They pay me well. I love my team. But everything just feels so familiar. There’s no discomfort or uncertainty anymore. On weekends I go to the same neighborhood bar. I eat at the same restaurants that I know are good. I take interesting vacations, but even those tend to follow a regular pattern. As much as I tell myself that I'm being adventurous when I hike in Peru—it’s a very planned risk. I think a new city will be good for me. I’ll start out alone. I’ll be forced to reflect. I’ll have a sense of unexpectedness. I want to feel like a tourist in my own life again.”
“’I’m obsessive, but my obsessions are productive. I’m happy. I never get depressed. I find life very interesting. I paint for hours every day. I have 100,000 postcards at home organized geographically. And I’ve written a story about every day of my life between 1981 and 2011. I have 20,000 pages of notes. Right now I’m in the editing phase. I’ll be done with that in a couple years, and then I’m going to copy the entire thing by hand. There's no way I can trust computers with something this important. I think I can finish the job in ten years. I’m pretty sure I can live long enough.”
“I just had to sit down because I got short of breath. I was at a restaurant earlier where the manager had to seat me at the counter because I couldn’t fit in the booth. I have pain in my knees and my joints. I sleep with a breathing apparatus at night. And I’m a great candidate for a heart attack. I hate it. I hate the way I feel. But I’ve been overweight for so long that people assume I don’t want to lose weight. Friends and family wonder why I don’t just stop eating. But it’s an addiction for me. When I walk past a bakery, I feel the same way that an alcoholic must feel when he walks past a bar. But people seem to think that the alcoholic is unable to quit. And they think I choose not to.”
“I feel like I’m just starting, but I think I’d be fine if it all went away. I get that from my mother. From the moment I started singing, she always reminded me that all of this was a privilege, and could be taken at any moment. So singing is not how I define myself. I try to keep my identity rooted in my friendships and my faith.” (Link to entire collection of Met Gala stories can be found in bio.)
“He’s so sexy. And he taught me the importance of being silly.” “Being silly is so important. Silly is the opposite of grief. It’s throwing yourself into a moment without care. You can’t always maintain your status as a dignified person-- it gives you blinders. When you always expect the world to fulfill your expectations, it wears you down. It closes you off.” “So sexy.”
“She always responds with empathy. She meets anger with empathy. She meets hate with empathy. She’ll take the time to imagine what happened to a person when they were five or six years old. And she’s made me a more empathetic person. I had a very fractured relationship with my father. Before he died, she made me remember things I didn’t want to remember. She made me remember the good times.”
“I knew my husband very well. We’d been living together for twenty-one years. So it was obvious that something was going on. Suddenly he started playing guitar and writing songs. The songs were OK, but I read some of the lyrics and they clearly weren’t written for me. He started wearing cologne. He started liking new foods that he’d never even tried before. So I was suspicious. Then one night he came home crying. I said: ‘What happened? Did you kill someone?’ He told me that he’d gotten a girl pregnant. She’d just had the baby and didn’t want to keep it. Then he asked me if I would raise it! I said: ‘Sure, give it to me.’ I arranged to meet the woman in the park, and she handed me the boy. He was only three days old. He felt like my son the moment I held him. I got rid of my husband a few months later. But I kept the baby. He’s sixteen now.” (Lima, Peru)
“He’s always acting so serious. The last time we went out with my friends, he looked like he was constipated the entire time." (Lima, Peru)
“I’m about to meet up with my ex-girlfriend. We broke up two weeks ago and I’m hoping to get back together with her. I restricted her freedom too much. I scheduled all our classes together. I always wanted to know where she was. It all started a year ago when she cheated on me. She called me immediately afterwards and confessed. But ever since then, anytime she’s away from me, I always imagine the worst. She goes out with friends and some of them are male. So it’s hard for me to not get suspicious. And if I get suspicious, she gets nervous. Which makes me even more suspicious.” (Lima, Peru)
