Sanity Addiction Part 3.12.jpg
 

“Is Princess your real name?”

“Uh yes, and you should mind your business,” I responded. I was standing in line at the DMV on Bleecker Street when the girl waiting behind me asked what has become a rhetorical question. This is the number one question nosy strangers have asked me since birth.  But I’m not complaining because growing up I always knew of another “Princess.” I figured it was the hatin’ ass bitches that didn’t like me in high school that made me despise this question. However, as they say, I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. I was getting my paperwork together to officially make my way out of North Philadelphia -- out of the hood to be a stylist to celebrities and socialites in the Big Apple. I figured I’d start in New York since it was 99 miles away. Plus Sean, my boyfriend, could at least drive me to “work” since he was a street entrepreneur. It was my master plan at 22.  It was a sunny Thursday afternoon when I decided to take the Boltbus to New York after I finally got my ID.  I’d enrolled myself into FIT a few weeks earlier and the next step was gaining official residency. That was the least I could do since Sean paid for my freshman year tuition in full, with cash of course. 

Financial Aid, who?! I stepped off the bus in a crisp Burberry Men’s collar shirt, that I finagled into a dress with a designer belt and sparkly platform sneakers. As far as I was concerned, I was dressed for success. 

“Hi, I’m Princess and looking for my Fashion 101 class in the Marc Jacobs building.” I stopped some chick on campus, which was on the corner of 25th street and 7th avenue.

“That’s on 8th avenue and 24th street. I’m actually heading there too! My name is Anita!” 

I smiled because she was the first friend I made in New York but little did I know she wouldn’t be my last fake friend. 

As we walked to the class together, we exchange career goals. I told Anita how I wanted to be a Celebrity Stylist with an education --That I wanted to study Fashion Business. She laughed and said, “Right?! because all these other stylists are scamming their clients straight onto the D-list.” 

When we arrived. It was a full house in one of those lecture halls you see in the movies. Who would have known all these jawns were here to learn the basics of Fashion. I texted Sean to check - in. 

Princess: Hey boo. I just got to class. What you doing? 

Sean : (no response.) 

I brushed off the unanswered text in an effort to pay attention. 

But after class, I texted Sean again. 

Princess: Hey boo, no response tho? You just gonna igg me just when I start making moves in the 212?! I’m on my way home. Meet at 30th street at 7 pm. 

I was staring at my phone when my new friend Anita interrupted my daydream. 

“Want to come out to the East Village with a few of us? We are heading to a party hosted by Mr. Ruggs, he’s like the hottest promoter in NYC. Lot’s of cuties too!!” 

“No. I gotta get back to home, to Philly. But maybe next time?”

“For sure. Make sure you bring your overnight bag, then. You can always crash with me in the Bronx.” 

“Aww, thanks! Well, Gots to go.” 

As I boarded the Boltbus,  I got a feeling in my gut that told me something wasn’t right. Why was Sean dodging my text messages?! But that feeling quickly faded by an email I received from a popular publication returning my internship request. 

******

Hi! 

Thanks for reaching out! We’d love to interview you. When are you available? 

Best, 

Fashion Closet Director 

******

Things were shaping up. I had no time for hood games. Even if I was literally going back to the hood, I knew it was temporary. Even though he was suddenly MIA, I knew I had Sean to thank.

 

The whole bus ride, I contemplated how to answer this internship email. But then that little voice in my head said, “Princess, stop trippin.’ Tell this girl you’re available when she is and make it happen.” So that’s how I responded. I hit send when the bus pulled up to the station.

 Still, no text back from Sean. 

I decided to take another bus to our apartment on 15th and Allegheny Avenue. But as I was walking towards my place. I ran into this dude name Tom who knew Sean, who discretely handed off a paper bag and told me to go the other way. “ It’s trouble over there,” he said to me making eye contact. So without hesitation, I put the paper bag in my vintage Louis Vuitton tote bag and headed to the other side of town. I knew something was up, but I didn’t know how bad until I was able to take out my phone. First thing I did was I call my friend, Laura  and asked if I could come to her place, AKA crash there. It was 9:30 at night and we were grown so it wasn’t like she had to ask for permission. Besides, we went dancing school together years ago, our parents were sort of friends. Her parents never had a problem with sleepovers. Plus she was privileged enough to have her own apartment in a big house uptown. 

