A Message to Fear and Bravery / by faren tami

photo credit: Alicia Savage

photo credit: Alicia Savage

Here I am, up in the night as usual thinking about you. The past few months of joblessness, indecision and grief has really brought me to a place of anxiety and incompetence. December was an intense month of travelling from house to house in the suburbs carrying people and a trunk load of a ridiculous amount of gifts. I do not connected to this life; totally straights-ville in the most traditional sense: all white, all living a heteronormative life; all middle class turkey eating dinner folk with wrapped up gifts everywhere. I felt like I am back in my awkward teenage years again. Fitting in with all my privileges, but not at all. I would like very much to be an active participant in this family but I know in my heart it would not be a natural involvement. My brother and his wife are expecting their fourth child; my sister in-law made a joke that she doesn’t want to be the only one in the family having babies - I only assume she was directing that towards me. Dogs, children, and chaos – nothing of this makes sense to me.

Don’t get me wrong, I am totally and radically grateful to have my beautiful family but it is very clear to me that I am the black sheep. My partner is not welcome thanks to my father’s Catholic traditional values. They fear that my queerness will influence the children. I am constantly feeling marginalized: vegetarian, queer, female, and choosing a career in fashion is just one more disappointment. At least, that is the constant reminder from my father; on one hand, he is my biggest fan; but, on the other hand, he crucifies me for my choices.

Seven years ago, I moved to Florence based on instinct. It was not surprising my family expressed their concerns; my mother stayed in the same career since she was pregnant with my older brother (now 36 and on his fourth child). Why leave a career in design, a respectable apartment, a business that I owned and operated on weekends and my namesake collection in pursuit of only a reflex. It is hard to explain the innate feelings bubbling inside me to a family of small dreams and fear driven ideals.

Originally, I settled for a position in a small tailor shop with a women but found it hard to understand her English and she would micro-manage my pattern drafting shapes that I got to the point of hating the job just after a few short days. There I was in Florence, hating the job, in a dirty city and missing my family. I had to refrain from any calls to update them on my status or the words of ‘I told you so’ would be ringing in my ear.

One night while walking in Piazza San Simone I found this brightly lite Sartoria with pink printed walls and a mysterious man in a fedora working late on a bright pink silk skirt. My heart leapt! I felt gravity pulling me towards him and did not know why. The friend I was walking with had pushed me towards the door to approach him; I shyly slinked in the doorway to ask him if he would consider hiring me as his intern. He was a typical Florentine and was quickly on the defense, he asked me one question, "Where are you from?".
"I am from Toronto, Canada." He immediately followed with, "I love Canadians!". And we began talking, I told him of my 5 years experience in the fashion industry, the namesake collection and my accolades at the time. He asked me to come in for an interview with my portfolio the next day - we have been friends ever since. 

Fast forward seven years, and I am back in Florence speaking with a man that has been an inspiration, a mentor, and very good friend for so many years. We talked for hours, connecting on a deeper level than ever before as we shared stories of our break-ups, our crazy intense fearful families and our passion for hand-made and design - we didn't miss a beat. When we parted ways that day I had goose bumps all over and a sense of belonging. The cosmos brought us together those many years ago and once again the cosmos bring me here.

Anyways, I'm totally free falling into this message to you. I woke up in the night wondering - as I guess we do as humans – how strange it is to have grown older and how you have played a part in my development. I think about you and I am glad to be able to wish you adieu, as I continue to be brave and admire your motivation from a distance.