As I sit here eating a cold waffle

I realize that looking at pictures of girls who used to make me feel like dying because of comparative jealousy do not necessarily make me feel like dying anymore. I mean, it is hard to believe that some of the girls that I see actually exist, they are too perfect. I know they must have their ugly days but do they struggle with the uphill battle of cystic acne and buttchin? The knowledge that I am not pretty enough to kick it is a little off-putting. But, it does not destroy me.

It used to destroy me. I’m not sure why it doesn’t anymore. Maybe because sometimes I play this little game with myself, which is probably very wrong now that I’m writing it out, but I do this thing where I think well yeah, they may be too pretty for me to kick it with them and I would definitely feel like a bullfrog if I took a picture with them, but they’re probably stupid. That’s what gives me peace. Great.

But I played that mental gymnastics for a long time and it never worked, so I think the other reason that I don’t care as much is because I just don’t care as much. Like, maybe I’m becoming more confident!? Not to say, that I’m like, confident, because… Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. But things aren’t killing me anymore.

Let me just say that I used to sit on the computer for hours searching through pictures of girls with prettier features than me and would use them to mutilate my own soul. And I don’t do that anymore. I think my standards of what is important have changed. And that is a miracle, my friends. As much as I would probably enjoy basking in the light of a beautiful woman with long perfect hair and flawless skin and call her my friend, typically this doesn’t happen.

More realistically, my best friends are as follows: the man who lives with me. Has a big poofy afro and ADHD. Loves anime. My cat. A trans man. A dude who can always be caught wearing the same Auto Zone t-shirt. A girl on her fourth hip surgery who has gained weight consequently. A quiet girl who takes trips to Mackinaw every year. My mom. My sister. A girl covered in tatoos but is conflicted religiously on whether to cover them all up. A big, beautiful redhead.

In addition, a curly-haired girl who has been basically bedridden for the last four years due to an unknown disease. A recent divorce. A tall, tall, tall, dorky and awesome book illustrator. My pastor, his wife, and my mentor, all over 50. A lot of my friends are over 50. My ex-boyfriend’s political realist mom is probably one of my best friends.

So, yeah. Not exactly the most instagrammable bunch. But you know? As I write it down I realize how lucky I am. Really. I feel like a mangled mess walking through life with a bunch of weirdos. They keep me together, keep me grounded. And I’d be proud to grace the pages of instagram with our presence. We might not be as hot, but we certainly have a story to tell through our jacked up bodies and brains.

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When You Were Young

I was strumming the few chords I know on my guitar and it made me want to write. Zoning out guitaring turned into getting all nostalgic turned into wanting to write. That’s all I want out of life really.

C-D-G, C-D-C… C. D… probably C again… I know how to make my guitar make sounds that make me feel happy (as happy as I’m able anyway) and sad. This is a breakthrough in my life. Slow happy and sad switches are nostalgia noises. Really some quality contemplating music.

A scene at a bar, about 15 people. Old friends who sat at the same lunch table in high school but barely talk anymore. Beer. So many old faces with slightly new lines, slightly older faces and different hair; some with tattoos and jewelry. Everyone looked the same but different. Older.

It made me want to step into a time machine and revel in the glorious carefree oasis that is High School. I kind of wanted them to all look the same so I could really sink into that history. But it was good enough.

There was lots of catching up and one of my old and quite familiar classmates perfectly responded to my informing him that I was learning the guitar:

“That one’s a long time comin!”

“I know!”

“You just gotta learn those chords.”

“Right, the chords.”

Short, sweet, so simple. But for a quick, confusing second, I was really happy that he responded that way. I wasn’t quite sure why his statement took me back a moment. But now I understand: this guy knew that I had wanted to learn the guitar since I was 14. Because he knew me when I was 14. A little piece of the history of Samantha Anne Blount Panicacci remembered randomly in a bar. I felt special and somehow more real.

It is really very precious to have someone know who you were when you were young. It makes my heart ache. To have the little old quirks about you remembered. It’s like you get to see a forgotten piece of yourself when you’re around them.

How precious to keep friends around that you had when you were young. But how seldom it happens. How vacant a feeling. Maybe not everyone feels this way. But how could you not?

And I just keep strumming. Happy and sad chords.

And I know this is not something people usually admit, but I’m just wishing I still knew my old friends from high school. I wish we could all get together and hang out and get along and have 12 year old pool parties again. But I’ve cut so many ties and have broken so many things. And I wish so many things. I didn’t know what I was doing in High School as I ruthlessly thrashed around through drama and other petty things. I wish I wouldn’t have done what I did. I wish I could still know those that I have “moved on” from. How can you move on, when you’ve spent K-12 with someone? Replace them? No one can replace the memories created when I was young!

These people hold a special place in my heart, and I miss them. I love all the people in my life now, but they will never know the 11 year old Sam who beat up boys, 12 year old tomboy Sam, 13 year old Sam who sat on her Gamecube all day, 14 year old sexually confused perfectionist Sam, the 15 year old just-getting-into-boys Sam, 16 year old rebellious Sam, 17 year old track star Sam who really loved pot, the 18 year old Sam who had just started cutting. Among other Sams.

I don’t like the idea that “you’ll lose your friends you had in high school.” It might be true, but I don’t like it. I don’t think the mentality is very good. Because if you can keep those people around, it’s so valuable, and I don’t think we were designed to be okay with so many broken relationships. And my heart feels like it’s missing a place where some of those people should be. And I’m so thankful for those people that I do still keep in contact with.

As Baz Luhrmann says in one of my favorite “songs?” of all time, Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen), “Understand that friends come and go, but for the precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young.”

C-D-G, C-D-C… blah. Sad.