You cannot wait for them, they will never understand much less encourage you. If it sings within your heart, take it and make it your own. Write what you know and write what you wish you knew but probably never will. There are no rules except to not die with stories unspoken, still haunting your sad skeletal bones. When I was young I wore a micro mini crimson dress that hugged the curve of my hips and made men twitch at bars and clubs until I could dance no more, before going home alone to pass out in bed without undressing. The mornings were afternoons, the mascara was smudged in circles underneath my eyes. Life as a multicolored blur of lights, pulsing music and game of desire. I couldn’t tell you if I was happy then, I didn’t even really try, but the fear which gripped me back then was nothing like the fear which flutters within me now. The fear of being rejected has been replaced by the fear of all the many things I reject. Life at arm’s length, life on its way as it passes me by. As I tell you stories about my younger days when I was carefree, stupid, and invincible, we stroll past tiny gardens fully decorated with twinkling Christmas lights, soft and glowing in the dark. Small scratched animals and a celestial blue virgin in the snow. Blinking stars, animated reindeer, and a plastic Jesus. In the distance I can hear the cars on the interstate sliding by underneath a billboard which flashes the hot pink electronic image of the word Risqué in fancy cursive letters next to a beautiful stripper in a red corset lined with white fur, legs for days and her eyebrows are perfect. The trees are icicles, glistening with crystallized frost. My breath catches in my throat from the stinging cold and I shove my mittened hands deeper into my down-filled coat. Life is a warm hay lined manger when no one will let you in. Life is a slap in the face when what you need most is affection. It’s a wonder any of us pause to celebrate. Too numbed by the frigid night air to continue talking, I look up at you, and you are quiet, your eyes scanning the lane for icy patches. Obstacles. Protection. And I cannot tell you if I was happy back then, when the water I dangled my young body over was black as death and ten times as deep. But as we make our way back on this long winter’s night for white wine and Chinese food at our place, I think I would tell you that I am happy now.