Chapter 4: Vic (The Esoteric One)
That Saturday at lunch, Vic had looked around at the women at her table. They were a strange group to her. She had always had a strange group of friends in her life. That was due to her crowd being full of bohemian, artsy types with interests in things outside of the mainstream. Vic was 28 and as she neared 30, she realized how many of her proudly “weirdo” friends began to change. The dirty hippies she knew had cut their dreadlocks, began to wear deodorant and got serious jobs. Vic was one of few of her friends who had a well-paying steady job. She worked as a video game designer. Most of her friends were rich kids playing poor. They worked as baristas until they finally took up “daddy’s” offer to get them a job at his golf buddy’s company. Vic didn’t have that. Her father was in the Navy like many other Filipinos that moved to the US. She had moved all over the place and her goal in life was to be stable. Even though her hair color changed frequently, Vic had maintained the same job at the same company for the last four years. Through the years, she dealt with people telling her that she was sell out “working for the man.” She didn’t care. Those people had parents and trust funds to back up their New York lifestyle. Her parents, living on her father’s meager military pension, were not able to help her financially. When she moved to New York her father bluntly told her, “We can’t help you if you get in trouble there. I wish we could.”
Knowing her situation, she set off for New York after college. There was no way she could stay in the DC area. She wanted to be a game designer and New York was the place to do that. Four years later she sat at a table with women who seemed to understand her on a level that her wealthy, white friends never could. Her years in New York were spent in warehouse parties, making out with men and women and fighting with long term girlfriends. She loved every bit of that life but had this feeling the time was beginning to end. Her straight friends were getting married. Some were even leaving the city. Vic had begun to look for new friends. The people she met out in the world were younger than her and wanted to stay out all night. That was fine with her.
Knowing she was in the market for new friends, one of her friends from home who was another Filipino with a military brat background, invited her to the conference. The friend, Esther, was part of the planning committee. “You’ll meet the people you should be with.” Esther was a seer who believed in the power of the Universe. Vic also believed and she knew Esther only spoke truths. This is how Vic ended up in a group of women who referred to themselves as The Fierce Four. Vic couldn’t see how these women should be her friends. A traditional black woman, a quirky latina and a cultured Indian-American woman. They just seemed like a motley group. Vic was used to a crowd that defined itself by style. She had been a goth in the 90s, an emo the beginning of college and a hippie by the end. Now she was into house music and the scene that came with that. Vic experimented with drugs (nothing serious) and had more crazy nights out than she could count. Looking at Priya, she felt like this woman was not her cup of tea. Priya was a virgin! She would probably judge my whole life, Vic thought. Vic felt the same about Shanelle. She knew enough black women from her high school in D.C. to know that Shanelle probably had a narrow view of a night out on the town. The only one at the table that seemed most likely to be okay was Myra. Vic had nothing against hipsters except for their love of acoustic music. What was that all about? And all their quirky cute crafts. Vic trusted the Universe though. Anyways they were all friendly women.
“Myra, I know you come from L.A. but what do your parents do?” Shanelle asked taking the conversation for the first time.
“My mom sews in a factory. My dad works in landscaping. They're divorced,” Myra said. “Yours?”
“My dad is a plumber and my mom is a teacher. They are also divorced,” Shanelle said. “Priya?”
“My dad is a professor of engineering and my mother writes children’s books in Hindi. And they don’t believe in divorce,” Priya said.
Everyone looked to Vic who was taking this new information in. Since she moved to New York she dreaded this question. Most of her friends’ answer to the question would be something like, “My dad is a CEO of blah blah and my mother volunteers a lot.” This was the first time in New York she felt okay to say what her parents did. Absentmindedly, she fingered the rainbow aura quartz crystal hanging from the long chain around her neck.
“My dad is a retired Navy officer. My mother is a receptionist. And they also don’t believe in divorce,” Vic said with a smile. “I’ve never told anyone in New York that.”
“What?” Myra said just as Shanelle exclaimed, “Really?”
“Are your friends wealthy?” Priya asked.
“Yeah. I usually find a way to not talk about it. People know I moved around a lot but they don’t know why,” Vic said.
“What does it matter?” Shanelle said.
“It shouldn’t matter. It’s just that the people I know seem to act weird around minorities and poor folk,” Vic answered.
“So you cater to their bullshit by not letting them know who you really are,” Myra said.
“I’m not my parents,” Vic said.
“But you're parents are a part of you,” Myra said.
Priya shook her head, “My dad works at a private college and wealth is flaunted. It’s crazy to see how kids without money get ignored.”
“But aren’t you rich?” Myra asked.
Priya laughed, “No way. My parents are comfortable but by no means are we rich. I attended my father’s college at no cost so we could pay for my Masters degree. I have no idea how my eventual PhD will be paid for.”
“But that is rich to some people,” Myra said a little defensively.
“It is to my family,” Vic said, “But not to my New York City friends. The cost of college to them wasn’t really a thought. They just knew it would be paid.”
“Imagine that,” said Shanelle.
After lunch, Vic realized that what Esther said was right. These were her girls.