Thursday, July 5, 2018

The Chronicles of a Fashion Woman: The Fourth of July


It's 9 o'clock on Wednesday, July 4th 2018 in Brooklyn. New York is just getting started.

"Just go, it doesn't matter, just go, it doesn't matter, just go, it doesn't matter." A cop who looks to be in his fifties is leaning almost casually against one of the subway entrance turnstiles. The emergency exit door is propped open and he continues to point in its direction as he repeats his mantra, "Just go, it doesn't matter, just go, it doesn't matter, just go, it doesn't matter" and New Yorkers race through the opening with a thrill.

Trains are packed with bodies and humidity, racing through the tunnels towards the East River (where Macy's sets off their legendary fireworks every year). Strangers press up against each other without realizing, excitement dancing back and forth amongst everyone's eyes.

"Stay behind the yellow line," another cop shouts as he paces back and forth across the platform. He's young, not a day over 30, and his cheeks are tinted with anticipation. His body is shaped like a barrel and his cap is a little too small for his head. He clears his throat. "Behind the yellow, please!"

Just as a car is being set on fire in Bushwick, children are playing in the gushing fountains of busted fire hydrants all over the streets of Bed-Stuy. Williamsburg couples creep out of their apartments to enjoy a quiet dinner at the only restaurant open for blocks, hoping to be in bed before the chaos further ensues.

And it does. Cops patrol the streets helplessly, making feeble attempts to enforce the law but knowing full well that it's America's birthday and no one really cares right now. Teenagers stumble through the streets in packs, passing joints and drinking out of brown bags. A group of men dressed impeccably in evening gowns huddle together, trying to figure out their next move. An old couple watches the streets from their fourth-floor apartment window, holding each other and smiling.

The show begins, and suddenly the streets go from chaotic to apocalyptic. Chemicals soar straight into the sky, pausing for a moment and then exploding into color, like a luminescent gun shot. Helicopters circle around the fireworks, which are going off two, three, four at a time and I can't help but wonder what would happen if one of the helicopters got too close.

The air smells like marijuana and gunpowder and quite a few people are power walking towards the river, where they will have a better chance at seeing the show. Drivers take a break from honking and cursing each other out to stick their heads out their windows and look up. However, most people aren't moving at all.

Where I'm from, Fourth of July is for the kids. It's for sparklers and bathing suits and hot dogs and playing games outside. In New York, there are hardly enough kids to go around. Fourth of July looks less like a huge, outdoor daycare and more like a bunch of adults who aren't moving at all, transfixed by the show taking place up above.

A woman dressed in scrubs with her blonde hair cropped close to her ears leans against a fence, watching the fireworks through the chainlink. Her right foot is nestled in between one of the fence's gaps, her weight resting forward. It's hard to tell whether she is deep in thought or thinking of nothing at all. Her eyes do not leave the sky.

Families sit perched on the front steps to apartment buildings, faces pointed straight up. Even the cops patrolling the streets are taking a moment to just...look. It's interesting, the fact that we see fireworks at least once a year every year and still can't get enough of them. A young man with a scruffy hipster beard and (prescription?) glasses to match is leaning against a Toyota, his hands shoved into his pockets. He seems like the type to be impressed by very little, or at least the type to go to great lengths to make it appear that way, but even he mutters "Wow" as green, purple, orange blurs of illuminations light up the sky.

It's like the entire city is holding its breath. All the sounds of war are taking over and it's beginning to feel like anything goes, but no human is making a noise. No human has his/her attention anywhere but up. An entire city of sharks who go through their days without a second thought for anyone else. Financial analysts with better skin products than their girlfriends, construction workers who harass women in their free time, fashion editors with razor sharp edges and a knife consistently sharp enough to stab you in the back. Everyone stops who they are for a second and stares up at the sky like children - with wonder, with hope.

The fireworks stop - at least the Macy's show does. The rest of the neighborhood is still having its own mini event. I make my way through the throng back to the train station, wading past couples and friends and loners alike. I turn the corner, only a few blocks away from the Nassau G station, when I come across a large party taking place in the middle of the street.

