12 August 2011

To Eleven of the People Who Have Influenced My Life

(Photo Credit)
Each section of this post is something I'd like to say to a person who's made a difference in my life. They're anonymous, but some will be easy to guess and others... not so much. They're not in any order or anything, they're just things I need to say. Even though most of the people I'm talking to will never read this.

~

We don't always get along, and I might think you're crazy sometimes, but that doesn't mean you're not one of the most important people in my life.

You get down on yourself sometimes, but the truth is that no one ever talks to me about you without saying how amazing they think you are. People look up to you. Really. They don't think you're strange (well, maybe just a little), they thing you're strong.

I owe you... everything. My life. You taught me to love to learn. You taught me how to control my temper while I was still little, so that it would never get in the way. You taught me how to be selfless. You taught me how to agree to disagree. You taught me a whole heck of a lot more than that, but we'll stop there. Love ya.

~

We had some crazy times, didn't we? I think most of them were because you stuck me in the front seat and called me the navigator. Me. Ha.

You never treated me like a teenager. You always thought what I had to say was important. I've never told you how much that meant to me.

The other day I came over and we sat in your living room and talked for three hours about life and love and the future and the past. I'm sad that the ward is splitting and you're going with it. You're entering an interesting new time; Bishop's wife is like a calling in and of itself. When I'm home on weekends we'll have to get together sometimes, because you're still just down the street.

And yes, in four or five or six (or whatever) years when I get engaged, I'll call you. You can bet on it.

~

I don't think you're the type of person I would ever normally start a conversation with. You're very tall and scary-looking. The leather pants, eyebrow piercing, and tattoos really don't help soften the image. But we shared a bus one day, and I apparently looked miserable enough that you thought I needed a friend.

And a very strange little friendship it was, while it lasted. We'd eat lunch together on the grass outside the Student Union building and discuss philosophy while I tried not to breathe your cigarette smoke. The only things we had in common were a love of the Beatles and 80s rock ballads, and griping about your ex-girlfriend, with whom I shared a class. She was a piece of work.

I was going through a rough place in my life, and I think you recognized that and gave me someone to talk to. That's what I needed, so thanks.

Straighten your life out. Quit the parties, and the indiscriminate sex. You'd be able to afford your rent if you didn't blow all your cash on weed. Taking your final exams while still high from the night before probably wasn't the wisest idea. And you can only smoke for so long before it ruins that wonderful baritone voice you plan to build your career on. Best of luck to you.

~

You're dead. You've been dead for a long time. Approximately 1600 years, as a matter of fact. I don't know your name, or much about you, but when I die you're on my top-ten list of people to meet. You must have been an amazing woman.

~

I wouldn't know how to contact you, even if I wanted to. Which I don't.

You taught me what it feels like to lose respect for a person I once admired. I guess I can thank you for not totally disintegrating until I was mature enough to understand how self-destructive you were.

One of these days you should apologize to your mom. You put her through hell. And then apologize to your sister, because losing the person she thought you were was hard on her.

~

I only know you through your words, but you've changed my life. Your books came into my life at exactly the moment I needed them, and for that I cannot thank you enough. You were an answer to a prayer, a light in the darkness, instrumental in convincing me of the power of God's love.

~

You gave me music and so much more. I wasn't even four years old when you came into my life, so really it's like you've been here the whole time. You were always--and still totally are--like the most amazing adopted aunt a girl could ever have.

You gave me birthday gifts and took me on a road trip and had me talk your son out of trying to be super-overachiever-student-man after he got home from his mission this spring. You've let me bounce everything that happens in my life off you. You give the most amazing advice. You put up with me being totally strange. You forgave me for the year in which I practiced the piano a grand total of maybe five times. You encouraged my dreams and worked to build up my strengths. You understand and work around the days where I can't see the notes on the paper. You tell me all your awesome stories.

You say I have an ear for beauty, but I wouldn't know how to recognize it without everything you've done for me.

~

What I'm about to say to you is not a metaphor. Just thought I'd get that out of the way. Yes, I'm talking to you.

I love you. You are amazing. I look at you funny sometimes because I'm in awe of you. You probably don't believe me, but it's true.

Thank you for the past year. Really for the past three years, but most specifically for the past year. Thank you for always calling at exactly the right moment. Thank you for making me laugh on the days I thought I'd forgotten how. Thank you for always making me think. Thank you for noticing the changes in me, and celebrating them with me. Thank you for having the discernment to wait until I was a better person before... well, yeah. (You know what I'm talking about. Or I'm crazy. Either way it works.) I don't know if you did it on purpose or anything, but I appreciate it. Thank you for being you.

Thank you for listening. Thank you for caring. Thank you for taking the time. Thank you for making me feel safe, and beautiful. I'm okay.

~

You're not even real. It feels strange to be composing a note to a fictional character, but I'll survive.

You've always been my favorite, because I could completely understand you. Your motives, your choices, the things you did with your life and why. I'm glad you were able to succeed. I'm glad you were eventually able to find happiness. I'm glad you could find redemption.

Some days I feel exactly like you, except maybe a little more crazy. On those days I pull out the books that contain your life, and suddenly I don't feel alone anymore. So thanks.

~

Sometimes I feel like I don't really know you, even though we've existed in the same space for a while now. That makes me sad. You're precious, okay? Even when you talk too much. And you're really smart, so don't get frustrated when you don't understand some things right away. We can't all be budding engineers.

And please, girlie, brush your hair more often. You look like an orphan. :)

~

Do you have any idea how proud I am that you're out there serving a mission? It seems just like yesterday that we were jamming out to Veggie Tales videos on the way to Island Park, and pausing the Star Trek episode every forty-five seconds to discuss (they got so mad at us, didn't they?), and reinventing the game of tag, and tearing apart computers in your uncle's attic when it was 110 degrees.

You always have something to say. About everything. And I usually disagree with you, not necessarily because I actually do but more for the sake of conversation.

I always wanted an older brother, and with you I got one. Take care of yourself, and I'll see you when you get back.

~

Love always,
Ashley

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