You’re setting your own personal records for procrastination with this one: seven months late. It makes sense in a way though–you feel like you’ve needed time to parse everything that happened last year, the ways in which your life has gotten smaller, and it’s now your birthday month (Leo season, you joke, though we’re not even halfway through Cancer yet) and you always get thoughtful and sad around your birthday. You also just finished reading Claire Vaye Watkins’ Battleborn for at least the fourth time, which is probably not a coincidence. You rarely reread books, but every time you read the stories in that collection, stories of lives gone wrong, of inherited pain, of worlds shrunk by necessity, you feel a bit broken open. This is why you read. The right book helps you translate the amorphousness and averbality of your own feeling.
It seems incredible to you that so much has changed since the last time you wrote one of these and yet in many ways it feels as though you’re sliding down a chute that began atop a mountain somewhere but gets darker the deeper you go, the faster you slide, and you can only hope that at the bottom there will be sunlight again. You keep thinking the air is getting a little lighter, a little brighter, but in such tiny increments that you’re convinced you might be imagining it. It has been a year of Moons and swords and Fools. Of throwing your hands in the air and your body into concrete, of refusing to play one game while putting everything you’ve got into playing another. Of vaccines and friendships that feel like one part truth and three parts belief. Of egg-beating frantically to keep your head above the scudding waves.
You started off the year by pledging to strap yourself onto wheels for 365 days. Against the odds, you fulfilled that pledge. You are doing things as a result that you never thought your body capable of: flying, spinning, careening through Manmade/MadeforMen parks of concrete and iron. Skating has become so much a part of you that it has been sublimated into a language your body speaks, a language of strength and bruises and brailled soreness, and when you don’t have time for it, you feel it deeply. Don’t let yourself get bogged down in comparisons with other skaters. Consider that every day your body allows you to skate and hit and jump and slide is a gift.
You began the year up to your elbows in sourdough, exhausted, bullied, and in pain. You left that world and don’t regret it and yet returning to those places or thinking too long on how your hands felt shaping things that would later melt on tongues feels like a breakup. It seems unfair that you found something you enjoyed, but that the industry was never meant to hold you, not if you weren’t willing to give up most of your life in exchange. You’ve never been good at relinquishing parts of yourself to the status quo. It’s what makes you strong. It’s also what makes your life difficult, sometimes. You left baking behind and entered a world of another kind of pleasure. One that, like food, has historically taken that pleasure and raised you pain, although where sex and sexuality continue to be points of insecurity and lack, you no longer punish yourself for wanting to eat good things. It feels as though you’ve sidestepped closer to where you want to be, but the pay is worse and the benefits are ephemeral and your world has gotten smaller as a result.
Both the pandemic and the shallowness of your pockets has made travel feel impossible. Not just travel for fun–that thing you are so good at, that makes you feel alive like nothing else–but also travel as in the idea of moving from one spot to another. You are by no means in a bad place, but you never intended to stay forever and nothing about your life promises freedom of movement any time soon. You have to believe that you will find it again though. Don’t let despair snuff out hope. You’re stubborn as all hell. Don’t let despair be the big bad that finally bends you to its will.
You met someone last year who was lost, a wraith of unresolved trauma who unwittingly sought to bring you down with him. He made you feel things you thought you couldn’t feel. He was not the key to those feelings, however. If anything, he nudged open a door so that you might see a crack of light, but that was all. Give him no more power than that. The way you think about and need (or don’t) and desire (or don’t) sex and intimacy is still developing. You’ve finally arrived at a place where you’re mostly convinced that nothing is wrong with you. That’s so far to journey. Especially since there have been so few maps. Keep going. One day you will feel whole again. One day you will be able to read what’s written on your own body. Remember that even while you struggle in your own journey, your work and voice illuminate the path for others so that they might have a guiding star to follow on their own journey to sexual wealth.
You continue to be afraid that people look at you without seeing you, or perhaps that they actually do see you and find that there’s nothing much there. You continue to get in your own way because your too rational mind tells you that even if you are special, it is no guarantee that your fire will resist being ground into the sand. Fear and anxiety and imposter syndrome are the blinders that keep you from seeing all the possibilities around you, that make that one obstacle ahead seem so gargantuan that you might as well give up now. Believe people when they tell you things you’ve always wanted to hear. You’re doing so much better than you can see.
Here’s what I know about you: You have never failed to overcome any challenge put before you. You have used your strength to fight off those who would harm you or people you love. You have made a life that is in so many ways lovely with so very little. You have refused to be anyone but who you are, even when it hurts, even when the path is fraught. You have managed not to kill all of your house plants or have your bills sent to collections or reflect your own pain onto another. You still know how to carve time out for yourself, how to let joy shine out from you, how to lead when no one else wants the responsibility. And despite the fact that getting to the end of your given life has always felt immeasurably exhausting, you continue to wake up each morning, plant your feet on the ground, and give ’em hell.
It will get easier one day. If only because it must. If only for a while.
I love you.