I lean against the wall to pack a quick bowl - honestly, the cops couldn't care less right now. They're letting us be honest. Groups of people, people with short hair and long hair and piercings and tattoos and wigs and leotards and ballgowns and thongs are flooded all over the street. A DJ is at a booth too far for me to actually see, playing music too hip for me to recognize. Everyone is swaying; everyone is on a cloud. No one gives me a second glance. I feel indestructible. This city feels indestructible.

I make my way to the center of the crowd, swaying my body to the music and staring at everyone around me. I can't get enough of the looks, the conversations, the dance moves, the energy. A giant disco ball hangs from a tree fifty feet away. I'm not on earth anymore.

The DJ is indecisive - he switches the song before the current one is over, but no one is bothered. We jump and twirl and grind and sashay our way into the night, America stuck on our skin like humidity. I can't remember feeling so indestructible.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

The Itch


It starts small and then builds like a crescendo.

I wake up, still groggy from the week I've had. I put in 60 hours this week, and while I love being at a fashion magazine more than anything, it's hard work. I'm constantly moving, constantly getting things done. I'm calling clothing samples in from designers to use on our photo shoots. I'm packing the clothes, making sure to keep record of everything that comes in. I'm wrestling with PR managers all day on return dates, getting the correct accessories in, getting a proper ETA so I'm not running to Fendi at 5PM, praying to God I can make it back to the office by 6 so I can send the look to set. 

In my down time, I'm still moving. Maybe there aren't any shoots going on that week and my boss isn't giving me much to do, but I'm still running around the closet picking up stray pieces of tissue paper and bubble wrap. I'm looking, always looking, for ways to make things even closer to perfect.

It's Saturday, and I wake up, still groggy from the week I've had. My body feels too weak with fatigue to think about all of the errands I have to complete, so I go to the kitchen and make myself breakfast instead. I lay back down and watch Netflix, munching on peanut butter toast and spooning yogurt into my mouth while I do my best not to think about a thing. And then I notice it's hot, and my armpits itch a little.

I tell myself not to worry about it - after all, I'm in the middle of breakfast and I'm laying on a bed. It's not like I can't wait until I'm finished to apply deodorant. But the nagging does not acquiesce. The itch grows stronger and stronger until I can't take it anymore; I get up and hurry to the bathroom to grab my stick of coconut Secret. 

In the bathroom, I realize the sink is dirty. This isn't any real surprise to me - it hasn't been draining properly in weeks and our landlord is taking his sweet time in getting someone over here to fix it. But every time I look at it, my entire body feels uncomfortable - like I want to leap out of my own skin.

I rub the deodorant under each arm and put it back under the sink, feeling satisfied. Until I notice things are a little out of order in the cabinets. I sit on the floor and begin pulling everything out so I can rearrange it. Seven minutes later my chest feels a little looser, like I can breathe again. I lean back, satisfied. And then I go back to my room and finish my breakfast, which is now cold.

After I finish my breakfast, I immediately pause my show and take the plate and silverware upstairs. I have to clean it right away, or else I won't be able to watch my show in peace. I bound up the steps, determined to get it done quickly so I can go back downstairs and relax. It's then that I notice the state the kitchen is in.

There are crumbs all over the stovetop, crusted over the burners and peppering the steel wiring. Dirty dishes are strewn about the sink, wet food casually clinging to them. I feel my heart rate start to quicken as I aggressively scrub down my plate and fork with scalding-hot water, soap and a handle sponge. I sigh, sighing because I know this is my day now: cleaning the apartment. I'll start with the kitchen and I won't be able to stop. I'll do all the floors, I'll do the kitchen, I'll get on my hands and knees and work until my entire body aches, because sometimes that's the only way I can fathom getting rid of the anxious voice in my head telling me to GO.

I'm recovering and I think I'm doing a pretty kickass job, but I'm not perfect. What many don't consider is that anorexia rarely stems from the simple need to be "skinny" or "attractive." We know our bodies are repulsive and we know we are killing ourselves. That's the point; that's the fix. 

What I'm trying to say is, I may not starve myself anymore, but the anxiety and OCD still live. On certain days, so does the depression. Recovery is not perfection; recovery is not complete absolution from all things ED. Recovery is being honest and open to the idea of change and self-love. It's a second chance, or a third or a fourth, at real life.

I used to have anorexia, and I still have anxiety and OCD and sometimes I suffer from depression. But what matters is that I'm trying. I'm making an active effort to love myself and treat myself with the respect I know I deserve, and that is something we all must do for ourselves every single day.

