Dear John

As a writer, there are few times it is hard for me to find the right words. I’m the family eulogy writer, the storyteller at Christmas dinner, the pretentious one that has memorized poetry. But, when confronted with the thought of writing something about John, I had a fear wash over that can only be described as nervousness. I was nervous I wouldn’t be able to find the words to share with you, the reader, what this person means to me. So, here is my gallant attempt, my different kind of Dear John letter, my birthday gift to him:

There is a very memorable and significant moment I have when I meet someone I know I want in my life. With John, it was when he said hello to me in the main corridor of our high school. We had just spent a weekend together on a retreat, and this is where we first met. I called his name, he looked up and with undeniable swagger walked towards me. We hugged and I asked him for the 47th time since meeting him, “So how do you say your last name again?” He laughed and told me, “You’ll get it right someday.” Spelling it is a different story.

That’s when I knew he was special, a particular breed of human that has become rare. Such a small moment, but it’s one I often re-play when I miss him. Which is often.

***

I have always wanted a brother. A precocious only child, growing up I tried to be the son I knew my father wanted. I played baseball (not without a pink helmet-thanks mom). I worked in the garage. I tried to be the brother I wish I had. I never succeeded, but at fourteen I got something better-I got John. And my father finally got to meet his “son.”

John has done everything I dreamed a brother would do for me. He’s watched me fall in love with all the wrong people and shit talk them with me, get fat, listened to all my bullshit, and makes me dinner because I can’t cook for shit, and still, after all this “sisterly” annoyance, he’s still here. He gives me advice. He drives across the country with me and my parents to move me into a new house. He builds me a table for that house. This is the kind of person I’m talking about.

Don’t get me wrong, he doesn’t come without his quirks. Every time I go to his place, his bedroom is completely rearranged. He gets extremely excited by a nice filing cabinet. He over exaggerates words that end in “ch.” He really likes shirts with bicycles on them and always needs new shorts. But, when you realize all these things about a person, and they’re not annoying but endearing, you’ve found someone you love for who they are.

If you are lucky enough to have a John in your life, you’re doing pretty well. I have watched him become the man he is today-I’m so proud to call him a best friend, my future bridesman (because yes he will be on my side with me), and a brother. That’s a gift I’ll never be able to top.

So, that’s what John is to me, but I also need to share what John is to other people because it’s not just me that’s obsessed with him. In high school when he came out, I got to watch the lives he inspired. Because John loved and accepted himself, he gave others the inspiration to follow suit. He gave them a voice they didn’t know they could have. It was an honor to witness this. He also plans parties for milestone’s in his real sisters’ lives-right down to the tablecloths. John is known as a confidant which is why so many of his friends think to call him first when they need advice, a drink, compassion, a hand made sign (follow @foxhound_custom_builds to see what I’m talking about), a simple hug, etc. etc.  He is the definition of unconditional love, because, even when he tells me to “shut up and stop complaining,” he immediately bursts out in a crackly laugh and tells me he loves me. Everyone who has met him knows about the kind of love I’m talking about. And the people that don’t? They’re probably really shitty people.

***

Happy birthday to you John. I love you. I hope nobody around you ever takes you for granted because you’re the real deal. You care and give and give and give. I know, because you show me everyday how good you are. Thanks for sticking around.

226623_6327958156_2840_n This is the first picture we ever took together. We’re heinous.

The Anti-Muse

“My boyfriend sucks so bad, I don’t even want to marry him.” –one of my Uber drivers

The anti-muse is a character I’ve been playing around with. This is a person who does not, can not, and will not inspire you. But, you’re friends with them anyway. You date them anyway. You let them stick around, because, well, they are nice.

Nice is good. Nice isn’t enough though. We don’t need them in our lives, but that’s just the thing-we do need them. For comparison. When confronted with the juxtaposition of the muse and anti-muse things get a little clearer. You see the worth and value in the friend that made you laugh so hard at happy hour you snorted in front of the cute bartender. You remember how that girl in your Shakespeare seminar said the most curious things, and because of her, you actually read Hamlet all the way though. No sparknotes.

The anti-muse reminds us that we should always be searching for those particular individuals that inject us with splendor, because the alternative is pretty bland. And I’ve decided I don’t fucking do bland anymore. A good friend of mine recently said, “I’d rather you be annoying than do nothing.” What truth that statement holds. I would rather you be so wildly passionate about platypus breeding than not care about anything at all.

modern day muse

She wished she could tell him she wasn’t in love with him. Not even close. She was just infatuated with everything he did-he was her muse. She knew it was odd for a woman to have a man for a muse, but she couldn’t help it; he filled her up with hope.

“You make me feel less weird.”

“You make me feel like I’m just weird enough.”

They talked like this in small hidden corners of his house. He knew when they were alone, they forgot about what their friends imagined them to be. She knew he felt more at ease at these times, and so did she.

They stuck to each other for a whole day in the snow and when they finally peeled apart, they both said they didn’t realize how cold it had been. That’s when she knew she needed him. She needed him just to be around sometimes.

She could see how he might think she liked or loved him. But, she only really loved what he gave her-the first line to a sad new poem, the perfect ending to the short story she could never finish…and the involuntary smile. This was her favorite gift.

***

Most of our lives

we tell our teeth and lips to rise

for a photograph, for our boss on Monday morning

It is a command we’ve learned to obey

***

If you take a moment

to notice when your lips have lifted

without permission, you have experienced

involuntary happiness

***

This makes you feel the most

human you’ve ever been and

realize you can’t ignore what or who

can do that to you with no effort at all