35

I’d forgotten what it was like to be lonely.

The Dark Years gave me my Wolf Pack, my tribe of sisters and warriors and inappropriate joke tellers and safe space. I carried them home with me when I returned in all my prodigal glory, unsure of what I was getting myself into, but sure I needed to be there.

To build something sustainable my daddy.

To spend all the time I could with my grandmother while I still had her.

To watch my best friend have her babies.

I knew I’d have those things if I wanted them, if I worked for them. But still, I expected wilderness. Because all I’d known was the wild.

Instead I built my village. All serendipitous and by mistake. And all that I needed.

I can only imagine who I must have been to them then, all feral and distrustful and cagey. Pushing and pushing to see when they’d leave. They never did. They loved me steadily, profoundly, with openness and kindness. They loved me until they healed me. Until they made me better to myself and to the people who’d loved me before.

And so, ensconced in the type of love I’d only known to dream of, suddenly life felt expansive. My family was close by and relatively healthy. I had a tight circle of friends who loved me fiercely. We built a little orbit surrounded by a million brilliant stars, never far from making an afternoon of nothing a lifetime of memories. We were movie nights and long bar tabs and random brunches and football Sundays and our Game of Thrones bar and Friendsgiving.

But even love isn’t immune to change.

Life is different now. Quieter. Smaller. I find myself isolated in a way I didn’t know to prepare for. It’s lonely. And I don’t know how to be lonely anymore. It’s no longer where I thrive.

And so it’s why on this birthday, I wanted to go somewhere beautiful with the women I adore, to love on them and kiss their faces and make their drinks and allow us all reprieve from our lives. And it’s here, on this beautiful island, in a house full of women who love me back, who laugh with me and drink with me and make me cry, I remember what it means to feel expansive. To rise in love. To feel buoyed by it rather than drowned in it.

35 feels heavy. For reasons I don’t have all the words for yet. But I’m grateful for the lightness being loved can bring. And while I’ve certainly been lonely, I’d forgotten what it was like, too. And what a gift that is; to have been so well loved that it erases the memory of what life was like before it.

I hope to never take it for granted.

Happy New (La) Year, everyone.

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