It was the day that Mel Gibson’s “N” word rant was exposed on tape. The day the inarticulate ass Jesse Jackson decided to throw his hate into that ring. Never has a cause had such an enemy in its own camp, unless you consider Al Sharpton, which I prefer not to do. So as I was saying, it was that day. The day that I had finally sent my book out to agents, knowing that if something didn’t come of it – if no one was interested – I’d have to go back to work with the rest of the world. Or leave my kid with his rich dad and just piss off back to Europe where I belong. I’d never do that, but the fantasy of it is the only thing, aside from the book, that keeps me from playing with semi-automatic weapons in a McDonalds. Not that that would be fair. Fish in a barrel is one thing. Pigs in a trough is another. The fat chick who lives on the third floor who somehow miraculously has no ass and bad French manicure press-on nails was on the lift with me that day, tapping away insidiously on her fucking Blackberry, though we had no signal, and in those cheap as hell polyester pants it’s not like anyone was actually urgently awaiting any sort of message from her anyway. Pig in a lift.
So that day I realized that I had been so set on finally getting the book out the door that I had forgotten to do what it takes to ensure I had enough money to pay the rent the following Monday. For months I had been selling off trophies of my former life as an overpaid creative type in another world just to pay the bills. Only my family knew while everyone else whispered about how I must be “loaded,” not realizing the irony of their assumption and its correlation to my stash of vodka. It never bothered me, selling me stuff. It’s just stuff, and if I didn’t have $3000 handbags and $8000 watches then the money that I spent on those things would not have been sitting in a bank for me, waiting for a rainy day, or there when I wanted to take a year off to explore my writer self. It would have been blown on something, if not these now negotiable vessels of materialism that were for me better than savings and by all accounts better than having invested it with some low life scammer. But most months I started in the first week of the month prior preparing for the next month so that I was never caught unawares.
When you’re a writer and you need to write, you wait for those days to come when you no longer want the distractions or the noise or the thoughts. And like a junkie who treats every fix as though it were their last, a writer lives in eternal fear that the words will come no more. That it is a defined well of bullshit from which we draw, and that one day the bucket will come up empty. So on those rare days when the page is our friend, we write. And in those rare weeks when we feel strong enough to write the query, draft the synopsis and have enough self-esteem to refine our bio without staining the page with our own vomit of self-loathing, we do it. That was this week, and the next week was rent and now I was fucked. So whereas I’d usually methodically decide what to sell, offer it to a few different sources and then strategically work out the most profitable combinations, this week I had no time. I had to find the one thing in my closet worth enough at resale on its own to pay the hefty rent for the overpriced loft. Only thing was, it was my son’s. My beautiful baby boy, who despite my earlier comment that I would leave him here, I love more than the air I breathe; he is the reason I write and continue to hope that someday I’ll actually make money at this thing for which I gave up afore-mentioned overpaid job.
I had no guilt. He loved our home and wanted to stay and the next time he asked where his alligator Prada carryon had gone, I’d simply tell him to look over his head. Then I’d have guilt. But until that moment comes I live with the reality of the need to, well, live. And with the hope that I‘ll make the money to buy him another. Not because I want him to kneel at the alter of materialism. But because my kid shouldn’t pay for my choices.
I know what you’re thinking, reading this now. If anyone is. Dumb bitch gave her kid an alligator Prada carryon. Not entirely the case as it was given to me. And even if it hadn’t been, we single parents overcompensate a lot. But the bag hurt my hands and made me look like a dyke and when one day we were traveling abroad he asked for a manly bag in which to carry his own things, I gave it to him. And he forthwith stuck his trusty bear in the outside pocket, his face pointing outwards so he could breathe and see, and his little paws hanging over the edge of the pocket so he could touch. My son said. And shit like that can melt this heart that is otherwise impenetrable by a diamond tipped drill, so from that day forward, it was his.
And that day as I stood in my bedroom making sure any belongings had all been cleared, putting it back into its dust bag and then tucking it into a box, I listened for any sign that he was coming out of his room and into mine, knowing that I could explain it to him someday, but not that day. That day I had no feelings, as most survivors don’t. I did what it takes to give my son another 4.5 weeks of normal. All that he craves. Normal. I sent my book, either ingenious fluidity or absolute banal crap, out into the world to be read, trod upon and coffee stained. I sent his bag out into the world as currency so I could drivel on a little longer. And when I came from the post office that day, where I had been to spend $71 I did not have to send my book to London agents because American ones suck, and where I had spent $48 I did not have sending his bag across the country, my son came downstairs, hugged me and told me how proud he was of me and that he believed in me and that he knows my book will sell. And he meant it. And the guilt came.