I'm one of those people that believes life is good. REALLY good! I believe that life gives you lemonade. I believe that every good thing that came into my life--from moving to Paris just before my twentieth birthday, to spending summer nights in Harlem listening to my downstairs neighbor blow tunes on his sad sax, to having that first French kiss, to seeing my newest little niece via skype yesterday for the first time--and knowing she had my heart right then and there--because I believe that life is meant to be wonderful.
I've said this to a many people before, and a few of them, the hardened ones, have called me naive. They usually wear tweed jackets, work in academia, and were my boyfriends at one point. They think these twinkling blue eyes and long blond hair and white, white skin might just be the three ingredients that keep a person soft and naive.
That's not the case for me. I've had things in my life that could have and have tried to--make me hard. I've had a brother who has been addicted to drugs since he was 16. He is now 27. He is homeless and living in a park somewhere. I've had a sister who's husband shot her in their driveway--and nearly killed her--in fact, I do think he killed most of her spirit, and I am at a loss at how to help her rebuild any of her former self...let alone the lower half of her face that he shot away. I've had a cousin who was left to babysit me when I was young and he sexually abused me. I've struggled with an eating disorder for most of my life. I found true love at 16 years old--and he was killed in a car accident just a few short months later, and I don't know if I've ever really gotten over it. I have a mom who, when I would ask for money as a teenager, threatened to kill herself for the insurance money and give it to us, and she was pretty serious. I have an older sister who doesn't want to have me in her life because we don't agree on religion. I have had. You have had. We have all had our lives.
But that is just it--life. We live it. It is messy. It is not supposed to be pristine and clean and have everyone perfectly in their place and sort everyone by a label. Most people like you to live by labels--Gay, Straight, Christian, Muslim, Tall, Short, Fat, Skinny, Smart, Dumb, Republican, Democrat, Caucasian, Asian, Jock, Prep, Cheerleader, Goth, Emo, Nerd, Youngest, Oldest, Ugly, Pretty. Once you label something--you define it--you confine it. You try and take away its wings.
Wings are what makes life worth living. Wings give you authenticity. Wings represent that indelible, consistent, unfailing river of hope that flows through the veins of each person--some more quickly than others. And this day, this exact day, my wings are taking me to Portugal. And it didn't come to me easily, and it isn't happening by chance. I created every route and venue for living my perfect, undefinable life. And there, with the ocean breezes, white beaches, shooting stars, and endless possibilities--that's the place I'll fly a bit higher than I have before.
And if that is naivete, I'll take it--every time.