I Digress

It Gets Less Worse – Love Letters to My Younger Self

Dear Eight Year Old Em, 

The other kids think you’re weird. It’s okay. You have fire in your heart. Pick your glasses up off the ground, puff out your chest, and let them say the things they will. When they hurt you, tell an adult. Tell your parents. Take this time to learn that those two people will protect you with their last dying breath until they don’t know how anymore, and then they’ll still try to throw themselves between you and your pain, even if it looks like it could swallow them whole. They will always do their best for you. They’ve fought much scarier monsters. You were blessed with two people who love you. They will fight for you on the days you no longer have the courage to put up your fists. They will do it now, when you are small, and easy to console. And they will do it in three years, when you believe yourself to be a hardened adult at eleven. They will do it when you call them, long after you’ve moved out, eerily calm, and tell them about the razor blades and the pain you don’t understand, even though they no longer understand most of what you are. Take your struggles to them, dear heart. 

They made you. They want you. You are wanted. 

Dear Eleven Year Old Em,

You’re allowed to be angry, or hurt, or disappointed. You can be any or all of those things. Even though you keep your chin up, your eyes will water and your lip will tremble. It’s alright. Cry. No one has stopped loving you. Adult things are complicated. You didn’t do anything wrong. This isn’t your fault. People make mistakes. Good people, your people, will make mistakes. It’s okay to feel however you do. Don’t take your hurt out on Poppa. His heart is just as beaten as yours, and you may not believe it now, but Mama’s is, too. They’re bleeding with you, not against you. Don’t let anyone step on your broken heart under the guise of trying to be strong. People go away, but baby, they almost always come back. This is not the end, and don’t you dare think it is.

We’re nineteen now. We made it.

Dear Fourteen Year Old Em, 

High school is scary, but it’s not as bad as you think it will be [and for the record, it wasn’t as bad as you remember it, either]. Take this time to learn to love your body, if you can – at least try. Accept that this is the only one you have. When he starts showing you affection again, do not jump at the chance to feel desirable. Do not accept his heart simply because you’re tired of watching yours beat all by itself. You don’t need him to validate your worth. You are not who loves you. You are what you love. He is only a man; he can not fill the gaps in your heart. You will learn that your worth comes from your own heart. I promise. 

You don’t need him. You’re gay now anyway. 

Dear Sixteen Year Old Em,

It’s okay. It’s okay. It’s okay. I am so proud of you. You are so lovely, and worthwhile. Please, please, remember that people love you before you start dragging that horrible lighter across the backs of your strong arms. This is not your fault. You were created fearfully, wonderfully, and in His image. It isn’t your fault that no one else has figured that out yet. You are not inherently flawed. You are not worthless. Your sexuality does not negate who you are. You are not damned for this. You are so completely unprecedented. Take your pain to your parents, they will hold off these demons for you if you just let them. Take it to your therapist. Do not hide it. Do not bury it in the first girl who might love you. She doesn’t. Maybe she did. I still don’t know. Also, kid, take on less. Cut yourself some slack. You’ll thank me at nineteen.

There is so much I want to tell you, but I still don’t have the words. I’ll try again in a few years.

Dear Eighteen Year Old Em, 

You are going to fall so hard for the first girl who shows you intimacy. It’s okay. That fall will hurt. She won’t know all of the damage you’ll allow her to cause. Learn the definition of unrequited now. College is new, and you’ve not grown up at all. This new found freedom does not come with any kind of maturation. It just happens. Drink less beer. Say “no” to weed more often than you say “yes.” Hug your best friend whenever you see her. Her heart is heavy, and you cannot stop loving her, because she’s one of the only people you’ll ever feel okay sobbing in to, one of the only people who will cry with you if that’s what you need. You cannot stop loving her, because you may never know this kind of love again. Don’t let a year apart and a hard summer get in the way of that. Not everyone who tells you they love you actually does. This is a hard pill to swallow. Don’t ever stop opening your heart, anyway. Trust me, in less than a year’s time you’ll be proud of the horrible, soppy mess of a heart you wear on your sleeve. You’ll guard it, and protect it, and share it with someone beautiful far sooner than you know, so stop pretending like it doesn’t exist. You are going to know so much more at nineteen than you do now. I’m sure we’ll know more at twenty, too. Let go of your pride. It is only weighing you down. 

