The upside of having an hour-plus public transit commute is the opportunity to read at least a book a week. It’s not exactly been high brow literature, but the books have accomplished what I wanted them to: entertain, learn, and inspire.
While reading Luckiest Girl Alive, I kept thinking Jessica Knoll’s prose reminded me of someone else’s voice. The feeling snuck up on me like the stench of the subway slowly coats your nostrils on a hot summer day – the voice I remembered was my own. Not the one you see here, where I wax poetic about Sephora and Tinder, but the one I haven’t let out since college. One that is driven by dialogue, detail, and dark humor (and, sometimes, alliteration).
I turned the last page of the book, took a breath, and asked myself: why the hell haven’t I written a book yet?
I’m kind of in love with writing letters. When I was a kid living oceans away from friends, we’d exchange memos highlighting the mundane details of our pre-teen lives – who was in a fight, what teacher we hated, what boy we loved. The margins decorated with colorful doodles and illustrations of inside jokes. Sharing my thoughts and trying to explain the new feelings I had at my first school dance or make out party taught me about writing, my voice, and myself. It’s worth noting that one of my favorite exercises is still to sit down and write for ten minutes without stopping to think about a story or punctuation or spelling – just write my pen tells me to write.
Inevitably, I’ll find something inside me I didn’t realize had been trying to get out.
Quick text messages allow us to share in-the-moment quips on some dude at the bar who winked awkwardly. Share an old picture you found of someone you love on Instagram instead of mailing it with a date and location on its backside. Tag them in a Facebook status to remind them where they were last night. I have participated in all of these activities, but none of them have shown me what lurks beneath the surface of my mind.
This is all a long way of saying that the silver lining of having a few incredibly busy and globe-trotting friends is using email for significant communication. I can’t address the envelope in multi-colored bubble lettering, but I can take a few minutes to write what I’m thinking in that moment. Talk about what the mundane details of adulthood mean (Is that guy at work hitting on me or just really nice? Do I care?) and dole out the kind of advice you wish someone would have given to you in the past. Get inspired to say something differently than you’ve seen anyone else say it. If nothing else, writing this kind of email (or an actual letter) forces us to slow down and think.
When you have a good partner, it’s better – and cheaper – than therapy. Anyone looking for a pen pal? I’m in.
I’ve never confidently known what I to do with my life – it’s always seemed like there are too many options. I want to be a writer. I want to be an actress. I want to be a teacher. I want to be a therapist. I want to be a detective. I want to be an astronaut, a queen, a flapper, an explorer, a man, a myth.
I want to be everything, to experience it all.
Until I get my own TARDIS and Companion (should we talk about how I want a female Doctor?), I’ll have to settle down with my books. I’ll transport myself to a Soldier Island mansion as a murder mystery unfolds. I’ll listen as a woman struggles with mental illness and addiction in Hollywood. I’ll experience a city I both loathe and love through the eyes of a native son seeking redemption.