Archive for June, 2015

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Dear Shonna,

How are you holding up? I hope you’re taking care of yourself. I know the days seem monotonous, like you’re living the exact same day over and over again. It may seem boring, but one day you’re going to miss the monotony – trust me. You’re going to miss having a routine and you’re going to miss the lack of pressure and responsibility. I know high school seems stressful, and it is, but it’s also the easiest your life will ever be. You probably can’t wait to get out of there and start your “real life,” but this is your real life. Believe it or not, the people you know now will be with you for a very, very long time. The memories you’re making right now will be talked about at parties, you’ll reminisce about “the good old days,” you’ll talk about how much you wish you could go back. Embrace your life right now. Enjoy it. Soak it up.

I know you feel lonely and sort of stuck. I know you’re watching all of your friends enter into relationships and you don’t understand why it hasn’t happened to you yet, and you’ve spent hours and hours analyzing every detail of yourself and wondering what’s wrong with you. I know you crave love and acceptance and it just doesn’t seem like it’s in the cards for you, but I’m telling you right now that your life is going to be filled with so much love. You’re going to make deep and honest and unbreakable connections with some of the people that are surrounding you right this very second. You’re going to share moments and make memories that will remind you what life is all about. You’ll wonder how you ever got so lucky. Stop being so hard on yourself. You are lovable, and you will see proof of that soon enough.

I heard about that boy you saw in the hallway, the one that made you stop in your tracks and wonder what planet he came from. He’ll become a big part of your life. You’ll fall in love with him and it will be one of the purest things you’ve ever felt – an honest, selfless, and all-consuming kind of love. And you will have your heart broken, but you’ll be okay. You’ve got to learn right now what you’re worth and what you deserve, and what this boy puts you through will make you question those things. But you’ve gotta fight and you’ve gotta focus on all of the love and positivity around you and you’ll realize that even though what you feel is real, he doesn’t deserve you. You’re going to hurt for a really long time, but don’t be afraid. This boy is going to teach you so much about yourself and you’ll be a better person when it’s all over.

Your parents are pretty intense, huh? So many rules, so many things you aren’t allowed to do, and I know it feels like you’re suffocating and you’re never going to escape. But they’ll ease up after a while and you’re going to go on so many adventures. You’ll travel and you’ll see different cities just like you’ve always wanted to do. Just hold tight, your time is coming.

One thing I can’t stress enough – keep working on your art! Keep playing guitar and singing – soon enough you’ll be writing songs and people will love them. Don’t question yourself, just put everything you are into what you create. Good things will come from it, I promise. You’ll find a confidence and a meaning inside yourself that you never knew was possible.

One final piece of advice: don’t wish your life away. Be present in every single moment, no matter how boring, painful, or pointless it may seem. Find beauty wherever you are. Enjoy your youth, celebrate it, exist in it, and don’t take a single second for granted. You’re going to experience loss in the worst way possible and you’ll learn how fragile you really are and how short life really is, but you can’t let that scare you out of living.

You’re only a teenager for a second. Make it count.

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He’s here, and we’re at my favorite place. The tree that I’ve considered my foundation since childhood stands and waves like it’s welcoming us – the ocean singing and celebrating behind it. We keep our distance from each other, as we always have, and he walks ahead of me to take in the view.

“I can see why you love it here,” he says as I approach. I smile and let his presence consume me while I try to reconcile the fact that he has entered into the location of my most private memories, my sacred place, my home. I’m nervous because I know that if he leaves, this place will never be the same for me. It will be soiled. It will be darkened and I will never get it back.

We circle each other, calculate our moves to ensure we don’t overstep any boundaries. We are friends, but we are also very aware that our connection runs much deeper than that. As he glances up at me through his eyelashes, I’m reminded of the line that Edmund says to Fanny Price in Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park: “Surely you and I are beyond speaking when words are clearly not enough.”

We rarely speak. We communicate mostly by meeting in stares, or by the electricity that forms between our bodies if we stand too close to one another. I know his soul. I know his thoughts by looking at his face, at his hands. I’ve never known anyone as well as I do him. I’ve never shared as comfortable a silence with anyone as I do with him – a silence that somehow still says so much.

When the sun starts to set, and the blue green of the ocean is contrasted against the pinks and oranges of the sky, I pull out my disposable camera. I want to keep this moment forever. I want to be able to carry it with me. I beckon him over and we stand in front of my tree – his arm hanging over my shoulders, his cheek resting on the top of my head. I hold the camera out and begin to count, “one….two….three…” and the second before my finger presses the shutter release, his lips press against my cheek.

