Dear the Ghost Living in My Heart,

You’re angry with me—disappointed maybe. You see your potential, circumscribed within the confines of the human host you occupy. I’d give anything to set you free, for your sake and mine. But at what cost? Death of the host. Is that the price of true transcendence? I recognize that humanity fears death—more than anything; it’s sort of a conditioned response, isn’t it? Fear of the unknown. What happens after death? Nothing? Is there more? Which of these questions does religion seek to answer? Where can I get some of that? Does it cost anything? Doesn’t everything?

In the meantime, how would you like a taste of your true potential? I think something like that only comes from taking a leap, though—a big leap. I can’t tell you what will happen, but I assure you we can expect to face beautiful consequences. Besides, what is growth without suffering? Being human is fun!

So… what kind of daring leap shall we take? Move somewhere far away? Quit our job regardless of whether or not we have another lined up? Travel somewhere for a few weeks? Be completely and totally honest with everyone around us? All of the above?! How about this? I imagine you’re capable of giving “signs,” right? You’re a part of me after all. You must maintain some kind of influence. I propose this: Give me a sign. Show me want you want out of this short life. Being that you’re in touch with what’s most existentially significant, I trust you to choose wisely. I’m relying on you, because my measly little human brain doesn’t have the best track record at the moment. But my heart? That’s a different story.

Let’s see what you’ve got.

Sincerely,

Stephanie

Dear the people who’ve passed in and out of my life,

I’d be lying if I said I knew that, one day, we’d grow apart. I didn’t know, but really, I never thought about it. I think I’m more aware of your existence now than I was when you were in my life. The empty space you’ve left behind doesn’t like to be ignored.

There are times I allow myself to think back on our moments together, while simultaneously reflecting on what could have been. I have mixed emotions, but the greatest is disappointment. I have to wonder if how quickly people have come in and out of my life is normal. Is it me? Is my personality incompatible with the majority of people?

At this point in my life, I have a few good friends–each of which I’ve known no more than a few years. I guess, growing up, I never realized maintaining lifelong friendships would be so hard. Except “hard” isn’t the right word. I didn’t lose any friends because I didn’t work hard enough. I lost friends thanks to time and distance. It just makes you wonder how important you actually are to people. It makes you wonder if friendship is more of a pipedream than the movies make it out to be. It also makes you wonder if it’s not a pipedream at all, but instead, maybe something’s wrong with YOU.

I don’t want to sound like I’m whining. I realize the path I’m taking with this topic is somewhat depressing… I suppose I’m not objectively observing. I can’t muse about lost friendships without eliciting an element of disheartening nostalgia.

In the end, I just miss you, and I blame myself. Whether or not that’s normal, I don’t want to anymore.

Sincerely,

Stephanie

“More Than”

Ice cream left in the fridge

too long burns

Coffee chills

Blood turns brown

Oil cakes

Out of clean spoons

The puddle of water on the floor

evaporates

Like the tears on my lashes

in the corner of my eyes

Listen to the silence

Refrain and entertain

the game they stain with more than’s

From a distance

 

Dear Stephanie,

Not everyone is going to like you. You will lose people. They will leave you. You will consider yourself expendable…contrary to the truth which is that you are a very small piece of a much grander puzzle. Without your contribution, the bigger picture is not complete. You won’t find much comfort in that, I know. Your insecurities have no mercy, and the world does not cater to them.

You’re disappointed. I get that. You see yourself in others. You judge yourself based on their opinions of you. Don’t. Remember the puzzle. Remember that it’s okay to feel the way you do right now—that life is meaningless. There’s beauty in meaningless. There’s character in humility.

Try not to second-guess yourself. Life is not black and white. I realize how hard it is for you to function within grey areas. They tease out your insecurities and egg them on. They leave room for questions which you don’t have answers to, so you assume the worst. That’s what you do. Learn to reverse this. Learn to accept the unknown. Revel in it. Let it bring out the best in you—the part of you that craves mystery and adventure.

Someone very smart once told you that romantics are doomed to live a life of disappointment. I suppose that could be true. But life is what you make of it, right? Romanticize the FUCK out of it. Who cares? You have one life to live. This is it. Don’t waste it on fear. Take chances, and make mistakes. Experience your disappointments and then take the next day by both hands instead of one. Love yourself. Love others as much as you can, but don’t let it be your priority. For you, there is too much hurt there. Forgive yourself.

Savor each and every moment as you would a really great bottle of wine—not too fast, or you’ll end up passed out on a couch, sleeping right on through all the fun. And don’t leave that full bottle sitting there, because goddamnit, you paid good money for it.

You’re okay, Steph. Be patient.

Sincerely,

Stephanie

Dear the Uber Driver Who Drove Me Through McDonald’s On the Way Home,

You were my age once. I’m sure you understand what it meant to me to have a large, hot, greasy fry in my stomach after a night of both good and irresponsiblity-inducing spirits, but we don’t need to talk about the latter.

The point is… you came in the night like a knight at the helm of a shiny, grey, armored land-boat… equipped with four doors and air conditioning. It was hot, was it not? My God… why did I even venture from my house? If I wanted to come home as wet (from sweat) as I did, I might as well have dived head first into the James River… that is, if the James River was a sweat river. A river of sweat.

But that’s beside the point.

What I’m trying to say is I was nervous about asking you if you’d mind going through the McDonalds drive-thru. It was 2 a.m. and you had a family to get back to. (Ugh, I hate ending sentences with “to.”) I knew that. My friend, Chris, knew that. And yet, the words came tumbling out of my mouth as if of their own volition. “Do you think we could go through McDonald’s?”

I prepared myself for a firm but respectful negative. But it never came. You were more than happy to find a McDonald’s! Oh, happy day! I’m not sure whether it was the elation or the alcohol, but I believe I offered—no, DEMANDED—to buy you a cup of coffee, as you were up late and clean out of caffeine. Plus, let’s be honest, the life of an Uber driver at 2 a.m. on Sunday mornings must really be something. You just never know what characters will pile into your car next. I’d love to read a book compiled of outrageous stories told by Uber drivers. New York Times’ Bestseller list, here it comes!

Anyway, you may not ever read this, but I wanted to thank you. I also wanted to apologize for forgetting your name. But, let’s be real, the minute I got home and inhaled my fries, I was out. But I thoroughly hope you enjoyed your coffee. It’s the least I could do for someone who managed to save me from a hangover the following morning.

Sincerely,

Stephanie