For Brooke

I used to have a friend named Brooke.

She was loud and she was funny, and if you messed with her she wouldn’t let it go without saying. Brooke was the kind of girl who would tell you when she was mad, and she wouldn’t say it in a whisper. If you messed with her friends she would scream it even louder. I remember once in high school a girl kissed my now-ex boyfriend and, while I was too meek to make a scene about it, Brooke openly stood up for me in public and made sure everyone knew what the two of them had done. Brooke and I fell out of touch, she wasn’t a perfect friend and neither was I (which I thought was necessary for a friendship at the time), but I find myself thinking about her still now and missing her loud and fierce loyalty. Looking back I can see that she wasn’t just loyal to me, she was loyal to the best version of me. I couldn’t see it at the time, but I think she wanted me to be happy. We were two peas in a pod, two silly little girls, she, much braver than I, but she encouraged me to let loose and be a version of myself that is only a memory now. I find myself missing that girl.

I think I was happy with Brooke. I think her brave spirit made me more brave, and her fearlessness made me less afraid. Have you ever had a friend like this? Whose mere spirit just brings you comfort? Who is so loudly themselves, that you feel like you can be loudly yourself, too?

Maybe I needed to lose Brooke to realize how much I miss her, and maybe I needed to miss her to realize this: I need to be that friend for myself. I need to show myself the same kind of loyalty that she showed me, and push for my best version when it’s not shining through. I need to protect myself from those who aren’t for me, as I think Brooke tried to do. I need to be fearlessly myself on my own. I needed to gain and lose a friendship like this to understand.

I don’t know why or how Brooke would ever see this, but Brooke if you’re reading this, I’m sorry, and thank you. I hope you are still this person for yourself and those around you, and I am so thankful for the lesson you’ve taught me just through being you. Thank you.

A poem from 2016

If love knew how I felt

It would quit strolling around parks

And picnicking in rose gardens

And begins dancing through lightning storms

And driving through hurricanes

If love knew how I felt

It would get high to escape the pressure of reciprocating

The same way he always did

If love knew how I felt

It would weep for the girls who hate themselves

Simply because they aren’t her

If love knew how I feel

It would feel guilty for giving me so much

When others have so little

the first time I broke

The Dance

I hope you dance all night.

I hope you cherish every moment of it

When he pulls you a little closer

When you accidentally step on his toes and he laughs, that short, adorable laugh

When the beat slows and the night grows older and you find yourself nestled under his chin

And you feel at home there

I hope you feel safe

Because right now, you are

Right now

He would never dream of hurting you

I hope he brushes the curls back from your eyes

And I hope that kiss is the most magical thing you’ve ever felt

Until he does it again

I hope he twirls you around

I hope he never stops

But that’s the thing about dancing

The song always ends

And I hope nothing more than this

When the music stops playing

You’ll remember the dance for what it was

And walk away