I Had To Walk Of Shame Through The NYC Marathon In My Halloween Costume
Just a few months ago, I had a pretty epic walk of shame the morning after my 30th birthday.
I haphazardly stumbled the hallways of a highbrow Manhattan hotel before walking into a tightly packed elevator filled with perfectly coiffed, designer perfume-smelling celebrity PR people, and there I was... wreaking of last night's booze, my hair an oversexed train wreck and makeup smeared down my puffy face.
But you know what? Even though it wasn't the way I imagined waking up at the golden age of 30, I was sort of proud.
After all, I've learned it's not a walk of shame, it's a STRIDE OF PRIDE, right?
But it did take me a while to learn this. Because, girls, when I had walks of shame at 22, I spiraled.
I didn't just spiral, I unraveled. I really thought the whole world was ending and I was going to die from the shame on my walk of shame.
Like, for instance, on the morning after Halloween. I woke up with a brutal headache in what I like to call "the other side of Chelsea."
For those of you who aren't New York City savvy, Chelsea is a beautiful, wonderfully homosexual neighborhood on the west side of lower Manhattan. It's all bistros, poreless gay men, supermodel girls, oversized Balenciaga handbags and pretty flowers exploding out of litter-free sidewalks.
But eight years ago, if you went a little too west and a little too uptown (27th Street, 28th Street, 11th Avenue — that general area) the landscape changed quite dramatically.
It's still technically Chelsea, but it's a little less picturesque and a little more rough around the edges. Less flowers, more street rats. Less bistros, more strip clubs.
I was in my new friend Becky's apartment, totally unsure of how I got there.
I knew I was in the other Chelsea because I saw a sign for a gay leather bar I'd been to before glaring at me from a dirty window.
My heart felt like it was going to fly out of my chest. My hands shook, my head pounded and why the fuck did it feel like someone had poured peroxide into my eyeballs?
"Just get the hell home. Just get the hell home. Just get the hell home," I coached myself, going straight into survival mode.
You know that feeling when you're so hungover, you can't even deal with anything, so you go into robotic crisis mode? It's like when the fire alarm goes off in your apartment and instead of being full of fear, something overcomes you and your brain takes over because it knows your feelings can't handle this kind of shit.
That's what was happening to me.
"Just get the hell home. Just get the hell home. Just get the hell home. Don't worry about cleaning up your face, just get to the safety of your apartment," cerebral Zara coached emotional Zara.
"What if you run into someone like this?" Emo Zara panicked.
"Just get the hell home," cerebral Zara repeated.
I stepped out into the freezing cold air and put my hand out for a taxi, realizing I had lost my jacket too. I flagged down a taxi as I watched a guy pee in a corner. "God, what life is this?" I dramatically cried to myself.
On the taxi ride back to Brooklyn, I took in the sprawling cityscape. Then the shameful flashes occurred.
I had a vision of making out with a girl probably 6 inches shorter than me (and I'm only 5'5"), and then another vision of myself fighting with her as if we were long-lost lovers. Ugh.
"I have to drop you off on this corner," The taxi driver said, pounding on the breaks.
"But I live 10 blocks away!" I protested.
And then, I looked out the window. He had to drop me off 10 long blocks away because the fucking New York City Marathon was going on. I defeatedly got out of the car.
I was recovering from a blackout and dressed in a savage, stained "Alice In Wonderland" costume as hundreds of healthy, fresh-faced New Yorkers ran past me like the world was their damn oyster. People loudly cheered them on from the sidelines.
Because your body chemistry is off-kilter during a hangover, you're already wildly vulnerable. But imagine being normal hungover vulnerable whilst clad in an even more vulnerable Halloween costume with a bunch of rosy-cheeked, fit people enthusiastically running alongside you in their civilized spandex as their loved ones hoot and holler for them.
The more cheers I heard, the more in my face the sad tragedy of my life appeared.
I could feel the disapproving eyes of the Upper East Side moms who were watching their healthy daughters (probably my age) engage in this nationally renowned run. I could see some of them shielding their small children from me, as if my sins were contagious.
Finally, I got home. As I rode the elevator to my apartment, I tried not to make eye contact with the girl in there with me. As I lifted my head up to exit, I realized it was an up-and-coming Hollywood actress. Not just any Hollywood actress, but an actress I saw on lots of auditions because we were the same physical type.
She was holding a leash and cooing at a panting puppy. Her skin was as clear as a sweet summer day. She looked crisp, like the physical embodiment of the fall season.
"I give up," I thought. I went into my apartment, tore off my costume and hid under the covers of my bed. I stayed there until I got a text from my best friend.
"Really spiraling right now, Z. Hooked up with a straight dude who kept shouting 'I'm not gay' throughout our entire sexcapade, and got kicked out of practically every club downtown. I'm coming over."
So my best friend came over, and we cuddled on the couch and commiserated over carbohydrates. After a few hours, we were laughing at our own demise.
"I can't believe I just walk-of-shamed past the New York City Marathon," my voice squeaked as I stared into the cracks in the ceiling, which seemed to represent my cracked life.
"Well, it's good material for your memoir," my bestie assured me, taking an aggressive bite out of his bagel.
And he's right. While I wasn't exactly proud of myself for getting so wasted, I realized in that moment we can't go back and rewind the past.
It's not like one of those "choose your own adventure novels" we read as kids where we can pick a different ending if we don't like the one given to us.
Nah, this is life, baby. It's messy sometimes. You gotta take these embarrassing moments and funnel them into a killer story for the grandkids.
After all, a perfectly curated life made up of babies and lovely jogs doesn't make a New York Times best-selling memoir. But walking past the babies and the joggers of the New York City Marathon in your torn Halloween costume makes for some compelling content.
So, darling, if you're having shame shudders because you just did an embarrassing walk of shame, think of me. If I can handle 10 blocks of the most overachieving New Yorkers this city has to offer, you can handle anything.
And one day soon, you'll be turning your messy tales into a brilliant book, a fab movie, a great story, a cool painting, a funny sitcom or just a memory you'll laugh about with your best friend.