I've gotten a few questions and comments from some people I knew when I was a kid who have seen my blog mentioned on Facebook, read it, and want to know what happened to me. Why I am so incredibly different at 36 than I was at 16. Personally, I think this is a stupid question--we're ALL incredibly different at 16 than 36, give or take a few people--and my first instinct is to give a completely sarcastic and smartass answer, but I decided for once to give everybody a break and be nice. Here you go.
THE EXPLANATION FOR WHY I AM NO LONGER THE PERPETUALLY SMILING LITTLE BLOND CHEERLEADER WHO WAS VOTED HIGH SCHOOL VALENTINE QUEEN, MISS MAY, AND MOST DEPENDABLE BY HER WHOLESOME RURAL HIGH SCHOOL IN THE GOOD OLD STATE OF TENNESSEE WHERE THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS ARE THAT YOU OWN A TRUCK, LOVE YOUR MAMA, AND VOTE REPUBLICAN
When I was a little girl, I always did exactly what I was supposed to do. I cared A LOT about what other people thought of me, and it hurt my feelings when someone didn't like me. I made good grades, I listened to my parents, and I tried to please everybody. If someone was mean to me, I cried. If someone told me no, I listened. I lived my life trying to be perfect all the time, and I looked up to my Dad, who was smart and kind and fair, and I strove to emulate that myself. I thought the world was smart and kind and fair, and that's all I ever wanted-- to live out my life in Cleveland, Tennessee, surrounded by smartness and kindness and fairness, with my big, extended family and everyone else I knew. Happily Ever After.
But time passed, and with it so did my naivete. I realized that sometimes even when you do your very best, you will fail. Sometimes even when you want to please, you'll disappoint. Sometimes even if you are smart and kind and fair, you'll be repeatedly fucked over, often by people you love, and then you'll die. Sorry, but it's true. And, perhaps, I think, more often than not.
To me, life isn't a beautiful gift, it's a harrowing obstacle course. Consider-- in the moments of our success, we take flight in our joy, high on the power of breathing and living and being. But our moments of failure? Those moments when we, or someone we care about, lose or fail or die? There's no end to the depth of the hole into which we can plummet. And where we'll stay until we dig ourselves out and gather the strength to face the next challenge. To carry on. The will, itself, to carry on may be a gift, but that rocky pathway we're traveling certainly isn't.
It took a lot of years and a lot of life to shape my viewpoint. It took a divorce and a remarriage, career changes and university degrees, births and deaths, hopes and lies. Elation and heartbreak.
Over the years, my family has fallen apart, like somebody dropped an emotional atom bomb on Cleveland, Tennessee. Look to the McCoy side and all you have left is a drunk uncle who is too stupid and greedy to pay his own taxes, thus sacrificing everything that his own father worked so hard to create. His family is there too, as worthless as he is. Look to the other side and there's nothing but lies and drama and bad decisions, all mingled with desperation. I don't need that shit. I'm better than that.
And there you have it. The reason why I'm more likely to say "fuck off" than "bless your heart." The reason why now, if you push me, I'm going to push back twice as hard. The reason why I care more about what happened on The Blacklist than whether you like me or not.
I'm still smart and kind and fair, but I'm also strong and unfiltered and fearless. I think if he was still alive, my Dad would have wanted to be more like ME now. I think my Dad would be proud. And that's what really matters.