My Birthday Love Letter To You

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I worry that the story I wrote was too negative but it was all I could write at the time. I know you need something to uplift you. I know you sometimes look to me to give you comfort and I am honored that you do. We are all afraid of guns and terrorists and global warming and cancer. We need comfort. We need magic. We need love.

I worry that the story I wrote reinforced the importance of a romantic relationship to make someone happy. I know that I am supposed to love myself first, before I can truly love another. I mean, what woman doesn’t know this these days? It’s fodder for every pop-psych article. You don’t even need a good therapist or a best friend to tell you.

But what does “love yourself” even mean? Take care of yourself? I do that. I eat well and sleep enough hours and do yoga and meditate and run and go to therapy and take fish oil and get facials and pedicures. Only think kind thoughts about yourself? I don’t do that—not all the time--but neither do most of my friends, as far as I know, and many of them are in relationships. Feel complete and joyous without a partner? That one’s hard. For one thing, I like sex. And not just the coming. I like being touched; I like the oblivion it provides. It’s about the only time my mind shuts off. Even in meditation my mind chatters with worry. Even in yoga I plan my day.

I want to lose myself in flesh and breath.

On my birthday you wrote me so many sweet messages. I tried to “like” every one but I wasn’t able to. I do love every single one, though. I told you I wanted to write you each a love poem.

On my birthday I went to Yogaworks in Santa Monica. Vinnie the rock star of yoga teachers played Roxy Music and Bat for Lashes.

“You're the train that crashed my heart

You're the glitter in the dark, oh, Laura

You're more than a superstar

And in this horror show

I've got to tell you so, oh, Laura

You're more than a superstar”

Walking to my car, I played Lilly’s message from Hawaii. “I hope you are doing yoga today,” it said. She even knew that I had bought a “sparkly pink top” to wear. How did she know? We always know. I truly believe we are the same spirit split into two different bodies. Ever Moon said hello in the background. She was born a year ago and I still haven't been able to hold her in my arms.

I came home and Reina was there. She had filled two matching glass vases with flowers and put red berries in the bottom around the stems. She calls me “beautiful” and “angel” but Reina is those things. She helped me raise my babies. She was the only one who knew how to care for me when I had my vitrectomy. She looks exactly the same as when I first met her thirteen years ago, though possibly even more beautiful with her hair like a black mare’s tail and her glossy skin and the sweetness shining forth from her.

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Amanda, whom I haven't seen for over a year, left gluten free cupcakes for me and the kids. Adam came over with pale pink roses. I met him when he came to one of my workshops and we discovered he lived a few blocks away from me. He brought a vegan dish to share and taught me about green smoothies. The story he workshopped in the class became the book my press published this year. We traveled to San Francisco together a few months ago to watch Danishka film The Singing Bones short, based on my story from The Rose and The Beast. We spent the weekend lounging in a pink mansion in the Oakland hills and sipping blue drinks from bottles named for my books, Primavera, Moon Harvest, the Waters and the Wild. Adam gives me acupuncture treatments, shares my love of healthy food and is full of great sadness and profound wisdom and yes, magic.

I drove to Pasadena with Adam to see my therapist, Carol. Adam waited at Whole Foods while I talked to Carol in her quiet, tree-shaded office decorated in cream, sage and pomegranate. After having many troubled encounters with therapists I found Carol. I asked her, “How does therapy work, because I haven’t really seen it work,” and she explained her beliefs that are based on attachment theory. You develop a strong, trusting bond with someone who accepts and supports you unconditionally and over time you are able to internalize the sense of security this relationship imparts. Carol has seen me through a divorce, raising two babies into young adulthood, two moves, the publication of about ten books, many illnesses and surgeries, the death of my mother and many, many (too many) romantic relationships. She rarely speaks about herself and sometimes I want to know everything about her, while at the same time being grateful that her boundaries are so secure. My transference has made her Mommy and Best Friend and even Beloved but I have never once felt unsafe with these projections. I don’t usually see her in person any more--we mostly speak on the phone--so visiting her was especially significant. Her presence has such a profoundly healing effect. She is wisdom, kindness and compassion personified.

About seven years ago I was taking a walk, talking to her on my cell phone, weeping about the loss of a relationship with a man I didn’t even like. She said, “It sounds like you feel like you’re dying.” I told her I did. She connected my response to the time I was hospitalized with meningitis as a baby. After that breakthrough I never experienced a romantic breakup with the same kind of trauma.

On my birthday I talked about how proud I am that I’ve been focusing on work and taking care of my kids and not dating at all, not squandering my energy away on men who aren’t right for me, not being distracted by sexuality and romance. But I also talked about how a part of me has given up and doesn’t fully believe I deserve those things. We linked this back to the meningitis experience. Do I deserve to be here at all? Do I deserve to live and love? Do I need to earn my keep by writing books and books and books, by working harder and harder, by not hurting anyone’s feelings ever?

I left Carol and Adam and I drove to Culver City to Make Out, a raw food place on the little plaza by the movie theater and across from the Culver Hotel. We ordered a green juice and raw harvest pie that tastes rather orgasmic,  I have to admit. While we were eating in the light-bathed restaurant, a tall, tattooed girl in a blue vinyl mini skirt, a sheer blue top, a pink vintage coat and giant hot pink platforms came in. We complimented her on her look and she and I engaged in a long conversation about punk music, vintage fashion, pop art, the environment, feminism, action films and her Finnish radio show.

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After getting my nails done, I took my children, Adam, Reina, my handsome, kind-hearted brother, my fairy assistant Lara and my dear friend, confidante and wise adviser, Tracey out to dinner at Sage. The food isn’t anyone’s favorite but mine (I had a tempeh Reuben sandwich--in honor of Lilly who once shared one with me--, kombucha on tap and coconut soft serve) but they were good sports. Tracey gave me white ceramic antlers and her daughter Sarah, who was my flower girl seventeen years ago, gave me Rose Jam and Argan Body Oil from Lush, Lara gave me an orchid and my brother contributed to my beauty fund. My children wrote me the most beautiful cards in the world. That will be a different post. My love for them is almost impossible for me to write about. It is bigger than the universe and explodes my heart into all the stars.

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I realized in that perfect moment, as we sat around the table, that I was happy. I knew I should write this down. To remind myself. And to remind anyone who might read it. Like white roses rimmed with pink, like red berries in glass vases, like scented oil, like antlers, like music, like pink platforms, like gluten free cupcakes, like love, like magic. You are the you in this story.  Not him, or him, or him.  I wanted to give it to you.


  • Super User Friday, 11 December 2015

    Thank you for this beautiful, honest, and complicated gift. So glad you had a full, rich birthday. I've been a fan of your work for many years, and have handed Weetzie Bat to several young readers. I just stumbled on this post today via twitter and had to create an account to thank you. To let you know that you matter, these words matter. Every twist and turn counts. I hope the new year brings you great joy, freedom, and yes, more and more you.

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