Some things are sewn into the fabric of who we are. If you cracked me open and tipped me over, sea foam would pour out of my veins. If you shook me a little, my sisters’ faces and book pages would topple onto the floor. Most things don’t the stay the same, but there are threads that stitch us together. Our faces lose their youth, and our ex-lovers start sleeping with other people. These are stabs at our hearts and blood comes forth. But the real magic of the world unfolds in the making of our destinies and our characters. We are meant to wake up, wave goodbye to the people we were yesterday, and meet braver, better selves over coffee. We are like snakes continually shedding our skin – at least, that’s the way we should be.
The less we look over our shoulders, the better we are doing. Annie Dillard said, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” I know this to be true, but oftentimes I find myself living life at a distance.
It’s stupid how beautiful San Diego is, but sometimes I don’t see it. On Highway 101, white pelicans pump their wings on the marshes and the humps of sand dunes are criss-crossed with foot prints. Asphalt is sandwiched between calm waters and waves curling into shore. I’ve shared first kisses here, been stung by stingrays here, and my grandfather died in a bar a rock’s throw away. But sometimes I don’t see any of this. I am there, but my anxieties and fears are shouting so loud that I can’t see or feel anything.
But courage isn’t the absence of fear, right? Adulthood brings some disappointment – I think we’d by lying to ourselves to say it doesn’t. The thing is though – what if it’s not real? Sometimes the hairs on my arms stand up on their ends because all I can think of is possibilities. I can only feel the beauty of the world pulsing under my skin. And this is the truth – the truth is the world is good. The breathtaking views of the Northern California coastline, the honest conversations between friends – these are real. The rest of it – the fears and depressions – these are smokescreens.
I went to Italy with a group of friends for my high school graduation, and there is one memory that is like a Polaroid. My friend and I were sitting on the rooftop of our hotel as dawn broke. Pink light fell on the terra-cotta rooftops and empty wine bottles rolled on the ground. Flowers cascaded down over trellises and we looked down at the city like a bird from it’s nest. My friend handed me his IPod, and said he wanted to play a song for me – one that reminded of something. I can’t tell you what he told me, but when he listened to this song, he said it made him think of his future. That was eight years ago. This song broke my heart a little bit because Explosions in the Sky songs are like that. I looked around at my friends, the music sticking it’s fingers into my heart, and I felt pure wonder. I’ve always been a person who lives in my head, and I thought about where each of us was going – what we would write on our blank slates. I’ve listened to “First Breath After Coma” thousands of times since then. I listened to it in our hotel room in Zanzibar and in the bottom bunk at that hostel in Vienna. And every single time I hear it, it’s like I’m on that rooftop. The skin around my eyes may darken and my heart might get broken, but I hold this memory inside and it’s something no one can take from me.
There are some things about us that never change. Like how I understand the language of the waves or know to scoop up sand crabs where the holes are. I’ll probably always overthink things a little bit, but if there’s one thing that I get better at, I hope it’s celebrating life. Staying in a state of wonder. What if we’re all made of stardust? We don’t know. We think we know everything, but in reality, we know jack shit. I am going to try to remember that – more every day.
They say that whatever fairy tale you liked most when you were little, says a lot about you. My favorite fairy tale was “The Sleeping Beauty” or “Little Briar Rose.” At the christening of the king and queen’s long-awaited child, seven fairies are invited to be godmothers to the infant princess. However, a wicked fairy, one who was overlooked, having been in a tower for a number of years and considered dead or enchanted, enters the banquet hall and has no place to sit. As the other fairies offer their gifts to the princess, like wit, beauty, song, and music – the pissed off, evil fairy places the princess under an enchantment as her gift: the princess will prick her hand on a spindle one day and die. The last fairy uses her gift to partially reverse the evil fairy’s gift – so instead of dying, the princess will now fall into a deep sleep for 100 years, only to be awoken by a king’s son.
No matter how long we’re asleep for, no matter how many times we get things wrong – we can wake up. No matter how much time passes – we can change. We can approach our days in a different way. Hope is never lost, even though sometimes, things might seem pretty hopeless.