In the past seventeen years, I've been a lot of different girls.
Growing up in a tiny town where intersections felt more like walls and street fairs were the social events of the summer, I learned to invent.
I was boy crazy; just maybe not with real boys. I discovered Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone in third grade, and, in three more weeks, I was head over heels for some wizard boy J.K. Rowling pulled out of her...mind. I followed Daniel Radcliffe all the way to Broadway, saw him naked, and I was over it.
I was a nerd; just maybe not in the ordinary, social pariah way. I went to the library for therapy instead of watching The Notebook. I wrote countless stories about girls who were better than me, prettier than me, luckier than me; and in a little blue book, I wrote about a girl who was the same. I fell down literally every set of stairs I encountered. I wore glasses and took all the "smart" classes, and I never realized blonde girls weren't supposed to be intelligent because no one ever informed me.
I was mean; just maybe not enough to let it eat the good. I turned thirteen and became obsessed with my clothes, my eyelashes, my body, and all of the girls who outshined me in one or all of these categories. Then I befriended them, then I learned all of their secrets, then I usually found some way to undermine them, then there was usually a fight at recess. Then I watched Mean Girls, and I realized I was not an evil genius, I just had a vagina. I don't like this side of me and I think for the most part, I've made up for all her ugly. If you cross me, though, I will be glad to introduce you to her royal highness.
I was an idiot; just maybe not when it counted. I dyed my hair purple and snuck out tiny windows and left the sweet innocence to go on adventures with the big kids. I fell in love with the rush, the trouble, the excitement, the secrets, the journey we were all on together. I wanted to be bad, but I wasn't any good at it, and when I watched my best friend becoming such a pro, I realized I could never be this girl.
I was a baby; just maybe a really tough one. I slept in bed with my parents the first time a boy broke my heart. I called them mommy and daddy until, well, I still do. I slept on the couch when I saw a spider underneath my bed. I left my feelings lying all over the ground, and when they got stepped on, I was surprised. But I was never anyone's baby, I was just my own idea of a girl.
I was someone's person; just maybe not a good enough one. I spoke the same language, imagined the same magic, and grew up with a built-in maid of honor. I never knew what it was like to be the girl who had a bunch of "good" friends because I was always content with having one "best" friend. And then when I got stabbed in the back, I accepted it, and I learned the magic of "good" friends who love you and don't want to suck your blood. But I will always be a little bit of that person, because you were mine.
I was in love; just maybe in a different way than I'd always imagined. I was in love with kittens, with bike trails, with cotton candy, with NYU, with fake chicken nuggets, with beautiful people, with tattoos, with mermaids, and then, with a boy. I was young and wild and free and he was all of that too, and we ran together...far, far, away. We couldn't be touched and we couldn't hold any more love or we'd explode. We were, are, the simplest, purest definition of happy.
I was a woman; just maybe a really small one. My papa died and took my heart with him, and when I made a new heart, I realized how much more careful I'd have to be with it. I built fortresses and plans and stories around my new heart and when it overflowed, I made it bigger. So, I suppose, I wasn't very careful, but I was whole & teeming with red love & experience, just how a woman should be.
I was a thousand & one nights and girls and stories and mistakes and stories and letters and pieces of my mother and secrets and brown eyes that are sometimes green and I was okay with it. I am okay with it.