I'm Taking a YA Literature Course

I'm becoming too familiar with the feeling of returning to a space you once inhabited, but clearly no longer belong. I see traces of myself there among the new foreign connections. This place was home. There were years of familiarity, a sense of self ingrained in the city, in the walls, in the faces of the people I shared this time with. We survived the war zone of my teenage angst together. We were all family. We always would be. Now each interaction just seems to widen the crater between us.

My friends and I have always been inherently selfish.

We are a loving group, but our greatest connection lies typically in being the outcasts- the introverted, sometimes over-emotional, awkwardly flamboyant, weirdos. It's not that we don't want to be there for each other. It's that we don't have a lot of experience with support networks. There wasn't a lot of positive feedback. The people who loved us did not do so kindly, and in turn we were often unkind to each other. There is a logic to the way we were destined to become islands.

I like to think, at least, we are a cluster of islands. Close enough for bits of ourselves to brush up on the shores of each other. Which in a certain context might be a little gross. Still, we are not so alone this way. Until a tectonic shift breaks someone off and they drift into the horizon.

I would like to be more nurturing. Emotional intelligence is something I read up on a lot in an effort to glean some knowledge from a much more mature writer than myself. I want to transition from an island to the ocean. I want to be fluid and warm. I want to pull the islands together. I am not this person.

I am a person who starts a lot of sentences with I. Even in my new living space, which is arguably the most mine space I have had in 8 years, I don't feel at home. I don't feel connected to the space. This has nothing to do with my relationship with my friends; it has to do with my relationship to everything: I start sentences with I a lot and feel like I will never fit in. This mind set bodes well for my online course in YA Literature. And for any hope of having a career in YA Literature, I think. I will never outgrow the 12-17-yr old mindset.

Still, my friends are quite clever and beautiful people and I worry that if I do not become the ocean they will be pulled away. Perhaps they will fall into the sea, with the much deeper and more mysterious people. Things that are curious, clever and adaptable. Things that survive better under pressure than I.

While we were in Houston we met our friend's grandmother and she was such a lovely, sweet thing. She was so small and she shuffled in that way that older people tend to because our muscles don't hold their elasticity forever. She had an adorable, classically short, hairstyle. The puffed crown of cotton that older women tend to wear after a certain age. Something easy to manage. Clusters of loose curls that frame the face kindly. She wore lipstick. I focused on all the small details of how she carried herself because it was so careful. It was clear that she spent her life carefully and well manicured. It was clear that her grand-daughter followed that example, as she was so well coordinated the entire weekend and played an excellent hostess, and I imagined that her daughter likely did as well. Within five minutes she was sharing stories about her life.

They were incredible. It was incredible. I had never experienced such openness from my own family (in fact, my own mother did not tell me recently when her mother passed away), so this was a wild new thing. She told us about how she met her first husband at a three day long party in a hotel. At the time if you were over 23 and unmarried it was over, she said, and I felt my age. But it was wonderful and I would have stayed forever to let her chat her personal history so casually at me.

It was shortly after we got back to the apartment we were staying in that I realized this was not something I would be able to do should I live so long. I had spent so much of my early twenties in such a stupor I would never be able to regale anyone with those memories. They simply don't exist. The files are corrupted and cannot be opened.

I need to make new memories. I need to become to ocean and sweep the islands around the world with me.


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