I’m sitting in my car, typing this out all thumbs, just out of the theater, at the Americana at Brand. And the night is cold and beautiful, and though this is LA so we can’t actually see stars, I like to imagine they’re twinkling far above me.
I miss the stars sometimes.
Sometimes I forget they’re actually there – except the North Star and maybe Orion or the Big Dipper. I remember when I was, still in our first house, and Mom looked up into the sky and said, “Look, there’s Orion’s Belt.”
And me, being the incredibly grounded, literal, tell-me-how-the-world-works kid that I was, I started looking on the ground for an actual, literal, made-from-brown-leather belt on the sidewalk. And my mom kind of laughed, and pointed up to the sky. “No, the stars.”
And that’s the first time I really remember looking at the stars, and the first time I remember feeling so infinitesimally small.
And the world cracked open around me.
Suddenly I wasn’t a little kid in this tiny, crushing world anymore.
I was alive and free and the feel of the breeze on my skin and my mom standing next to me looking up at the stars and it was beautiful. The world was dangerous –
and I was nothing but a speck.
Any dangers that the universe could throw at me were going to be exponentially larger than anything I could dream up, and more likely than not, I was going to get swept out to the deepest parts of the ocean and drown. And there was nothing I could do about it. Nothing.
But in that moment, I felt so safe. Like the world was so full and so big and if I held my breath and tried to think every thought in the world, for one tiny second, I could grasp a hint of what it all was. And then it would fade , because my heart wasn’t big enough yet.
I think that was the last moment I was ever tied to the earth.
It was like the moment I thought there might be a God out there somewhere, and that if everything all these people had said was true, and if I was really truly lucky, that maybe he knew my name. And it felt like the first time I thought about living forever, and I had this one perfect moment where I just understood.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
Read the book. Watch the film. Stephen Chbosky, you are incredible. Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller are Charlie, Sam and Patrick, like they’ve always been the characters and we just now noticed.
I was a lot like Charlie in high school. And a little like Sam. I thought no one ever noticed me.
But oh, my friends. They made me the luckiest girl in the world.
The moments I remember most are so small, a tiny breath of a second. Standing on stage for the first time as part of an actual rock band. I was 14 and just starting my freshman year in high school, and everyone else was 17, 18 and 20. I was terrified and safe all at the same time, and I just knew that they knew how stupid I felt, how much I was so afraid they were going to play some progression I had no idea how to play.
And yet, my fingers found their way across the keyboard at the right moments, and I managed to stay conscious the whole time. Everything lined up perfectly.
Years later, and in another band, I was driving with friends through the mountains of Colorado. I think we were heading for Arizona for a show. In the middle of the night, we made it from my parents front door to the Eisenhower Tunnel in 45 minutes (a ridiculous feat of sheer belief that we were completely invincible – and in that moment, we were.) It was so cold with the mountain air – and for a few minutes, I curled up in the front seat and closed my eyes. I could have fallen asleep, because I was so at peace.
We got much further into the mountains, and pulled off to the side of the road. We turned off the car, and all the lights and just stood there looking up at the Milky Way through the trees. And the silence went all the way to our souls, and I knew for the rest of my life, I was going to be able to find these guys and tell them anything. I saw our lives stretching out, and I knew that we’d go off in all these different directions. We’d all find our One, and get married and have babies. Maybe we’d move away from Colorado, maybe we’d stop seeing each other every single week. Maybe weeks and months would go by.
It made it sharper and sweeter and I knew that I was holding a bubble about to pop. Nothing is forever. But it was in that moment, I found a piece of God I’d never found before. We turned on the song “Stars” and turned it up as loud as our stereo would go.
It was perfect.
I understand what Charlie means. In this moment, I swear we are infinite.
And maybe in a strange way, that moment was infinite. It’s still reaching forward in time, as full and alive and beautiful as it was in that initial infinite second. It was a second bigger than itself, bigger than the rest of my life all put together.
It was over so fast, and yet sometimes I still live there.
I know what it’s like to look and only see pain everywhere. I know what it’s like to want desperately to rescue friends from everything they’ve created as their reality, where you just want to shake them and say, “No! You deserve so much more!” I know what it feels like to be invisible. I know what it feels like to realize I am not alone. I know how it feels.
And I think our lives are that full of those infinite moments that lap ahead and push us into the future and make us the people we long to be.
Those moments of praying at the ceiling and finally hearing an answer in your soul. Those moments you know you’re going to remember the rest of your life. The feeling of leaning against friends on the gym floor at Carr Street. The feeling of looking out at the moon, your fingers twisted together with the one your heart loves. That perfect harmony in the middle of a show. The moment you know you’re surrounded by the ones you’d die for. The way my grandparents’ house smelled when my grandma was cooking meatloaf and smashed potatoes. Those moments of another glass of wine and an indie movie and waking up on your friend’s couch at six in the morning and eating breakfast together at seven with reheated coffee and fresh scrambled eggs. And laughing. There is always laughing.
Standing at the ocean, arms outstretched, when every stress falls away for just a second. Where you forget the time that you cut yourself. You forget the look on his face when he told you No. Not today. Not ever. When you forget the words No one wants to hear about you. When you forget the moments you gave up. The moments where you were so afraid that you missed out on what was really important. You forget the feel of the bruise. You forget the doctor’s face when you start to cry. You forget that you ever cried at all.
Now is not the moment to hold onto everything.
Now is the moment to be free.
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