Taking control of your life is hard. And I’m not talking about setting schedules and eating vegetables, no no no. I’m talking about just begin able to say what you want to say about who you are. Like I remember in high school I was asked once what I liked to do. Common question and at the same time a universally reviled one. But putting that aside, I was asked the question and when I had to think of an answer, I couldn’t quite put my finger on what to say. I usually would just shrug.
This question was very hard for me to answer back then because I felt I wasn’t able to ‘like’ things the same way the person asking me the question wanted me to. There was a particular definition of ‘like’ that was around when I was a kid threaded with floaty images of industrious brats getting into trouble with their friends; bookworms losing themselves in fantasy; and cherished memories of eating cake with grandpa on his birthday. This definition implied a certain passion I had to feel–or a sense of fate–that implied I was cultivated by my past or my circumstances to be drawn (or not) to this ‘fun’, ‘happy’ activity.
Some kids were privileged to have this sentiment, and to them I applaud; however, I was a latchkey kid in a latchkey home where nobody was really like anybody else ‘out there’ in the world of big, happy families and sitcom childhoods. When I was a kid, even throughout high school, I felt like an outsider, like I was inferior for not being able to feel these feeling words that people kept telling me I should somehow feel to be human. I felt like my life story was a consolation prize in written in a foreign language I couldn’t understand.
It was an overwhelming prospect to write myself out, but at some point, I decided to take control of my narrative. I make my own words now. And I don’t talk gibberish. I speak in familiar patterns, I say ‘like’ and ‘love’ like they do, give or take an accent. But ‘love’ to me is mine, it is a precious thing. I decide what ‘love’ means. It’s neither the empty stuff my family had nor the stuff of story books. I say love, because I want love. I command it when I say it, and I love you means you are the thing that I love and goddammit isn’t that the truest truth?
But for love, as with anything, for it to be real you have to live it. When I do things with the intent to “love”, it become real and physical. And when I tell people that I love the things I love with my body, with a true heart and sure tongue, and when they see the light in my eyes and the brace of my lip, surrounded by my loved things, they will understand that these things, these love-things–I am in love with them.