Tuesday, April 30, 2013

In Celebration

There was another time in my life when I emerged from a period of intense difficulty to find that I had trouble remembering how to be happy again. I never imagined that such hardship would repeat itself, and in a way it didn't; I have a set of tremendous resources, financial, social, and intellectual, that I didn't have then, and come out of my second most serious downturn with a decided advantage compared to what I had at twenty.

Still, this last year has been one in which I've discovered uncomfortable truths about myself and about, well, life. I rode out of my last crisis on a wave of optimism. The knowledge I've acquired since then has made that phenomenon difficult to replicate.

For all the differences that the two periods have, however, some truths remain constant. Then, as the summer of 2008 sweltered and shined, I committed to paper all the things in my life for which I was thankful, not because I believed it or felt it but because I needed to. I did it because that's what you do to remind yourself what you like about being alive.

And so, in honor of my recent twenty-fifth birthday, I'd like to share with you the things that make me grateful. The last time I did that it woke me up. Maybe this time it will, too.

  • I am thankful for the great gifts of talent and intelligence I have been given.
  • I am thankful that I have the kind of sister who would make me the birthday card you saw above. I am thankful she jumps about our house making cat noises, rocking out to both Journey and One Direction, and occasionally dropping some profound nuggets on the unsuspecting adults around her.
  • I am thankful that I work in a field and at a job I love. I am thankful that I am a literary agent, and thankful that what qualms I do have with my profession are within my power to resolve.
  • I am thankful that I have had the financial means to pursue my professional passion, even when that meant interning for free or, now, working for a commission that I have yet to earn.
  • I am thankful that, should I need to start over, I will be able to.
  • I am thankful to have found a part-time job as a reporter, making enough money to cover my expenses without having to sacrifice my dignity. 
  • I am thankful that, in my early twenties, I had the presence of mind to make the academic and professional investments that brought me to this point.
  • I am thankful for the momentary fancy that brought me to publishing; I cannot imagine finding my place and my fiscal security anywhere else.
  • I am thankful that my endeavors have allowed me to live in one of the greatest cities in the world and to see another.  
  • I am thankful that, this time around, I have friends. They have been such a bulwark through all this. I am also thankful that I have had the strength to walk away from friendships, even long-established ones, when they become counterproductive.
  • I am so thankful for recovery. Developing an academic understanding of my complex health problems has been a depressing exercise, if only because it's made me cognizant of some very long odds, but that academic understanding has been my sword and my armor. Twenty-year-old BB is a shadow of twenty-five-year-old BB. Twenty-year-old BB could never have done the things that twenty-five-year-old BB can. And damn it, I'm here, aren't I? I'm here.
  • I am thankful that I am twenty-five years old and beautiful.
  • I am thankful that I have come to have a genuine, if conflicted, faith, one that fuels my wonder without compromising my critical thinking.
  • I am thankful, after a fashion, for my cynicism. A part of me still pines after some romantic notions, but my view of the world has become much more guarded and sterilized. That's made a few things easier to handle.
  • I am thankful for the few sizeable paychecks I've been able to bring in through freelance editing. I am thankful that I have no pressing financial hardships, even if I am not yet where I'd like to be. 
  • I am thankful that I stopped loving my father some time ago. He's so much less disappointing now.
  • I am thankful for my improved relationship with my adoptive mother, and for her growing maturity and understanding. Thirty-nine is better than never. 
  • I am thankful for a summer that will, thanks to work, be full of travel to destinations across this country.
  • I am thankful for this blog, for the incredible forum it provides and for the chronicle of my progress it has become with the passing of years. 
  • I am thankful for you, and for some of the very good friends I've made here.
  • I am thankful for an intellectual curiosity that has never been more vital in me than it is now.
  • I am thankful for the young man my brother Thomas is becoming. 
  • I am thankful for my ability to recognize and address my own considerable flaws. 
  • I am thankful that I had so much to put on this list. 

Hopefully this will be a good start. Remember what happened in the few years after I last made one of these? Incredible things. Incredible things.    

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Five Years

On April 7, 2008, a nineteen-year-old who called himself BB set up a Blogger account and made his first post. At that time, half a decade ago, my life had been defined mostly by loss: the loss of my childhood, the loss of my faith, the loss of my innocence and my sanity and myself.

The last five years, though, have been defined by the things I've gained. Thanks to a group of incredible people (most in real life, some of whom I've met here), I gained a perspective and a confidence that arguably saved my life. They met me when I was damaged and loved me anyway, and then they handed me the greatest gift I've ever received: the genuine belief that I was better than, and more than, the traumas of childhood abuse and illness. They showed me that I could define myself instead of letting others define me. They showed me not to be ashamed of being gay, or of struggling with obsessive-compulsive disorder, or of blaring Kelly Clarkson records with the volume all the way up. They taught me that I was great, whoever I was.

I am so in their debt.

Many of them, like Laquesha, Hungarian Guy, and Black Dress Girl, will never see these words because of the anonymity that I must, especially now, maintain. But I know how much I owe them and how lucky I am to have had them in my life.

To the friends who can read this: thank you so much.

Thank you, Jo(e), for showing me what an adult should look like. Thank you, Sue, for caring about me when I didn't care about me. Thank you, Communist, for being an insufferable dumbass. It's why we get along so well.

So, for those of you who don't know and for those who would like to be reacquainted: my name is BrightenedBoy, which is odd when you take into account that I am no longer, strictly speaking, a boy. I am twenty-four years old and a fledgling literary agent who does freelance reporting on the side in Southern State.

I live with my parents, David and Marie, in Mountain Town, though I may soon be leaving. For the moment I share a home with them and with my siblings: Thomas (age seventeen), Pie (age nine), and, in about a week, Powell (age twenty-three). I am plotting my escape and hope to make it in the coming months.

2012 was the hardest year I've had since I started writing here in 2008, but it came with its golden moments and its bedrock lessons. It made me a little stronger each time it wore me down.

April 2012: I turned twenty-four years old and learned that birthday parties do not mix well with attempted murder.

May 2012: I continued my job search and internship even as an emotional tailspin ratcheted into full gear.

June 2012: I visited my grandmother's home in Native State and got some much-needed family support.

July 2012: A major storm hit our property and my brother Powell decided to throw one of his many impromptu house parties.

August 2012: La Reine hired me as a literary agent with Sentinel of the West Literary Agency on August 9 and I was soon out to Pacific State to meet my colleagues in person.

September 2012: Laquesha and I took turns having sleepovers at each other's houses.

October 2012: Green Eyes and Hungarian Guy hosted me for a three-day bender that, in addition to being a bit epic in scale, proved my social life hadn't ended with college.

November 2012: President Obama was resoundingly reelected, to many cheers and much clinking of wine glasses at the election watch party I attended.

December 2012: The friends who keep popping up here threw a New Year's Eve party that almost made up for the preceding 364 days.

January 2013: I came to the conclusion that my father was truly irredeemable.

February 2013: I sent out my first queries to publishing houses even as I struggled with an emotional and mental beating.

March 2013: I mostly just spent this month breaking and trying to pretend that wasn't happening.

So, that's it. Let's hope things start looking up soon, guys. 2013 sort of just has to work. I can't do this much longer.