All I know is that from October 26, 2018 to January 16, 2019, I cried every single day. Sometimes three times a day. Twice, I cried in the elevator on the way to work.
New rule: Never cry about going to work before you go to work. If that is the case, quit. Quit and never look back. You will never ever regret it.
At first I didn’t know why I was crying. It was just this feeling. This overwhelming feeling. I would get it sitting at my desk reading my inbox. I would get it while organizing business cards in the stock room. I would get it walking home, I would get it at a concert, I would get it at after work drinks, I would get it having lunch with my grandparents. I always let myself cry. I told myself, “Sammy if you need to cry, you cry. Your feelings are valid.” I validated my own feelings, but it was not enough.
I became comfortable crying in all sorts of places. On the tube, walking home at night, in the cafeteria at work. My safe haven was the toilet. Nothing more soothing than a washroom weep.
It was hard to admit that I was unhappy. I was permanently employed at a leading Academic publisher, I had great friends, a supportive family, a cool flat, the perfect walk to work, and a nice boyfriend. And yet, I was. Before Edwin broke up with me, I was unhappy. Before Edwin and I got together, I was unhappy.
I didn’t realize how unhappy I was until he was gone and I was finally alone. Alone with my broken dreams, my broken heart, my broken hope.
And then it got worse. On November 7th, thirteen lives were stolen at a local bar near my hometown. I found out as it was unfolding sitting on Facebook at my desk, luckily my friends and family were safe in their beds. Some of my friends were not as lucky. It doesn’t matter that I wasn’t personally connected to those whose lives who were taken, it doesn’t take away from the devastating tragedy of the event. There will always be the fear that it could happen again, knowing that we can do nothing to prevent it. Those lives will always be lost.
And then it got even worse. On November 8th, a fire broke out in northwest Los Angeles – the Woolsey and Hill Fires. Most of my friends and family were evacuated. My family was evacuated. “Please take my journals,” I asked. My sister dutifully packed them and put them in the car. They were still packed when I went home for Christmas. The fire lasted two weeks, killing twelve people, and burning 93,000 acres, including one of my high school friend’s home. California has always had fires, but these fires were different. As my mother said, they are only homes. They can be rebuilt. Compared to the Camp Fire in Northern California, we were lucky. But again, that fear. Things bigger than all of us out of our control that could destroy our lives.
Throughout this difficult time, I found the only thing that made me feel better was knowing that there were people out there going through much worse. I couldn’t help thinking about the refugees in Europe as well as those people still living in war zones, famine, and natural disasters.
At least my crisis was being reported on with 24 hour coverage. At least people cared and felt sorry for what was happening to my hometown, even if it was because of Kim Kardashian. At least my friends and family were safe. At least I was safe.
I felt like there was nothing I could do but watch, and yet I needed to do something. I felt this strong call to go to Greece and volunteer. But all I could do was cry.