I don’t want a life of empty promises for coffee dates. I did not sign up for that. I did not sign up for “Let’s keep in touch” only to forget your name three months later. And I did not sign up for “OMG, miss your face” without you ever trying to see my face. I don’t want hollow and I don’t want empty and I don’t want fake. I want authentic and rock solid and a phone picked up at 2 a.m. when the world yanked me somewhere I never wanted to go.
The validation from strangers on the Internet felt good for awhile. Fueled me. Haloed me. Filled me up with bubble gum and rainbows. But it did not last. Because the validation from strangers on the Internet didn’t furnish the gaping holes in my spirit. It didn’t undo the terrible things. It did not cancel out the hideous memories. So I had to do the work. Because validation from strangers on the Internet does not do the work.
I bid farewell to a friend a few years ago who I thought I would grow old. I recently sat on the porch with his mother recently fighting to remember him, while gripping every inch of sanity I had so I did not disintegrate in the process. I’ve gotten my heart shredded. Loved men who could never fathom loving me back. I’ve written a book. Built my dreams from nothing but dust and tenacity. I’ve started over and over and over again. And in that time, I’ve realized few things in this life are ever entirely bitter or completely sweet. Everything comes with its teaspoon of sour. But, if you’re lucky and patient and introspective enough, there is usually a tablespoon of sweet. Usually.
I do not know about your parents. I don’t know if you talk to them every day or every week or every month. I don’t know if you love them or hate them. I hope it’s the former. But, a few months ago my parents hinted at retiring far away from our East coast roots, and suddenly, they became my priority. Seeing them. Calling them. Letting them in and hearing them out. Making an effort. A conscious, concerted and die hard effort. See, I do not know about your parents. But, I do know they will not be here forever. Like everything else in this life, that time with them is finite, a precious but forgotten stream that we often times let slip through our fingers.
Too many of my peers overrate building a brand while overlook building themselves up. I got that wrong for so long. Too long. I tethered my whole heart to an entity that could be gone tomorrow if the WordPress messiahs up and leave. I threw myself into work thinking “workaholic” was a moniker to be worshipped, not avoided. But, it is not. It is not OK when you can’t sleep or eat or breathe without thinking about your work. Passion doesn’t mean broken friendships. Passion doesn’t mean blowing off your sister when she calls and passion doesn’t mean you can’t throw a drink back and just enjoy life. I didn’t see that. Because people would pat me on the back and everything looked good, I let myself crash and burn. I fell hard and I fell into flames. More than once. But, the finishes don’t mean a thing if the house isn’t built on a firm foundation.
People will be shitty and people will be good. They will pull the rug from under you and they will lift you up when you least expect it. Few people in this life are entirely warm or cold blooded. Fragile, yes. Fucked up, yes. Beautiful, yes. But hardly ever just a good cop or bad cop.
There aren’t any traffic lights when it comes to your evolution. There is not any flashing red telling you to stop nor is there an inviting green summoning you to fly full speed ahead. Your gut is your guide. Listen when she speaks. She will speak softly, but if you ignore her, that’s when the Universe will boom.
Better to be a burst of energy than a loose canon. People want you to light up a room. They do not, however, want you to set it on fire. Emotions have been my greatest compass, but they have also led to many downfalls. Because somewhere in between our emotions and the moment the shit hits the fan is the opportunity to channel and process. I forfeited that opportunity for way too long.
If you can find one solid friend with benefits in this life, you’re good. If you can find one best friend in this life, you’re great. And if you can find lasting love in this life, you will always find your way back home.
We can spend an ungodly amount of time hungry for inspiration when most days it’s closer than the skin underneath our fingertips. I call that so-close-I-didn’t-even-realize-it inspiration my sister. My sister who ran a half-marathon. My sister who did a complete 180 in every aspect of her life. My sister who answers the phone for me every day. My sister who made choices for herself, independent of seeking approval. My sister whose bravado and resilience are two of the most prominent reasons I have been able to evolve and grow at all. I’m always digging around for quotes or anticipating a revelation when I read someone else’s blog post. But the real inspiration has been right under my nose this entire time.
I don’t confuse speaking my truth with being an asshole. Speaking my truth means liberation of self without demolition of others. It does not mean hurting feelings or shredding hearts. That is not speaking your truth; that is insecurity running rampant and throwing a temper tantrum. They say if everyone loves you, something is wrong. But if everyone hates you, something sure isn’t right. Delivery and timing. Delivery and timing. Delivery and timing.
This life is short and this life is long. So I believe in good people and cheap wine and keeping a blank page within arm’s reach. I believe in best friends and bare feet on green lawns. I believe in hard work and a hunger to see what the end will be. And I know that everything I know now is simply a bunch of chicken scratch that I will someday revisit, revise and maybe erase completely.
Happy Birthday to me.