Baby girl, let me tell you what I learned this year. Let me tell you: it wasn't trigonometry. I don't count my years January to December; I count them September to May, and summer is stuck in the middle like something beautiful that you get to just drown in -- "And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer." (Name that book (without Google)).
Here's the thing: I don't even remember what I was taught about the unit circle, I don't remember important dates from medieval England or the point of the Civil War, but I learned a lot. I learned a truckload of things since last September and most of them came from people who... who have (for lack of a better way to say it) apprivoisered me.
There are two verbs in French that mean "to tame." There's domestiquer and apprivoiser, and they don't connote the same things. Domestiquer is like the domestication of an animal, but apprivoiser is something different, really. It's more about etre un ami -- devenir un ami, really. When you apprivoiser something or someone, you become their friend and learn to love them. People aren't automatically special. They're special because you love them. That's what le petit prince and le renard and le fleur and le pilot and madame taught me this year (merci, Madame). That's why I cried a little in my French class today.
I'm learning to be breathless and stay breathless and to let whatever happens around me just carry me. Benjamin taught me that. He taught me that if you know what you're doing here, you know what you're doing here, so just do it. I know I'm supposed to write, like Benjamin's supposed to act, so we're doing those things. We've stopped floundering. (Gosh, Benjamin's going places. Going places, I tell you, and I'm aching from missing him already.) And I can't stop thinking about Kristin Parker, because that girl taught me more than she'll ever know. If I can ever achieve the beauty and talent and fidelity of that girl, I will have made it. Kristin Parker taught me youth. Connor White taught me about friendship and doing what you feel and saying what you've kept up inside of you. Cody taught me about blooming into something beautiful. Laura taught me to let go easy. Aubrey taught me to never be disillusioned by appearances. Gretel taught me about discovering myself -- Gretel taught me about real beauty, people.
Emily Henson taught me that new friends are nice, but old friends are gold. Emily Luse taught me to just be a good person. Daniel Allenbach taught me to shatter stereotypes. Eliza Summerhays taught me about what it means to be beautiful, what it means to be a Christian.
Avery taught me to say what I mean, and Avery taught me to love people, and Avery taught me what a family is, and Avery taught me what it means to be beautiful, like Kaitlyn taught me what is means to be beautiful, like Kaitlyn taught me what a family is, like Kaitlyn taught me to love people, like Kaitlyn taught me to cry. I love them so much it hurts me.
Matt Davis? He taught me calm down. He taught me to wait before you make assumptions. He taught me to stop forgetting people's birthdays. And Kyle? He taught me that good things come from unexpected places (Kyle, if you're reading this: I miss you). Morgan taught me that it's okay to feel things, and it's okay to have bad days, it's okay to miss people, and celebrations are important. She taught me to go day by day. She taught me to do what I need to do, despite all other schedules. She taught me to laugh and cry with the same breath, because what's life without really feeling things?!
This year, I learned that 16 and 86 aren't that far apart.
I learned about falling apart and falling back together. I learned that from everybody, especially Katie Thueson.
This year, I learned to like myself, and I learned that far away isn't that far away (hollaback, Alex Barker).
My mom taught me that I have to come home sometimes, because she will always be home. She will always be home to stroke my hair and love me no matter what. My dad taught me that I have to change my perspective before I can change the world. Sophie taught me to take whatever happens into stride, to get up when I fall. Hazel taught me to snuggle more. Millie taught me... Millie taught me what's really important, and that what that is is love.
My yoga teacher taught me to do this: "Inhale peace, exhale expectation. Inhale hope, exhale competition. Inhale love, exhale judgment."
Yeah, I have this teacher, and he teaches me about Shakespeare and responsibility, but what I've really caught onto is this: "Remember please. Remember please when God is holding you in the palm of his hand." (And how can I ever thank you for that lesson, Mr. J?)
I learned about love and loss and how to run on an empty tank of gas. I learned that bank accounts aren't for spending frenzies and that if you run too fast, albeit stunning for a second, you won't see what you're running so quickly past, and that's really too bad, because this world is something to see.
And baby? I know. I know that you think you know everything. I know that feeling, but one day, someone will walk up to you and say, "There is no God, and we are His prophets," and you'll be all, "Oh, okay..." and then realize that doesn't make any sense at all, but he'll be gone, and someone else will be in front of you, and they'll say, "Doublethink, amiright?" and you'll be like, "Uh, sure," and when you blink, they'll be gone, someone else in their place saying, "And Lot's wife, of course, she was told not to look back at where all those people and their homes had been. But she did look back, and I love her for that, because it was so human." That you'll recognize. You'll get excited. You'll say, "And she was turned into a pillar of salt. So it goes," because so it goes. (Name those books.)
Baby girl, people keep marching through my door and they say these things: Remember where you're coming from, remember where you're going, remember what you want, remember that you can do anything if you try.
And that's what I'm learning. That's what I'm becoming. These people march through my door, and they apprivoiser me, in a sense. It isn't a conscious thing. I just love them, even when they're the worst sometimes or even when we don't agree. I love them.
There's this woman I call Gina and she asked me a lot of questions this year, and I learned things I'll never forget. What is Art? she said, What is Reality? she said, What is Love? she said, and she handed me the Mona Lisa's smile and in it, I saw just how wretchedly hypocritical I've been.
So I'm apologizing right here and now. You are free to move forward. You are free to do anything you want -- anything. And I will applaud you if you are happy, baby girl. Applaud me when I'm happy, yeah? Because you can be happy. Because you should choose to be happy, like I can be happy, because I'm choosing to be happy, baby. That's something my dad taught me.
And I'm ready. I'm ready for summer. I'm ready to just drown in the loveliness of it all, spend as much time as I can breathing in the scent of you. It's time now. I've learned now. I've passed on what I've learned, and I'm ready now. I am here now. I am here now.
There are UFOs in the sky.
All my love,