You gave me so many of my firsts. My first cigarette, my first relationship, my first time to Joshua Tree, my first concert at Amoeba, my first pandemic, my first time living alone, my first I Love You, my first protest, my first mango, my first break-up, my first time witnessing a cat birth, my first therapy session, my first suicide attempt.
Many of these things will happen again, many times; some of them, I hope the first time will also be the last. I will never smoke a cigarette again. Amoeba Records has now closed. I have eaten hundreds of mangoes by now. I would like to never be suicidal again. I will have many therapy sessions, maybe for the rest of my life. I will hopefully have many more I Love You’s. And I hope there will never be another pandemic again.
I turned 20. I will turn 21 in a pandemic, as well. For all the things you’ve taken, time hurts the most. You paused some things in March, but time was not one of them. I can take a break from school for rest and health, I can hide in my house like we all must, I can stop experiencing the world for the sake of safety, but I can’t stop the clock from ticking. I can’t stop time.
I’ve learned a lot about what makes it bearable. Listening to the wind. Paying attention to the natural beauty, everywhere, because it is everywhere. Painting. Music. Noticing my body more, taking care of it, like we must take care of the Earth. Simplicity, quiet. Sitting in the stillness and appreciating the world around you.
But, most of all, people. People make it bearable, and I am 20 and I will turn 21 and through it all, like so many of us, I will be alone. It takes time to build relationships, trust, support systems, love. And I feel like I am running out of time, prime time, to find people I want close to me, people that I choose to love.
I started this year at a concert, welcoming you with thousands of people and open arms. I will end this year sitting side by side with my mom, sharing a homemade cheesecake, so glad that you will be gone, knowing that though you were perhaps the hardest year of my life, you have changed me more than any other year in my short life. I can’t thank you for it, not yet. Maybe someday.