Dear ladies and germs,
As you head off to summer, and I head off to sit in my apartment and try my best to expend as little energy/ money as possible for the next three months, I would like to subject you to one last, goodbye letter/lesson that will probably have too many words, and some shitty analogies. It is about magic.
You know magic, right? Like when What’s-His-Face “took his thumb off” and then “reattached it,” and then stuck a Snapea Crisp up his nose and had to go to the nurse to get it removed. Like unicorns, and sparkle glitter butterflies, and sneaking a photo of Prince Charming from across a crowded room and it’s love at first snapchat. When I was your age, I was all about magic. I don’t have it anymore, not like I used to. My depression killed it. That sounds dramatic, and it is! That’s the worst thing depression does; it takes away the sense of infinite possibility, that big, bright, wonderful things could happen someday. Getting proper medical treatment helped me bounce back, but the magic never really did; I’m not sure it could. That blissfully ignorant suspension of reality isn’t something you can build back up to. It’s like, even if you get back on a horse when you fall off, you still fell. I miss it a lot, like I miss my teenage metabolism, like I miss being able to sleep past 8am. I miss it like I miss my old dog, Shadow, who I never really got to mourn because my Dad died a week after her, who slept in bed with me every night, to chase the fear away of being the only one awake in the house.
I’m so much better now. I’ve been trying to hope again, for big, bright, wonderful things, even when that hope feels sort of useless and stupid. Sometimes I even daydream, like I used to. Sometimes I do sort of dumb things like I used to, scheming, chasing impossible things; a tiny, fledgling “why not?” kicking around in my patched-up heart. But I am careful who I tell my hopes and dreams to now. When you’re a grownup, you have to be. You don’t always get support for them. Instead, you are constantly reminded, by friends and loved ones and trusted people in your life, of the limitations on your possibilities; that, to aim too high, or to wish too big, is to set yourself up for failure, to miss out on perfectly fine, more accessible alternatives. That you need to keep your options open. That you need to have some fallback plans. That you usually don’t get what you want. That love isn’t like the movies, that it’s time to be a big girl about it. That you should never hope again to feel like you like someone so much you want to throw up at the sight of him. That you will never again offer your friendship, only to immediately rescind it, trip over a lamp, and cry Auf Wiedersehen! as you stumble out the door (maybe I can live without repeating that one, actually.) No more sleepless nights, no daydreams. No magic. At first I was angry and resentful that, when finally I felt enough ground under my feet again to begin looking in an upward direction, everyone was suddenly telling me not to even bother. But I think it must have been very scary for the people in my life to see me at my worst, and I do realize how very fortunate I am, that there are people who care so very deeply about me, that they fear so very much for my little fragile heart. Who would prefer to keep me in a sterile, shatterproof box, full of practical, blunt objects, which might serve in giving me a life perfectly harmless and fine.
Everyone, that is, except for you.
I wanted to thank you for this year, this messy, gorgeous, hilarious, heartbreaking, super-wow crazy year of teaching you monsters. Thank you, for being so mightily bizarre, so pristinely loyal, so painfully honest. Thank you for making me laugh, even when you wrote me that letter accusing me of hand-holding favoritism, or when, after a year of tying your shoes, I learned you actually knew how to tie them all along. Or that time you pretended to be blind and I had to continuously fish the basketball out of the goddamn trash can because you kept “mistaking it for the hoop” (I give you mad props on that one, it was clever as fuck for a six year old.) You made me cry with your kindness, when your friend was sad and homesick, and wanted an ice pack, so you smacked your arm until it was red, so that the nurse would give you one for your sunburn that you immediately passed along. You comforted me without knowing it, with your quiet, reassuring presence on the bench at recess, with your company during lunchtime. It sort of felt like magic, the whole rotten lot of it.
I want to believe there is magic because I think what else could it have been, when I earned your trust enough to feel you slip your tiny little hand in mine for the first time as we walked to lunch? When you were tearfully disconsolate about your botched work, and I endeavored to convey to you how little I cared about the quality of your handwriting by tearing it into little pieces, and then (to both of our abject horror) shoving them in my mouth (okay, that was probably not magic, that was just me being disgusting, why am I so disgusting.) When I doodled all over your homework, when I found the doodles you had left for me? What else could it have been but magic, when I was teaching you handwriting, and was suddenly overwhelmed with a memory of my father, long forgotten? When he was able to live again for a moment, through a joke I passed onto a six year old child?
If I have one wish for you, as you leave me and I return to my gypsy nomad lifestyle of traveling schools and ruining lesson plans, and I’ve thought about this a lot… I wish for you the one wish I would wish for myself: that you keep believing in magic. I don’t care how many times you get hurt, and it isn’t because I don’t love you that much, it’s because I love you too much to let you live your life any other way. I don’t want anyone to ever tell you to stop believing. I will never tell you to stop believing. So I will say it one million times, I will write it again and again, I will look for it everywhere I go, I won’t give up and I won’t settle for anything less because I have to believe we all deserve it.
I believe in good things.
I believe in infinite possibility.
I believe in love.
I believe in magic.
I believe in magic.
I believe in magic.