I walked up the five flights of stairs to my apartment early Sunday evening carrying two overfilled Costco bags and a Lululemon tote stuffed with my clothes from the weekend away, exhausted, sweaty, and ready to be home. Finally ascending the last few stairs, I got really excited and then really annoyed as I saw what was waiting for me. Outside my door was something I’ve been eagerly awaiting (a diffuser for my doTerra oils #nerdalert), but the packaging had been torn open. I peeked inside quickly and saw nothing but bubble wrap, and in an instant was furious. “Are you fucking kidding me?” I said aloud, angrily kicking the empty box into my apartment while struggling to fit all the bags in the door. Look, there are a lot of stereotypes out there about Washington Heights, but my neighbors have never been nothing but helpful and nice (if *too* nice at times), and ending an otherwise fantastic weekend by coming home to a stolen package frankly, well, sucked. I spent the next half hour slowly unpacking while quieting the white rage bubbling in my stomach, trying to focus on the positives from the past few days and redirecting my thoughts away from judging my neighbors for who was the “most likely” culprit for diffuser-gate 2015.
This weekend was an amazing mix of highs and lows, starting with something I’ve known about for a few weeks and been anticipating for a few years. Friday night my lovely friend M and her N made the forever promise on a beautiful spring evening and returned home to a surprise party for M celebrating their engagement organized by N and yours truly; we had a blast and a half but between the adrenaline, nerves, anxiety/eagerness for the party, and the lack of a proper dinner between the half bottle of champagne and being spoon-fed Jell-O shots by my fashionista C, I was down for the count by 9:30, passed out in M and N’s bed by 10, and in a cab to the Upper East around midnight, feeling awful from an impending hangover and the idea that I’d ruined their party. The low continued into the morning, where I thought I could make it through a simple walk around the block with the dogs without throwing up (spoiler alert: the walk ends with me throwing up bile next to a tree while a family looked on horrified), but carried into the high of my Twinster visiting, a rare treat that I cherish, and somehow between essential oils, egg sandwich delivery, a 9 a.m. nap and a run with the pit bull, I managed to kill the miserable hangover for at least a few hours. The high of a twin visit lasted through the aforementioned Sunday homecoming surprise, which made me realize how much I’d judged strangers and friends, and felt judged by the same people that weekend on a number of different levels.
I judge people. There, I said it. I don’t mean that I spend my days passing assumptions on everyone who comes near me, and I certainly don’t take pleasure from making assumptions, but sometimes it’s just a reflex to make a judgmental thought. It’s almost never entirely intentional, but it happens – I’ll walk behind someone at 7:30 in the morning already puffing away on a cigarette and think how much it sucks to start my morning in a cloud of smoke, and I get sad when I see parents feeding McDonald’s to children, whether they’re overweight or not. I’m blessed to have experienced a lot of privilege in my life, and that privilege likely contributes to the somewhat automatic thoughts of “gross” when I accidentally walk onto an empty subway car, or the look down my nose at the thought of doing my own laundry in the city. I’m not perfect, and I don’t want to pretend that I’m sitting on a high horse judging everyone, but there are moments where I see something, or where I experience something, and I can’t help but let a judgmental thought run through my brain.
I would probably feel worse about my auto-judging tendencies if I didn’t also feel that on a regular basis from fellow strangers as well. I am the only white girl in my building and on my block in The Heights, and I’ve had everyone from old women to small children make comments along the lines of “Is she lost?” and “Damn white girl, thinking she belongs here,” usually in Spanish since they assume a white girl can’t speak the language fluently. Then there’s a particular look that a certain generation gets when they get a glimpse of me on the subway if I’m holding the pole with my left arm up, because who is this girl with a nose ring and a ridiculous tattoo riding on a train dressed like she’s going to a real job? I’ll feel it on the weekends like this past one, where I got to watch D&D’s pups, the sweetest girls in the world; it’s hard to miss when people with small dogs, or even with no dogs, cross the street when the get a glimpse of a pit bull walking their way. And it’s not limited to strangers, of course. I love my family and my friends with all my heart and soul, but there’s a reaction they give you when you make the comment that by the end of the year, all your friends save for two will be engaged or married. It’s a “you’re next!” sentiment, a “he’s out there for you!” comment that makes me feel like I’m supposed to be upset that all the people I love are celebrating love this year, or feel like I’m missing out on something because M is my wedding date for probably the next two years.
Maybe I was just extra sensitive from a few embarrassing moments over the weekend or maybe I was just coming down from a crazy high of so many wonderful things in just 48 hours, but I let that empty box sit in my foyer for a few hours while I unpacked everything else and took a minute to enjoy my brand-new loveseat that had been delivered while I was gone that weekend. It felt like a gavel smash to a crazy weekend, that my neighbors had finally done something to feed into the stereotype that I’ve been insisting is overblown ever since I moved up there in 2013. I finally calmed down and took a minute to appreciate that if that was the worst thing that’d happened to me all weekend (or at least tied with throwing up on the streets of the Upper East Side at 8:30 in the morning), then I have a pretty good life. I sighed, grabbed the box to put in my recycling pile when all of a sudden I started laughing hysterically. A quick peek and a judgment about the meaning of a ripped-open had hidden the fact that my little diffuser was still there, entirely obscured from view by too many packing bubbles, perfectly in tact and not, in fact, stolen. Apparently my things aren’t cool enough for the neighbors to take, if that was ever the intention at all. It’s a nice reminder that people and times can still surprise you every once in a while, blasting the tendency to judge before thinking, and reshaping memories that felt like judgments into funny moments with friends or a caring word from a family member. I mean, speaking honestly, I guarantee this weekend was not the last time that I’ll pass judgment mistakenly or otherwise, and it won’t be the last time I feel judged by those around me. As a tiny reminder that life can still surprise you, though, I’d rule this weekend a rousing success.