When I was a real small baby, I used to carry this thing I called ‘a rag.’ Spoiler alert: it was a blanket and I wouldn’t go outside without it. Frankly, to call the most coveted item of my childhood ‘a rag’ is vaguely offensive to my toddler self, but I didn’t know that at the time and that’s what it was named. There’s a point to this..
Frankly, to start a story with a tale of my childhood is offensive to your literary expectations, too. So. What I’m getting at is we all have our thing.
There was a time I can’t remember, somewhere in between high school and listening to Nirvana and The Cure and what I thought was cool and tough that I started wearing pleather jackets. There was a time I CAN remember where I realized being funny was a good idea, and poking fun was a good idea, and jokes were a good idea and I was happy. We’re always coveting the cool. We’re coveting a personal style, a way to handle ourselves, a definition but then OH
did I mention a WHO? There was a who, because there’s always a who who is either a tall dark-haired thing or a monster. There’s a questioning, a confusion, a defiance to become EXACTLY who you are at the EXACT moment you really want to. It’s a panic, it’s a rush at the five minutes before something is due. Suddenly, the pleather become a brick, and the frown becomes the cement, and the funny becomes a wall. It’s what we can make of it! IT’s who I am, mom! Suddenly, in between “I can’t stop thinking about you” and “I can’t do this” there was a thing built. Did I mention a defiance? Did I mention a wall?
Oh hell, It’s not always a WHO. Sometimes and always it’s a side glance. It’s a laugh directed at you. It’s a family who doesn’t approve. It’s a lost fork in the road. It’s the “afraid to fuck up.” It’s a whole bunch of things that build something you can push and push and it won’t collapse.
How do you become who you are like this? How do you become who you are in the pressure vat? Well.
This was eighteen. This was eighteen and young and scared and stupid in a totally different way, because you will become scared and stupid in a different way.
When you get older, the pleather fits. The stupid shifts. When you get older, you spend a lot of time building walls and suddenly spend a whole lot of time realizing you like the jokes, and you like the jackets, and you no longer have time for the people you built those defenses for. You become happy. You mold. You like who you have become, change what you need to, and keep what is at the core. For me, that’s the jackets and the jokes—-just shot at a different dartboard, if you get that.
Basically, they won’t have to break through walls. They’ll see who you are. YOU’LL see who are. They’ll like who you are. They’ll get the jokes—all of them. The difference between eighteen and twenty is that this is scarier than you want it to be, but also realer and you care about that.
You won’t mind being called a rag, is what I’m circling at. They’ll call the pleather a pleather, a spade a spade. It hasn’t happened, but it will.
It’ll be nice