subject line: to my ex-boyfriend's wife

 

Tennessee

I’ve heard a lot about you, I’ve seen a lot about you, and I’ve stalked pretty much anything I could find on you. I’m your now husband’s ex girlfriend. You know, the one he dated all through college, the one who stood behind him as he lived out his dream, the one who cooked him dinner and cleaned his apartment, the one who loved his family, and the one who thought that ring on your finger would be mine.

You have yourself a handful. I dated him for almost 2 years, I should know. He is needy. He likes double fries at Zaxbys with ranch, his baked potato cut up just like his mama always did, he is the pickiest eater, and the one person who is impossible to shop for. He likes being the star while you sit back and watch him shine.

Did you know we talked almost every day up until that ring was placed on your finger? Did you know he CALLED me the morning that ring was going to be placed on your finger? Did you know up until that point I still had hope he would break up with you and be mine again? My guess would be no.

I stalked y’all’s wedding pictures through his sister’s Facebook. I saw everything. It was the wedding I dreamed of. My heart stopped when I saw the picture with this wedding ring on his finger. His smile, his eyes, his tall frame and those hands waiting for you, not me. We talked about our wedding so many times. We talked about our future babies, what they would look like, what their names would be and how we would spend holidays with them.

You didn’t meet the one man he looked up to the most, his grandfather. You weren’t there the summer he was dying of cancer and I was lucky enough to meet that sweet man and be there to love and support my best friend as he watched his hero go to Heaven.

Do you know about me? I know a lot about you. I might seem bitter, but in 6 short months you stole the man I thought I would spend forever with. I had my life planned out. Even after we broke up, we talked. Every. Single. Day.

Do me a favor and hold him tight, kiss him on the forehead and cherish the feeling of being in his arms. Congratulations on marrying my old best friend. Look over at him and just stare, that’s what I used to do. He’s pretty amazing, and you must be pretty amazing if he picked you. Take care of him for me.

subject line: I need to be up at 8 tomorrow

 

Laying naked on the floor, actually

I feel like I can breathe again. I never realized how much of an impact trying to be in the perfect relationship had on me. Perfect in theory. Dates that he pays for, holding doors open, charming my family perfect. Perfect in race. Black and white socially conscious couple ready to take on the world. Perfect in height. Ten inches taller than me. Perfect down to the freckles on his face. Perfect in career. Perfect in desire to do better, be better, work harder, say more.

Perfect on the outside doesn’t encapsulate what was happening on the inside. Anxiety on both our parts. Him because he found the girl he thought was perfect and didn’t know how to keep her around. Me because I found the guy who was perfect, and I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t want to be there.

I still don’t know.

All I know is that I have my whole life to figure out what was missing, whether he’s in it or not. Damn, that’s a refreshing thought. I can wake up tomorrow, tired as hell, exhausted from work, knock my day out, and crash into bed while I lay there and piece it together. I can’t remember the last time I lay there so easy.

No boundaries, no bargains, no rules.

subject line: the way I hold you in my chest

 

New York

Some days just have you thinking about life, and I just wanted to say that I’m sorry. Isn’t it crazy how a few years change so many things inside you? So much you realize.

So many things back then, about that church, and just all the messed up ways we were treated and taught to think. Sometimes I feel like we didn’t even really have a fair chance. I don’t think life or God, gives you just one “right” person, and while we may have been right for a while, I truly believe that for who we are now, we found the right people for us. But I do hope that when you think back on those days, you remember the good at the heart of who we were, who I was. Those nights watching the stars for hours on that dirt road. That poem I wrote you right after I met you. When you told me you loved me so quick that June. When you prayed for me and I knew my body shifted, and all those years of grief melted off and healed. There was so much that was good, and that was right about what we wanted for ourselves, for our lives and for God. We just couldn’t find our way to it then.

subject line: dad

 

Orlando

Dad,
I wish you’d come and look for me. I wish I knew if you were dead or alive, if you had other kids or wives. If you lived in a house with a white picket fence and your kids got everything they ever wanted or if it was just as hard for them as it was for me.
I wish I knew your favorite flavor of ice cream or your favorite movie.
I wish I knew about your mother and father and if they laugh like me or if I remind you of them. I wish the scent of your cologne was familiar and welcoming.

subject line: it isn't fair

 

South Carolina

Despite the looming 27 in my foreseeable future, I am going to be immature here. Stamp my proverbial foot and pitch a fit. Just for a few paragraphs because my family and my sister’s boyfriend and I had lunch with a family from church after the AM service today. And while their oldest sat in my lap, holding my arms while we all discussed the sermon I couldn’t get this one thought out of my head.

