Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Dear Young Sam

A letter to my younger self
 by Sam Allen

"The ghosts that we knew made us black and all blue,
but we'll live a long, long life."
Dear Younger Self,
You will heretofore be known as Sam, even though your mom calls you Amy.
Sam, do you know how you grin when Auntie Dawn calls you Amos, but know that that isn't quite right?
Well, this is something that will take years for you to figure out.
Your 24th through 26th years, precisely.
Which isn't that long in adult years (you're still working on being an adult at 31, by the way.  It's a long, complicated road), even though it seems like the difference between eight and ten looks like infinity, yeah, yeah, what your brother Geoff likes to draw and sound off about when he's being educational.
I never understood that, and still don't.  He loves pets, by the way.  He's got a household full of 'em.
You will be a niece and an aunt.  You will have a complicated relationship with your nietos because they still don't see you as an adult.
If you can, feed them wisdom and love from the time they come into your life.
Spend particular time with your niece Katie, because she needs all of it that she can take.
She'll turn your pubescent angst into bouncy joy, believe me, because I'm seeing it happen with your younger niece Michaela right now.
Trust people.
You will go through some crap if you continue to not trust people, and I know that it's very hard.
You had a hard young past, and it's just plain hard to trust people after what you've gone through.
And, yes, I know it feels natural for you to just sit quietly and watch people, but you'll never get to know them - and you'll want to get to know them - if you don't at least give them a smile.
Ask them questions when they ask you questions.
People get tired of listening to you talk about yourself, after a while.
It gets easier.
Tell people you trust about the feelings that make you want to hop up and down about when you're around certain girls, girls like you.  Tomboys.
Because that ain't goin' away, darlin'.
Just because one gets scared and tells her grandma about you doesn't mean that they all will.
You can be a leader.  You're gifted.  Hell, you can be President if you want!
But first you need to need to learn how to talk to people.
Sam, I'm sorry for not reaching out to you earlier.
And I'm sorry for hurting you for not saying anything when people teased you.
You defend everybody else in your head when they're being surrounded by others, but not yourself.
It has been hard to learn how to stand up for myself because I haven't had the practice that most people have, and I'm shy.
But that's no excuse.
I should have stood up for you, summoned my inner dyke, and said, Fuck It.
Speaking of summoning things.
You need to navigate your love/ hate relationship with authorities.  Fine, go ahead and scratch "BITCH" into Mrs. Harrison's science table.  The polish is all black and shiny, perfect for your ragged inscription.
I'm proud of you for that.

She'll call you stupid again, in 11th grade, before your panic-attack laced grand endeavor of, god, I don't even know how to describe it.  Something about proteins and test tubes and travel.
You don't have to know that shit.  Leave the scientists to it.
But this you must know.
Sometimes people mistake quietness for stupidity.  It only shows how little they know.
You're smart, you're smart, you're smart.
You'll get called out because you're quiet, but damn it girl, you're smart.
And better yet, you're original.
Which is why you get the good grades in things that scientists don't need to know.
What else?
Your mom will have a hard time with your being gay, and genderqueer.  You'll figure that term out after hating the reflections of yourself that you see on the computer screen and on your tv.  Yes, you'll have a tv - and your own freakin' apartment - when you're in college.  Some of college, anyway. 
You'll eventually claim the term genderqueer from a hot boy that you find credible because of his soft-spokenness and his impeccable style that somehow....just somehow strikes a chord with your style.
You'll kiss girls and read articles on kissing girls - the theory of kissing girls, if you will, and then forget it all once you come home to Stockton.
Life is like that - you learn, you forget, you learn it all again, but this time with more depth.
But remember that special feeling you had for Jennifer Wilson.  And that confidence that came from it, oh, you're gonna get that back.  In droves.  The writing?  Meh, not so much until you learn to use your voice, but you are fantastic.
Remember that.  Your confidence comes from being yourself - it's not what other people say that gives you what you need in dark, quiet, alone moments.  It's a cliché, but you'll soon find out that life is full of cliches.

As soon as you start talking to people.