Keep pedaling, man. It’s getting less worse, and a little more livable. 

I Won’t Let Go

I published this to Tumblr a while ago:

I lie awake at night and wonder if things would be different if you were here. You make me want to be next to you, to feel the thud of your heart next to mine. I want to hold your hand while we regale stories of our lives to one another that we’ve already told. I want to listen to you tell them over and over even though I know how they end.

I want to sit next to you on the floor, our backs pressed against the sofa, arguing over who should get up and flip over the record, because honestly it’s just been spinning for the last five minutes, no you get up and change it. I did the last one. I want to put my head in your lap, so you can shield me from all that is dark. I need to know that all is not lost, that you have not gone. It’s become cold again, and there is no shoulder here for me to bury my nose in, so it can escape the harshness of winter.

Occasionally I think to myself “Where is he? What is he doing?” I know you feel it too. I know because you tell me. You do not do the typical male thing and act like you don’t care. You don’t wait around for me to say it first. You just say it. And I love you for that.

And one morning, I’ll get the call. “I’m here.” You’ll whisper into the void that stands between us. And I’ll rocket from the warmth of my bed to see you. You’ll be standing in the lobby, snow in your hair, cheeks red from being bitten by the wind. I’ll turn up the collar on my sweater, and guide you back into the cold.

But the weather won’t matter. The time won’t matter. The fact that I didn’t even bother to change from my pajamas won’t matter. Nothing matters when it’s you and I together. Nothing matters except together.

Together.

I don’t understand why we aren’t there now. I don’t understand why it hurts so badly. We parted, and I lost part of myself. No, it was taken from me. We left each other, and part of me was stolen, and replaced with part of you. That’s what we do, you and I, we take parts of each other and try to construct the other out of the jagged, broken pieces. Please, watch your step. There is glass everywhere.

I can see you in the jokes I make. Or when I hear the song, you’re there. And it makes me want to smile so big that my face cracks, and it makes me want to shout my anger from the mountain tops to anyone who will listen, and it makes me want to curl into myself and sob until I have nothing left, but tear stained cheeks and exhaustion to pull me out of this place without you.

I don’t understand. Help me to see the growth. Guard me from the people trying to tell me that absence will make my heart grow fonder. I cannot be any fonder. You are my brother. You are my family. You are a piece of my soul. And you are missing from me.

And it hurts.

I need to know that there will again be a time where we are together. Where it is you, and I, and some old Beatles record floating softly through the air while we breath in that funny offbeat unison we pick up when we’re together. I have to know that there will again come a time when your shoulder is there for me to hide my face in from the cold.

You are the light at the end of this tunnel, and I can barely see you. You’re there, and I know because I can feel your warmth.

So, just keep running my way. Just keep headed in my direction, and I will continue to sprint in yours, arms open wide. ready to embrace you, and hold you, and tell you how beautiful you are, and how much this experience has made you into a better man, even if you can’t see it. I’ll tell you everything we are too afraid to say out loud. And I know you’ll say it back.

That’s how this works. That’s why this works.

You are me, and I am you.

Until our paths cross again, and the weight of the world is shared between us, instead of having to bear the pain alone,

I love you. I miss you. Hold tight, I’ll be right there.

100

I was born a hundred years old. I am now, and always will be a hundred years old. No one seems to understand this concept.

I am very old. My mind is very old. I think I got it from someone else, because they were all out of the new ones when I was created. I think they grabbed an old one and called it a day. And for that, I am eternally grateful. I know me. I am fully confident in who I am as a human person. I like my personality, and myself. I like things the way they are.

