Back To The Jungle

Sunday July 16,2017 2:04 pm

Here I sit at the delta terminal, D-47 waiting for my 2:50 departure time which they announce seems to be on time. I just walked up to the desk to check my seat assignment and am told that I have a window seat in an exit row, “Are you prepared to help people in an emergency?” the flight attendant asks. Flashes of me quickly spike my brain of helping people out of the plane as we crash into the water. I respond with a nervous smile on my face, “yes.”

It’s funny I am ALWAYS at gate D-47, I have never been at the different gate. The last 3 years I have been home I have sat in one of these chairs and typed out my feelings of what has happened during my time back in Wisconsin. This time I was here for a little over 2 weeks. I have eaten so much cheese and drank so much soda. I literally drank 36 cans of soda- thats 3 packs of tathtian treat and mountain dew live wire because they don’t sell it in new york. I refuse to weigh myself. Ever again.

Being home is always filled with drama. Drama with family members, usually over my trans status and the way I talk about my life, or rather the frequency I talk about it apparently. I decided to not go up to my families cabin for the fourth of July which is originally the only reason I came home at the time I did. I wanted to see my extended family for our annual “lazy dayz” weekend at our lake house. I haven’t seen my extended family since I came out over 2 years ago. I grappled with going to the cabin for days before I came home, considering rescheduling my trip and not even coming home, because if I didn’t go to the cabin I would spent 5 days alone in my dads apartment. The thing is I didn’t want to deal with being called my birth name and being misgendered. I realized, I am not in the mental space to be able to deal with having to constantly correct people and deal with the invalidation that follows being called the wrong name. I am Rilen, I always have been Rilen in my mind, and anyone calling me something different is horribly hurtful.

So, I didn’t go, but I made a party of it! I stayed up till 3 am each night, bingeing on hulu shows like “This Is Us” “Inside Amy Schumer” and “Law and Order SVU.” I ate pizza two days in a row, had my favorite grilled cheese and just enjoyed myself. I sang loudly into the night and enjoyed my privacy. I haven’t been alone that long since I moved to NYC 3 years ago. To be able to also have the breathing room of my dads 2 story and 2 balcony apartment it was nice to be able to just exist and flow in n open space. I spent most of my life in my decent- for- new york size room. I eat in there, I sleep in there, and do everything else in there. I am held captive in that room.

I applied to a lot of talent agencies and a few managers while I was home, something I said I was going to wait to do when I got home, but I got bored and decided to maximize my time. It paid off because I actually have an interview with a manager August 15 and was offered 2 small parts in films while I was home, one of which I didn’t even audition for!

The few friends that I have asked me “how do you feel about going home?” Usually I have a firm “I am ready to go back, I’m sick of it here” but I am slightly hesitant this time. See, last time I was home in December, I was in the worst depression of my life. I was cutting myself daily and morphed into someone I didn’t know anymore. When I left last time I was going to begin therapy in January twice a week to begin to fit the pieces back together. So I was filled with furor and fight to regain some peace. I was ready to get better. Now that my mental health is in a little bit more stable of a place I’m not as desperate to return to city life.

Wisconsin and New York are worlds apart. I can’t begin to describe how different everything is. The people, the sights, the prices of things- everything is different. The way people smile at you when you walk down the street. The cost of cigarettes is $4 cheaper and soda is $1 less. Fresh pizza is the same but frozen pizza is so much less expensive. But the grocery stores amaze me. There are some huge ones where I live, mejier and woodmans- the prices are just nuts, I always am in shock of the rows of food and the HUGE aisles of cheese. Everyone moves a little slower, everyone is a lot nicer.I love boat culture when you are out boating everyone waves to each other, even people going tubing wave to you. It makes me a bit sad to go back to the pushing and shoving and lack of trees and grass of my Brooklyn borough for the unforeseen future. But, when I am home in Wisconsin I realize I am just a visitor, I am a fish out of water.I feel uncomfortable walking down the streets in my rainbow tie dye shorts and “hearts not parts” shirt. In New York, I feel mostly comfortable in my queerness because nobody pays attention.

They just called for pre boarding for my flight but on a final note or two I still look forward to returning home. I am excited to get back into auditioning and going on backstage every night looking for roles- as draining as that can be sometimes. I am excited to see my therapist again, to watch tv from my bed, unpack my new clothes and re adjust. Overall, its been a good vacation.

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