How We Choose To Love

My parents have the relationship that I’ve always dreamed of—the sort of relationship, I think, that a lot of people dream of. It’s the kind of relationship we’re taught, through movies, TV shows and books, that we’re supposed to aspire to.

They met when my mother was 19 and my dad was 23, and they’ve been, for the past 31 years, each other’s one-and-only in every sense of the phrase. My mom has called him her soulmate and her best friend. She told me recently that if she hadn’t met him, she didn’t think she’d be with anyone at all.

My life, on the other hand, has been markedly different.

I wrote about comparing my parents’ relationship style to the way I’ve learned and choose to love. It turns out maybe we’re not so different after all, and that I learned a lot from them, even though on the surface our styles are very different.

A lovey-dovey personal essay just in time for Valentine’s Day. And my first essay for The Establishment, which I’m completely thrilled about! I love The Establishment!

“Not So Bad”

There is a difference between hesitating and saying, firmly, no. What is the name for that place? I imagine it to be vast, to be full of women who said okay, who whispered it, or didn’t. I imagine it to be full of shadows, and a difficult place to leave.

I started writing this essay in Freiburg, in Roxane Gay’s non-fiction writing class, Beyond the Self. Now, it’s up at The Toast. It was shared on Scarleteen’s Facebook page. And  Jess Zimmerman tweeted it and said, “Men are terrified of writing like this.”

It’s been a pretty wild day.

 

Firsts

My Teen Diary asked me to read my teen diary & write about it, so of course I did. It was super angsty but also really fun! And, excitingly, it scored me my first TOP HIGHLIGHT, which I present for you here:

The body is not a temple, it is a body, and it is yours to do with as you will. The disrespect and callousness a person shows you does not mean that you are creature undeserving of love, of tenderness. It doesn’t even mean, really, that those who treat you callously are bad people—they’re just young, just careless, just taught different, though similarly toxic, things about sex than you are taught.

I also discovered this photo of me & my one true love, cardboard Legolas Greenleaf:

IMG_0594

Baring it all, etc

Naked for Cosmo

When I was in high school, I started a feminist club called F.A.T.E. The acronym makes me cringe now (“Female Advancement and Teen Empowerment” — I meant well, at least?) but anyway — one of the things we did each year was create posters for Love Your Body Day (which, if I remember correctly, was October 19th.) Still, even with the best of intentions, it took me much longer than that to really internalize the Love Your Body message. Sometimes I still struggle with it.

I’m doing better, though, and today Cosmo ran a piece I wrote called Why I Love Being Naked.

I started to look in the mirror, every single day, with deliberate and positive thoughts…These are my thighs, I thought, strong and brown, firmer in the summer months when I spend hours walking and running and dancing. These are my hips, wide like my grandmother gave me. “Childbearin’ hips,” as if that were not a choice but a given. This is the little pouch of my belly where my love of cupcakes and French fries resides; my skin is softest here. Here are my breasts, with stretch marks creeping across the tops of them like ivy; I’m told I have a lovely décolletage.

Gettin’ there.

I Am The Whitest Person You Know

When I look in the mirror I see a girl. I see a girl with my dad’s nose and eyebrows, and my mother’s eyes and olive skin. I see a girl with a Tesoro chin, with my grandmother’s mouth and her accompanying habit of getting her foot stuck in it. According to Michael Kimmel, straight white men are the default from which everyone else deviates, and it is easier to see the deviations than the ubiquitous norm. Despite this, when I look in the mirror, I don’t really see a mixed race girl. I do not see a person of color unless someone reminds me.

I wrote about “feeling white” while not really looking white over at Medium.