I want to find words on encouragement from younger versions of myself. I think I might go galavanting into online communities I’ve abandoned to see what I can find. I think there was wisdom in my college-aged self that maybe I’ve forgotten. I think there are dreams that have been washed away by finding a career and losing myself in learning about nutrition and food. There have been so many days spread out between that time I graduated high school and this very moment. There are feelings I used to have that seem to be muted with common adult problems, car loans and heartbreak.
I am currently reading a lot. I’m devouring contemporary and fantasy fiction and pausing only long enough to catch my breath before starting something else. I am leading a discussion online of Francesca Lia Block’s The Thorn Necklace: Healing Through Writing and the Creative Process. I feel like this is the book that I need right now. This is the text for me. These are the words coming from the writer I looked up to when I was a teen. It’s like I’m colliding my adult life with version of my past self and coming up with who I should become.
Writing has always been a way for me to open up. It’s been the way I’ve connected with people across states and countries, a means to get closer and form connections. It’s been the way I can work out my actual thoughts when in real life I might freeze up at the idea of needing to speak. Writing has been a vessel that carried me through high school and college. It helped me in every way it could. Along with music, writing made me feel unstoppable, like anything could happen.
Music is something else I forget about far too frequently. Gone are the days of lounging around reading liner notes and dreaming of following around bands who are on tour. Gone are the days I inked lyrics on my skin with glitter pens and used iron-on transfers to express myself on clothing. It’s amazing how far we’ve come in the ways that we can create. There are Etsy shops full of everything imaginable, inspired by music and fiction and fandoms all over. There are tattoos now to permanently mark skin – I know, there have always been tattoos, but it wasn’t until I was in high school that Massachusetts changed their law so that tattooing was legal in the state. How far we’ve come in 20 years. It’s unfathomable that people weren’t able to just go to the next town over and get inked. Now it’s possible. So much is possible.
It’s even easier to connect with people over the internet now. Before there were message boards and AOL chats and livejournal. Now there is Facebook and Instagram and Twitter. In the middle we had Myspace, a place to express ourselves and make friends and incorporate music into our online lives. When I was younger I had a hard time connecting with people in real life. I couldn’t tell my friends in high school things that I felt, and I couldn’t figure out how to trust them with my inside thoughts. I’d watched countless friends find ones that they liked better, and didn’t know how to have conversations about important things. On the outside I was that girl obsessed with a certain band, trying to be bubbly and have a good time. I wrote everything down in journals, I explored pain in fiction, and I escaped into writing more than anyone can imagine.
If I’m at work and typing I am out in the open, and keyboards are not quiet. I always get comments on how fast I type. Always. I kind of brush it off, saying that I’ve been typing for a long time. And I have. I’ve been typing since I was seven years old trying to learn how to use an MS Dos computer to write my own stories. I’ve been really writing stories in word processing programs since I discovered fan fiction and Hanson when I was twelve years old. I filled notebooks with stories and typed them up at night. I spent hours connecting with people over AOL Instant messenger then writing my thoughts into the internet abyss in Open Diary then Xanga then Livejournal. I’ve been writing and typing for a long time. 21 years of knowing my way around a keyboard that hasn’t changed makes it so yes, I can type very fast. I can type faster than I can think, actually, and it’s a weird thing to think about. Type skills are probably getting worse as technology progresses. We have lots of people who come up to reference with a phone in their hands telling us they don’t know how to use a computer. They don’t know how to sit down and open up Google Chrome and sign into their e-mail. It’s really interesting to be at this point in technology where there are families who never bothered having a computer – not because they can’t but because desk tops and lap tops are becoming less and less relevant for adults who are not attending classes.
But now back to writing. Back to existing. I often find myself in the midst of having too many plans and dare I say enjoying myself too much to the point where I’m home and I feel exhausted, but I don’t have the time to unwind and my mind is reeilng and I go into the next day and work and do my thing and I forget about me. I forget to stop and reconnect. Writing is and always has been my way to reconnect. It’s like I have this inner Melanie that I can touch base with here and there, and I’d like to believe it’s the same girl who would have written her future self words of encouragement and reminders of who she is.
- if you’re wondering, I typed this on 750words.com and wrote at about 50 words per minute, but yesterday when I was typing it was 74 wpm. I’ve tested myself on online tests at up to 90 wpm, but then I make way too many mistakes. I don’t even know what’s normal, so I suppose it’s fast, but what is fast, really?