You loved me when it wasn’t pretty and dressed up. You loved me with snot and tears dripping off my nose, forehead red and blotchy from scrunching my face trying to hold it all in. You loved me when I was a little girl, when I was a moody teenager, and a young woman. You loved me as a I had a quarter life crisis and made awful choices and hurt people and lashed out. You loved me when I started to question all of it. You loved me when I jumped without a parachute, trusting that I would build it before I hit the ground; I did, I always do. You loved me when I bought another five tubes of lipstick to be added to the drawer already holding a hundred. You loved my bravery, my sense of humour, my curiosity, and my genuine love for other people.
You loved versions of me that I will never experience, because they are your experiences of me. We each see things differently.
You miss the person I was, and I hope you understand why I couldn’t stay. You miss the girl in skater skirts with long, dark hair, pinned at the sides with a bow. You miss an outdated version of me, an old operating system of 0’s and 1’s. Sometimes I wish I could reprogram parts of myself and stay the way I was for you. But it would be for you, not for me.
I hope you sing so hard and loud that you lose your voice tonight. I hope you dance until you’re too tired to think. I hope you cry if you need to. I hope you find the love you’re seeking, and you heal from the things no one is going to apologize for. I hope you see that your spirit is strong, that you’ve survived all the crappy days that brought you here, and that you celebrate the victories no matter how small. You mean the world to someone. It might be a friend, a parent, a spouse, a sibling, or maybe some random from Instagram who can’t wait to see your content and looks for you every day. I hope you go through your things and find friendship bracelets and love letters and smile at the place those people have occupied in your heart. I hope you read poetry that moves you to tears and compels you to write your own. I hope you jump in that puddle one day and make a mess of your clothes, just because you can. I hope you stop for ice cream. I hope you never stop wishing on stars, and if you don’t, I hope you start. I hope you help someone cross the street or pick up something someone has dropped. I hope you ride a bike and appreciate the wind in your hair and stop to smell the flowers. I hope you buy yourself flowers, you’re worth it. I hope you extend the kindness you give to others to yourself, too. I hope that when you are reminded of people you’ve lost, that it’s with the thought, “They would have loved this.” I hope you find the courage to take the next step. I hope you carry yourself with the knowledge that you are made of stardust, and that you are enough. You are enough, you are more than enough. I hope you grow old and happy, and appreciate your wrinkled skin and say thank you to your body for all the amazing things it did for you. I hope you wake up tomorrow, glad to be alive, ready to live this life for yourself, knowing that wherever you are is exactly where you are supposed to be.
It is bulging. Its sides are reinforced with duct tape. It’s been reopened many times to accommodate just one more thing, haphazardly retaped each time. Its label says Keepsakes, when it should actually say DANGER.
But at 34 years old, this box is too heavy for me to lift anymore, and it’s too full to for anything else. It’s stuffed full of pieces of my life that I don’t want to think about, parts of me that I’ve carefully concealed. The things that bring me shame. The things that make me hide. The things that make every nerve in my body stand up when people get too close to it.
For a short while, I started putting these things into someone instead of the box, and I felt safe. I didn’t feel like I needed to hide or perform. I could just be. I want to stay this free and unburdened, but I feel the weight of my life and The Box I’ve been carrying around, and it is enormous.
I messaged my therapist and told them about The Box, and in that moment it finally gave out, spilling the contents all over the place. Huge manifests of things I’ve been and hoped to be still, little scraps of hopes and dreams, slips of papers with the lies I’ve told, a book of accounts that list all the hurts and outstanding apologies that aren’t coming. The lists of roles and expectations that I’ve abided by. All of these things are going to need to be inventoried before they can be safely recycled to be made into something new. It’s an exercise of taking taking them out and talking about them, piece by piece.
I cried when I got this. Not because of the pain, although I sat for five and a half hours in one go. I cried because I thought of all the shitty days that got me here. I thought of all the times that my mom sent me The Story of Ferdinand to remind me of my strength, to remind me to slow down and smell the flowers and to remember there is still beauty in the mess.
I thought about how we fought when she told me she was moving 1,200km away, and how she sent a physical copy of the book to me as a peace offering. It worked. I cried then, too.
I cried because this will be with me long after she leaves this world. I showed her and she was delighted. She said, “Always be you.”
