clear vodka in shapely bottles, angry men and the things
they carry. We have done what we could. They say
anything they can to justify leaving. That we are
always sad. That we have let our hearts burn out
for lesser things than them. They accuse us of being
too sad to love. We’re not sure where we’ve learned
this, to want the things we know we can’t have.
We put on a dress, any dress. Lick our black lips,
pin up our hair. We have learned to kiss boys
with our tongues in the dark. They say after,
there is fire in our breath when we sleep. Chances are,
we are all the same, riding high on velvet blue nights.
Our weaknesses have names and phone numbers,
addresses we can send anonymous letters to,
detailing our escape. We are praying for sixteen again,
for tulle and prom dresses and clear skin and boys
who still have to ask to hold our hands. They say
they can find us by our cheekbones, that they are
small, miraculous sources of light. We’re doomed
without our mothers. Sometimes we’re safe
but usually we’re not. The crime scene tape
should have been your first clue."
When you are lonely, remind yourself how awful it feels to fill this time with anything other than what you truly yearn for. You could go to his bed- nothing would stop you, you could go right now- but you wouldn’t feel any less alone while lying next to someone when that someone doesn’t love you like you deserve. He doesn’t know about the knot in the bottom of your stomach and he’ll fall asleep before it loosens.
When you are lonely, cultivate it. Cradle it. These moments feel like background noise but they are anything but. You are learning your way around yourself. You are drawing a map you will consult for the rest of your life. Ask yourself the hard things. How do you like your eggs cooked? Do you want to have children? How do you feel about global warming? When no one else is around, you can hear your own voice. Even if it is a gentle, quiet thing there are so many things you can learn from it. Take your time.
When you are lonely, light a candle that smells like home or maybe one that smells like pine trees you’ve never seen before. Kiss your forehead in the mirror and have a glass of wine. Write a poem. Or don’t.
When you are lonely, the universe is giving you space to be with yourself. Don’t waste it."
I went on again and again
until my knees shook.
You were the lucky dip
I was actually happy with,
you were tinsel in April
and the first time I ever
experienced a sun shower.
You were the beautiful thing lying
next to me the next morning
which I didn’t dare regret.
When the memory of you hurts
like a needle entering the most
supple of skin, I think of how
there will be someone else
who can make my bones shiver,
who can turn me on and off
like a flickering bathroom light.
I think of how the
yellow maple leaves
will be here soon and that
there is always snow
I’ve got these words that mean completely
different things inside myself
and it’s tearing me apart?
My errors are even bigger than that."
2. When you find out who you are, your first instinct will be to fight- to rip the poetry from your veins and tear your notebooks into shreds. You will do these things and the words will still come pouring out of you. Give them a home.
3. You will kiss boys who are mean to you. You’ll even think you love a few of them and it’ll take years but when you finally leave, they’ll think they love you too. Keep walking.
4. When you get your first F in college, you will drive to your parents’ house and cry in their laps. Your grandmother will call you stupid for crying over a test and remind you that her sister is dying in the next state over. Kiss her cheek and sleep with your door open. It helps with her nightmares.
5. You will go back to someone who treated you badly and he will treat you badly again. It will not kill you. Don’t you give him that power. Your name means warrior, means fortress, means determination. Cry it out, scream from your rooftop, fill an entire notebook with curse words. Then keep going.
6. You will walk into some places and feel the weight of the world slip from your shoulders. These are called safe places. They are few and far between. Covet them.
7. You will get drunk and scream at your ex-boyfriend on your birthday. Your friends will join you. This is how you know you will never let them go.
8. You will experience moments of sublime happiness. Tiny glimpses of ecstasy. They are meteors. Bask in their light.
9. It will take you 20 years to learn to love yourself. Some days, you will forget how. On these days, call your mother. Go home and look at old pictures. Drink tea with lots of honey in it. Spend time with people who remind you who you are. Be patient with yourself. It gets easier with every passing year.
10. You will fight the good fight. And sometimes you will lose. Sometimes you’ll even think that you have no fight left. On nights like this, watch a silly movie and go to sleep. Wake up and put your gloves back on."