sit in your apartment with all the lights off and cry, for the third time this month, for reasons you can't fathom, knowing that this time you should be relieved because yet again nothing bad has happened. write thousands of words a day for an entire week as if in doing so you'll be able to manifest the clarity you found exactly once while walking the streets of Brooklyn in autumn; clarity you've never been able to replicate ever again. confess your secret fears and flaws in one long rambling note on the RC message board. i think i have this fundamental character flaw where i love things and people in entirety or not at all. it's unhinged to spill your thoughts to hundreds of strangers who you've never met, but it's alright because this is still the safest place you've ever been, on the internet and in real life.
wake up the next morning and check your phone for messages sent while you were sleeping. walk to the tiny café down the street with the giant plants. order the same thing, learn the names of all the baristas. this has become routine.
think that every conversation is going to be the one which saves everything; that if only you could get the words right this time, everything would be fine. it doesn't work, not anymore. give up, at some point.
listen to Porter Robinson, The Naked and Famous, Loote, Elina. listen to every song written by someone who understands how things hurt. you made this playlist one morning while writing—isn't it funny how you’re always writing about the most beautiful things and the things which hurt the most and nothing inbetween? exchange twitter DMs with a stranger who is a poet; realize that they see you—really, really see you—in a way that you haven't been seen in a very long time. remember that people who love words are the best kind of people.
have the hard conversations. you know that you can't fix anything so you make no promises except that you're going to do your best, despite despite despite. balance hope against realism as a careful armour. you've learned: you can get everything you wanted and then have it change overnight. figure out that you're never going to be happy if you tie your sanity to external forces.
cycle everywhere—to the waterfront while looking west at sunset, across the bridge to Chinatown on Sundays, at four o'clock in the morning on a night when spring is turning into summer to watch the sunrise over the lake at dawn. the city is different on a bike. this is new romanticism, and right now this is the closest that you can get to the feeling of touching down in a new city and navigating new streets, in awe of everything. you have finite time and you want to spend all of it appreciating tiny miracles.
learn to love little things because some things are impossible to love in entirety. maybe you can learn to love things in part, after all? find solace in spontaneous conversations and inside jokes and text messages, because the little things are now all you have, but that's okay, isn't it? this whole damn universe is made up of infinitely small things slotting into the spaces inbetween, and it is stunning.
book a concert ticket for five months from now in a city you've never visited. it's a wild act of defiance: nothing about the past year or the present moment should give you this level of optimism, but the cynic in you has become numb to being right; numb to i-told-you-so. you're tired of waiting on the future, so you decide to call its bluff.
give up techno-optimism in favour of words written by humans, because GPT-3 has never saved a life but you've been saved so many times by the right song, right poem, right essay at the right time, and they were all written by humans. finally, finally accept that you're not going find understanding in machines; not going to find the stories worth telling in supercomputers. you've been quoting that song by The Script in casual conversation for years now—the constellations of our souls, right? but you forgot—the chorus says, you won't find faith or hope down the telescope. tear down everything you've ever thought to be true until now: you have a new thesis.
re-read every personal essay you love, all written by women who grew up on the internet and understand what it is like to feel things deeply. some people are low-key and some people are earth-shatteringly intense, and you know this quality when you see it; can spot it in the wild because you're the same. soak up every detail about their lives, about the way they see the world, about the people they love and how they love them. decide that the only things you want in this life are to write more and love better. what else is there?
hold close the feeling of being open-hearted, but orient it differently this time.