“My mission is to get them interested in Star Wars. My only chance is to get the big one hooked first because that’s how my kids work. I pitched Princess Leia as the most important character. I might have told a little lie and said that she was the princess of the entire galaxy. We had our first attempt the other day. I got whiplash checking to see if they were still awake, and I lost both of them before Princess Leia even showed up. I have faith in George Lucas though. We’re scheduling another screening with lots of candy. I think if we can just stay awake for the entire movie, we’ll be ready for The Empire Strikes Back.” (Lima, Peru)
“Sometimes I’d start crying in class for no reason. Then when I got home from school, I’d just go straight to my room. I couldn’t even talk to my mom about it because I’d just start crying. People would tell me: ‘Just get up, exercise, and take a walk.’ But none of that helped. Things got so bad that even the school was watching me. I started bawling during a chemistry exam and I ended up in the school psychologist office. I remember thinking: ‘I don’t care if I ever see another chemistry exam again. Or my friends. Or my mom.’ And I started to get this feeling that I was definitely going to do it. I was going to lock myself in my room that night and take a bunch of pills. The only thing that stopped me was imagining my mom finding my body. That was three years ago. That time seems so far away now. I found a great therapist. I learned so much about myself. There’s so much that I want to do now. I want to travel. I want to get married. I want to have kids. There are so many poems that I haven’t written and songs I haven’t heard. So it’s terrifying for me to think that I came so close. My problems were small back then. They were teenage problems. But I came one step away from not being. And I had made the decision to take that step. I’m afraid that I can go back to that place again. And next time, my problems will probably not be so small.” (Bogotá, Colombia)
(3/3) “The night I deserted was the most frightening moment of my life. The guerrillas would have killed me if I’d been discovered. I ran away in the middle of the night. I found a road and hitched a ride with an oil truck from Ecuador. I tried to cross the border but the army arrested me. I thought for sure I would be executed. But they gave me the chance to demobilize. The first thing I wanted to do was see my family. It was too dangerous to return home so I sent for them. I thought my father would push me away, but he was very happy to see me. My sisters told me that my disappearance had been very hard on him. He had gotten very sick. I’ll always live with that regret, but we were able to spend four years together before he passed away. I’ve rebuilt my life from scratch. Leaving the guerrillas was like being born again. I had no skills. There was a lot of prejudice against me. I had to work as a waitress and go to school at night. But I’m almost finished with law school now. And even though it took a lot of suffering to get here, I finally have the life that I imagined as a young girl.” (Bogotá, Colombia)
(2/3) “I was the youngest one in the camp. I felt very happy at first. I didn’t have to cook anymore. I was having new experiences. The guerrillas taught me rules. They taught me how to use weapons. They told me that we were fighting for the poor. All of it sounded very good. But then basic training began and it was very difficult. I started to miss my family. My father’s birthday came around, and I could not stop thinking about him. They sent me to another camp because my father kept searching for me. I spent eight years with the guerillas. We lived in the mountains. I slept on the ground. I didn’t get a salary. The fighting was continuous. The army would bomb us day and night. And I didn’t speak to my family for a full seven years. I always wondered what happened to them. Finally it got to be too much, and I decided to desert.” (Bogotá, Colombia)
“We’ve been at war in this country for over fifty years. There have been hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions of victims. So a lot of people don’t like the work that I do. I manage a reintegration program for ex-combatants. I’m trying to take away the main tool of war-- human beings. We can’t punish everyone who fought against us. We can’t jail them all. That will only divide us further. So we must find a way to reconcile with the 60,000 ex-combatants that live among us. We must educate them. We must find them jobs. If we reject and stigmatize them, we will always be at war. Reconciliation is a very hard task. There are a lot of open wounds in this country. People don’t want to forgive. Ex-combatants are often viewed as monsters. My job is to show that their blood is like ours. If we can’t break the idea of ‘good’ and ‘evil,’ we will always be divided. Reconciliation is the only way to change the course of our history.” (Bogotá, Colombia)
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