I’m sorry if I ever told you that in order to be loved you had to love yourself first. I suppose that wasn’t very good advice but at the time I thought it was right. This is the downside: if people ask you for advice, they think you’re good at giving it. Most of the time you do an alright job. But it doesn’t mean you’re perfect. Most of the time the advice you give is just the advice you wish you’d take yourself. These days, I try not to give advice when people don’t ask for it. Even though it’s not meant as a guiding principle, people tend to take you seriously.
Most of the time I love myself but I am also learning that I love myself most when others show love to me. Sometimes I don’t have enough love to give to everyone else. I am finding that I can’t be there for everyone all the time and that it’s not my job to be, either.
I am turning 30 in 131 days. I expect that I will get an incurable illness. When I walk down the street I can hear a timer, tick tick tick, waiting to be assaulted. I make it one block and four men talk to me. When I walk down the street with my headphones on and someone follows me. When a woman stands directly in my face and waves her hands with her face sunk in shallow and bandages on her arms. When a man waves at me from across the street and I can hear his yelling but it blends into the music I listen to like a melody. When the train comes it’s like the bass drops. When the doors come it’s like a fresh breath you don’t know you’ve been holding.
I wonder if everyone else walks around expecting to get hit by a car, or get trapped in a building after an earthquake. Maybe I’ve died a few times before and am saddled with this knowing inevitability.
Tick, tick, tick.
I got my car fixed. I got my bike fixed. I joined a recycling program where you put your cans in a bag and bring them to the store and they give you money. I started drink white wine instead of red wine.
I think if I told you these things about myself and you knew me very well you’d think I’d changed but if you saw me yesterday, if I’d just told you, passively. That would be different. It would have been absorbed into your idea of me.
I wonder if I saw you tomorrow I’d even recognize you. I’m not speaking of anyone in particular. Just all the someones I used to know. Sometimes I think I see someone out of the corner of my eye that I know but then I look away because it’s not quite right. Maybe that was you. With a beard. Wearing pink. Driving a mustang instead of a honda. Maybe you stand up straighter now, some habit you’ve developed over the last few years. Maybe you walk just a little differently (do I remember how you walk) maybe your voice is a little different (can’t remember) maybe you go to all the same places and (if I’d seen you, would I know?) or different places (what are you doing here? you don’t belong…) this new version of you.
I guess I’m a new version of me, too. But it’s never as hard for me to cope with as it is for you. Whoever you are.
I turn 30 is 131 days. I remember this age feeling tall, like a countertop I can’t see over. I remember this age looking wide like a landscape photo with trees and a river and a mountain or two, sprawling and endless. I remember this age like opening a book you’ve never read before, young enough you haven’t heard all the stories, young enough you don’t know how it ends yet.