Chapter Seven: The Grateful Living
This chapter goes out to everyone in my life who has had some sort of influence in the grand scheme of existence that has made me the eccentric aunt we all know I’ll grow to become. The guideline for this chapter notates that I should be explaining how one, specific human being has been influential to me, but I can’t do that. I can’t just pick one person who has made me over, improved this walking nervous system and made it a less nervous system – sure, parents most definitely are a large factor in how one matures, but some people are such potent forces of change that I can’t focus on family alone. Names of others I list will remain rather obscure to protect their privacy. They’ll know who they are.
I will begin at home.
Thank you for the lullabies and the changed diapers, the tough love when I rightfully deserved it, the friendship that’s growing as I grow up. Thank you for putting up with my phases – the weird baby voices when I was twelve, the overtly tomboy phase where, instead of dressing sporty and cute, I legitimately wore unflattering male clothing, and the one where I was convinced I was a fairy (which I may or may not have grown out of). Thank you for the dinners, the hugs when my eyes flood over, the slack of mine that you’ve picked up when I’ve been a mile a second all week.
Thank you for the love of nature, the stubborn capability to argue my point until I’m blue in the face (it’ll come in handy, I swear), a sarcastic sense of humor, and for letting me win countless wrestling matches. Thank you for bike rides and sushi dinners, sailing trips before I had fallen hard for speedboats, and for teaching me how to tie a do-rag over my toddling, curl-covered head. Thank you for teaching me how to play chess; it taught me that the Queen is a go-getter and doesn’t need the King to do her dirty work. Thank you for being a boyfriend’s worst nightmare by actually getting out the BB gun and greeting my Prom date at the door.
Thank you for forgiveness. Thank you for the destruction of preconceived notions, the appreciation of a universe of thoughts – from Plato, to Palahnuik. to pugnacious perspectives. Thank you for adventures, for allowing me inside your intrinsic mind, for allowing me to be the person you call when you don’t know what you need. Thank you for being my sounding board, my passport to finding myself, the one who turned my aversion to affection into an addiction.
Pen Pal Extraordinaire:
Thank you for your forwardness, your caffeine cravings, your friendliness when you were unaware of how I was afraid. Thank you for support, honest opinions, and for being the catalyst that cast me into the world which I had wanted to wander. Thank you for poems and pastries, people and pictures. Thank you for your cast-iron confidence and quick wit; and for a failing fear of confrontation.
The Kid Who Beat Me By One Place in My 8th Grade Talent Show:
Thank you for your talent, your cockiness and kindness. Thank you for failed romantic advances (because I honestly don’t think I’d have been able to handle you) and compliments when compliments were causeless. Thank you for an over-appreciation of art, a bleeding heart, and for giving me someone to look up to. Thank you for your thankfulness, for forcing me to write poetry and helping me figure out it was my forte.
Those I’ve Dated (and Ultimately Broken Up With):
Thank you for your feelings, your faith and full hearts. Thank you for letting me fail you, for letting me fret over lost love, letting you go, and thank you for finding someone new. Thank you for friendship (in most cases) and forgiveness.
Mildly Stereotypical British Citizen:
Thank you for extroversion, for facial formations, for forgetting those who have broken your heart. Thank you for eyeliner that could cut someone in half, artistic expression, and for finding me a focal point. Thank you for music, collapsing my comfort zone, for colored hair and bonding over bountiful, bumbling, beautiful people.
J. R. R. Tolkien, Vladmir Nobokov, Arthur Conan Doyle, Tracy Letts, Mark Gatiss, Christopher Nolan, Stephen King (the other, more peaceful, Mr. Martin Luther King), Malala; Among Other Highly Specific Culture Creators:
Thank you for your creations, your psychological people and plots, your fantasy places and fanciful politics. Thank you for plays, performances, purpose, and perspective. Thank you for controversy, for color, for fleeting fits of reality and realism. Thank you for thoughts and wars you’ve fought. Thank you for your blood – whether literal or figurative, for dying hundreds of deaths, for your determination.
Lil BB Child Who Looks Like Ed Sheeran and Hates It:
Thank you for switching shoes with me in the eighth grade – they’re rather large shoes to fill. Thank you for comfort and countless hugs, for photo-shoots and unfaltering friendship, for fostering awareness of others and giving me faith that the world has feelings. Thank you for ukuleles in film classes, duets in some dude’s house (he’s not ‘some dude’ anymore, we’re actually friends), for freaking out for fun over absolutely nothing.
Unexpected People Who Have Corroded the Concrete Walls Around Me:
Thank you for your vague, fleeting, experimental existence. Thank you for destroying my stubborn stances and being the dynamite that left me in pieces, the adhesive that put me together again, the artists who painted the insides of my head. Thank you for joviality, for negativity, for ideas and ideals, for being the Autumn of my existence so that I may grow strong and green after I have changed, fallen, frozen, and defrosted.
Those Whom I Have Yet to Meet:
Thank you for approaching me, for being approached. Thank you for letting our words penetrate one another’s minds. Thank you for being another Lego picked up off the floor to clear the space ahead of me, building primary-colored cities wherever we step. Thank you for being another foundation for growth, a living novel, a storybook character, a friend. Thank you for your aspirations, your dreams, your passions and your problematic tendencies. Thank you for fighting the fight you have to shimmy your way into my life,