    On the cab ride to Laura ’s,  I called Sean’s friend Alex who told me he was waiting for my call. He didn’t have my number locked and apparently, there was a bust on my block and Sean was one of the guys who got booked. I quickly learned that Alex had my stuff at his place. He lived with his second baby mom. He offered to drive it to me. “Did Tom give you the bag?” Alex asked. 

    “Huh, oh yeah.” I was so out of it, I forgot to actually look in the bag. But as I grabbed it from my purse and took a peek inside, there were a few rolls of $100 bills. I didn’t count it, but it was at least $20K. 

“Listen, Princess, I don’t know when Sean is going to get out. There’s a snitch in the streets. He wanted you to have this to handle your business in New York.”

Tears rolled down my eyes, but I had no time to really cry. My phone buzzed. I got a new email. Still, on the phone with Alex, I read it. 

****

“Hi Princess, Thank you for interest. Can you come in tomorrow at 10 AM for an interview? I know this is short notice, but we are looking to fill the position of Fashion Closet Assistant Intern position ASAP.” 

*** 

“I’ll bring your stuff tonight so you can have clothes to wear for tmrw.” Alex offered.

“No I don’t want them and I have no place to store them.” Give them away to the kids on the block. If I’m gonna start over. I’m starting all the way over.” I replied. 

At that point, I felt annoyed. I told Sean to leave the game alone, but he wouldn’t listen to me. No guy I like ever listens to me! I was sick of it. I was sick being left like this, to fend for myself. Since my mom died from breast cancer two years ago, and my pops wasn’t in my life, I literally had no one. New York was my golden ticket. So, as I hung up the phone, I tucked away my cash safe and had my eye on the prize. 

Meanwhile, though, as I arrived at Laura ’s, I let myself cry. 

“Don’t worry about it baby girl. We’re all just failing glamorously,” she said in her silk pajamas set. At that moment, I didn’t quite know what “failing glamorously” meant, but I felt it so the tears rolled down my cheeks even harder. 

******

Two months later, I was officially a New York resident if subletting counts. Yes, I had the keys! I pulled my duvet covers off of me in a maddening fury as I hopped out of bed to my bedroom door and slammed it shut. The sound of my roommate Anita getting ready was so utterly disturbing to me on a Monday morning, it was rude. She sprayed perfume that could mask the stink on the entire city block.  It was already well past 7 am and I had to cross a river to get to the factory where I worked. 

To say I woke up on the other side of the bed was an understatement.  I was hungover from the weekend of doing the most with errands. I graduated from over-drinking and experimenting with drug. I was clean in the sense that I didn’t accept random weed from strangers. 

Like clockwork, my phone started ringing. 

“Hello.” I mumbled.

“You are a receiving a collect call from - Sean - to accept charges press 1, otherwise hang up. “ 

I pressed one. 

“Hey wassup,” Sean said. 

“Damnit, nigga, why you always gotta call me so fucking early.” 

“Because I know ya ass ain’t up yet and you should be,” 

“Ugh, listen I don’t need you checking up on me like this!” “I’m fine. I’m going to my classes. I’m breathing.” 

“Obviously not studying.” 

Click. Dial tone. 

Sean was checking up on me because he partially felt responsible for me not getting my dream internship. The night he got booked, it turned my world around. I showed up for my interview 30 minutes late. I thought back on that fateful day with an eye roll.

“Hi, I’m so sorry I’m late. I got lost coming here. I’m not from New York and it’s my fourth day in the city.” 

“It’s fine,” The Fashion Closet Director said. But I knew she was disgusted because we talked in the lobby. She didn’t even invite into her office. It was at that point when the feeling of rejection started to creep up on me. I never felt it before because where I’m from, I was Princess - the pretty girl on the block, the best dressed with the shiny white teeth and slick hair. After the 10 minute interview, I left feeling like the grind of the city had just spit me out. So I did what anyone would have done: I went shopping. I bought a MacBook Pro from a random Pawn shop for $800, I then went to the nearest cafe to get wifi and started looking for apartments. Luckily, $20K in cash can take you far in New York if you’re thrifty. And I was ready to make moves. 

     Weeks later, and a few more times hanging up on Sean, the stage of my irrationality was sitting at angry. When I banged on Sean, I was hurt. At this point, I was sick of this guy trying to rule my life. I was thankful for his dirty money, but I was tired, lonely and frankly, horny.

