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A Letter From My Future Self: I'm Glad You Cried

I don’t remember everything – but I remember you, all iridescent with eagerness, wondering who you could love. Your edges have always shown. Thank you for that.

I remember your knees in the wet grass of a stranger’s lawn, giving in to the hollow of grief. I remember how you kept fighting long after you had given up. I remember you hanging like an anchor from the tendon of hope, and how so many people met you there. I have forgotten those who could not.

I remember how you kept flirting with the idea of proving your worth. I remember how much better you felt when you stopped vying for permission.

I remember when you met someone you thought you could not live without – and then again. I remember the monumental undertaking of letting these people go. I remember when it seemed like your whole life would be spent just learning to do this, and how you decided that this would be enough. I remember the gift of realizing there was more.

I remember the tiresome and intoxicating process of building and rebuilding a self. I remember the electrification of recognizing that you still had time, that you were still young. I remember the luxury of realizing you weren’t young anymore.

I remember the comfort of rediscovering nature. I remember sitting under trees.

I remember how you never waited until you were prepared to be in the world. I remember how much it hurt when you were held up next to those who seemed so well-rehearsed for the role. I remember you showing up, having spent hours getting ready, only to wipe off your lipstick to eat the cake.

I’m glad you cried in front of the cashier. And the cab driver. And the hairdresser.

I’m glad you knelt down next to the veteran and put your hand against his flattened heart. I’m glad you ripped off every single piece of armor and stood, throbbing, at the center of your life. I know you were terrified. You will not regret it.

You will always try, but you will learn to better tell which efforts are fruitless. You will always care, but you will learn that some people cannot see you. You will close the door more quickly when someone is selling something you don’t want.

Your familiarity with what it means to be a person will become a part of your marrow. You will hold this flesh like the act of grace that it is, continually collapsing and unutterably precious.

You will breathe in the dark air on cold nights while everyone around you sleeps and you will see that life is a question with no answer. You will surrender to the stars that punctuate our place among these miraculous things.

Yes, you will still occasionally shout obscenities at bad drivers. You will always wonder what could have happened if the circumstances had been different – but you will begin to see that circumstances are the difference between life and death.

You will stay when you think you cannot. You will leave when you think you cannot. You will learn.

And after you've learned, there may not be much to show for it – at least not in the way you would think. Instead, there will be well-loved water coursing through your veins. There will be flowers in places where there once were not. And there will be more people in the world who have had their hair stroked and their eyes looked into.

Yes, you will bleed willingly and joyfully. You will see.