I choose to look at my anxiety as an asset. While it possesses the ability to drive me crazy, it also makes me great. It puts my attention-to-detail on another level. It lands me jobs, it gets me good grades. It is what has driven me to post on this blog 193 times! Most importantly, it is what pointed me to recovery in such a dogged, irreversible way that relapse never stood a chance.

Put in the work to contain your insecurities and doubts, but never think that you need to succumb to the idea that whatever is afflicting you is 100% bad. Even the most taxing of mental strains can conjure up a great amount of beauty and strength within you. We write our own stories - don't let anyone tell you differently. 

Sunday, June 24, 2018

The Chronicles of a Fashion Woman: Patience

Working in fashion takes a lot of different efforts you may not have known you were capable of.

You have to be a little conniving. You have to be able to finesse your way into what you want, whether that be a share with Balenciaga so you can shoot Look 2 from their fall/winter collection for your upcoming story or the email of someone at KCD who you think can help you get to your next step. Fashion is constant forward motion; a relentless drive to be better than everyone around you.

You have to be unforgiving. If you need to get something done, you cannot take no for an answer. You allow no excuses, you allow no alternatives, you allow no exceptions. You complete the task, no questions asked.

You have to be a healthy amount of fake. Fashion, like many industries, is all about connections and relationships. Whether you actually want to get drinks with that PR director or not is irrelevant - what is relevant is how well you're deceiving her and whether or not she is going to return the love.

With this said, it's easy to confirm the stereotype: everyone in fashion is fake and out to get you. However, a few little known traits that make you invincible in the industry are patience and respect.

Sounds unfathomable coming from one of the snarkiest bitches you've ever read, right? But when it's 10 o'clock at night and you're still packing up trunks for the photo shoot tomorrow and you have no idea when you'll see your bed next, patience is going to separate you from the assistant who's been complaining since lunch. Luckily, I have the background for this.

I first learned about the importance of patience when I was working at Smart & Final. Being a cashier for five years showed me how much easier life can be if you just stay cool.

Picture being on the register in the middle of rush hour, frantically scanning items in hopes that if you go fast enough, everyone will get out of there that much sooner and you can go home. But the joke is on you, because no matter how fast you go, there's always a customer next in line. 

You're bagging everything yourself because your store is too cheap to hire wiry high school boys to do it. You haven't taken a break in five hours because your backup hasn't come in yet. Your manager has been in a terrible mood all day and somehow, so have most of your customers. You're fighting with a coworker so you have to avoid calling her for anything to salvage your pride. A homeless woman comes in and drops a wine bottle. The registers go offline and debit/credit cards stop working. Carts are full of perishable items that no one is going to buy anymore. Everyone is pissed.

Now picture doing this for five years, anorexic. All of this is going on, and you can't look anyone in the eye at the moment. You can't look anyone in the eye because you can't see straight because you're so hungry. A numbness shoots up your left arm and you're hurriedly quizzing yourself on the symptoms of a heart attack. Tom from Tom's Tailgate is asking you how your weekend was and you're starting to wonder if you might have to ask him to call the paramedics. 

You have 45 minutes left on your shift. Against all odds, you complete it and don't leave the building on a stretcher. 

The moral of this seemingly unconnected story is that your work experience is always relevant to your current job. While I was at Smart & Final, I couldn't wait to get out. I didn't think it had a single application to my real life and certainly not to my fashion career. However, every place you come from teaches you something - it is your duty to pay attention.

"You're nice," a stylist friend told me the other day. "That's what sets you apart from most people in fashion - you're a nice person." Being in customer service for five years taught me to have extreme patience, which will help me for the rest of my life. Patience, after all, is a virtue!

Use your assets wisely. 

Sunday, June 10, 2018

The Chronicles of a Fashion Woman: I Do Not Restrict.

I have friends that I spend time with.

I go out in the morning.

I go out at night.

I go out for meals.

I eat when I am hungry.

I eat until I'm full.

I do not restrict.

Sometimes I don't go to the gym.

Sometimes I do.

Sometimes I eat junk food.

Mostly I eat healthy food.

I eat when I am hungry.

I can't remember the last time I did a body check.

I can't remember the last time I counted a calorie.