My face feels like it’s on fire, and the flames spread throughout my whole body but I’m frozen in place. I lower the camera, afraid to look at him because I know my cheeks are flushed, but I can feel him staring, trying to read me. I have to make a decision quickly before his closeness suffocates me: either I can acknowledge what just happened and make it out to be more than it was or I can laugh it off, call him a dork, walk away. I choose the latter.

When I raise my eyes to his though, I’m met with a patient intensity that I’ve never seen before. There’s a slight smile on his mouth. His eyes are sparkling. I can’t think of anything to say, I can’t think of anything save for the fact that not enough air is reaching my lungs. I’m not breathing. My heart is pounding so hard that it rings in my ears. I make an instinctive decision: I smile and roll my eyes and begin to step away, but his hand catches the crook of my elbow and pulls me back with enough force that I only stop moving when our mouths crash together.

I can feel every particle of his skin as his fingers touch my neck, cradle my head, get tangled in my hair – hesitant at first, and then hungry. My brain is swimming, my lungs are burning, my knees are buckling. I grab hold of his denim jacket for support as our lips break apart and he rests his forehead against mine. We just stand there for a moment completely still except for the quick rising and falling of our chests.

Suddenly, he begins to move. He takes my face in his hands, touches his lips to my forehead so softly I can barely feel it, and steps back, his cheeks flushed. He glances down at his feet sheepishly and all I want to do grab hold of him and never let him go. But I know what we are and I know that this is just another memory of home that I’ll be able to hold onto.

Our eyes meet for one last time and we both know that as soon as this stare breaks, this will be over and we’ll go back to how we used to be: circling each other, keeping our distance. I smile at him, making sure that everything about how he looks is burned into my memory – his hands in his pockets, his eyes sort of glazed, his brows slightly furrowed, and the sun setting behind him. It takes all of my strength to pull my eyes away from his.

I begin to walk back towards the car. He follows, but not too close.

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beanie courtesy of @charlavail

The past week has been a wild one. I got some really exciting and potentially life changing news that I can’t really talk about yet, but the opportunity I’m being presented with is amazing in and of itself. I also just got home from visiting friends in NC, and every time I’m there I’m overwhelmed with this sense of gratitude and contentment – like my soul has been rejuvenated. I’m so hyper aware of how lucky I am to have such amazing people in my life and I can’t even understand why I’ve been so fortunate, but I think it all comes down to positive energy. If there’s anything I’ve learned in recent months/years, it’s that you really do get what you give.

Energy is so important. What you think and feel puts some sort of aura around you and it makes you glow, and that light attracts other people that feel the same way – like a moth to a flame. I’ve definitely hit some rough times in my life, times where I’ve doubted myself or felt bad for myself or felt frustrated and helpless… but I’ve always remained true to who I am, and that’s something that I’m really proud of. I feel like life just wears you down, it tries to strip you of originality or identity, it picks at you when you’re the most vulnerable and tries to change you into someone you don’t even recognize. It tries to make you cold and cynical, and it can become this void that you’re lost in where you can’t see the beauty that surrounds you.

It is crucial to shamelessly be yourself, especially throughout your teenage years and early twenties, because if you lose who you are during those impressionable years, the odds of finding yourself again are slim. Even if people aren’t accepting you or you feel like you aren’t good enough or cool enough or talented enough, you must always accept and embrace everything about yourself. Do everything with love and light, and it may take some time, but those things will begin to come back to you. I promise.

In the last year, I’ve really tried to be the best version of myself. I’ve been actively not letting myself dwell on negative things, I’ve only been celebrating the good. I’ve let go of people that have had a negative influence on my life, who have used me and taken me for granted, and I’ve been focusing on people who truly love and appreciate me. When you rid yourself of toxic relationships and live your life with a kind and loving heart, bad things can’t touch you. They just can’t. The light you give off illuminates the darkness and the monsters can’t get to you. It’s an amazing feeling that I can’t really put into words. It takes a while to climb the mountain of positive thinking, but once you get there, the view is like nothing you’ve ever seen. Once you accept the hand that the universe has dealt you, and you recognize all the beauty in every single day that you’re given and have faith that everything happens exactly the way it’s supposed to, life becomes so much less scary.

For the first time in a while I’m really excited about what the future holds. I feel the winds of change blowing and they’re pushing me towards the path I’m meant to be on. I’m excited for this journey and to see how everything unfolds. Not only for myself, but for those that I love. Things are changing, life is happening, and we’re all headed toward somewhere so beautiful.

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