1. Do not date a boy who does not care what your favourite song is. The boy who does not care what melodies ignite your heart strings with love and wonder while staring at passing street lights on the last train home, will not care if it’s 2 a.m. and your heart is breaking.
2. Do not let anyone fold you up like last winters tattered scarf and put you away with the others in a neatly labeled box. Even when there’s thunder and the sky is crying, you are your mum’s favourite summer dress. You are to wear yourself like you believe it.
3. We are all stories. Write yours how you want. Make today’s chapter about purposely taking the wrong bus and discovering a tiny blue tea shop, or folding origami paper hearts over and over on your window sill. Just make sure it’s something you’d enjoy reading.
4. I will always try to save you.
5. Someday you will be 19 and lost and heartbroken and you will think about a place you’ve seen on TV or heard or read about in a book or seen a picture of. You will feel your heart drop into your stomach. Go there. For a day, a month, forever, but it’s important that you go.
6. The world is so beautiful. Do not let the slumped over homeless man outside the convenience store or the stories of guns and bombs on the television let you believe otherwise. We are all so lost. All of us. We all show it in different ways. I write bad poems. Others start wars. There is no inherent evil, only good people searching too hard.
7. I love everything about you.
8. Money turns people into liars and emotional ghosts. School grades are an inaccurate representation of you. Measure your life’s worth in how many times you’ve nearly lost your life to laughter, how many books you’ve closed with happy tears in your eyes, people whose lives you’ve brought joy to, marshmallows eaten, or countries visited.
9. Don’t ever let anyone tell you to stop crying. Cry if you want to. It’s okay. You’re allowed.
10. My best friend once told me that the most important decision he had ever made was to love everyone and everything. He’s the only person I’ve ever known to have a viewable aura of light around him. Don’t forget to love this world, to love people. Be light. You are already mine."
A boy sprawled next to me on the bus, elbows out, knee pointing sharp into my thigh.
He frowned at me when I uncrossed my legs, unfolded my hands
and splayed out like boys are taught to: all big, loose limbs.
I made sure to jab him in the side with my pretty little sharp purse.
At first he opened his mouth like I expected him to, but instead of speaking up he sat there, quiet, and took it for the whole bus ride.
Like a girl.
Once, a boy said my anger was cute, and he laughed,
and I remember thinking that I should sit there and take it,
because it isn’t ladylike to cause a scene and girls aren’t supposed to raise their voices.
But then he laughed again and all I saw
was my pretty little sharp nails digging into his cheek
before drawing back and making a horribly unladylike fist.
(my teacher informed me later that there is no ladylike way of making a fist.)
When we were both in the principal’s office twenty minutes later
him with a bloody mouth and cheek, me with skinned knuckles,
I tried to explain in words that I didn’t have yet
that I was tired of having my emotions not taken seriously
just because I’m a girl.
Girls are taught: be small, so boys can be big.
Don’t take up any more space than absolutely necessary.
Be small and smooth with soft edges
and hold in the howling when they touch you and it hurts:
the sandpaper scrape of their body hair that we would be shamed for having,
the greedy hands that press too hard and too often take without asking permission.
Girls are taught: be quiet and unimposing and oh so small
when they heckle you with their big voices from the window of a car,
because it’s rude to scream curse words back at them, and they’d just laugh anyway.
We’re taught to pin on smiles for the boys who jeer at us on the street
who see us as convenient bodies instead of people.
Girls are taught: hush, be hairless and small and soft,
so we sit there and take it and hold in the howling,
pretend to be obedient lapdogs instead of the wolves we are.
We pin pretty little sharp smiles on our faces instead of opening our mouths,
because if we do we get accused of silly women emotions
blowing everything out of proportion with our PMS, we get
condescending pet names and not-so-discreet eyerolls.
Once, I got told I punched like a girl.
I told him, Good. I hope my pretty little sharp rings leave scars.