In New York City, we don’t have highways, we have sidewalks. Would you come to a dead-stop on the Interstate just to take pictures of random, tall buildings? No? Then SWEET JESUS, please don’t do it here.
I will never again come home on Sugar Bottom Road and see my mother’s muddy boots on the outside stoop, covered with equal amounts dog hair and mowed grass. I will never walk onto the blue shag carpet and find my scrawny little brother sitting on the floor in his pajamas, his energy, his kinetic force, dark hair disheveled as he builds an entire city out of Legos. My father, so very young, the fire in his eyes, proudly dropping the top on his convertible and driving along highway 1, harmonizing with John Denver and appreciating the smell of baled hay.
Things have splintered since then, and we’ve all scattered in different directions and built very different lives. But I can make it all come back so vividly, so clearly. I know the way the night sky opened up to me, endless, stretched out on a trampoline - the feeling that I was both trapped and unrestrained in a fly-over state.
If I had the choice to move back there, I don’t think I’d want to. I like it so much better here. But I feel anyway that I’ve lost something enormous.
“Lately, we’ve been referring to to our social-media-saturated era as “the age of outrage.” I think what’s going on is more complex than that. We don’t get to hide from the truth anymore. We don’t get to hide from the possibility of multiple truths. This is the age of knowing, of Pandora’s box blown wide open. This is the age of being unable, or unwilling, or having fewer opportunities to look away. This is the age of being confronted with what we are willing to do in the name of what we believe.”—Roxane Gay
“What if I forgave myself? I thought. What if I forgave myself even though I’d done something I shouldn’t have? What if I was a liar and a cheat and there was no excuse for what I’d done other than because it was what I wanted and needed to do? What if I was sorry, but if I could go back in time I wouldn’t do anything differently than I had done? What if I’d actually wanted to fuck every one of those men? What if heroin taught me something? What if yes was the right answer instead of no? What if what made me do all those things everyone thought I shouldn’t have done was what also had got me here? What if I was never redeemed? What if I already was?”—
Cheryl Strayed, Wild.
I remember reading this on the top floor of a Megabus two years ago and being so stunned I had to put the book down. This paragraph was absolutely revolutionary for me. I’d never heard anyone say anything like this before. What a radical concept — self-forgiveness. Acceptance.