To My 12 Year Old Self: A Love Letter

Dear Marisa, age 12,

I love you.

Dear Marisa,

The chronological canyon, spreading nine years between you and me, will teach you that

Life is not binary black and white.

It is shades of gray.

But even in a muted landscape, this existence is the most spectacular spectrum of silver I have ever seen.

You are the product of tangled genealogies,

Of love in broken tools,

Held hostage to the legacy of hurt that made them.

Of a tribe always looking for welcome mats,

Never planting roots.

Home is a stranger in your vernacular,

Something so foreign to articulate.

You will chase picket fences, postage codes, and people for something that may never be.

Home is yourself.

Home is when you baptize your body as something other than a burial ground.

Honor it as atlas and ecosystem.

Temple cannot convey the wonder that houses you,

The soul inside towers over the chaos around it.

You waste wishes on life in a smaller body,

In a body without memories,

Any flesh besides this pasty prison,

Pave your pain into your wrists,

Engraving the sagas you have weathered in the only language you know.

And still, this frame breathes.

Refusing to surrender the worth reveling in its atoms.

Knows you are your own best friend, soulmate, and compass.

Refuses to be reduced to a fraction when it is whole.

When we are whole.

Marisa, your heart is a semi’s engine.

You cannot measure the love in your life by someone’s inability to open their arms.

Maybe caring too much is a medical condition

The kind with purpose coursing through your veins and feminism in your marrow.

Marisa, widen your wingspan,

Let others etch their messages on your limbs

And know they don’t define you.

What defines you lies between your lungs.

You will heal from plagues of perfectionism,

Sweat out feverish doubt,

Speak to yourself in a cadence besides cacophonies. Dialects that aren’t self-depricating.

Understand that the cracks are where the light gets in.

Learn to applaud the parts of yourself that don’t receive standing ovations.

At twenty one, you will still be unlearning.

Still be unlearning how your ears fish for beautiful in a sea of compliments,

Like your veneer is all the depth you have,

Like your insides don’t matter.

Marisa, if someone reduces you to one dimension, respond with one finger

Dear Marisa,

Survive and apology share no letters.

This is not a coincidence.

You will wish your words are anything but the color of fire.

In prayers to a star-fashioned God, you will beg for silence,

Sever the enflamed tongue,

Shrink into some fabricated softness that never came.

You are a blazing tapestry.

Something fierce, fragile, vivacious and vulnerable.

A frenzied complexity unmeant to be untangled,

The kind who shuttles from instant to intimate,

Knows no surface, only the deep end.

You spend eternities staring at a blood orange sun

Feeling like you are a skeleton of safety pins.

It is always the eve of something, never the arrival,

How you’ve mapped future sensations like a hopeful cartographer onto your feet and hands and heart.

They are packed into your nerves.

And then, you will blink.

Airtight nerves surge a reflex that closes your eyes for nine years.

And you’ll find yourself there.

Beneath gushing waterfalls, atop Arthur’s seat, inside families you never knew you needed, friends who love you even when you can’t offer it to yourself.

You’ll find yourself in the calculable power of linked arms and laced fingers.

For You,

Girl with safety-pin skeleton, semi’s engine heart,

Stratified on a silverscape with citrus sky,

I wrote this for you.

I wrote this in complete awe of and gratitude for you

Molded this in the language of the love that will fill your life,

Will overtake you like the flood you never prepared for.

Will raise your skin to Goosebumps and render you speechless.

The People in your future make fireworks look like flickering fluorescent lights they are such tangible celebrations.

Dear Marisa age 12,

I owe it to you.

Dear Marisa, age 12,

I love you.

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