Christmas is coming. Consider this a brief list of my favourite things that someone in your life (or you!) might like, too:
Hammock with straps and carabiners that I hung on my patio. It packs down to a small pouch, and works equally as well when used between two trees, available from the evil corporation here
Contigo travel mug. What makes this special? It does not leak when it’s locked. I have put this in my backpack upside down with my Macbook. The sealing mechanism flips open for easy and more thorough washing – no more gross coffee cream scum. Available from the evil corporation here
Bamboo sheets from Daniadown. These feel like silk against the skin, but they’re lightweight and breathable, and they wash so well. Daniadown is Canadian! Available here
Roku Express HD Streaming Media Player. Don’t have a SmartTV? This is the answer. I also love that I can take it with me when I house-sit/travel, and I’m already signed in to all of my streaming accounts. Available from the evil corporation here
Vessi Weekender shoes. Pricey, but they’re the most comfortable shoe I’ve ever owned, and they’re waterproof. Great for those awful, wet PNW winters Get $20 off with my referral link
Stickers. I put them on everything – my laptop case, my Contigo travel mug, my Nalgene water bottle. Get every sticker your bold heart can imagine over at Redbubble I’m sorry in advance that you’ve reverted back to a child-like state and need to decorate everything. Actually, I’m not sorry at all.
Did you take up sewing this year? These sewing clips were a game changer. Easy to use and less stabbing my fingers and bleeding on my projects is always a plus. Available from the evil corporation in a tub of 100 here
Three port usb wall chargers for charging phones, sex toys, backup battery packs, whatever. I have two of them and it’s really nice to be able to charge everything at once instead of hunting around for charging cubes and fighting with the power bar for space. Available from IKEA here
ROCKS! I love polished rocks. I like holding them, looking at them in the light, carrying them around with me when I’m anxious. I would normally nerd out at rock and gem shows, but you know, covid. Here’s another Canadian retailer with a great selection of rocks
Political, queer, and feminist shirts and pullovers from March for the Movement excellent quality, so soft. I get compliments on my tshirts from this shop everywhere I go
1-litre Nalgene water bottles. I almost always have one of these with me. They’re durable, and they never smell bad, regardless of how long I’ve left something in them. Available from the evil corporation here
This constellation onesie from Tentree. Great for lounging, camping, sick days, and hangovers. It is by far my favourite article of clothing, and the company plants ten trees for every article of clothing purchased
I find it strange when people say I’m hard to shop for. Am I? Is it cozy? Can I eat it? Does it hold a beverage? Is it a rock? Sad girl poetry? Come on now.
I’m so painfully aware of myself these days. Maybe it’s the new skin I’ve revealed under decades of wearing someone else, it’s still raw. I’m moving about the world as a fundamentally different person and I have no frame of reference for anything anymore.
I’m so painfully aware that I might not be good at relationships, that I don’t know what healthy attachment looks like, or how to give all of myself to one person. I don’t know when to bend or fold, when to stop talking, how much to say, or even if I should say it. I’m suddenly insecure and aware of everything I do.
Am I a healthy person for others to be around? Am I making their lives better, or worse? When is it my responsibility to exit someone’s life, do I get to decide that? Or will they kick me out when they’re done? I don’t want to make anyone’s life worse. I know every day isn’t going to add value, but overall? What if I’ve identified that overall I am bringing someone down? What if, despite all my best efforts, I am not what someone else needs? Is this what it is when love isn’t enough?
For so long, I saw myself one way. I am surprised and saddened when people reveal the ways that I’ve hurt them. I’m caught off-guard by the ways I affect people. I’m painfully aware that it’s not just me in the world, and that’s been a monumental shift. I spend a lot of time thinking about how to be kind, how to be stable and safe for others. How to be emotionally sustainable and not burn someone out. I worry that I am a hurricane, leaving a path of destruction behind me. There’s a poem about throwing seeds behind you, and not looking back, and trusting that things will grow and blossom. I want to believe that, I want something beautiful to grow in people’s hearts where I have been. I don’t want to leave people with hearts of darkness.
Maybe I give myself too much credit. It’s arrogant to think I have that much impact.
I look at my life and wonder when I’m going to settle down and be the person someone can rely on? Someone I can rely on and trust, too? I’m terrible unsure of myself. I don’t know where I end and begin these days.
I wanted to be good for you. I wanted to fill you with hope and warmth and instead I made the gaps bigger and the dark places darker. I never wanted you to feel like you had to set yourself on fire to keep me warm. I wanted to be good for you. I am sorry I couldn’t be with you the way I wanted to, the way you needed. You worried that you weren’t enough for me, but darling, it was the other way around.
When I give you a song, it is yours. And it will be forever, and forever is a long time. I may make someone else a playlist, but your song will not be on it. And one day, your song will come on when I least expect it, in an unlikely setting, and I’ll either soften with warmth or I’ll bristle with pain. That song is yours, carved into my being with your initials next to it.
Music is love in search of a word. - Sidney Lanier