Yes, I still look at myself in the mirror, but now when I do, I see a beautiful person with a great amount of strength. I see something to be proud of, not a list of things to hide from.

There's no rhyme or reason to this post - just the fact that, if you had showed this to me a year and a half ago, I couldn't even have fathomed it.

Please, choose recovery.

Monday, May 28, 2018

The Chronicles of a Fashion Woman: Creepy Men of NY

Dear Man with the Musty Old Jacket and Wandering Hands,

How did you not fuck off two trains ago?

I realize my ass is one that's begging to be followed, but that doesn't mean I was.

Do you even remember how it went down, or have you followed enough women that you no longer know how to differentiate? I'll make it easy for you: this is what happened.

I boarded the L train in Manhattan, consumed by Flowers for Algernon and oblivious to the people around me.

You got on at the next stop, sat down right next to me. I found it a little strange that I could feel your left leg and arm pressed up so closely against my right arm and right leg, but it wouldn't have been my first time making physical contact with someone on a packed subway car, so I didn't give it much thought.

This next part starts getting weird.

You cross your arms. I'm aware of you now - you see sir, you gave yourself away here. You were just fidgeting a little too much. Your left arm crosses over your right, somewhat masking it. You were clever; you thought this through. The fingertips of your right hand graze against my right upper thigh and I come to life. I glance in your direction. The fingertips disappear, but you do not move a muscle. I begin to doubt myself - did I imagine that touch? I keep my peripherals trained on your gray shirt sleeve in the corner of my right eye, but nothing else happens.

The train comes to a stop and I stand up, glancing back at you before I step off. You remain seated, which is why this next part eludes me. See, it eludes me because I get up and I follow the hoards of people headed for the G train, convinced you are NOT following me. In fact, why would the possibility of you following me even cross my mind? If it's 2018 and men and women are equal and #MeToo and the world is going to be okay, then why the fuck do I need to be afraid of you?

I cross the station, lose myself in the crowd, relieved that I've left you behind forever.

The G train is at the station as I bound down the stairs - perfect timing. Would this have gone down the way it had if the train hadn't already been there?

I step onto the train just before the doors close, shutting out everyone and everything else. I place my right hand on the nearest pole, gripping it for balance. Out of the corner of my eye, I see a gray shirt sleeve attached to a hand, which is gripping the pole right above my hand. My heart sinks. You.

I glance to my right and confirm via peripherals - there you are. Standing directly behind me. Close enough to touch.

I tell myself not to freak out. But why do I tell myself not to freak out? My thoughts are jumbled and confused. I have pepper spray in my purse but I'm not even considering that in the moment. All I can think about is what is going to happen next. Not what I should do to defend myself, but what...the hell is this?

I feel something press against my backside and I know it's you. I instinctively jerk forward. I don't even look in your direction, which doesn't matter because you aren't looking in mine. No one else on the train is aware of what's going on. Your hand lowers an inch to graze against mine on the pole. This time I step away and move to a different pole. My heart is racing because it's almost my stop and you still haven't gotten off.

The train arrives at my stop and I confidently step off the train, preparing myself for whatever is about to go down. Don'tgetoffheredon'tgetoffheredon'tgetoffhere is an anthem on repeat in my head. You get off with me.

I slow my walk, slow enough that you would look ridiculous if you don't pass me up. Yet, you don't pass me up. I continue walking, a little enraged and very terrified. Only about two other people got off with us, and they're long gone by now.

I move through the turnstile and turn to the staircase. I pause, giving you a moment to walk up ahead of me. You begin fumbling with your phone like a conspicuous idiot. Do you realize I'm completely aware of you and what you're doing? What are you doing? Why can't you leave me alone?

I walk up the staircase, figuring between that and staying down in an empty subway station alone with you, it's the best option. I hear your footsteps right behind me. I feel you looking at me.

And then I feel you reach out and grab my butt and I whip around and I yell in your face, "What the fuck are you doing?!" and you blurt out "Sorry!" and run past me and sprint across the street, turning back once, twice, three times to see if I'm still watching you run away and I'm shaking my head and I'm cursing after you and I'm wondering why the hell is this the world we live in?

Sincerely,

Don't Fucking Touch Me.

