Your name is Reyes Giles. Reyes to most, Rey to some, perhaps any number of nicknames to the passing flings and people who flit through your life, unwitting actors in a play you've staged. You’ve had relationships— lovers. People who, for a time, would dance by your side— a trepid partner in a tango, or perhaps (rarely) one who would waltz to the waves of your fancy, your impulses, your greed. And, perhaps for a time, you were content to share the spotlight with them. Two against the world— romantic, huh? The trappings of domesticity never appealed to you, but there was something magical about twin souls, two hearts beating to the sound of their own drum.
But you’re no romantic. And all these people?
Supporting actors. Extras. You’re the star here, babe— you fly solo.
Maybe things weren’t always this way. Back in your memory, you recall your grandmother— a kind woman who raised you out of the shithole town you grew up in, your parents nothing more than useless drug-addicted absentees. Maybe deep down they loved you— and perhaps you did too —but it didn’t change what happened and never would. One day you’d come home to a house with your mother too high to tell you how your father managed to land himself half a lifetime in jail over a bag of cocaine. From then on, you stopped going home. Grandma took you in, clothed you, fed you, loved you with all she had, as poor as she was. What she lacked in money she made up for in her infinite kindness, her wisdom, her inner strength— and you suppose that’s why God took her away. All good things come to an end.
So, by the age of fifteen, you learned to smuggle. Marijuana, LSD, whatever you could get your hands on you’d sell— but never do. The types of people who were your clients reminded you all too well of your parents— just slaves to the next high. And a part of you despised your perpetuation of it all, but you’d do anything to get out of Louisiana. Drugs would be your ticket out. You saved up, bought a car, faked an ID, then you never looked back. You lived your life on the fringe since, in the crevices of a society that you’d never truly understand. The mundanity of middle class life was, frankly, hilarious to you, but the bourgeoisie? Oh, you remember those nights you spent in a semi-lucid state, too hungry to even sleep. Imagine paying twelve green boys for a slice of avocado on rye. Just imagine! But damn, a part of you envied that stability, envied the knowledge that there would always be enough to support you.
You’re proud of the work you put in now. The countless odd jobs, some unglamorous, some grueling, climbing up the ladder with the skin of your teeth— all your sweat, blood, and tears spent amassing your small fortune. By twenty-six, you made something of a name of yourself— a kind of polyglot of negotiation and taste, you’ve dipped your toes in art, house flipping, business startups, fashion, investing, restauranteuring, what have you. You still sold drugs on the side, but no longer was it your main source of income— you had a gastronomy bar tucked away in a little corner of Los Angeles, obscure enough to avoid mass food tourism but good enough to land on the maps of bloggers across the state. Your taste for the expensive fuels your business, and it’s impeccable. And you know what? It’s all you. You accomplished this. If all the world’s a stage, you’ll write your own script, play your own parts, because you never needed anyone else.
After all, you’ve got you.
Business opportunities brought Rey to New York City prior to the mysterious phone call she received. Do you have the will to change this life of yours? Would you like to go somewhere new? Well, clearly. Why else would she be in the big apple, straight across the US from her Los Angeles loft? Still— though she thought little of it, she could feel something in the air stirring. A kind of restless energy thrumming through the smoggy air. What could it be, this trepidation, this anxiety? This excitement? Rey would smile into the crowd unknowingly one day, finding herself standing in front of a strange mural with one finger over her lip in thought.
She couldn't wait to find out what the future had in store.
Reyes Giles was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to a poor family in an impoverished neighborhood. From an early age, she was left to her own devices as her parents constantly absent, either due to jobs, drugs, or jail time. While they seemed to care for her, they didn’t care enough to properly care for her as one should a child, thus Reyes was largely left in the guardianship of her widowed grandmother, who, like her parents, was also poor. Reyes would then move in permanently with her grandmother once her father landed a 30 year sentence for the possession of cocaine, causing Reyes’ mother to ditch town and leave Reyes behind. Realizing her parents were not suitable people to be parents, Reyes grew extremely close with her grandmother who essentially raised her from then on. She introduced Reyes to the creative arts and highlife of her younger days, when she was financially better off, and taught Reyes to be independent and have a strong work ethic. Reyes would dream in her young teen years of being among the bourgeoisie, taking old discount feather boas and playing pretend in her grandmother’s antique mirror.
