I started this letter about nine different times. I thought you’d like that – how many times I started. How many different ways that I wanted this to go. How many first words and phrases. How many decisions about indentations. How many fragments I would eventually let introduce my letter. I started this letter about nine different times.
Because there are so many things that I want to say first – so many sentiments that are the most important – so many gratitudes and platitudes and attitudes that in some way or another should take priority over all the rest. And I couldn’t decide. But I started anyway – just like you taught me.
Mommy, your book comes out today. The book you wrote. You did it. I’m so proud of you – like gross proud – like ugly crying in my dorm room and getting the pages of the Broadview Anthology of British Literature wet and salty and crinkly proud. And I want to say so many things. I want to say thank you for writing me such a beautiful letter and making such beautiful art. I want to say I’m sorry for not always editing the drafts when you sent them to me even when you asked nicely. I want to say the book looks so pretty that I want to plan my whole week’s worth of outfits around the color scheme. But mostly I just want to say that I am proud – unabashedly, buttons busting, hilltop shouting proud of everything you are and everything you have proven to me I can become.
There’s a part in the forward of the book, where you’re talking about me – and about your deep-seated fears of releasing me into the world, and you say:
In one of my Hollywood-lit nightmares, I saw her standing in the middle of a busy street, cars speeding toward her, her high-heel caught in a grate, trying desperately to save the shoe. Did I forget that lesson? “Leave the shoe, honey! Save yourself!”
And I have to say, that yes – you did forget that lesson… sort of.
You never presented me with that exact scenario. “What to do if your heel gets caught in a grate” never got brought up during any of our “teachable” discussions (read: fights). But never, I repeat, never in my life would I have stayed stuck in that grate for longer than two seconds. And that is because of you – because of what you taught me – because of how you raised me to think about myself.
I will always save myself and leave the shoe. Not because I learned that exact lesson, but because you taught me what is replaceable and what is not. The abandoned shoe, tousled hair, and small amount of dignity lost hobbling down the streets with one bare foot are nothing compared to my body and my mind. A lot of girls – a lot of people – at my age would hesitate in that situation- wondering for a split second if they were really worth the destruction of an expensive shoe. And yeah, of course they’d end up saving themselves eventually, but that hesitation in itself is a tragedy – one that you helped me avoid – even if you did forget that exact lesson.
I started this letter about nine different times. I couldn’t think of exactly what I wanted to say. I was worried that it wouldn’t be perfect, or witty, or just generally enough. I wanted to say thank you, I’m proud of you, I love your book, I miss you, I love you, and I am who I am because of you. There was so much to say and I was stuck. The need to come up with the perfect glitzy, glittery, sexy, stiletto of a letter – flattering but also able to carry a lot of weight – had stranded me in the middle of the proverbial street. An onslaught of ideas and sentiments was racing at me far over any government-sanctioned speed limit and threatening to tear me away from my precious perfection of message. But 21 years in your care, in your sphere of influence, in your confidence, in your love – have taught me that all of my thoughts, aims, and ideals are worthy. Even if I may, for a spell, end up tottering unevenly down the street, I am worthy of the walk – I am better than a shoe – my attempts are worth starting even without a glorified end in sight. So I stared this letter about nine different times. But I started it. And because of all you’ve taught and given me, stranded on a street somewhere, sticking up out of a grate, is that lonely, precise, sexy heel that in order to save, express, assert, and respect myself, I will never be afraid to leave behind.
Not far from the tree (and proud of it),
Check out Taylor’s mom’s blog: http://laundryordie.com/