He tells me he is still adjusting to this transition. In his words: "I'm still realizing myself as having a body and being in this world." He emphasizes this world, relative to that world. The freedom to move through it.
He says he underestimated just how much there is to adjust to.
But this is only one part of his story.
M is hungry to learn. He just finished his first semester at Baruch College, where he is studying industrial psychology. M is prolific. He is a playwright and wrote 8 plays this semester. M is determined. He spent his summer taking a class and looking for venues to perform his plays. "I am hoping to be out there performing 4 nights a week," he tells me.
I don't claim to know much, but after speaking to him, I couldn't shake a feeling. This feeling about life. Perhaps this feeling is couched in my naivety, and I know I don't have even an inkling of the vast complexity and nuance of his experience, but I do know what I feel...and what I feel is, in this life, belief is not something that we are born into. It is something we have the power to shape and breathe into fruition. Belief in others, in ourselves. Belief in structures, belief in systems. Belief in our own self preservation and the values we choose to uphold and stand for. Perhaps on its own, belief can't do much. But when we have it, it can make this world feel brand new.
For M, his belief resides squarely in his own returning or as he likes to call it, rebirth. As he cleaves through heaving masses of pain, he also carves a path forward.
As we near the end of the conversation, he pauses.
"Thank you for believing in me," he says.
The irony is not lost on me.
This interview snippet is part of a longer WIP project 📹👀
Shoutout to my wonderful and talented collaborator on this project, Hannah Berman