act of hiding it is a real struggle.

A child would be aware that everybody else was understanding and they weren’t. So first of all a child might think, ‘I’m stupid.’ That’s often reinforced by other kids: making fun and calling names. It can be a very painful experience emotionally for a child to have this problem, especially if it isn’t identified.” “When you knew Nadia, you didn’t see it unless you knew where to look,” says Dianne Trinkala. “Even if she didn’t understand what you said, she covered it up so well. If you were telling her something that she really had to absorb, she would absorb it later, maybe, but not while you were saying it, not if you gave her too many facts at once. I didn’t realize until a few years ago that she wasn’t absorbing probably half of the things I told her. “Six months before she died, I told her a real-estate story, and it had different components,” continues her mother, a realtor. “She said, ‘Mom, I didn’t get one word you said.’ That was the first time in her life that she told me that. Even when she was admitting it in her later years, people didn’t believe her anyway. It was hard to believe because she was so good at covering it up. She had more of a disability in processing than we even know.” NADIA TRINKALA WAS KNOWN BY friends and family for her flamboyant but well-crafted fashion sense, and around 1995 she started showing a flair for vintage furnishing and collectibles as well. She met Nick Metropolis, an iconic arts and furnishings dealer from Los Angeles, through a mutual friend around the same time. Metropolis invited her to come to L.A. to open a store for him. “Naturally, Nadia didn’t think she had any limitations. ‘I can do it,’ that was always her attitude,” says Dianne Trinkala. “She had a lot of determination. So, she goes out there and she starts a store. This was from scratch: It was a raw building, they had to do everything to it. It turned out great. Nick had the words ‘Princess Nadia’ across the walls. “But you know what, she told me she was under so much stress doing that, she cried every day in the shower. Anything Nadia did, she did well, but it caused stress. It was stressful doing everything that she did, but if she was able to do it easily to an ‘8,’ she had to be a ‘10’ or a ‘11.’ ” When Nadia returned from Los Angeles, she opened a series of her own stores, Trink 20th Century Furnishings, and art galleries. The stores were very successful. “When we opened the store in Cohoes in 2002, we opened the door and the building was filled,” remembers her mother. “It was a 3,000-square-foot space with an upstairs gallery. There were traffic jams; the Cohoes police didn’t know what to do. I don’t know where they came from, but she had a following wherever she went. “She closed it at the end of the year. One day she was open, the next she was

closed. One of her customers from Japan had offered to buy everything in her store if she closed it right away. They bought everything and that was it.” The successful businesses did more than earn Nadia Trinkala the reputation of entrepreneur, they brought people together. Misty Lemay, a longtime friend of hers, remembers the first time they met. Lemay wandered into a Trink store with a pocketful of cash gained from pawning her engagement ring. Lemay was looking to start a new life, beginning with some new furniture. “I was in my late 20s. I wandered into her store wearing leopard-print sneakers, ripped stockings, a tutu, and my beloved Cure shirt. I remember the outfit because she loved it. I knew with no doubt

was the best public-relations agent. She presented to the world what she wanted people to see. She was a very different person with each person she had a relationship with. There were very few people who knew all of the pieces.” Trinkala’s public identity was so wellplayed that it was nearly seamless, and her gifts were so great that it was easy to focus on the positive parts of her. As another close friend, Jen Berkun, put it: “Her energy and her spirit outweighed her disability. Even people like myself saw her as the person she projected.” PART OF THE FRUSTRATION IN LIVING with a poorly understood disorder such as CAPD is that acquaintances typically have

your disability your whole life. How would anybody see it? You didn’t even know what kind of disability you had until you were in your 20s.’ It was so frustrating, and then when she would tell people they wouldn’t believe her.” “A highly functioning person could be suspect to others,” says Lifrak. “They look perfectly normal and they seem to interact in a perfectly normal fashion—with the exception of not comprehending what other people are saying or comprehending only very straightforward factual statements. They might be watching your face carefully the whole time to try and get some information from lip reading or your facial expressions. It can be very embarrassing and anxiety provoking.” Living with CAPD, and trying to hide it from others, is an emotionally exhausting process. “There can be trouble with a job situation unless you’re doing something that’s very nonverbal, but even then you still have to be able to understand instructions that are being given to you,” Lifrak says. “You’d have to be able to say that you had this auditory processing problem, and needed things to be written down or explained in a simple way. “A lot of people try to hide it. Then they feel isolated like they’re not in with the crowd or not able to be as easily social as somebody who doesn’t have this problem. Unfortunately, depression sets in; to not be understood by others, that’s what is so painful, because it’s like you are living this problem all by yourself.” THOSE WHO DIDN’T KNOW NADIA Trinkala closely had no idea that the young, vibrant woman was struggling. And why would they? Her accomplishments and her successes were impressive, and she was known as the girl who could connect anyone with the right person; someone who could, and did, help people in need. In addition to her eye for art, another element appears over and over on Trinkala’s resume: She was drawn to work that revolved around those with disabilities. In the early ’90s she worked for Residential Opportunities in Cohoes, and the Arc in Troy. Both organizations provide resources for those with developmental and intellectual disabilities. From 2006 to 2010, she worked or volunteered at similar area organizations such as the Center for Disability Services, Questar III Rensselaer Education Center, and Living Resources Corporation. “She worked with people with disabilities ever since she was a teenager,” her mother says. “She understood them, and she worked with the autistic very well, but it took a lot out of her. It took a lot of energy, and she gave a lot of her energy away, helping other people.” Her friend Ray Felix saw her devotion to assisting people living with disabilities.

Nadia Trinkala

the moment I met her that we were kindred spirits.” Lemay and Nadia talked and joked as they piled eclectic pieces into Lemay’s truck. They exchanged phone numbers. “I said the most awkward thing as I was leaving,” Lemay recalls. “I told her, ‘We are going to be best friends.’ I knew it was going to be true, but it was a funny thing to say. We both joked about it years later.” Nadia made friends with almost everyone. Even those who didn’t know her closely say that she made them feel like the most important person in the room. She had a charisma that attracted people, and a kind heart. “People would come into her stores and she would give them a job to help them out,” says Ray Felix, a friend of about 13 years who also met Nadia at one of her stores. While the region celebrated the success of Trinkala’s stores and galleries, she still carried the burden of her disability and the issues that came along with it. “She made you feel like a rock star, like you were everything to her,” says Alana Matulis, who knew very well the struggles that her longtime friend went through. “There was no one more supportive or who rang my bell than Nadia Trinkala. She definitely

no idea what you’re going through, and often don’t believe it if you tell them; and medical professionals are prone to diagnosing the symptoms rather than the root cause. “The major focus is sometimes on the emotional status of the person, which can also be upsetting—they know at some level that it’s not just emotional stuff,” says Lifrak. “We see this with our patients who have brain injuries, mild brain injuries from car accidents and so forth. They go to medical people or other professionals, and they’re misdiagnosed with some sort of an emotional or psychiatric problem, but they know that’s not the case. The doctors keep saying, ‘There’s nothing wrong with you,’ or ‘You’re fine, go back to work,’ or ‘You’re just a little depressed—that’s it.’ “The patient feels like they are not functioning the way they’re used to, and the experts are telling that they’re fine. That’s crazy-making.” “I said to her just before she died, ‘Nadia, just accept your disability and work with it. If you didn’t have a leg, you’d have to work with it,’ ” says Dianne Trinkala. “She said to me, ‘Mom, if I didn’t have a leg, everyone would see my disability. I told her, ‘Nadia, you’ve been hiding

METROLAND JUNE 21-27 2012

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