**Sadly NONE of this has been fictionalized, but you can still email me your thoughts at taylorfengle@gmail.com!**

Sunday, May 27, 2018

The Chronicles of a Fashion Woman: The First Day

I wasn't sure what to expect. Perfectly reasonable, isn't it?

When you're returning to a place two years after you went through these exact same motions with less than half the body weight and a completely toxic mindset, it's expected to be a little jarring.

You get up early and take the train into the city, somewhat relieved that you're taking the J to the B going uptown from Brooklyn and not the B or the C going downtown from the Upper West Side, because that would make this whole thing just a little too familiar.

You get onto your first train, wrapped in a thick, woolly coat because it's less than 50 degrees out and your pansy ass is from California. As soon as you get on the train, packed in like a sardine with all of the other Brooklynites commuting to the City for the work week, you breathe in the musty and humid air of the train impacted by everyone's body heat (including yours) and you remember where you are. You smile; you hold back some tears of joy. It's too early for that.

You transfer to your second train, a little closer to your fate. How is this about to go down?

Are you going to get tired quickly, make mistakes, think about all of the food you're withholding from yourself instead of putting your 100% into your work? Are you going to let your mental illness take over again? Are you going to let yourself down in the most grandiose and traumatic way yet? Are you going to scare your mother again, keep her tossing and turning at night over the state you've worked yourself into? How is this about to go down?

It was easy to starve myself last time I was alone--too easy. And when I'm alone in New York, I'm alone. 

I went public about my anorexia and subsequent recovery for two reasons: to hold myself accountable and to help others. However, it's hard to be held accountable when the only people who really know about your past are all 3000 miles away. But, I digress.

Your train stops at that fateful station that transports you back in time. You're not 23, you're not recovering, you're not yet confident and curvier than Lombard Street. You're 21, you're judgmental with no right to be, you have a false sense of confidence; you're hopelessly anorexic.

You snap out of it, hesitantly walking up the stairs and across the platform to the exit closest to Hearst Tower. You notice how much faster you're walking than you were two years ago. Your knees aren't hurting from the constant strain. You marvel at the fact that you don't feel...degradable. Fragile. Ready to fall apart and die at any moment (because that's what eating disorders are - a constant pounding on death's door).

You didn't think it was possible to ever feel this okay again.

You enter the building and give your name to the front desk: TAYLOR ENGLE. You're here for your first day. The security guard at the front desk makes small talk with you, bringing up the weather. He looks at the computer screen and muses, "Ah, you've been here before. In 2016?" You nod, but you know that wasn't really you. Yes, Taylor Engle has been here before, but this is your first time. 

You take the surreal journey from the lobby to the 25th floor, recalling all the times you stood in this same elevator surrounded by people but feeling completely alone and close to defeat. You arrive at the correct floor and wait to be buzzed in. You want to believe that this time is going to be different, but you're still incredibly unsure of yourself and what you're capable of.

The truth is, it's been in the air - the doubt. You know everyone is proud of you and believes in you, but you feel the hesitation in others' voices when you tell them you're moving to New York. You see the fear in their eyes. You can sense them wanting to say, "Are you sure you won't relapse?" They don't say it, but you know it's on everyone's mind.

"Welcome, Taylor!"

You recognize your new boss Janice from the interview. She's tall, waif-like and beaming. She's dressed impeccably, like everyone else in the building. She ushers you around, introducing you to people who you remember but who don't remember you. You can't blame them - even if they did take the time to remember faces of past interns, they surely wouldn't remember yours compared to how you look now.

Janice takes you into the closet (insert tired gay joke that people somehow still find to be funny), where you will be working out of every day. The "closet" is huge: a spacious room with bay windows overlooking the city. It's filled with accessories and clothing from all of the top designers in the world, and your job is to make sure the French and Italian brands get to where they need to go for the magazine's photo shoots.

You meet the women you'll be working alongside. It's all so reminiscent of two years ago. You can't help but notice that you're the biggest person in the room. Not by a lot and not at all in an unhealthy way, but it's something you still notice. It might be something you'll always notice. You have curves, and that is, in no way, a crime.

Everyone seems nice enough. You sit right next to Ricki, who is Janice's other assistant in French and Italian ready-to-wear and the person who is going to show you the ropes. She's tall like Janice with bright, naturally red hair and glasses. She's soft-spoken and well-read. You don't interact too much on the first day, but you can tell it's a relationship that is going to come easily.

