To All My Girls
To my girl who was brutally raped in college, I think about you almost daily. Well, I think about the rape mostly. It still haunts me. I think about the call you made to me just a few short days after it happened. I think about the details you shared. I think about how difficult it was for you to say those words, even though you had no obligation to tell me. I think about you all of the time. I think about how I wish I could have protected you. I think about how hard it is for you to move through life now since that happened. I think about how brave you are. I think about how it never broke your spirit. I think about how fun you were to hang out with. I think about how you only got funnier, smarter, louder, and stronger. I think about you. I love you.
To my girl who hasn’t found love yet. I think about you. I think about how all of the men I know don’t deserve someone like you. I don’t say that because it’s what you say when a friend is single and looking. I say that because there is literally no one like you on this earth. I think about how kind you are when I tell you my deepest, darkest fears. I think about how you’ve never judged me when I told you a hundred stories of me getting drunk and doing something stupid. Or the handful of stories of me getting really drunk and doing something really fucking stupid. I think about how your calm demeanor and how I can always count on you to say something nice to me. Not because you have to but because that’s genuinely how you think. I think about how intentional you are with your friends. You’ve never missed a party I’ve had. You’ve always given me a gift on my birthday. You never canceled on a coffee date. You have never not supported me. In anything. I think about how you’ve established boundaries with me and I think about how hard that must have been. I think about the strength that took. I think about how much love must be radiating inside of you every single day to be as kind as you are. To be such a good friend. To be such a good person. I think about you all of the time because I don’t know anyone else like you. I think about you because you inspire me to be a better person. And I can’t wait for the day when we find someone as beautiful, kind, and loving as you are. Please never lose hope. We need your love.
To my girl who stopped talking to me five years ago. I think about the reason you chose not to respond to my text message of “I think he’s going to get us evicted”. I think about how our relationship was probably toxic. I think about how it was best for us to stop being friends. We both had to grow. If you’re reading this, I want you to know, it hurt me. But I’m not mad. I’m sorry if I ever hurt you.
To my girl who was attacked in a foreign country. I can’t help but think of you. First, because of all the shit you’ve had to deal with. You’ve been a victim of violence in every possible way – sexual, physical, verbal, emotional. And I’ve lived parallel to you. Just living. Getting drunk and complaining about being broke. But I sat next to you in class, after you were harassed by a professor. I did a group project with you after you were punched in the face in a foreign country. I think about you lying on the floor, bleeding, alone. I hate that I wasn’t there. But I really fucking hate that it happened to you. Because I know why it happened to you – you’re a Black Woman. And I really fucking hate how much you have to carry every day. I’m really fucking sorry that white America doesn’t give a fuck about Black Girls and Women. Or even any other country. I hate that you’re never safe. I hate that you’re constantly a target. I really fucking hate that sometimes I’m safe and you’re not. Thinking about that gives me a sick feeling in my stomach. That I will never shake. But that’s not why I think about you all of the time. I think about you all of the time because you talk. Talk isn’t the right word. You speak. You use your voice. You’re not scared to share your story. Maybe you are but it doesn’t stop you. I think about you because you scare me. Because you are so unapologetic in your Femaleness and your Blackness and your Queerness. Because you don’t let the white hetero/cis capitalistic America dictate anything you do and you’ve experienced the punishment of living that way but it never kills you. And that terrifies me. It would have killed me by now. Your strength scares me. But I hope you know it should. I hope you scare everyone around you. It means you’re doing something right. Please never stop scaring people. We need to hear your voice.
To my girl who sees her father in a wheelchair every day, who interprets his slurred speech for me, who splits a PB&J with him when they go out to lunch. I never not think of you. I think of how fucking hard life must be for you and your family. I think about how fucking angry I’d be if that were me. How fucking unfair it is for this all to happen to your family. How the five of you never did anything wrong but you were robbed of so much. But mostly, I think of your smile and how it never doesn’t brighten my day when I see you. I think about how grateful you are for everything in your life, despite how much shit has been thrown in your face. How kindly you speak of your husband. How giving you are of your time and talent. How much you love everyone around you. I think about how much you believe in me and all of my crazy dreams. I think about your laugh. And how thankful I am that you laugh at almost all of my jokes. I think about how you’re my favorite person to drunk FaceTime because we can joke and laugh while I smoke cigarettes on my porch. I think about how your beauty only equates to an Italian princess or a Greek goddess. I think about how seeing you on your wedding day was one of the best days of my life. I think about how hard I cried watching your dad get out of his wheelchair to walk you down the aisle. I think about how easily you could be angry and hate life. Because life has not been fair to you. But I think about how you’ve always swam with the tide and never let it beat your spirit down. Please never let it beat you down. We need your smile.
To my girl who is little but mighty as fuck. You might only be in elementary school, but damn girl. You are smart, loud, bold, strong willed, sharp, and loving. I think about how you told me one day that when I posted pictures of you on my Instagram it made you uncomfortable. I think about how much I love that you could tell me what you wanted, even at such a young age. I love how fearless you are. I think about how I asked you about Pokemon and you told me that you preferred to read, you pulled out your book and I read to you. I think about how I cried the whole time I read to you. Discretely, wiping away tears as I read to you. Because I couldn’t believe how amazing you are. How strong and smart you are. How I’ve never met anyone like you before. Except one girl. Me. When I was that age. You are everything I was. You are everything I wanted to be. I look at you, and think ‘This is me if I grew up without shame.’ That’s why I am so protective of you. I never want you to grow up with shame. I never want you to look at your body and think it’s gross. I never want you to think your voice doesn’t matter. Because it does. It fucking does. Your voice matters. Never grow shame. Our world needs more of you.
To my girl who is no longer with us but whose World War 2 portrait hangs just two-feet from my bed. I think about you because I’m sorry I wasn’t a better granddaughter when you were still living. I was a young girl and a brat. I wish I would have spent more time with you. But I hope you know that you inspire me constantly. I think about you all of the time. I tell everyone about you. How you were an officer in the military, while your future husband was a private. How you were a Registered Nurse in the 1930s. I think about how Aunt Suzanne told me right before she died that you didn’t get along with your mom. How you got along much better with your own grandmother. I think about how hard it must’ve been to go to college then. I think about how people must’ve looked at you as a working mother. A nurse in the neo-natal unit, with four boys at home. I think about you raised four beautiful boys, of which only one is still living. I think about how sorry I am. I’m so sorry Grandma. I wish Mike, Mark, and David were still here. I think about this Irish fucking curse. I’m so sorry. I wish I was better to you when you were alive. But I want you to know, every day, you inspire me to be the baddest fucking feminist I can be. I want you to know that every day, I wake up and from my bed I can see your portrait that I took home from your funeral fifteen years ago and framed. I want you to know how much I love you and everything you’ve given me. Without you, I would never have gone to college. I would never have gone to graduate school. I would never use my voice to tell people my experiences, to let people know they’re not alone. Grandma, I think about you often and I love you more every day.
To all my girls. I’m so sorry. I wish I could take away your pain. I wish I could have been there to protect you. I wish I was better. I wish the world wasn’t so fucking cruel. I wish you weren’t the victim of systematic violence against women. I wish you all of the strength. I wish you all of the courage. I wish you all of the love.