By the time I was eight I was an emotional being, sensitive and weighted with the heaviness of existence and with as much empathy as a young child could fathom. Words were my expressive weapon of choice. In the third grade, I wrote a poem illustrating the plight of a homeless man: alone, outside, and without a family during the holidays. The local paper published the piece, which seems strange to me now, but that homelessness and loneliness occupied real estate in my tiny brain by 1993 also seems strange. Maybe those things -- the blues and grays -- were always in me. Or maybe it was decided then that while a bull in a china shop I might often be, I was the delicate flower child. Which is perhaps a dressed up “weak." It’s not necessarily poor judgement.
I’ve written for as long as I can remember, often compelled by some omnipotent or ethereal force, other times driven by raw pain or sheer joy or junky confusion. I have books upon books of diary entries, webpages going back to the early 2000’s with rants and poems and songs and moods. I started exactly one novel about a train conductor in 2011, enamored by the sorts of folk who are born with a calling or a passion so rooted that they'd endure the daily drudgery of something as simple as collecting commuter's fares to live out a dream. I wrote music reviews for a while, sometimes solicited, but mostly unsolicited. Otherwise, I’ve never much been in the business of words, or held them in a scholarly rearview mirror, I'm only interested in the feelings of them.
Ultimately, I write because it’s who I am. Woody Allen said he told jokes because it’s what he did -- what he had to do -- just the way an artist might draw an elephant so plainly. I connect deeply to music, and I really love to mess around with paint, but words are my thing. The way they sound in your head, the way they roll out of sticky mouths. And if I write because of who I am, it is worth noting that I have been many things. Maybe not the most things possible in a thirty-year span, but nevertheless it feels like several lifetimes are behind me.
I was a sweet little girl, the kind that got stuck climbing trees. My imagination, curiosity, and lean toward kinetic learning was endearing, but sometimes painful. Attempting to understand some aspect of pain or cookware or home appliances, I once placed my entire hand on a red-hot stovetop. I think about this almost every day now: the circular pattern on charred-white skin, running upstairs to hide in my bed, immediately wishing I hadn't been so eager to know.
I was a relentless older sister -- probably still am -- a committed young student athlete, a through-the-motions Catholic. I was in a short-lived, terrible girl pop-punk band, and later sang in college. I burned my right eyelashes off lighting a joint in the back of a car at age 16. I dropped my queue card on center stage at college graduation, having to chase after the flimsy, fluttering thing for an audience.
I stared my own company and launched a brand and a franchising model only to decide shockingly soon thereafter that it was not what I wanted to do with my time or my energy. I was an interior designer's business manager, an advertising account kid, a start-up do-it-all, and a darn good bartender.
I have skied off of cliffs that made me so nervous I cried. I have jumped out of a plane so heartbroken I didn't care what happened. I have been a vegan, was eight years a vegetarian, and have since circled back to lots of bacon. Too much bacon. I have been caught using the handicap bathroom stall at Manchester Regional Airport a la Larry David, but have never been issued a speeding ticket.
In a supremely round-about fashion to arrive at self-worth and respect, I have found some pretty creative ways to harm myself in the last decade: eating disorders that landed me in the hospital for weeks on end, too much exercise, too much alcohol, too many drugs. It was all a bit quiet and was often dark, though neither makes it easier to understand. I have thrown up stuff that looks like coffee grounds. That is what happens when your stomach is bleeding. It is caused by poisons. Why would anyone poison themselves? Beats me.
And in slightly more direct exercises in growing up, there were the boyfriends. I have dated punks, jocks, preppy frat boys, anal-retentive financiers, exacting artists, mum musicians, and misguided narcissists. There were older men lost in nostalgia, younger men longing for connection, addicts, rich, poor. I have had rocks thrown at my window, I have had my birthday forgotten twice.
Sometimes it all seems a repeating rendition of the stove-proof. Like that was some indication of how I'd go about most things: the wonder, the senselessness, the pain, the big, fat "OOPS." The knowing better next time.
I'm grateful for the weird, varied experiences behind me. The sum and the parts. Each a lesson in grace, in love.
I have never stopped looking for meaning and purpose and resolution in love. Even when my heart hurt like hell, when I was drinking in the morning, when I was fighting, and yelling, and cold. I have never stopped believing that love is perhaps the only good and just thing we'll know as humans, however strange it may be. And so I'm aiming at big love. Big love among family and friends and pets and strangers and life partners and even, I guess, rollercoasters. The flavor of happy tears and hands to hold. Something honest and open and present and whole and wonderfully imperfect. The shit that leaves your eyes pink and swollen like over-ripened peaches when it goes. The way you'll always feel about your first dog. That.
I am a 30 year-old white female. I am an Amazon Prime super freak. I am still not sure what I want to be when I grow up or if being a Mom is right for me. I am the owner of a three year-old rescue dog named Diego and of a house. I am just now beginning to manage my anxiety. I like junk food and like fancy food and like tattoos, of which I have seven or ten depending on how you count. I am a fan of long walks and long drives and big cities and sleepy towns. I am either trying to make you think or to make you laugh and sometimes both. I am constantly Googling, am usually wondering aloud, am sometimes deft, am foolishly curious, and often clumsy.
I wish I cried more. I wish I knew myself better and appreciated myself wholly, constantly. I wish I read vigilantly, talked less, asked better questions, listened more intently. I wish I was more patient and had invested more time into classic film photography and proper music training and my sewing machine. I wish I was more into physical fitness. I wish I was less into my phone. I wish I was braver with my heart.
And so I write.