This is not love. But you will not know it when you stand in Target searching for a TomTom so that you have a GPS to drive 219 miles from College Park to Manhattan to see him. Surely, you will believe at the time that this is love. You will believe that love is chaotic and sometimes cruel, messy in a way that leaves you sorting through a million delicate shreds. You will believe that it is love even when your face is smeared and unrecognizable from tears, even when you look around and he’s vanished into thin air. You will believe it is love when he sashays you around the Yale Law campus, but refuses to call you his girlfriend. Surely, yes, of course, this must be love. Complicated and confusing, leaving you in a pile of jigsaw pieces. And across the next few years, you will believe something similar about the men whom you skip down blind alleys with. But, this is not love. None of those stories are love stories. Not yet at least.
You’ve written the stories from 2011 too many times to count. You are done writing those stories. You are done letting those stories lead the way. Tragedy does define moments, even eras, of our lives. But, it has edges. Tragedy does not have license to define who we are indefinitely. At some point, healing is allowed to subjugate whatever that horrible thing was that took you under.
And I hope that somewhere, Roswell is still beaming on you.
Resilience is defined as the power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc. after being bent, compressed or stretched. Resilience is elasticity. And you will come to learn that yes, resilience is a good thing, but people never return to their original form. Both the beautiful and razor-sharp experiences leave us forever changed, rearranging our molecules and shaping us into something new. A phoenix and its ashes never look or feel quite the same.
The first time you create something from scratch, you will feel the high. The high of tickets selling out. The high of people congratulating you. The high of the room growing silent when you stand behind the mic. The high will become addictive and you’ll keep searching for ways to recreate it, but eventually you will fail. You won’t realize how much you were up your own ass until many years later. Right now, all you want to do is build and ride the wave. Just remember that waves sometimes crash.
It’s all there, inked across 126 pages of a book that now just feels like a wrinkle in time. It was equal parts courageous, audacious, and wildly millennial to shout your still-evolving story the world. But if you could take it all back, you wouldn’t. Because even though there are words on those pages that you believed in then but do not believe in now, you’ll never have to wonder about the lessons or dig for the memories. You wrote your stories because you believed in your stories. And something about that is beautiful and foolish and brave, all wrapped into one.
Whiskey is sometimes a good idea. Except you don’t actually like whiskey. You like the look of you holding a glass of whiskey in your hand far more than you like the taste of it on your tongue. That is something you will come to learn time and time again - that there is the way something looks and there is the way it tastes, and you had better well want to taste something a lot more than you just want to hold it. You think that being a woman who drinks whiskey makes you sort of cool and unruffled, the kind of woman a man will gravitate toward. But, you should give up the act and go for the wine. Because cool and unruffled you are not. Someone will love you for that. Someone. Someday. Just not yet.
What did Cheryl Strayed write? “Jump high and hard with intention and heart, pay no mind to the vision that the commission made up. It’s up to you to make your life.” Yes, this was the year you jumped high and hard. You stretched far and wide. You fell into that skylight blue kind of love. You climbed bridges. You dove off of cliffs. You made your life, you salted your wounds, you nursed your scars, you landed on your own moon.
This is love. You will know it when he looks at you, when he teaches you what the blue hour is, when you find your way back to each other after the fights and heavy days. You will know it when he laughs, when he kisses your forehead, when the waiter puts a slice of red velvet cheesecake in the middle of the table with two forks. You will know it when the bows between you two are neatly wrapped or when the stitches sometimes come loose. You will know how it feels to experience love that is equal parts deeply human and divine. You will know it through and through, and suddenly you will wonder how you ever thought that love could look or feel or taste like anything other than this.
Yes, this is love. Take it with you. Hold it close. Let it carry you into whatever comes next. And fly, fly away.