For the teenager I used to be, who felt the world falling apart inside her, but convinced herself it was just indigestion or imperfection or illusion because no one else could see or feel those rumbles-
For the thoughts and fears I did not honor and still now second-guess, denying,
even as I read of my angst in old journals,
that things were ever that bad-
For the Youtube motivational vloggers, the young adult authors who answered my messages, listening compassionately to my testimony- I think about you from time to time. I even write for your sake sometimes. It’s so strange to be here now.
I used to send the kinds of messages I now receive, the kinds of messages sent by
the fan-girl, the
enthusiastic if uncertain teenaged reader who
came across your writing and felt
a little bit less lonely because of it. I used to
reach out to these lower-case-C cool (in the way that mattered to me) Jews and ask
them how to do what they do, and how to transcend
my own awkwardness and instead create
something of me, or better than.
I placed my faith in the higher powers of online poets and starving punk-Jewish YA novelists, who did their thing (i.e. slam poetry and feminism and radical self-love
and music that wasn’t on the radio and Torah beyond Artscroll
and honesty and what I perceived as certainty at the time)
with so much carefree determination. They wore their own skin like runway models.
And I apologized, like you, for sending my long, rambling messages,
and for not being clever enough,
or for just caring too much.
And they wrote back, as I try to say to you, that it’s all all right. That it will be, but really,
that it’s always been.
I want to shake you, to tell you you’ll simply
look back on your current sleepless nights and laugh.
You probably will, but still I
hope you never look back on now, scrolling through old emails, and think yourself naive.
You were a fan-girl, someone searching for material from which to re-create,
seeking out the vocabulary with which to navigate your world.
You were grasping for certainty.
I still can’t give you that, but I can try
to stay in touch with that girl, who was
scared and thoughtful,
cautious and bold.
It’s so strange to be here,
still somehow a fan-girl too.