It’s New Years Eve, again. I remember being eleven years old and standing out in our driveway at midnight looking for the fireworks over the mountain with the neighbor kids. It was 1993. The neighbor was drunk and kept harassing the chubby kid from down the street by saying, “Yeah you’re a real card fat boy.”
In the morning I’ll wake up thirty-five years old. It will be 2017. A misogynist racist will be sworn into office nineteen days later. We all seem to be a little sad, a little angry, a little dismayed about 2016. We’re personifying the fuck out of the year. We’re begging it not to take anymore of our beloved celebrities. We’re calling it out on being a dumpster fire. We’re raging and crying and laughing all at once.
My 2016 wasn’t a dumpster fire.
My personal year, the year in which I turned thirty-five and wore a bikini for the first time, it wasn’t all bad. In fact, at times it was the happiest I’ve been in my entire life. It was however, tumultuous at times to put it politely, because as you know this is the internet. I’ll just say that self discovery is exhilarating the same way chasing a tornado seems exciting. A lot of garbage will get thrown about in the process.
In order to really tell you about my 2016 I have to tell you about my girl, my friend. A kind of friendship I didn’t know could still exist in adulthood.
To My Boo,
Do you remember a year ago when we went to the gym but we didn’t work out? We ate chocolate muffins in the café and talked with friends. We wore dirty snow boots and heavy coats, our hair greasy, our babies still in diapers. We went home to husbands who didn’t help enough. And then one day we booked plane tickets to a beach, we made protein shakes, put in endless hours at the gym. We dropped weight, grew our hair long, got our nails done, put on make-up. We bought bikinis. We boarded a plane for paradise. We joked that we could never come back again, not the same way we were before. “You know we can never come back from this, right?” we said to each other laughing on the beach.
We returned home different. We were awake. We weren’t going to participate in the self sacrificing slow death march that is so often the result of womanhood.
For you, the universe cleared a path. She did it suddenly, violently as if cutting through the brush with a machete. She turned around, looked you straight in the eyes and motioned for you to leave.
You stood up and left.
I hope that in those moments when you’ve looked back over your shoulder, questioning if you’re headed the right direction, it’s me you see assuring you that you are. Well, me and your Mama, and the countless other women who have walked that same path. Everything in your life was merely a detour, a traffic delay on the road you’re now speeding down.
As for the destination? It’s better than Maui. I promise, I know this.
It’s so damn beautiful.
I want to tell you that I see you, and you see me. There have been many times this past year when you were the only one who could really see me. There have been moments alone together when my soul has been naked. Laughing on the Lanai drunk under the Maui moonlight. Late nights talking at your kitchen table stone cold sober with an Excel spreadsheet trying to figure shit out; other times laughing hysterically as the kids raid the pantry. Moments in the weight room where we find our rhythm alternating sets silently while listening to our own music. I feel a love and acceptance that is rare in friendship.
God damn, I hope you feel it too.
I’ve discovered there’s a world of women. I have always existed within it, reveled in it, but this year I’ve felt it stronger than any other year in my life. There’s a sisterhood among us that men will always be threatened by. A way about us they will never understand. Even when in love, even with our husbands, they never fully get it. Strong men roll their eyes at women like us, weak ones grow resentful and scared.
As I enter my thirty-sixth year I refuse to allow space for the fear of weak men, not anymore. They want to suppress us, tame us, dim our lights. They want to tell us to watch our language, stay quiet, get off the dance floor, stay inside more. They want to be president. They want to own our bodies and manipulate our own inner monologue. Whether through the use of force, abusive language or even the passing of laws, I refuse to play along and my sisters won’t either. If you are threatened by us, you are not man enough for us.
I’m done apologizing for who I am, and you should be too. I won’t tolerate anyone telling me to tone it down. I want nothing to do with people who gasp when I mutter “mother fucker” under my breath, with people who use their God as a platform for judgment. I have no time for their definition of morals, marriage and motherhood. I care nothing for the world’s expectations of my heteronormative gender performance. I have no time for how they think I should perform my role as a woman, mother, person in their thirties. As a close friend of mine often says, “Get the fuck outta here with that shit.”
Repeat after me: I can be an excellent mother and still be a seriously bad bitch.
So, get the fuck outta here with that shit, or come at me bro.
Because we’re ready for you.