But I am a hundred. I don’t comprehend jokes the same way as my peers. I don’t understand the social cues or conversation that they partake in. I can’t be a part of the things they want me to be a part of because I am too old.

Being a hundred makes being a college student very difficult. I have no inclination to do normal college student things. I cannot relate to my peers in the slightest. I find myself searching out other very old people to befriend. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to be overly plentiful.

My people from home are old like I am. Whether they were born that way, or life made them that way is their’s to tell. I love them, because they understand that I can’t do things the same way other people can. I can’t bring myself to try and explain these concepts to the new people here. It’s too difficult and they tend not to understand. And that is painful to explain, and watch them not grasp it. And that makes me very sad.

I am perpetually a square peg in a round hole. I am okay with that. I just wish there were more square pegs to talk to. I’m sure I’ll find them. It’s just going to take longer than I’d planned.

Tribe

For four years I did my best to push through high school. I tried to only get as close to other people as absolutely necessary for survival. I wanted to get in, do well in school, and get out.

Just keep looking for the light. The light that is college, and interesting people, and intellectual conversation. Just keep searching for the light. There has to be a way out of this tunnel.

And I made it. I survived high school. I had a few friends, and managed to alienate everyone else. It was a very successful experiment in social interaction. Except then they came along. They came along with there similar taste in television. And their complete openness to everything. They just go around loving me for no good reason. And the two of them who won’t be moving into college dorms on August 24th are going to tie me to this town. This town I tried so hard to escape, unscathed. They’re just going to be here, caring about my well being and making sure I’m happy. Nate’s going to be too far away for everything. I mean, honestly, what were we thinking? And don’t get me started on Goose. She’s just going to move to Akron and we’re going to be more than five minutes away from each other. That’s just no good.

I don’t want new people. I don’t want forced intellectual conversation. I don’t want the light. I want them.

I need them. I can’t even begin to fathom not having them at every turn. And sure, I’ll meet new people, and I’ll have cool things to do with them. But nothing will beat spending Friday night at home, talking over a movie in our pajamas.

In our own completely ridiculous way, we’re a family. I love them. I’m not sure I can handle leaving them too.

Our parents spend the first years of our lives raising us into people. They hope that they make us functional enough to move on and find our own tribe.

I’ve found them.

Why I Can’t Hate the Abercrombie CEO

Let’s talk about Abercrombie. I mean, c’mon guys, everybody else is. I’m sure you’ve seen the picture with his quote circulating through Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and more. He has stated that he will not allow his company to produce clothing for overweight or unattractive people. His direct quote:

“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” he says. “Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don’t alienate anybody, but you don’t excite anybody, either.”

Now listen, he’s right. Before you riot, let me explain what I mean. Mike Jeffries has found a niche market in making “cool” clothes for thin people. He is highly successful, and people continue to shop in his stores. From a business aspect he has done an amazing thing. Mike Jeffries has convinced almost two generations that in order to be perceived as cool, you must wear clothes with a giant moose on them.

He is an advertising genius. He is marketing brilliance. Not only has he managed to provide a product tailored only to a certain demographic, but has made it so that only his targeted demographic (and weird grown ups) can purchase his clothes. They’re the only ones who can a) fit into them, and b) afford them! Mike Jeffries is everything I would want in a marketer.

Does that mean I share his moral values? Hell no.

Does this mean I like what he’s doing? Not really.

Does this mean I plan to shop at Abercrombie now? Well, the smell is a huge deterrent. Also the aforementioned weird old people are enough to keep me away. There are plenty of other reasons why I won’t shop at Abercrombie.

But do I admire his business strategy? His marketing tactics? Absolutely.

I can’t hate him because he’s so dang clever. I admire cleverness regardless of the form it takes.  In order to succeed in today’s economy, you have to produce a product that is so hard to own, that everyone wants it. Everybody wants to be a member of the elite. Abercrombie is one of the many tell tale signs that someone is in that club. Jeffries has made his company a symbol of wealth.