Day after day, I would despise taking his calls. It would be the same conversation on his end. “Babe I read this book called Machiavelli and I think you should read it to. It can be like a book club.” Then I wouldn’t hear from him. Remember what I told you about niggas tryna tell me what to do?  Well, his privileges would be revoked, he’d be in the hole, and I would just be looking stupid, rushing back to the Bronx to talk to my locked up man while Anita was having dinner on some promoters dime. I was clearly missing out. 

I felt a wave of anger, annoyance for being here at this very moment. I felt upset at myself for canceling on two dates, trifled at the fact that I still didn’t own a Chanel bag after all the catcalls, worth $20 per gorgeous compliment, times that by 100 a day and I’d be a rich bitch. So I stopped taking Sean’s calls. I thought I would feel free, but this is when all hell broke loose.  Here we go. 

***

It was March and I woke up snuggled up next to Tyrone, hiding from the coldest breeze coming through my dilapidated windows.  Yes, the rebound is real. He came into my life at the right time. We met at a local brunch spot after talking online for a few days. It was nice to finally touch someone physically. 

He was different than Sean - a better pedigree, a truthful job and a car that was registered to his name. I was vibing in a calmer setting but the only thing that bothered me was that he was too opinionated. I wasnt use to dating a guy who had it together, someone who rocked a suit to work.  So, I didn’t care when he said things to me that made me feel slightly self-conscious. They went over my head. Until one day they didn’t and it started to poison the honeymoon stage of the relationship. 

“Do you want to be with me?” Tyrone said one night when we were getting ready for bed. 

“Umm, what kind of question is that,” I replied, shifting to my side. I was annoyed that he would ask me such a question.  “Yea, I do want to be with you but it’s nice to have my own space sometimes.”

“So you don’t want to be with me.” He replied.  “You shouldn’t be studying at home. Leave that for a library. This is your time to relax and I’m here to relax you.” 

“That’s not what I said.” Tyrone was talking about my schoolwork and job again. It was typical for him to manipulate my feelings.  

I put this conversation in the back of my mind. I was afraid of losing something seemingly good. He was even going to introduce me to his friends. It was a sure sign of us officially becoming a couple. I yearned for normalcy. But this BBQ with his childhood friends was the iced cake of my concern. It was an outdoors fete where all hell broke loose with us.

  Moments before, he fussed about my outfit being too basic, the sneakers I chose to wear were not trendy enough. When we finally arrived at the BBQ, his friends were losers, so I literally didn’t understand why Tyrone was pressing me. 

“So let’s have a group discussion,” one of the girls said while we were doing the BBQ thing.  It was code for finding out the intimate relationship details of who’s fucking who, who cheated on who, and why they took each other back. 

I guess this girl Jessica (Tyrone’s friend from around the way) volunteered to go first and it was a bad idea because she and her “man” caught feelings right at the table during what was supposed to be a playful conversation. 

“You don’t remember when we first kissed?” She questioned her “man.”  Jessica was pissed off. 

“No, I was dating other chicks before we made it official.” This dude literally played her at the table. And I felt so sorry for her, so of course, I sided with Jessica. “Ugh, I can’t even! That’s crazy.” 

Which led me to point this conversation in the direction of Tyrone who was walking around being weird, drinking, and not sitting next to me. I wasn’t use to this type of behavior. He was at the grill playing with the switches while side eyeing me. He gave me that look that said, “You better not say nothing to embarrass me.” But I totally didn’t care. I freely started to recount when we met. 

“We met on Tinder. We exchanged numbers and started texting. But we didn’t actually go on a date until a few weeks later. Then he started getting on my nerves. So I blocked him for two weeks and when he reached out to me again, I told him we would have to make this official if he wanted to be with me seriously. And now we love each other, happily. ever. after.”  

It was short and to the point.  Of course, I didn’t mention how I started messing with Tyrone because Sean, my drug dealer ex-boyfriend, couldn’t be with me. But Tyrone didn’t like my very watered-down side of the story. It was supposed to be sarcastic and from the guys and girls response, everyone at the bbq started laughing… followed by loud arguing. Tyrone came over to me and rammed his body into me trying to give me a hug, but his grip around my neck squeezed the earring out my ear and broke it! I dropped to the floor to look for the back piece. And then it started raining and Tyrone declared we were leaving. I hated that he had this control over me, but I let it go because he wasn’t like other hood guys I dated. I kept reassuring myself that he was normal as I tried to keep it cute leaving the BBQ.