One day, Reyes’ grandmother had a stroke. Although she was ushered to the hospital, it was too late for her and she passed away shortly after. Upon hearing the news, Reyes’ mother came back to take custody of a 15-year-old Reyes, but failed to change her drug-addled lifestyle and soon after, Reyes ran away from home once she’d saved enough money (selling drugs!) to leave on her own. She bought a horribly used car and lied about her age and began a cycle of migrating from city to city, working for a few months and attending school when she could, but drifting once again when she had enough. She dreamt of being in Los Angeles— the city of angels —and her goal of making it there fueled her to work long, hard hours doing menial, sketchy jobs.
Her big break came when her boss caught her arranging tables at work. She’d been a waitor at this restaurant for a while, and during one particularly slow day, Reyes took it upon herself to spruce things up in her own way— folding napkins into origami and presenting them beautifully on every place dish. From then on, her boss had her input on everything, starting with table arrangements, menu design, eventually having her aid with a total redecorating of the establishment and a revamp of the menu. Despite being from low money, she’d read about all the michelin star restaurants thanks to her grandmother’s collection of news articles and old biographicals. She earned herself a promotion after that, climbing the ladder until her retiring boss— the owner —finally gave her the keys to the restaurant.
From then on, her success came from her diligent attention to detail and design, taking it upon herself to learn as much as she could about owning a successful business, and within a few years the restaurant was thriving compared to its previous years. Reyes used the money earned from this establishment to venture into other markets, eventually setting up her own gastronomy bar and independent art and fashion brand, which largely operates online. The bulk of her income comes from her work in food, but increasingly her reputation as someone who gets things done, someone who knows people, lead to her weaving her way into high class socialite clubs— which often like to indulge in her undercover business, drug dealing. On the side, she runs a popular food blog as well as writes the occasional piece of fiction, usually satirical in nature.
Still, she works tirelessly. She may no longer worry about stability, but no one’s got it made for good.
Rey is controlled chaos. Borderline neurosis strapped in high heels brandishing her wiles like a cocked gun. Equal parts organized and unintelligible, her actions, at times, are understandable only to her and her alone. However, everything she does (even under the pretense of impulse) she does for a reason. Even if it’s a reason as simple as it’s fun! After all, what’s the point of living if you can’t indulge? She is a firm believer of materialism (a material girl in a material world!) and she comes off as greedy because of it, but it is a greed driven by knowledge of what having nothing is truly like. She’ll never turn down an opportunity for moral reasons unless the opportunity presents more risk than reward, and despite her more-than-often frivolous behavior, she is calculating and exact with her decisions. It’s how she’s managed to make it this far in her various ventures and businesses, playing an executive role in her own livelihood. She’s quick to flash a smile and knows how to twist her words for tortile investors, never thinking twice about embellishing or even outright lying if she can get away with it.
The only thing she’s truly committed to is money. Her flings, while many, are short-lived. People rarely keep her interest for long spans of time; rather, when she thinks she’s seen all a person has to offer, she ditches for the next partner-in-crime that stumbles her way. Rey has no interest in settling down— the spice of life is the risk and the adventure that awaits her. A frequent traveler, she seeks thrills and new experiences and can be found trying all kinds of new hobbies before quickly forgetting about them entirely. Still, the knowledge gained from each she pockets for later, for all experiences is a lesson learned. Her confidence comes from her hard work and diligence, but criticism is a hard swallow for her. When she does make the occasional mistake, she’s begrudging, perhaps even petty, but she’ll come around. However, betray her and she’ll hold that grudge until hell freezes over. She’s never one for trust per se, preferring to think that everyone’s playing for their own team, and she’s comfortable never truly letting anyone in. She needs her distance. It’s alienating to others, but she doesn’t care.
Rey rarely leaves herself enough time to introspect. She’s not much one for looking back at the past— what’s done is done. All she cares for is the future and the present, living in each moment to the next in a constant string of transit. That’s the way to describe her— in transit between moments, never still, never stopping. And she certainly has no intention to, not until she’s gone.