It’s Halloween this week, kiddo. Jacqueline and I have an elaborate party to attend, and you’ll be spending the evening at your grandmother’s house. You love it there and we’ll go Trick or Treating on the 31st, because how else are we supposed to get candy for the rest of the year without paying for it?
I got a text from my high school friend, Steve, while we were piecing together our toy costumes to fit into the Twisted Tales and Tortured Toys theme this year; the text read, “Billy Collins died of a heart attack.” You see, Billy and I were very close in middle school and the beginning of high school. I may regret at some point telling you these things, but Billy and I had a lot of firsts together: first time getting drunk, first time getting high, first time getting a blowjob (on a beach with a girl, just to clarify…it was glorious), and first time with a hangover lasting 3 days—those are more common now that I am closing in on my mid-30s; the hangover.
There have been two deaths this year which have been close to me; Savannah and Billy. Savannah was a girl I knew in college who was a single mother, funny, charming, and a pleasure to be around. She made me laugh to tears often. She was a good person, a kind person. She died from a drug overdose before she turned 30, and Billy died of a heart attack just barely into his 30s. While I can’t say I was still close to them, I can say that I was once close with them. I have so many fond memories with them both and now I am left here, without really being able to express how I feel, because I don’t want the world to judge me for feeling loss, despite not being their best friends anymore. I feel so much loss, kiddo. I have spent a few minutes writing justifications for how I feel, but I have removed them: I feel loss.
Perhaps one day soon I will revisit the stories I’ve shared with these two people and why I feel the way I do, but for now, I want to make this about us more than anything, because time is short.
I am coming to terms with my mortality. It’s been long enough, and I am actually an adult now. I have to start planning for the future and for the “what ifs.” There are a few things that I can whittle down to bullet points (I actually can’t and now they’re paragraphs) that I want to be sure you know, just in case I can’t tell you myself as we grow old together.
I love you more than anything in the world. It’s a cliche, unless you mean it. And I said once on this blog that I would burn the entire world to the ground for you, and that’s still true today. You are the reason I am the man I am today. I couldn’t be here without you. Most likely, I still be waiting tables in a bar in Denton, trying to get into an MFA program, where my future would be undecided, and far less decided. Decided is less bitter than it is sweet, kiddo. I love my life.
The world is beautiful. I wrote a blog about it a while back and it’s always going to be true. There’s life and love and happiness to find everywhere during the easy times. You just have to try harder for it during the difficult times.
You can’t do anything, but you can do anything you want. We were taught as kids that we could do anything. Well, really, we could do anything that we wanted to do. Some people are built for certain things that others can’t do. You are naturally inclined to sing, and dance if you want. You might be inclined to write or play sports or solve mysteries or push buttons on a keyboard. Find what you’re good at and stick with it.
Don’t feel marginalized. There are billions of people on this planet, kiddo, and you’re just one of them. Carve out a spot for yourself and be confident and content by your accomplishments. After all, the chance that you exist is basically zero, so remember, you already are out-competing statistics. Just live your life and be happy—I know, easier said than done.
Respect the Journey of Others. Every person you will ever come across is the protagonist of their own story. You are yours and they are theirs. You never want to be the antagonist. Appreciate that every person is on a journey, and focus on your own. There will be a time and place when your journey is shared with others, but until that happens, remember to appreciate everyone. Also, don’t let other people interfere with yours. Stick up for yourself and remember you have the power to change your life story too. (if you get overly frustrated and combative with the person slicing your meat at the deli in Tom Thumb because she gave you “smoked ham” and not “honey ham” don’t be a fucking asshole, and just remember they are a person too. I’m talking to you, asshole at Tom Thumb tonight.)
You Can Never Love Too Much. Unless you’re a creepy stalker weirdo. But, in general, loving yourself and others is a great way to live your life. Falling in love feels good, so do that. Falling out of love hurts but it makes you appreciate falling in love; do that too. Experience the range, because it’s a worthwhile endeavor.
I just want you to know that I am constantly thinking about you, and I never get tired of being around you. I am looking forward to the lives we’re going to live together, and I am excited about our futures together. You and I and Jacqueline and your mom and Nate are going to be great. We’re already great; because you’re the person holding everything together. You’re the reason we are who we are and none of us could be here without you.