#MeToo, One Year Later

One year ago, I was in a hotel room in New York City, about to leave and take the N train from 42nd street to 23rd street to see the Flatiron building, when I got a notification on my phone from CNN. There was a breaking story on Harvey Weinstein in the New Yorker. The story was by Ronan Farrow and it broke down many tricks and avenues he would take to manipulate and take advantage of women. I showed my mom the headline and she shrugged, continuing to get ready for the day. I sat down on the bed and scrolled through the story, getting chills on my arm from every account I read.

One year ago, I didn’t know the magnitude this story would have on our society. No one did. After so many years in power of Hollywood, no one knew the significant impact the fall of Harvey Weinstein would have our society. No one had seen a man fall from grace this hard and this fast. No one realized that he was the first of many who would follow in his footsteps. I was too preoccupied with seeing the Flatiron building before the remnants of Hurricane Nate rolling through New York to focus on our society breaking into two. A few hours after receiving the notification, I became overly preoccupied with trying to get home through the shitty weather.

It wasn’t until the next day when I was sitting in the hallway, waiting to go into my last class of the day that I understood how this Weinstein story hit a spark in the universe, creating an explosion of women sharing their stories. I was seeing people using the #MeToo on Twitter and Facebook. The more stories I read, the more I felt less alone while at the same time becoming angry by the fact of how common this is and how it took a hashtag for so many women to share their stories public. I was hesitant about sharing my story and after lots of trepidation, I wrote two poems about how the actions of careless boys have impacted my life.

One year has passed since #MeToo spoke to the zeitgeist in a way no one could have ever predicted. We have opened a door we can never close again. One year later, we’re listening to women’s stories and believing what they share, yet we don’t believe them enough to change the old patterns of human history.

Believe Women & Believe Survivors

I’ve been trying to think about how to write this post all day. Last week, this country went through a roller coaster of emotions with the Senate Hearings. Watching Dr. Ford give her testimony and answer questions was emotional for me and many women around the country. She’s an amazing woman for being brave and sharing her story. I cried several times because I, along with a lot of America, could see how the traumatic events she suffered many years ago has impacted her life. It was evident that she did experience a tragic event, whether or not it was by the man she claims is decided from whatever “side” you’re on. I believe what Dr. Ford said. I believe any woman or man who comes forward because it’s a very difficult thing to reveal. It’s not easy and everyone who has experienced a sexual assault or harassment gets to decide whether or not they want to share their stories. The fact that women are being heard and beginning to be taken seriously is a baby step on the long road we still have to go on. Believe women when they speak out. Believe survivors when they speak up. They deserve to be heard and believed.

New York

I’m writing this post at JFK, waiting to board a flight to Boston. I’m heartbroken to leave this city. Coming here, I didn’t expect to have an ache in my chest as I leave. This city, the people, the art, the culture, the literature, all of it is magic. Yes, it can be smelly. Yes, walking in rain flooded sidewalks isn’t fun. But all of that lessens the more I’ve been here. Seeing the skyline of Manhattan from Queens is always breathtaking. The outline of the skyscrapers is beautiful. Walking up and down 5th avenue every single day is an experience I will never forget. Spending hours walking through the stacks and sections of The Strand, purchasing too many books. Seeking out Washington Square Park and Hotel Chelsea. Being around so many people. Growing as a young woman living in a dynamic, crazy, society that we’re in right now, seeing people of all kinds of diverse backgrounds being civil with one another gives me hope. I understand why New York is called a melting pot, it’s full of people trying to find the lives they dream of. As I left the city, I looked at the skyline as it was fading behind me, I felt as though I am leaving this city I fell in love with as a different person. I hope to return very soon.

As many of you who know me could probably guess, I was nervous about traveling to New York by myself. I’ve never travelled by myself before to this extent and I’m normally a pretty anxious person when stepping into the unknown. Fortunately, I was in NYC last autumn with my mom, so I knew a little bit about the city. On the downside, I was anxious the majority of the time last year and I feared I would be more anxious being by myself. I was wrong. Thankfully, I was able to push any anxiety I had to the back of my mind and go out of my way and seek out places. The Strand. Hotel Chelsea. Washington Square Park. I walked everywhere almost every day. I never felt unsafe walking in NYC, which surprised me. On Sunday, I walked from The Met to The MoMA by Central Park. It was an lovely stroll. I walked under the trees of Central Park along Museum Mile. I was calm. I stopped often to take photos. I wasn’t in a rush. I took my time, taking in the view of buildings and people, well aware the sadness that was washing over me because it was my last day in the city.

On my stroll by Central Park, I stopped at a Strand kiosk and spent a solid amount of time browsing all the books before buying two more I did not need. I bought them despite the fact that I had already purchased too many. For those of you who don’t know, The Strand is a famous New York bookstore. I spent a lot of time there after long days of stuttering therapy. It was comforting finding solace among books after a day of constantly talking with people and working on myself. As a writer, I love reading other writer’s work. It makes me a better writer. The Strand is a magical bookstore with so much rich history. I even found a copy of Robert Mapplethorpe’s Flowers, which was an unexpected find that I will treasure for the rest of my life.

I left New York a different person. I left New York heartbroken to leave. I spent the week working on myself and my stutter. I discovered new things about myself and how I can become a better communicator. The work doesn’t end now that I left the city. It’s only the beginning and I’m excited to do the work. I also discovered how much anxiety is in my head and how it stems from anticipation about being uncertain about the unknown. The anticipation is always worse than the actual event. The worse things I can think of don’t happen and it was proven to me over this week. I was capable of walking throughout the city without having a panic attack or being extremely anxious like I thought I would be. It was comforting to see so many people, specifically women, walking alone throughout the city. If they could do it, so can I. And I did. I had spent years admiring the city from afar and I fell in love wandering the streets with people from all walks of life. I may have left the city heartbroken but I have a strong feeling I’ll be back there very soon.

Photos from NYC.

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Part 2.

Part 3.

Part 4.

Part 5.

Part 6.

The MoMA

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The Met

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