It isn’t fair.

I can’t have children. I have a genetic disorder that could put me at risk for wheelchairs and tumors and disfigurement or maybe even death. Whatever children that could possibly be born would have it so much worse than me. Learning disabilities, webbed feet, crippling pain, blindness or deafness if I don’t miscarry them because the hormone changes are too much on my body. The risks are the kind of things I don’t want to expose any kid to in the cruel world we are living in right now. We talk about understanding and acceptance but I think we are still on a long road to practicing what social media preaches.

It isn’t fair.

I will never have a kid who has my dark curls or heavy eyebrows or bad eyesight. Or a kid who’ll be a perfect blend of me and my pending spouse.

It isn’t fair.

I will never get to fill my child’s head with music and fairy tales and the Story Of Jesus. I will never teach them how to dance or how to dream.

It isn’t fair.

I’d take puke and runny noses and fevers and spills for a kid I helped create.

It isn’t fair.

Because even with all the kids out there in the world who needs a home. A mommy and a daddy, I might not even be able to have one of them as my own because I might not be able to handle losing a kid if the state took them away from us. I tend to have down days, the Mean Reds. . . sometimes the blues. Maybe I won’t be a candidate to be a mom because I am sick with a genetic disorder and they want you to be healthier when they grant you a child.

It isn’t fair.

I’d make one of the best moms ever and I might not ever be able to be called that.

subject line: rest in power

 

Greensboro, North Carolina

At UNCG in 2012 is when our friendship started. I never realized how much influence a person can have on your life until you stop and think of all the good moments you had with them. I need to stop going to your Facebook profile. I read everything everyone writes, and it makes me miss you so much more. I wish I could write on your wall, and tell you how much I need you and love you but I can never bring myself to it. It wasn’t right seeing you for the last time at your funeral. Just one more hug, one more smile, one more embrace, just one last time. I will miss and love you forever, Charles Edward Burns III.

subject line: strength like the waves and grace like the sand

 

 Lahaina, Hawaii

for any other girls who feel like they are like i am, let me tell you something: there’s a way to do this – this living wildly – right, or wrong. if you’re just like me, you feel way more than you think. sometimes, it’s just uncontrollable; the love or passion flowing through your veins. it rules you. you say things you don’t mean and you mean things you don’t say. i know, i get it, i really do. you always, always mean well. and i promise that the people that you love know that, too. but you need to do a better job of showing that you mean well. being slow to speak is not a bad thing, darling. in fact, most of the time, it will do you more good than bad. i promise that your feelings are valid and that they will be spoken in time, knowing you. you’re fluent in the language of your heart but you don’t really understand anything else. well shape up, girl, this is a world full of diverse languages that you need to take the time to understand also. if you put in the effort, i promise you that others will too.

trust me, i of all people know just how strong you are. but could you please just use that strength more graciously? there’s a raging fire inside of you, but let its light gently touch others rather than burn them. don’t worry about anyone else’s fire, they are keepers of their own flames.

i know, you just needed to take a step back. it’s happened before and it’ll happen again. you are not crazy. your heart just has a microphone whose sensitivity is turned up a little higher than normal. but i know that you know that. so let me just promise you, if you let your heart be just as gracious as it is strong, you are going to be just fine.

subject line: South Philly

 

Philly

I just read an article about how Philly was voted angriest city in the US on CBSnews. I am angry. I am angry that I’m sexually harassed everywhere I go. I am angry that our public education is so fucked up. I’m angry that our city is dirty, and we have a big “spitting” thing going on. I’m angry that I have to be polite to assholes just because I work in the hospitality industry. I’m angry that this is such a diverse city and so many people are still stigmatized and objectified in this place. I’m angry that I work 50 hours a week and can barely pay my bills.

This doesn’t even touch on what I’m angry about in my personal life. I’m angry that he wants me to be his girlfriend when I explained that’s not what I want. I’m angry he keeps pushing it. I’m angry that the other boy wants me to be a biddy, a perfect girl who goes to the gym twice a day and gives blow jobs every night. I’m angry that my friends decided I’m a slut and won’t talk to me about it. I’m angry when people say they’re too busy for me. I’m angry when people still try to make smoking look cool. I’m angry that every step I take, I’m just waiting for a fight. I’m just waiting. Waiting because a fight about what my basic human rights entail is at every street corner.

