Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Dear Internet,

Today is the second birthday of this website. I remember thinking, when I started this whole silly project, that the point was to look for patterns. My plan was to sift through whatever I was experiencing and search for, if certainly not gold, then insight. I wanted some sort of explanation.
Obviously, no answers have been forthcoming. Which is what I ought to have expected, really, but at the bottom of it all I'm a foolishly optimistic girl. And perhaps that's actually the point--perhaps relentless narcissism and unbending navel gazing really are what's at the end of it all. Perhaps we honestly can't see past the tips of our own crooked noses.
What I have learned this year is how essential it is to forgive. I have learned much, this year, about the people and the places that I came from. None of it was good news--it was all heartbreaking in the way that knowledge can only be when what is being destroyed is what you have always known to be true. Our memories are never finished, and sometimes their refinement can be razor sharp. I only really learned the answers to the questions that I asked, except of course that after I learned I wasn't sure I should have wondered. But I can't take it back, and I have spent months trying to redefine all of everything from the time I was four years old.
Right now what I'm working on is who I still am. I am still the girl who cries like a baby at movies. I am still the girl who jumps in puddles and sometimes can't help but dance, who makes forts and gets painfully excited about books and art galleries. I still love puppies and babies and flowers and exclamation points and baking brownies for my friends. I am, continually, this girl.
We were talking, the other night, about how half the people we know are on mood-altering chemicals. And I admitted to the table that I am afraid of those, that I need my moods to remind me that I'm still here. I've come too far to lose them now.
But I have also been learning how to forgive myself, for not always being brave and for often sinking into self-loathing. I'm trying to be gentle with myself, because this is the only self I have.

Things have been seriously tumultuous this year. I have been to China and back, have seen two of my oldest friends marry each other. I have confronted and seduced my high school crush while wearing an incredibly hot Italian dress, which was all much less about him and much more about how far I've come since seventeen. I've lost the shadow of my ex-stepfather, the man that forced me to flee in terror of my whole childhood. I've had parties and gotten a promotion and started speaking French.
I'm still kinda amazed that I've made it through all of this. I don't know what the next year has in store for me, you, or this nonsensical website, but I think that the biggest lesson that I've learned has come from you. I don't know how all these strangers have come to care about this little redheaded girl, but I'm amazed. I'm glad we're the same species, you and I.
O. Henry told us in The Gift of the Magi that, "Life is made of sighs, sniffles, and smiles, with the sniffles predominating." And that may very well all be true. But I'm enjoying the heck out of all three of them, if only sometimes in hindsight.
Life is funny, and it's much cleverer than I, so it's probably a good thing it's in charge.


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