Every morning I wake up and I tell myself, “Today, you’ll be stronger.” And I repeat it over and over in my mind until I’m almost certain that I wouldn’t follow him to hell, not even if he asked me with his lips. I anxiously wait for his name to appear so that I can demonstrate my new found strength, a stone cold silence. A silence that says “I don’t want to” rather than “I can’t”. But just seeing his name reminds me of how I wake up alone and shivering and how warm it is standing in the eye of his man made hurricane even if I’m there drowning. And so every day I fail. Every day I accept his invitation-stripping myself of every cold weather accessory, every emotional barrier, every band-aid covering old wounds and I lay myself in front of him completely bare; for him to love, to criticize, to miss, to place blame on, to lust after, to laugh at, to step on to reach higher ground – whatever he needs me for, just as long as he needs me.
Four November’s ago I was riding around Detroit in a pink hummer limo celebrating my life. I thought that at 21 years old I had lived an entire life and I spent that birthday celebrating the Midwestern successes I was taught to be proud of: college graduation in the spring, maintaining friendships that started in adolescence, making my own car payment, etc. I thought I knew the world because I knew the ins and outs of the very small world I created for myself. Now, four years later, I look back and realize my life hadn’t even begun, that the world is infinitely larger than I could have imagined from the suburbia I grew up in. My life only began when I moved to New York. I was only beginning to test the waters of a very deep well; one full of opportunity, new friends, different cultures, delicious food, inspiration on every street corner, and for me, an endless supply of humility. New York has a way of reminding you that you aren’t shit, that your 21st birthday was merely the dusk before the dawn. There are millions of other people sharing this city with you and they’re all equally, if not more, talented than you. Likely, they worked just as hard, were just as brave and courageous, and left just as much behind in order to be here, in this city, living the life they dreamed about as children, the same way you did. So here’s to everyone who dreamed big, to myself for having 25 years worth of fight inside of me, and to all the lessons I’ve yet to learn.