But damn, at least we communicate. That’s the one thing I’ll give Philly, and the reason why I love it the most. We don’t tiptoe around. We’re not polite. We tell the hard truths without thinking twice about it. I love my angry city.

subject line: not your manic pixie dream girl

 

USA

This morning, like I always do, I went on buzzfeed to check the articles to see if there was any random celebrity gossip or world news that I had missed in the last eight hours. I kept scrolling and found this quiz, “Which Manic Pixie Dream Girl Are You?” and thought about you.

When you asked me to be your girlfriend, I didn’t hear you because we were in a restaurant and you were mumbling. I couldn’t read your lips either because I had my glasses on instead of my contacts and you were too far away. When we talked about it later, you said that it would be a good story to tell, like how you were already picturing some sort of inevitable future where you tell the story of the hard-of-hearing, near-sighted girl that oh so charmingly didn’t hear you when you asked her if you “wanted to be a thing.”

I was very confused when I heard that you liked me. You dated my former best friend for several months, dumped her, got drunk at her birthday party a week later, and proceeded to tell my friends that you were interested in me. He said that I was different from her. He told me that he liked how I always was dressed for an occasion and how I didn’t wear makeup most of the time and didn’t care about what anyone else thought. He told me I was smart and smiled expectantly, like somehow his validation of my straight A’s would change my life or my perspective. He sees me as a trope, as an innocent, put-together person who has her life together and is waiting for someone like him to fall in for the final piece. I am not half of a person without a boyfriend. I am not his or anyone else’s manic pixie dream girl who is there to complete his life and to make him feel less guilty for fucking a girl on his living room couch by making it up with me, the virgin.

I don’t really know why I said yes. I don’t have any burning 16 year old love for this boy. But he’s nice. And if anything, I want to prove to him that he’s wrong. He doesn’t need anyone else to complete him, and neither do I.

subject line: lost

 

Georgia

I’m a little lost. I know one day I will make my way to heaven to see God and be reunited with family and friends. But for now in this moment I feel lost.

I am 24 almost 25. Still living with my parents. I have a friend, a ‘special friend’, but still very much single and it seems that all my friends are getting married. I have two college degrees but the diploma doesn’t come with an instruction manual.

So I am just lost. Feeling unsatisfied.

subject line: not exactly "capitol-H-hope"; more like the garden variety that gets me through the day sometimes

 

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Dear me a year from now when my life looks different from today’s peachy hues, or me tomorrow for no good reason but the darkness seeping in from the corners of my brain to lie to me in my own voice-

When you want to end everything- to put a bag over your head, or slit your wrists, or jump off a bridge, remember: the heavy feelings aren’t the only feelings.

There are beautiful feelings too, like love and joy and acceptance and shoulder nudges and inside jokes and smirks of camaraderie across crowded rooms.

Yes, the darkness is valid. But it doesn’t get to win.

subject line: voices

 

Memory Lane

I replayed a memory in my mind today, as I do most every day. But today, in the midst of a memory - one of my favorites - my heart sank.

Your voice was gone.

We were sitting in that bizarre coffee shop, watching the storm out the window and sipping on coffee drinks we could hardly pronounce when you leaned in to ask me about the book I was reading. You had that incredible blend of boyhood curiosity and the wisdom of an old soul. Your eyes were fixed on mine like I was the only person in the world. The image is sealed so firmly in my mind, but I can’t hear you anymore.

subject line: oscar proud

 

Rome, Georgia

“No dating until after you’re married” Oscar would always tell Penny on The Proud Family and I used to think it was so silly until one day when I threatened to not go to your wedding (whenever that day shows up) if you had it outside and it was hotter than 68 degrees. Your response of, “Who will walk me down the aisle then?” put everything into perspective. The realization that that roll falls onto my shoulders now that he’s gone made me realize exactly how Oscar Proud felt. I use his line all the time now. I’m so conflicted. More than anything I want you to find the joy of loving someone and the warmth of them loving you back, but real love. Not someone using someone. Not “Oh this is how I think they felt in my favorite book/movie.” But the perfect love that will keep you warm on the coldest nights. But unfortunately I know that you have to wade through the mistaken love identities and pain that comes with those to find that one true love that makes you smile every time it crosses your mind. So I will pray for you and your sisters to be able to handle the heartbreaks and to know when it’s real and when it’s not. And I will do my very best to instill fear into every boy you guys bring home to make sure you all will be treated with every ounce of respect I believe you deserve. And I will walk you down that aisle even if it’s 110 degrees.