Sunday, August 15, 2010
Friday, August 13, 2010
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
"There's no place like home," I say, and my friend laughs from the other side of the bar where she's sitting in a gigantic bag designed to wrap awkward Christmas presents.
I wait to be found, sighing when I hear the high-pitched scream my friend makes when she's discovered. I know now that no matter what, I'm not IT.
Did I mention we're 20?
Or that being IT is still worse than anything on the planet? That we still play Nose Goes to avoid being chosen?
It doesn't matter how old we are, though, or how many years worth of stock we've put in playing hide-and-seek in the dark with the lights off. Because we're all allowed to be a kid. In fact, if we're smart, we'll turn to childhood a thousand times before our lives end.
The thing about kids that gets me is their contagious happiness.
I sell baby clothes. I've watched hundreds of kids walk into the store, see the Hopscotch painted on the floor, and get all giddy with excitement. They tug and tug at their parents' arms, pointing in case they didn't get the message.
"Watch me," they yell, running over and fighting over whose turn it is to go.
What I wish for them, and for everyone else in this world, is for that to be enough sometimes. There are so many bad moments, bad situations we find ourselves in, and yet kids are often blissfully unaware.
It's raining, so they splash in the puddles. The ice cream truck is rolling down the street, so they ask for a Rocket Pop. It doesn't matter that the blue and red juice is running down their arm, or that it's not the most nutritionally sound choice for a snack. There will be other moments to care about that. Now is not one of those times.
What if it never had to be one of those times? What if we could all be better at separating work from play, and in the process, feel less guilty about how we want to spend our free time?
As long as we're not hurting anyone else, if we want to go to the water park on a scorching Saturday afternoon, or the drive-thru at one a.m., that should be nobody's problem but our own.
We are never too old to learn from the kids in our lives.
Saturday, August 7, 2010
"Each song is a different confession to a different person."
Sound familiar? Reminds me a little bit of those Myspace days, blogging about people in your life that were important in those Guess Who posts. Each person had a sentence dedicated to them, and people were free to comment.
"Am I number seven? What about three?"
It's times like this that I wish I wrote song lyrics. There are people I would like to talk to, to tell something, but like most of humanity, I keep it inside. And I have more than a few such secrets.
Why do we do that?
PostSecret's a great example of this. Perfect strangers find out that you resent your family, that you flitter between sexual orientations, that you're afraid of love, but your own friends are in the dark.
Maybe we're afraid that the people who know us most won't accept us if we're not the person they think we are. But we can't know that for sure. We can't.
If we're going to make some grand assumption, why not make it something to hope for? Probably, it'd be so much better to think that it can't go wrong. Because here's the kicker. Here's something I've learned from my family:
The people who love you, who truly care, won't turn their backs on you when you tell them.
For all you know, they already know. Or they're going through something just as bad. Or they've been there before, and they can help you. There's a reason there are so many people out there writing memoirs and personal essays and giving speeches. They've been there before, that indefinable Somewhere, and they want you to know that You're Not Alone.
We're all a conglomeration of our own secrets, our own confessions, so we better start owning up to them.
Friday, August 6, 2010
Then you're disappointed because you never jumped in the first place, so there was no way you were ever making your dream a reality.
When I was a senior in high school, just a few weeks after graduation, I wrote my sister a letter. I never gave it to her, but I thought that if she read it, maybe I could spare her from making mistakes. It was the kind of letter I wished someone wrote and handed to me. A guide I could tuck into my pocket and pull out, smoothing it down to read whenever I needed some reassurance that I was on The Right Path. I just read a blog post that inspired me to share that letter, with the hope that it will offer guidance to someone somewhere. Maybe even just one little sentence.
Dear (your name here),
I'm only now starting to realize the sheer volume of growth that I've had over the past two years of my life, and I realized today if I were you I'd be thankful to have someone to share a little bit of that knowledge with. So here goes. It's okay to feel emotions other than hate or resentment and to let yourself cry (not just because of a fight with your mom). You have to allow yourself to like boys, to put your heart out there. Vulnerability is quite possibly the scariest yet most exciting feeling you can allow yourself. And if you like a boy, tell him, but try not idolize anyone. Guys make some of the best friends, too. Most of them won't admit it, but they are capable of feeling weak and they listen. Not just about the new jeans at Hollister, but they have this intuition that I could never grasp and can help you gravitate toward the girls who won't put you down so they feel better about their own lives. Make a lot of mistakes, but make sure they're worthwhile. And when you're done, learn from them. It's okay to drink every once in a while, but not every day and don't go around flaunting it. Stay modest but take compliments. It seems easy enough but you're hard on yourself. Keep dancing (or whatever you love to do) because I know you love it. Know that answers will rarely come to you so keep guessing. Tell your mom some things, not all, or she'll grow suspicious. And know that the best way to live is that you can't stop crying on the day you move away. Take advantage of these last two years because as much as you'll love senior year, it goes too fast and you'll want another one. And last, don't be afraid to blast my car stereo while I'm gone because music was meant to be played loud with the windows down. I love you and know I'm only a phone call away.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
I've been dabbling in this new Thinking Ten concept, letting my fingers type away for ten minutes, letting the story unfold in front of me. Last week, I had to start my ten-minute piece with this sentence: "I write this sitting in the kitchen sink". Just to give you an idea, here's my piece:
I write this sitting in the kitchen sink. Which is difficult, to say the least, since I have a big, fat piece of metal dividing the side with the garbage disposal and the other, regular drain. But I digress, it's all in a day's work. And today, I'm holding my breath, trying to pretend that someone, some unknown face, is on the other side of that swinging door. There's just a crack underneath the door, big enough for this mystery person to lean down on all fours, hugging the floor, and looking through to see my feet on the cold tile. I could just sit on the counter Indian style, but that wouldn't give me the full effect. My butt wouldn't be numb, my knees cramped, my toes a little wet.
"You have to get your toes a little wet," my Grandpa always used to say. "That's the only way to go through life." He was in the Navy, a real trooper, with a big heart and a knack for serving his country. And I know he said that metaphorically, at best, but I'm taking it to heart right now since I forgot to clean out the sink before I sat in it. There's a leftover puddle of water inside my cereal bowl from when I washed it out.
I call it Experience Writing. My villain, in this latest misadventure, is on the other side of the kitchen door, breathing so quietly I can't even hear him. That's what I tell myself, since you and I both know there is no villain on the other side. It helps me feel tense, keep the words flowing on the page. And the funny thing is, in a way, there is someone else on the other side of that door. A different kind of villain, maybe, but a villain nonetheless. It's my mother, coming inside from hanging laundry on the clothesline, and she's going to scream. Not out of terror though. I wish it was out of terror, but I'm not a very scary little girl. The scariest thing about me, according to her, is my tendency to dress and act like a boy.
"Mom," I tell her, whining. "I can be whoever I want to be. I'm a writer."
"So be a girl," she tells me, smacking me upside the head and demanding I get down from there right now before all the germs from my dirty feet infect the sink and she has to spend hours scrubbing it out.
I argue with her for a few minutes, reminding her that girls don't always get recognized for their writing. Not until they're dead. And I need to experience "Boy Life" because my latest story is about a boy. Girls don't worry about villains, I insist.
She shakes her head once more, firmly, and wraps both arms around me, pulling me out and setting me down.