*An essay a week in 2016*
I’m starting this letter on December 8th, my last day of 40. I brought you in with a fiesta. I was heralding a new decade, saying goodbye to my 30s which were so, so hard. Beautiful in so many ways, and also hard. So much happened in my 30s, that saying goodbye to them felt like a purge, a door slamming shut.
In my 30s I became a writer, like really became a writer. Not because I published a few books and so many essays and stories, though I admit that was great too, but because I threw myself into craft, into the work. I attended workshops and residencies. I put myself out there. I found my voice and ran with it. I stopped functioning from a place of fear and that felt so fuckin good.
In my 30s, I took so many risks. I quit my job, I started Writing Our Lives. I embraced solitude.
In my 30s, I also lost my brother and finally confronted this grief that’s walked with me for much of my life. I learned a name for this primordial wound. I learned to say it out loud, without cringing or feeling guilty or feeling the need to defend it or myself.
I am an unmothered woman.
In my 30s, I started chipping away at the glacier that grief had formed inside of me. That work was, still is, long and difficult. There were days when I struggled to get out of bed. There were days where I cried for hours on end. There are still days where I wonder: why can’t she just love me?
But, here’s the thing: magic came out of that darkness too. I took my power back. I started living more wholly for me and my daughter. I started healing…and in that healing I manifested new loves, self-love and my bae.
Then I turned 39 and that year was the best yet. I had done so much work on my heart and my writing and my teaching. I walked into it more sure of myself.
December 9, 1st day of 41: Last night, I was sitting alone in my living room when the clock struck midnight. I went out on the deck to look at the moon and I thanked her for these 41 years. Then I went to bed. And as I lay there, Katia sleeping soundly next to me, the muse leaned in and I re-wrote the intro of this chapter I’ve been fretting over for weeks. The one that I’m submitting to Tin House next week for the workshop facilitated by Lidia Yuknavitch at the end of January.
“I was 12 and I was ferocious.”
I look back at the girl I was. That girl who was in so much pain, she released with her fists. I didn’t have any other way then, or so I thought. Today I have these words. Today I have this fight in me. I have this relentless faith and drive. I also have love.
Last night, I came home after a long evening of teaching to a lovely surprise from my daughter and partner: a card they wrote beautiful messages in, chocolate covered strawberries and coconut and chocolate covered pineapples. They lit candles in those treats and sang me an early happy birthday. I am so blessed to have these two in my life. It’s a blessing I don’t take for granted and that I thank the universe for everyday. We’ve started a family and are planning a long life together. Me, Katia and Vasialys. These 41 years have been ripe with struggle and grief and joy and magic. I am entering 41 with open eyes and an open heart. With these two by my side, there is nothing I can’t do. I truly believe that. I knew when I had Vasialys that I had a larger purpose & I’ve worked so hard to bring it to fruition, but sometimes when I watch them, when I see my baby girl dancing around like I did tonight, so giddy & happy, & I watch my partner giggle with her, & I think about how they schemed together to surprise me, I know that I’ve far surpassed the vision I had. Joy & love live here, & I am so grateful to be here to receive it. Word.
Dear 40, what a year you’ve been. Thank you. You showed me that I have more grit and howl than I ever realized. You also showed me that this heart of mine is soft and open and giving. You showed me my fears and made me stare at them, and you showed me that I have so much to be proud of while having much work to do, & this is all okay and necessary. You’ve been a year of healing and transformation. Am I ready for 41? I will get ready. What I know is that I’ve always been relentless and that’s not gonna stop being one of my most admirable traits. Thank you for the mirror. I am here, staring…