When I asked about what I should write about on Twitter, and Facebook, and well, everywhere else…I got suggestions ranging from super heroes, to basketball (Which to me, despite living in Indiana – would be like writing a foreign language). I was told to write in iambic pentameter (Which I may do some day when I feel like my brain muscle isn’t revolting against me.
The suggestion I keep coming back around to is the suggestion to take a walk down memory lane…But a fun one. So often when I get stuck in loops of reflection, they are me, re-living my failures (Professionally, personally, imagined or real). I rarely look back with perspective to see the funny moments in the crazy.
I’ve had what can only be described as a crazy decade. I was certain when I was 18 that I would be a writer and so far, that is about the only thing that is the same. I know that growing up is supposed to change you. I find myself with a funny perspective on the matter. I was kind of a hellion. I’m such a mellowed out version of myself these days – which I know is what is “Supposed” to happen, but still.
I commented the other day that I could open my mouth these days and talk about how much I loved Joe Strummer – and how his music changed my life – and most of my friends these days wouldn’t even know who Joe Strummer was. Let alone Mike Ness, or any of the more obscure things I listen to. My whole life music has been like air to me. When I was younger, it was how I defined most of my friends. We all liked the same things – we were bonded by that as well as a shared distaste for what was happening in the world around us. It was in those times – shouting at myself in the mirror that I managed to learn (the hard way many times) what my voice sounded like.
One memory always comes to the forefront when I talk about this. One of my longest and closest friends and I met through my ex (while she was dating him). We bonded instantly and pretty much spent every waking moment together for years – until we had to grow up and life took us all over the place. We were driving in Broadripple (The arts district in Indianapolis). When I say we, I mean me. I was driving. We often went there to look at music, band shirts, talk about what I was going to pierce next – and of course to look at all the cute boys (and girls). This particular afternoon there were two young guys walking down the street, both of them had what can only be described as EPIC mowhawks. At this point in my life I had a bit of a mowhawk fetish. Mowhawks, piercings, tattoos…any guy that looked like he rolled out of bed, spiked his hair up with glue and didn’t care what you had to say about it. Like most girls, I had a thing for the bad boy. I couldn’t help it. It was also a plus that most of these guys actually read things for fun – enjoyed the same kind of loud, fast, driving music that I did. They were often spontaneous, politically informed, and opinionated. They were strong.
But I digress.
My friend looked at them about the same time I did. Unfortunately – at this time in my life, I was the WORST driver ever.
Where I looked, so went the car. Right up onto the sidewalk behind these guys almost hitting them.
That’s right ladies and gentleman – I was THAT smooth.
When I make jokes about “seducing people with my awkward” I’m only half joking.
I survived that day with my car, their lives and my pride in tact.
Another distinct memory that flooded me when I was alphabetizing my Pez Dispenser collection to avoid writing (Because I had such terrible block the last few days) was a memory that is particularly touching to me, but hard.
One of the best friends I ever had was named Andrew. He passed away in September of 2011. He and I were fast friends in High school and dated off and on. Mostly – we were best friends. He was my partner in many things I cannot even begin to express.
It was my 16th birthday. I was not exactly popular in high school. In fact I was what you would call a “Pariah”. Columbine happened my sophomore year, and I was always one to wear darker makeup – darker colors. Black hair. I looked like death from the sandman comics. It was my thing. Either that or I wore way too much glitter on my face and bright colored makeup – I was kind of a freak by the standards of my extremely conservative Catholic college prep school.
I didn’t have very many people there. Andrew was one of the first to arrive. My parents were cool. We had a pool table in the basement. They let the guys sleep over as well as the girls – it was a small enough school that all the parents knew each other and this wasn’t an odd occurrence.
By the stroke of midnight there were like 4 people total who had showed. We had enough food for 20. We had rented movies and it was Andrew and three girls. The odds were clearly in his favor that night. I was happy to have my friends there – but once people started going to sleep, I crawled under the pool table with my pillows and started crying. Everyone else was painting their nails, watching Clerks or talking with their boyfriend – typical teenage slumber party activities.
I was really upset. I had invited about 25 people to this party. My parents had gotten me a ton of food and movies – an awesome cake. It was one of my first real tastes of complete social rejection. I didn’t have a thick skin yet.
Andrew crawled under there with me, put his arms around me (We were not dating at the time) and told me something I will never forget. He said “If people are too stupid to understand you, or realize how awesome you are – they don’t deserve your time.”
He sat with me under that pool table until I fell asleep. When I woke up later, his sleeping bag was laid out next to me (but not touching) and he was awake just making sure I was okay.
Our relationship was a funny one, but we were deeply connected. I could tell him anything and as we grew up, we had many adventures and misadventures together. We fought and made up. I talked to him the day before he died. We were supposed to go to a movie.
In all of this reflection, I have come to grips with the fact that I have been a very blessed woman. My life has been, at times, anything but easy. Most of the time, in some way, that has been my own doing. I’ve never met a challenge that I didn’t attack like a wild dog and make infinitely more complicated in my own involvement.
But through all the mess and torment – I made it here alive, and in a genuinely good position. I am blessed at this moment to have people in my life who I know love me – because they have definitely seen me be a complete mess, and held my hand the whole time. It makes all the loss seem less painful.
I feel for the first time in a very long time that I have a voice – and I am actually trying to do something productive with it. I am spreading my wings again and tentatively taking flight. I’m a part of an amazing theater project with people who are as fundamentally geeky as I am. I get comments every day that tell me I am reaching people, in my own way.
A wise man once told me that “Life is easy, when you are in the right place, at the right time, doing the right things, with the right people for the right reasons.” I know now that it is always seemingly more complicated than that when you have your waders on and are going through it – but truthfully, I’ve seen what it looks like when this is out of order, and it really is that simple.
I feel like 2012 was my last year in a funk, and 2013 is all about ambition. It’s about re-building what was destroyed. It is about being kind to myself and learning what it looks like when Lexxx is happy doing what she feels like she is called to do.
What memories do you have that give you perspective? How have you grown over the years? Think about it. It may take you to places you don’t want to go – but in the end, I promise, it will give you perspective. As cliché as it is – KNOWING IS HALF THE BATTLE.
Love you all,