Across the way from you and Ricki is Frankie, Sloan and Thalia. Frankie and Sloan are accessories assistants while Thalia handles American and British ready-to-wear brands. Thalia's fellow assistant (there are two in each market under each editor) is Natasha, who sits on the other side of the closet next to the accessories assistant editor, Cat.

The best part? No one knows you've been here before.

No one knows you used to sit here, practically out of your mind with hunger, convincing yourself to wait a little longer before you go get lunch (which was never more than a small salad of a few vegetables). No one knows how little you actually cared about your job because your entire life was consumed by your eating disorder. The only you they're going to know is the version of you who wants to be here, is grateful to be here, and is going to give this job all of your attention because the rest of your basic needs are taken care of.

Your first day goes miraculously smoothly. Both Ricki and Janice are impressed by how easily you're learning. Of course, much of this is because you have been here before and remember how things are done, but you have to give yourself credit where it's due: you're working harder than ever before.

Soon enough, a week has passed and you've gotten the hang of things. There are still many little bits of information you need to familiarize yourself with and in fashion you are always making mistakes and learning from them, but for the most part, you are making your boss (and yourself) proud.

A major test comes after the first big photo shoot: returns. After every photo shoot, it is the assistants' job to return every sample piece to the designer or PR company who loaned it to the magazine. You remember doing this as an intern, which means you also remember how you messed up because you were so malnourished. You returned the wrong thing to the wrong brand, you missed a few pieces of jewelry in a return, etc.

It's two years later and you're terrified to make the same mistakes. You're handling the entire return process by yourself because Ricki is consumed with another task. A few hours go by - you have checked, double-checked, and triple-checked to ensure you're doing everything properly and in entirety. Janice comes into the closet and is amazed. She calls you a machine for getting everything done so quickly and effortlessly. This means more to you than anyone in the closet will ever know (unless, of course, they're reading this).

You still have many more days at work and many more opportunities to slip up, but so far you're incredibly proud of yourself. This journey in your life could have gone one of two ways, and so far, you're making all of the right decisions. You're finally growing up.

**NOTE: Names and the details of certain events have been fictionalized for privacy reasons...but email me at taylorfengle@gmail.com if you want the REAL gossip.**

Saturday, May 5, 2018

The Chronicles of a Fashion Woman: The Reunion

I got off the plane with sleep in my eyes and a hint of deja vu. I had done this so many times before, it didn't even feel exciting. It just felt like it was time.

Until, of course, I actually got my ass off the plane and into a Lyft on my way to the leasing office to sign onto my new apartment. I stared out the window in awe as my driver took me through the streets of my new home, a borough I never thought I'd call such a thing: Brooklyn.

When I lived in New York before, I was in Manhattan. That was always the definition of New York to me: Manhattan. The rest of the state was inconsequential. Manhattan was my world and it was the only place I wanted to live - until I realized how much rent was. I (reluctantly) ran straight for Brooklyn.

The drive from JFK to Brooklyn showed me parts of the borough I'd never considered before. In my (one) experience, Brooklyn was overly hipster and ironic and everything I hated about everyone who tried to be "different" where I come from. It felt phony and forced, which was an unfair judgment for me to impose on a place I'd been exposed to for a grand total of three hours in 2016. This drive gave me a different perspective. The buildings were old yet beautiful, begging to tell a story. I instantly perceived how much quieter it was than Manhattan, but that brought me a sense of peace and a reminder of home. I felt at ease - not that I had much of a choice. This was my new home.

My driver dropped me off at the leasing office for my building. Signing the lease in person was the only way it could be done, so this had to be my first stop with my big red suitcase, my giant coat, and my crippling exhaustion and hunger. I felt a flutter of nervousness as the driver pulled over, signaling the ride had come to an end. My mother had flown here from Idaho earlier that morning, and she was already in the leasing office waiting for me.

Getting the slightest bit nervous before seeing my mother was a new feeling, something that was brought on by the simple fact that we've been living in different states for almost a year now and haven't seen much of each other. It's a strange feeling, not living with your family anymore.

Although I can feel my mother's love from any part of the globe, it's an entirely new experience to go from seeing her every single day to only every few months or so. Although things go back to normal once I've seen her and said hello, the initial reunion is a shock every time.

