Winter’s been rough. I’ve got these dark brown patches of dry thumb-skin that tell me I’m doing something wrong. I don’t have the money (or lack of self dignity) to go to a tanning bed, so my legs stick out white and pasty from my gym shorts. And the gym! If I make it there, I’ve got to fight fatigue and congestion and self-loathing and three year old tennis shoes. I can always feel my contacts moving around in my eye juices. Paint won’t stay on my fingernails. My hangovers have become all-day affairs. It’s winter, and my body’s given up on me.
Winter’s been rough. Work’s been slow. People have been generally disappointing. Rules are bending less and I’m breaking a lot more often. I get angry when I shouldn’t and I cry at most episodes of Say Yes to the Dress. I can’t say that I’m passionate about anything. I give into my yawns because I’m too lazy to turn my espresso machine on. It’s winter, and my mind’s given up on me.
This morning I checked my Cavalier Daily email for the first time in approximately a year. I used to check it every day when I was an editor; as a columnist, I figured there wouldn’t be anything for anyone to send me. There were hundreds of emails–most of them from Twitter. I remembered that I’d started a Twitter account (@ShitSissySays) with that email address. I haven’t tweeted shit Sissy’s said in months. I sat back in my chair, hands drumming my dining room table. When did I stop recording “shit”? Was it back when I stopped writing in my journal or maybe later, when I stopped blogging as often? I still tweet. Far too often about far too many inane things. But there was an art to what Sissy said, through me. I had to listen, pick out the good parts, and send her words out into the world. A kind of sadness sat there, in front of me on the screen. All those people started following a silent person. A Sissy who hasn’t said anything in months! I felt like I’d let them down.
There were other emails–six to be exact. They weren’t computer generated. People actually took the time to sit down and write to me. These messages were mostly short, but they were all genuine. These people (four of them complete strangers) liked what I wrote! One of my columns had spoken to each one of these people. A woman visiting Charlottesville picked up the school newspaper and read my column because the headline caught her eye (“Everything’s not going to be okay”). A retired reporter liked the column in which I remember my grandparents. An editor let me know that he enjoyed reading one of my pieces as he prepared it for the paper. A friend from first year thanked me for writing about writing, because she realizes how important it is. Two people appreciated my column about my father and his pace-maker, because they could relate to my feelings of anxiety and uncertainty.
I’d stopped drumming the dining room table; I leaned forward into my laptop, as if I could grab on to these words and wrap myself in them. I stopped feeling bad about my lack of Sissy tweets. I wouldn’t let myself feel bad about the responses I hadn’t sent to these people. I simply responded. First, to the two top messages in my inbox, from November 11th. Then to the one from November 1st. I finally responded to Gary, who’d emailed me way back on March 20, 2012.
Winter’s been rough. I’ve let myself get weird dry patches of skin all over my weak and out of shape limbs. I’ve broken all the rules about not drinking to excess. I’ve encountered some pretty horrible, lying scum baggy kinds of people (and I’ve let them get to me). I’ve even stopped tweeting all the funny shit my sister says!
And yet. There are people in the world who like what I have to say. They are kind enough to let me know that they like what I say. And to those people I say: thank you. Thank you for kicking me in the ass with your kindness–for making me see a world that’s just a little bigger than my own. Thank you for not expecting anything in return. Thank you for reading. I know I’m not going to get in shape any time soon, and it will probably take a while for me to stop crying at daytime television. But I will write. Because even when I feel like winter’s been too rough, nothing’s ever stopped me from saying what needs to be said.