Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Gigi on My Shoulder

I am 19, living on 11th street and the West Side highway of Manhattan. Deep in the seedy section of the West Village, in a 5th floor walk up. I enter the apartment I share with fellow fashion design students and roommates Gigi and Per. I throw my worn green army back pack on the table in the living area, slump into the folding chair and sigh. "I'm tiiiiired."
Gigi, who has black arched eyebrows like Spock, and is munching on a bowl of Boo Berries, says simply. " So sleep."
I arch my eyebrow, like this is some sort of novel idea. Then think, No, I can't sleep, I have too much to do. As soon as I become aware that I am thinking this, I am saying it " I have too much to do..."...sinking deeper into my chair. Defeated by my life, the hardship of being a waitress and a student.
Gigi stuffs another mouthful into her mouth, hunches over her bowl, milk dripping from her spoon, and slurps " So?". Without judgement..with love.
I go to bed. For the first time in months I take a nap during the day. I sleep deeply, restoratively, and am aware that I needed it.

Several months later, during the summer while waitressing full time, I hear stories of the staff's travels and backpacking throughout China. They were boys, actually young men, in their early twenties, and both knew how to speak Chinese, but I was inspired and always thought that I could do whatever the boys did. Being half Chinese, I yearned to go to China, to know my roots, To feel connected to a group.

So when I spoke to Gigi on the phone while she was home for the summer with her family in Texas, I said "Someday,I am going to go to China."
She said back, with the same simplicity in her voice. " So go."
What now?? I thought, No you can't go have all these plans....
and I became aware of that automatic no in my head.
But Gigi's logic was clear. I got what she was not saying. Do what you want to do. Do what lights you up. Live.
Other class mates said, "But you are going to get behind."
I thought about that and then responded " Get behind who? Get behind what? This is my life."
My major, Fashion Design, would still be here when I got back. My roommates would welcome me as long as I paid my rent or found a sub letter.

I called my parents, used the money I had earned waitressing to pay for everything, took some Chinese lessons, and in a few weeks I was on a plane to China to backpack around the country alone...and discover.
It was an unforgettable, life changing, thrilling experience.
Ever since then I have thought, everyone should have a Gigi on their shoulder.
A simple, unattached, angel who reminds them of what they want, that they are living. When we do what we love, no reason, no matter how big or loud in our heads, can stand in the way.
I love you Gigi. Always will.
I honor who you were for me in those moments, I am that way for myself now, and often, for others. Thank you.

Zen Honeycutt

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