I walked into the leasing office, a small room decorated very minimalist-chic with exposed brick interior, sleek white tables, and Mac computers. All of the men were wearing yamakas and talking fast. There were two women - one of whom had to be my realtor, because the other was my mother.

I was sleep-deprived, hungry, and anxious to get my keys so I could get out of there, but all of these nagging urges were pushed aside for the moment I saw my mother. She sat there with the same smile on her face I've seen on her every single day. She's a glass half full kind of woman.

I was desperate to hide the annoyance on my face; I didn't want her to think it was directed at her. "Hi," I said with as much enthusiasm as I could muster. I'd spent so much of my adolescence making it very obvious how much she annoyed me and interfered with my life, as we all do to our parents at some point, that it was of utmost importance to me that I showed her I've grown up without actually saying those words.

The truth is, I was amazed by her devotion to me. When I decided to move to New York, I was unsure who would support me. I had been struggling quite a bit in California, and almost everyone's facial expressions when I told them I wanted to move to New York told me the same thing: You're an idiot.

Everyone in California thinks New York is impossibly expensive (it's actually about the same cost of living if you consider the car expenses you'll no longer be shackled to), therefore it wouldn't be wise for someone with almost nothing to her name to move there without knowing a soul.

When I told my mother I had gotten the job and wanted to move across the country within one week, I sensed the hesitation in her voice. She was nervous for me, as any good mother would be. She and my dad weren't in love with the idea of me moving so far away from everything I knew and moving even FARTHER away from their home in Idaho, but they knew it was something I needed to do. The day after I purchased my plane ticket, my mom purchased hers. She was going to go with me to New York for one week to help me settle in.

I was tremendously touched by this gesture. Of course, I guess it shouldn't come as much of a surprise. She's my mother and she's always loved me and wanted the best for me, but I've always resented that. I've been filled with doubt and fear for what feels like my entire life - doubt that anyone really gives a shit about anyone but themselves, and fear that if I let myself believe someone cares about me, I'll be crushed.

Somehow, it all clicked when I walked into that leasing office. My mother would drop her entire life for a week to come out and help my get settled in my new apartment. My mother would call me every single day for months on end just to talk to me about insignificant little isms, just to hear my voice. My mother would bottle up the entire world and give it to me if she could. I've been so lucky; I just never allowed myself to see it. No one has a Lori Engle.

The next week was possibly the best we've ever had together. It was the only time we've been alone for more than a couple days - except that probably isn't correct, and my mother will tell you. I am the queen of forgetting things, and many of my childhood memories are a blur. As soon as I say I've never done something before, my mother will swoop in with a triumphant smile to remind me that I have, actually, done that thing before and I was with her when I did it and I was two and don't I remember it happening? This used to bother me so much, but I now realize it's just her excitement to share with the world how much our relationship has always meant to her.

We spent the first two days scouring the neighborhood for things I would need around the house: a cheap set of plastic dressers, a mop and broom, some coat hangers for my closet, a laundry basket. The third day would be my first day of work.

We stopped for lunch and dinner each day after hours of exploring. I quickly came to love my new neighborhood. It's in an area of Brooklyn that is home to a lot of Dominicans and Puerto Ricans, which is close enough to the culture I was ensconced in back in California.

I come from a Mexican lifestyle - my mother's side of the family is Mexican, everyone I've ever dated is Mexican, and most of my friends are Mexican or at least some type of Hispanic. Mexican culture isn't as rich in New York, which made me sad to think about. However, there is still a thriving Hispanic culture in my neighborhood (you know, bachata bumping in the front yard while kids play games and parents look on, sipping on Modelos and Coronas) that reminds me of home on days I need it the most.

Being surrounded by these familiar sounds and smells and my mother all at once felt so beautiful. I had been on my own for quite a while and was unused to the careful nurturing my mother is so capable of.

Aside from all of the many ways she helped me settle into my first New York apartment, she also was just such a lovely companion. I've always been told that, growing up as a woman, you go through stages with your mom. First you think she is the best thing in the world. Then, you begin to resent her and be annoyed by her very presence. Then, you start to realize how much she has done to you. Finally, she becomes your friend.

I appreciated her, on this little week we had together, just being my friend.