This piece was last read at Salonathon @ Beauty Bar, Chicago on 6/16: Joan Didion said "I think we are well-advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind’s door at 4 a.m. and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends. We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget. We forget the loves and the betrayals alike, forget what we whispered and what we screamed, forget who we were."
I didn’t find this quote on my own. Someone I went to college with posted it on Facebook , and I had to repost it because otherwise I will probably lose it and forget about it.
Thanks to Facebook, I can draft, edit, publish, and archive all of my well-researched ideas and opinions for all of my Friends to see.
Because of Facebook, I am able to curate the Perfect Person.
Facebook can make social interaction in real life feel like when you have a dream that is so realistic that when you find yourself in a similar situation in actual real life and you don’t know what’s actually Real.
I have Facebooked with someone for weeks, but I sincerely doubt my ability to spot them in a crowd and say hello in real life.
A couple of years ago, I wanted to radically reinvent the person I was curating.
I needed to latch on to something that would make me feel special.
I thought about organized religion, but then realized that wasn’t really an option because dogma and patriarchy have left a bad taste in my certified organic lip glossed, sometimes flossed mouth.
So I get a Groupon
I do a teacher training.
And I was good at it,
so I started teaching.
Then I had to go to India because all of the real yoga teachers to go India.
I am a Truth-Seeker. A Spiritual-Gangster.
I didn’t make that up. They have shirts that say “Spiritual-Gangster” at Corepower.
My Facebook friend does the retail at the Bucktown studio and he posted a selfie of himself wearing it with the hood up because that is what it means to be gangster, obviously.
So I go to India with a whole posse of Spiritual-Gangsters.
There was a retired Waldorf School teacher,
a master pastry chef,
a woman that once had to call the Kundalini Crisis hotline because of a spontaneous psychic awakening,
a man that is maybe 55 but is somehow retired already and only seems to talk about his condo association
and not one, but TWO psychics that are taking classes at the Envision School for Psychics in Lakeview.
We stay at a small hotel above a pharmacy where you can get pretty much anything you want without a perscription just as long as you know the real name for it
(speaking from experience, if you just go up to the clerk and ask for Xanax, they will know you are not legit).
I do not attend Envision, the School for Psychics, but when we stumbled into our respective rooms in a jet-lagged daze, the Spiritual Gangster posse’s shock was palpable.
Because the air is actually a cloud of gasoline from the generator on the floor below. The grid shuts off at sundown.
And the lights are fluorescent tubes with no fixtures and they are subtly blinking, which is made more conspicuous because your eyes are tired and when your eyes are tired, your pupils are larger because your reptilian brain is afraid that if you are tired that you might miss something important.
The bed is two twin beds pushed together.
I settle into shallow sleep in the crevice between mattresses.
This trip was the type of trip that the Spiritual-Gangster posse kept calling a Pilgrimage.
Pilgrimage is a word that is normally reserved for those embarking on a spiritual journey to visit a site that is sacred to their religion
but I guess it all depends on your intentions.
It is safe to say that the intentions of our group were to buy some ankle bangles with little bells on them,
snag some selfies that no one else would have on their Instagram account.
and collect scarves made of silk and hand embroidered by women that are not allowed to leave the house.
This Eat, Pray, Love Pilgrimage. These Spiritual Gangsters. These are the new Imperialists.
In India, the streets have no signs or traffic signals
and there are cows, and dogs, and pedestrians, and bicycles,
and auto rickshaws, and minivans
all traveling the same unmarked streets
all going as fast as they can, ass to ass, bumper to bumper.
After day 3 or so, I stopped flinching.
It is amazing how quickly you can assimilate when you have no other choice.
The person I curate on Facebook is well traveled, and has solutions to every worst case scenario.
I do a lot of ‘research’. The kind of Research you do when you have a sore throat, so you look up the causes on WebMD and suddenly you are convinced that it is lupus or cancer.
In India, if you are sick or something isn’t working the way it supposed to, you consult a priest.
In India, priests have mustaches, wear Panama Jack button down shirts, cargo shorts, and aviators.
I sit across across from the priest at a desk that is a wood-grain I have not seen before
carved with peacocks and lotus flowers that are the kind of detail only a Real life hands could carve.
The priest has his aviators on and he is smoking a cigarette and chewing a kind of tobacco that turns your teeth red.
He threw water on me and said some words that sounded really ancient and important.
He gave me a mantra.
I wasn’t expecting an exorcism at the time, so my mouth was wide open, and the water splashed in, and the rest of the day I made myself sick worrying that I would get sick from the parasitic India water that I read about on WebMD.
I can’t tell you the mantra because I am afraid my head head might explode. The priest didn’t actually tell me why I can’t tell you my mantra, but the way he said it makes me think it could something THAT serious if I told you.
My mantra is enclosed in a silver capsule that I wear around my neck on days when I want to remember.
Which are becoming increasingly less and less in frequency.
Because when I remember, then I become a fraud, which is not the type person I have been working so hard to curate.
I tried to write something where I would tell you about the sunshine and the rainbows and the magic,
but if there is one thing that I am sure of it is that I am a terrible liar.
There was a lot of sunshine, and there were rainbows, and ultra saturated, luxurious fabrics, and henna, and temples that were so old and sacred that just standing outside of the gates brought me to tears.
Because India is raw, and it is unapologetic, and she doesn’t waste time curating an identity just so that she can be LIKED. India needs no filter, and she doesn’t need to declare Yolo because she doesn’t play by our rules.
I wrote this so that I could share with you what I had to go halfway across the world to learn:
You have been working the way you are supposed to, are working the way you are supposed to, and will work just the way you are supposed to despite your perceived shortcomings and insecurities.
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, just be the wheel.