After realizing that Zooey Dechanel was actually a disappointing guest on Conan and it seemed safe to transfer the small boy from my arms to the bassinet, I got into bed. I laid there for about thirty minutes before it became clear that I wasn’t going to be able to sleep until I wrote some things down– epically important things: things that cannot wait until the morning. (Plus by morning I’ll be fucking miserable because I didn’t get any sleep and the thought of writing anything will seem unfair and terribly hard.)
If something were to happen, there are plans for the small boy. He’ll go live with our best friends, the ones who know us well and know what we kind of life and lessons we would want him to have. It’s a surprisingly difficult conversation to have, not because your facing your mortality, but rather because you realize you have to tell your family that you love them, but not enough to let them raise your child. The hubs and I thought a lot about who the small boy would go to, but the choice was pretty clear. Certain friends know you better than your family, and in a completely different way, and it’s those parts of us that we want him to be exposed to. Even if we’re not here. Plus I always thought it was weird and creepy when people lived with their grandparents. (I also wondered if they woke up every morning just a smidge nervous that someone was dead. I would.)
But there are other things that the small boy should know, things that need to be stated, things that may fall through the cracks or be assumed but never said and I need to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Dear Small Boy. (Or maybe you are now Big. But to me you will always be small.)
I want you to have influences. So many influences: good, bad, beautiful, ugly, gay, straight, white, black… even Asian. Grow up knowing that you are a city kid, a Boston-born boy with East Coast sensibilities, but never be of this city, this coast, or this region. Remember that you have Texas and California deep in your heart and soul and knowing the south and west will be a part of you. Weigh them with equal merit– don’t judge accents, your Mimi and Gramps have them, don’t judge sparkly flip flips, your Gami owns 100 pair. Don’t believe that buildings and sophisticated streets are better than wide expanses of endless earth, just know that they are different. One day you can choose one over the other, but you’ll do so knowing that you could make a life in either. And even though your Mama has always hated California, you should give it a shot. They have nice weather.
Fall in love with people before gender, age, or ethnicity. If you promise to do this, I promise to love whomever you bring through the door. Be true to your feelings, but always remember that everyone has their own feelings. Navigating the angry sea of conflicting emotions is not for the faint of heart, so learn to say you’re sorry when you are and never let anyone tell you that your feelings don’t matter. People who say that deserve to rot in hell.
Speaking of hell, while I hope you don’t decide to be born again or Mormon, the journey of faith is one that you get to take on your own. Don’t fall victim to propaganda and even in the throes of salvation, try to keep an eye on objectivity. No matter what faith you choose– even if you choose none– I know wonderful people who can help you down your path. And if you decide to be an evangelical, practice your witness on the homeless people on Newbury, not your parents. Everyone has religious freedom around these parts.
Don’t buy cheap toilet paper. And don’t buy Scott. I think it’s very strange to wipe yourself with a toilet paper named like a boy. Charmin is for bear bottoms and the preferred tp of this household, but so long as you’re not using Scott or CVS brand or some other subpar nonsense you are free to choose among the name brands. (If you decide against Charmin, I think Cottonelle or Quilted Northern would be good choices.)
Buy Viva paper towels. I learned this from your great grandmother. If you find yourself in a retail establishment that doesn’t sell Viva, you can get by on a roll or two of Bounty. After that you need to just order them on Amazon. You get free shipping on the 12 pack if you’re a Prime member. When you’re older and are faced with hiring a cleaning person, you will find that they use WAY less when provided with Viva as opposed to the cheap alternatives. So really you’re honoring tradition and making a smart financial move. Which will matter to you, as you’re a Virgo.
Marry a Tampax girl and never trust a Kotex girl. Whores, all of them.
And unless she has a Masters Degree from Harvard or some sexual magic trick, be leery of girls who use applicator free tampons. There are bigger things we can worry about keeping out of landfills. That’s practically masturbation.
Even when women are running the world and men feel belittled and emasculated, always open doors and offer your chair. It’s not about equality, it’s about manners. And no matter how digital the world becomes, get a pen and write thank you notes. The fate of the written correspondence is on your shoulders. It’s a beautiful art, don’t kill it.
Small boy, your name is going to drive you bonkers. It will be mispronounced and misspelled your whole life. There will be days– maybe even a lifetime– when you curse your parents for not just naming you Arthur, but your name belongs to you for very good reason. Every story begins with an author. You have a whole life to write the story you want to be your own. Make choices that make you happy, but always make sure they make you proud of yourself. Be inspired, take the road less traveled, read books, listen to music you love, even if other people hate it, and if there is something you are passionate about, be truly passionate. Find something that matters to you, no matter how small, and believe in it. There is no meaning of life, but there is always meaning in intention. Make bold statements, deliberate choices, and be self aware, but never self conscious.
Do hard work that pays poorly for at least one summer. Do easy work that pays well for at least one year. Neither is reality. For the rest of your years and summers do work you love that pays fairly.
Should something happen to me, small boy, you probably won’t remember all of these things. You might forget to buy the right toilet paper or use the wrong brand of sour cream. These things are forgivable. So should something ever happen and we’re not there to remind you every single day, just try to remember this one thing:
That’s all we ever wanted.