(photo by chrubuky).
I used to work for an Internet Rockstar. That is what I used to do. When I think about it too much- him out in the world and no longer having anything to do with me (!), his email coming in and going out without me even looking at it (!), calendars updated, cats fed, merch volunteers organized ahead of time, all without me and probably much more efficiently— I have to clench my teeth and walk away from the computer, breathing deeply.
We talked the other day about me leaving and how I couldn’t be his assistant for the rest of my life (and so funny to think how I used to say those exact words: “I will be his assistant for the rest of my life! I don’t care! I will!”) and he gave me fatherly advice and said Tumblr reminded him of his early days at his company and how maybe I could leave in 9 years to become a rockstar?
I told him not to joke and that I couldn’t sing and we talked about Life Paths and how looking back it will all make sense even if it doesn’t now and I couldn’t help remembering the first time I sat with him, at our respective laptops, trying to decide what assistants *do* exactly, as neither of us had been one or had one, and we joked and he told me my assistant name - my pseudonym— would be Scarface and was that okay because it’s from one of his songs that I had never heard and I probably blushed and cringed and said that was fine with a laugh and then he asked me if I knew how to make a zip file?
I did not.
The other week, 18 or so months later, we had our Transitional Meeting - which meant he bought us coffee and we sat around the table and joked around for an hour and he told my friend, his new assistant, that I was all grown up now, and normally I would shrug but I couldn’t help but feel the truth of it, to overflow with gratitude for the realization that I had been given the freedom and the example from him to do just that, to very slowly and very cautiously and maybe with a shrug and a laugh but also, yes, probably, I think, err, maybe do just that.
And so it has always been funny, that small talk, “what do you do?”, and the different ways at different points in my life any answer fell short. “I’m a nanny,” meant something closer to, “I live with a family that is not my own and I help raise a child, and also am sort of having a breakdown,” and “I work at Tumblr,” means something more like, “Oh my god. Imagine something you love the most. An addiction you wish you could spend all your time doing. And then someone called you up on the phone and asked if you would help other people do it, too. Yeah, that.”
And so, similarly, when I say to someone, “I used to work for an Internet rockstar,” and wait nervously for their response, I think about the time he sat with me in the kitchen while we counted cds and asked me if I was writing anything and why not, and “It’s scary, ya know?” I said and my voice broke off and he looked at me from behind his laptop and, with a glint of recognition, answered, “Yes, I do know. I know exactly what you mean.” I felt a lump in my throat and nodded silently and shrugged and kept counting cds and wanted to cry but also, yes, grew up a little bit.