Are you the favorite person of anybody?
Do any of you remember Dave Eggers? He wrote the hilarious semi-autobiographical novel A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, which was nominated for the Pulitzer when it was published in 2000. If you haven’t read it, please borrow a copy from your local library, and let this book change your life as it did mine.
Today, I’m thinking about Dave Eggers and his non-profit dedicated to supporting under-resourced students and their writing skills. It’s disguised as a pirate boutique gift shop at 826 Valencia in the Mission District of San Francisco. They sell, among other sea-scavenging supply, cannon balls (at least when I lived there 7 years ago).
Back in 2009, I was fresh out of college with a degree in Literature I had no clue how to implement professionally. I can blame society for hammering the old starving-artist adage into my generation’s collective brain, but to be honest I was just a lazy drunk with absolutely zero work ethic. So I naturally moved to Portland, Oregon.
A blessing in disguise, I actually found myself becoming a sort-of bonafide writer in Portland. I attended poetry slams and made it into the local newspaper, and I wrote for a local music magazine writing concert and album reviews. Then, in late 2009, I met and fell in love with the worst person I’ve ever had the misfortune to meet.
Young, in love, and completely reckless I stayed in this toxic relationship until I had to abruptly leave Oregon late 2010. Like a fairytale smashed to pieces, I literally fled back home to California rescued by my dad, sister, and brother in their shining U-Haul chariot.
And that’s not the worst part. The worst part is somewhere in the middle, right around the part where I knew I had to get away from this person and, yet, I chose to stay with him. But, like most stories, the worst part is often intertwined with the best part.
I can’t even remember how it happened. I started to research jobs back in San Francisco where my older sister was living at the time. Now, of course, I realize my subconscious was already preparing to get the f out of the relationship that would eventually hospitalize me. Secretly, mostly in the dead of night, I started to plan my great escape that I didn’t realize I was planning.
Then one day, the happiest part of this relationship happened: I received an email from the director of 826 Valencia inviting me to become a writing tutor. I knew in my gut this is what I had to do. Just as, even then, I knew I was going to screw it all up. You see, I truly believe that if I had taken that job all those years ago I would have become the writer I wanted to be. I truly believe the universe was giving me a way out of a terribly dangerous situation. But, young, in love, and reckless, I turned down the opportunity. A few months later I found myself in a psych ward suffering from severe alcoholism and depression induced by almost two years of mental, emotional, and physical abuse from my partner. I left for California shortly thereafter.
So today I’m reflecting on that missed opportunity as I struggle to realize it almost a decade later. What a painful yet effective lesson in trusting my gut. What a painful yet effective lesson in questioning my heart.
I’m reflecting on the healthy, loving, and supportive relationship I find myself in now. We are roughly 1,118 miles away from each other right now, but I’ve never felt closer to anyone my whole life. Well, any boy, at least.
I’m reflecting on Dave Eggers’s Wholphin, a visual journal dedicated to short films that can’t afford funding and exposure. Wholphin is published in conjunction with his journal, McSweeney’s. Miranda July directed a short film for them entitled “Are you the favorite person of anybody?” Today, I’m reflecting on missed opportunities and the shit we have to go through to find your favorite person, and, ultimately, to find your way back to yourself.