Is he a jerk for not making clothes for bigger people? Sure. But he had the balls to come out and say it. He had it in him to say exactly what his business strategy was. Also, it is his company. He can do what he wants with it.

I’m not saying I agree with what he’s doing, but I can’t help but admire his process.

Running

Let me start off with the fact that I actually enjoy running, under the right conditions. I’d rather run now, in November, because I feel like less people are watching me run and I can compete only with myself and not with all the other runners. I’d rather run at night, when I can run as quickly or as slowly as I want under the cover of darkness; also everything seems way less far away when you can’t see where you’re going.

I started running this summer. My soccer coach asked me to run thirty-five miles over the summer to make up for practice time I’d miss. Don’t get me wrong, I was not thrilled about having to run everyday in the Ohio heat in front of God and everyone. But, I ran anyway because I had to. Honestly, I fell in love with it. It was cheaper than therapy, and I got to listen to music while I ran. It was a pretty sweet deal. I stopped running when the season started as to not burn myself out. However, our season was over for a this Monday, so I pulled out my running tights and sneakers and put them on reluctantly,and hauled my butt into the cold November air and started running.

Initially (the first two nights) I ran in my old Nikes. They have a pretty thick sole, and that caused some intense arch/knee/lower back/quad pain during and after the run. Tonight though, I ran in my Vibram Fivefingers (www.vibram.com). They managed to give me a pain free, longer, faster, better feeling run. Woohoo! Go Vibrams.

I run in the Bikila model, but I have a pair of KSO’s as well. I prefer the Bikila because they have a wider mouth for you to get your foot into and an overall better feel. The KSO’s and the Bikila both a great for hiking/kayaking/swimming (both lakes and oceans)/ running in sand/ on trails/ or in dirt. The Bikila feel better on the road though. If you’re looking for new running shoes, try to go with the closest to barefoot of the brand you like. If you really like them, go all the way. Vibrams are the way to go.

The Basic Constructs of Sister-Friendness

First and foremost, you are  mine. And I don’t mean to sound like a five  year old who can’t share her toys, but I will. You are mine, and mine alone. You are mine to torture. Mine to fight with. Mine to be furious with. Mine to give to. Mine to protect. Mine to stand up for. Mine to share what I have with. And I am yours.

We are sisters, if I’m mad at someone, so are you. And vice versa, woman.

Sometimes I get all sorts of angry for no reason. I’m sorry for any of the spiteful things I say out of being a stupid girl. Next time just call me something mean, and then we can all get over it.

The truth will set you free, but first it’ll infuriate you. That’s just the way life works. Spoiler alert: The truth is less painful anyways.

Learn to communicate with Mom and Dad, but mostly Mom. Your life will be exponentially easier.

I’m proud of you now and forever, and will support you always. But if you make the decision to be a homeless cocaine addict, I’m dragging you to rehab no matter how much you protest.

Yes, you can borrow that sweater. If I’m in a bad mood, and say no, borrow it anyways. Then tell me Mom said you could. I’ll get over myself.

Do whatever you want with your life (EXCEPT what we’ve earlier discussed). Do stupid things with your life. Take all kinds of risks; financial, physical, metaphorical, emotional. Remember that I’ll be there to cheer you on as you succeed, and to pick you up when you fail. I’ll probably laugh a little first, sorry in advance.

Don’t always listen to me. I’m not always right. Do what you want to do. Sometimes, don’t listen to anyone but you. A little rebellion is healthy.

Not all soul mates are lovers. Some are friends, some are family. We probably all have more than one. You were my first. You are my favorite soul mate. You’re my person.  Nothing can change that. I don’t care what it is, or how far it is, or how bad it may seem. I will always help you drag the dead body across the living room floor. I’ll bail you out of jail. I’ll fly across the world for you. Hell, I’d run across the world for you. I just may roll my eyes through most of it.

You are my first and oldest friend. Thank you.