Before and After

When there was nowhere left to fall, then there was no were left to go. When there was no place to turn and no one else to turn to, it was here that I stopped wondering about the numbers of what could go wrong; therefore, I became numberless. The calculations had stopped because the complications of my life had simplified me down to the bottom of the barrel. It was here that with no other attractive opinions, I chose the option to change.
But yes, I admit it. There are photographs of me that are blackmail worthy. There are pictures of me that should I ever choose a life of politics or if fame should hit, I am sure these photographs would surface.
There are pictures of me in less than favorable conditions, positions and pictures that were taken of me at locations that were less than righteous.
Included on this list are pictures of me from different fashion tragedies and photographs that even the simple thought of them is enough to make me cringe. This includes my different hairstyles, which I shake my head. And I laugh because somehow, I suppose I thought this was a good look for me. I think about my wide leg jeans and my black boots with the wooden heels, which were in style at the time. I think of this and all of the places and stories. I still cringe, at least a little bit.

As a matter of fact, I used to cringe all the time. I used to clench every muscle in my body when an old thought or memory arrived. This was enough that I could feel the humiliation of a past decision. I would cringe in an almost automatic response. There is photographic proof of this; however, I am grateful to have grown up in an era before today’s technology. I say this because then there would be more than just photographs. Then there would be video proof.
Could you imagine?

I am, however, in support of before and after pictures. I am a fan of transformation, both personal and physical. I love to see the differences people make in themselves; but more, I love to see their faces, gleaming with achievement, proud of their efforts and standing tall as a true success story. 

But more, I love the random meeting of someone whose last encounter with me was unfavorable yet their personal evolution is truly stunning. 

For example, I had a young woman approach me in a store. She asked me, “Is your name Benny?”
She asked if I remembered her but I could not place her face. Her name rang a bell and her voice was familiar. But last seen, the person I knew that matched the name and voice was not in good condition.
The last time I saw this young woman was in a hospital bed. She overdosed and I was the specialist on call.

She was on the street for a while. And I am sure the imagination can take me to the places she must have been to. I can only imagine what she had to endure. Yet, the young woman who was standing before me did not match this description. She was bright eyed and happy. The talk was quick but the end result was long lasting. This was the end result of her emerging from her cocoon and evolving into her better self.
See what I mean? When there was nowhere left to fall and there was nowhere else to turn, she chose to evolve. 

I love this idea.

I saw the name of an old hometown friend the other day. Last seen, he and I were at a party which I hardly remember. We were in Tommy H’s house. I threw up all over the upstairs and from what I was told, I somehow broke the sink in Tommy’s upstairs bathroom. From what I understand, I was holding onto the sink to keep myself from falling down, which separated the sink from the wall.

Next thing I knew, I woke up in Tommy’s mother’s bed. I was in a Led Zeppelin t-shirt that was four sizes too big and my underwear was wet. Supposedly, I was tossed in a cold bath to see if this would help me come out of my state, which was nearly comatose. I don’t remember much, except for Dorian. He was with me throughout the night.

I found a Polaroid picture of me in the back pocket of my jeans the next morning. There was a picture of me with a baseball hat on. The hat was on backwards. I looked like one of those cartoon characters when little birds circle around their heads. I was standing up, tranced and distorted for the moment and the funny thing is no one that was with us had a camera. I was not wearing a hat that day which makes the picture even more of a mystery.

Decades later, I ran into someone from my hometown. We talked about the past and the crazy nights and the nights when things went wrong. This person mentioned a picture they had of me.
I asked about this because A) I am not a fan of pictures of myself and B) any picture this person would have is from a time that was less than good.
It was the polaroid from that night at Tommy H’s house.
I cringed, which must have been obvious.
“You don’t look anything like that anymore,” said the person from my town. 
I was grateful.

I think about the friends I had in my life. I think about the people I knew, who I grew up with or broke bread with and how years have come between us and those times. I think about how some people wouldn’t recognize me now and how truly incredible this is. For the moment, I ask you to think about the people from your past. Think about how the difference between now and then leaves us almost unrecognizable.

I don’t mind when people don’t recognize me. It only means they never really knew me. This also means that I evolved. This means that my life has taken a new shape and so have I. 

A man approached me the other day outside of an elevator at work. He asked if I was from a town called East Meadow, which I am. He asked me if I used to go to a certain pizza place on Hempstead Turnpike, which I did.
“I remember you,” he said.
The light bulb went on above my head because I remembered him too. This place had meaning to me. I would get take-out from here at least 3-4 times a week. I was in a financial bind. I was fresh out of a divorce. I was living in a small, upstairs apartment in a private home. I lost so many things at that time yet, when there was nowhere left to fall and there were no more concerns about the number of things that could go wrong, at last, I was numberless and able to recount my steps to build myself back again.

The significance to me here is incredible. I was at one of my lowest points in my life. This also marks the time when I decided to change. The next stage of evolution in my life began here. I started journaling. I started growing. I emerged from an old cocoon and evolved into more than I could have ever imagined.

There are no pictures of this. There is no video either, at least none that I know about, which is why I am choosing to leave this here. I want this to stand as proof of my before and after with more in store. The best is yet to come. 

PS: There is a picture of me from Halloween somewhere.
God, I hope that one is destroyed . . .

One thought on “Before and After

  1. It’s very inspiring that you’ve developed such strength of mind that even if you do cringe at the thought of the contents of that photo, you know it’s not the same you as now.

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