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i. You’ve taken every offhand remark to heart since the day you were born and your chest has become so heavy that it’s hard to breathe around all of that hurt, but storage units exist for a reason: humans were never meant to bear all of their belongings. I know that your statuesque stance is one you’ve been practicing for what seems like an eternity, but it’s okay to ask for help. Nobody is going to be mad at you or think of you as weak for doing so. After all, forever is an incorrect concept. Maybe it feels like the April showers will never stop pouring down on you. Maybe you keep trying to fix new things with old instruction manuals and end up getting frustrated when the pictures don’t match what’s in front of you. Maybe you’re starting to realize that not everything is going to work out the way you need it to and that scares you, because the last time this happened it almost killed you. The key word here is almost. You’re more than the rubble you’ve had to sift through and the photographs you’ve had engulf in flames. You were never meant to burn out. So you ran away from home. You’re playing hooky from your life because every scenario you’ve found yourself in has ended in some sort of destruction of something you love. And you’re sick of it, sick of trying to plan for every contingency but never quite realizing them all. How tiring it must be to build those walls around yourself every morning, before your coffee and your nicotine, before you think about the lover you left behind, the one you let get away. Do you like to cloud watch? Look at how easy it is to see the sky from here. Please don’t try to fly until you’ve looked down once or twice.

ii. Lately, life has felt like a carnival ride that you stumbled onto by accident and you don’t understand why everybody else is having such a good time. Why does everybody else have open-mouth smiles and bright eyes while you’re clutching your lap-bar praying for something to end? It feels like it will never end, even though they tell you it won’t always be like this. The ground feels as if it’s perpetually swing around you, stealing your balance and your ability to move. It makes you feel like your existence is something flimsy and disposable. Everybody around you seems to be darting across the universe with their hearts on their sleeves and it makes you feel as though something is wrong with you. As if the molasses town your feet are submerged in is something that you asked for, something that you wanted. You don’t have to travel at the speed of light in order to get out of bed in the morning, but it’s still a miracle when every part of you is begging to pull the covers over your eyes and dream a little longer. You ran into the past while crossing the street and you didn’t stop to say hello. Were you scared, or just waiting for what you abandoned to make the first move? Either way, you don’t have to feel shameful about the ugliness of your progress. Not everybody’s carriage stays a carriage when the clock strikes midnight. That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, or that it wasn’t real or valuable. You ran into the past while crossing the street, only this time it didn’t hurt you.

iii. The clocks have all been telling you that you’re late for figuring yourself out. which is another way of saying that it you’re behind and you’ve got some work to do before you can catch up. But you’re here, you’re breathing, and you’re taking the alarms and setting them for 12pm because this is your life and you dictate what it will be filled with. Don’t worry about the calendars or the deadlines. The monsters under your bed have been keeping you awake for months, but you don’t have the heart to drive them away. You’ve kinda liked the company. Besides, maybe this was their home first and you’re the real intruder, so you’ve been throwing them scraps from the dinner table that you couldn’t finish. There’s a certain, melancholic pleasure in listening to what you couldn’t stomach be put to use. But you don’t have to be kind to the things that make you shudder in the night. You’re not obligated to give to the things that take and take and take until there’s nothing left. This house is yours, and it always will be. I think that it’s time for you to start believing in fairy tales again. Do you remember being smaller, having lunches in brown paper bags and catching fireflies during the warm summer nights? You looked for magic around every corner, but that spark doesn’t leave once you outgrow the Disney themed bedsheets and wear holes in the light-up sneakers. Nobody needs you to be the grown-up all of the time. It’s okay to let yourself feel lighthearted again. Go pick some dandelions and make some wishes. Take care of yourself the way you would’ve before the world showed you its shadows.

iv. You’ve become an expert at mending the bridges that people have burned in your wake and I hope that you see the beauty in that. The talent it takes to reconstruct a pathway between two islands is immense and you’ve forgotten this in all of the excitement. You’ve accomplished great things in such a short time, and it’s breathtaking. When you were born, everybody in the room must’ve held their breath, because how could they not see what they were bringing into the world? You may have caused a few accidents or made a few mistakes, but you’re working to fix the damage. Sometimes you find yourself thinking about the cost of living, how much of yourself you’ve had to trade in order to stay alive. It’s hard when you have to watch other people who’ve traded so much less and gotten so much more. But don’t let yourself get caught up in the what-if’s, because that’s a maze that’ll never let you leave, no matter the strength of the compass you bring with you. Forgive yourself for what you’ve had to do to survive, because it doesn’t make sense to be ashamed of all you’ve gone through when everyone else just wants to watch you succeed. You’re holding something beautiful and this is the most terrifying thing you’ve ever done. You’re so used to watching watching eggs roll off the countertop and kisses slip off of your cheek that everything worthwhile seems fleeting, or fragile, or sometimes even forced. It’s like the universe is playing a game to see how good you are at playing catch with crystal balls, but you’ve gotta believe in the potential of durability. If you’ve managed to exist for this long without giving up, you must believe in something, and it must be pretty special.

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