I’ve been spending time with hollowed out souls lately. Each of them is falling apart in different ways, twisting happiness into a pretty bow that sits in shop windows on the streets of Manhattan, as if it is a thing to be ogled but never touched.
What a terrible lie. What a sad way to go traipsing through today, sure that tomorrow isn’t getting no better. Tomorrow isn’t shining no brighter. Tomorrow isn’t singing no sweeter.
They deserve a fire in their stomach, firmness in their step, a flush in their skin, a flicker in their smile.
They deserve to feel alive.
They deserve a ‘just because’ postcard from a forever friend. Footsteps before the knock on the door. Kisses on the forehead. Thinking-of-you text messages and thought-you-might-enjoy-this emails.
They deserve warm tea and diner booth conversations and hopeful mornings after train wreck nights. The payoff of an old, patient family recipe. Melty chocolate chip cookies. Days without alarm clocks and breakfast after noon.
I want so much for them.
I’ll tell anyone who asks and even the ones who don’t: I want so much for them. But nobody gave me a guidebook for how to tread lightly on the subject of self-worth, when your hands are empty and your bank account is dwindling and your days are looking like a remake of Groundhog Day because nothing ever changes. Those are the hardest parts of growing up.
I want them to see hope in new places and faces. I want them to brush the tears from their eyelids and promise they’ll never let adulthood weigh them down.
They are stars in my life, so bright for so long, burned out before I had a chance to realize. It took me too long to realize.
I’m sorry. I’m sorry. It took me too long to realize.
And so I can only hope they find happiness in moments instead of years, in hours and minutes instead of months, in the kindness of strangers who hold doors and wave you to make that left turn when you can’t quite see whether it’s safe. The crossed-off to-do list. The clean house. The freshly laundered sheets. The shoveled sidewalk.
It’s hard to fall in love with the way this world takes and takes. Harder still to find happy in the chaos. This life can feel like whack-a-mole, but I hope their moments are bright and their eyes are wide and their hands are ready to catch some magic in the mundane.
I want to tuck a story of hope inside their frayed shirt pockets. Let them feel it beating against their heart.