“Babe, here’s some water,” I said as he smacked it out of my hand. 

“WTF, why you always trippin!” I said. When we got in the car, the argument went to another level. Not only was he driving like a maniac, speeding to red lights and pumping his breaks, the Caribbean music was blaring from his car speakers and it was making me hostile. 

“Babe, here’s some water,” I said as he smacked it out of my hand. 

“WTF, why you always trippin!” I said. When we got in the car, the argument went to another level. Not only was he driving like a maniac, speeding to red lights and pumping his breaks, the Caribbean music was blaring from his car speakers and it was making me hostile. 

“Can you stop!?” I yelled over the music. 

“Stop what!? You wanna run your fucking mouth.” 

“Run my mouth? Never that.”  I said. Tyrone didn’t know the half of my troubles with Sean so he just said whatever he thought sounded good. 

“You always gotta show off,” Tyrone said. He slapped me upside my head while he was driving with the other hand. I don’t know why he would do that because I lost it. I punched him back right in his face. He swerved in the wet streets of Brooklyn. 

“Let me out of this car,” I screamed. As he slowed to a red light. I peered out of the rearview mirror checking for the cops- as always. 

Somehow, I hopped out of the car in the rain. My head was throbbing. I was hurt. I wanted to call Sean but I had no way of getting in contact with him, so I walked into the nearest bodega and bought a pack of Marlboros. Tyrone hated when I smoked- “I’m not kissing you, I don’t want that secondhand smoke.” he says to me.  But I didn’t care. My nerves were a wreck and Tyrone just sped off in his white Porsche, leaving me on a dark street. 

     When I pulled up to my apartment in a separate cab, Tyrone was waiting outside for me. He got out and started running towards me. His right fist was closed as he swung at me and missed, then he swung again and hit me right in my stomach. I doubled back. I couldn’t believe he hit me again! 

      My roommate, Anita came out and broke it up. I was hysterical. I wanted Tyrone’s shit out of my apartment. I grabbed my scissors and started cutting his ties, vandalizing his sneakers with a black Sharpie and I threw out his colgne.  

     What started as an innocent swipe, ended with a domestic disturbance complaint by a neighbor who called the cops. I managed to talk the cops out of giving us a violation. I knew Tyrone needed his job and snitching on him was not the answer to what he just did to me. 

     It was hard to wake up the morning after. The physicality really speaks for itself and it had no way knowing about the previous page’s relationship. In my time of despair, I put on my go-to outfit for class: a black turtleneck, leather mini skirt, and black boots. I couldn’t think.

I just needed to continue my life normal so I went to my Fashion lecture class and met up with Anita after to recount the night that left me numb inside. It was over 12 hours and still no “sorry” text from Tyrone, yet I was worried. 

“OMG, you have to report him!”  She told me. I didn’t like becoming involved with the feds. I did not want my name on record.  Like most women, calling the police is the least of worries.  But even as a whole fortnight had come and gone, the need for our souls to join didn’t matter anymore.

And then like any other nigga would do he showed up two days later. I was walking back to my apartment from the subway. When I finally reached my block, I saw the familiar car, and the guy, who was holding a dozen red roses and a Chanel shopping bag.  

I peered at him through my tinted shades. I slowed up my walk, as I got closer to him. He looked at me with sadness, I knew this was his apology, but how could I take him back? My gut throbbed. I couldn’t tell if it was trying to tell me something, or if it was just the pain felt a few days ago from the very man who had obstructed my view. Could I forgive him? I guess this is the hard part about staying strong. Plus, it was too soon to see this guy, a stranger and someone I didn’t know afterall. Love is blind.  I walked towards him and calmly asked him to leave. I couldn’t fight in broad daylight. Too much bougieness plagued my self-esteem and frankly, I couldn’t see myself with someone who dramatically betrayed my trust. It was a stab in the back waiting to happen. I needed to focus on my own fashion endeavors and what was on trend was being single and empowered. My roommate Anita told me to change my number and my apartment locks. It was then that I realized it was a few days until Spring Break, so I purchased two tickets to Cancun to lay low until all of the guy mess blew over and I was sunburnt on the beach and drunk off pina coladas.