An open letter to 8th grade me

19 Apr

Dear Brian of 2000,

I know things must suck pretty bad right now.  You’re still not sure of who you are, or you’re afraid to admit it to yourself, and most of all to anyone else.

The boys in your homeroom class who were rude to you, you know the ones: The ones who wrote “BRIAN IS A FAG” in your yearbook… they didn’t know what they were saying, or if they did, they certainly didn’t know why they were saying it.  Some of those verbal bullies will come to you in later years, in some cases 10 years later, and apologize for the way they behaved.  As much as their words sting to you now, accept their apology in the 2010s… you’ll feel a hell of a lot better about yourself then than you do now.

Those who do call you friends, 8th grade Brian, will mostly not make it along your personal journey much beyond this year.  David will move again, Pete will disappear into his own world come high school.  Mark will still be there come high school though… even 12 years from when you’re reading this, Mark will be one of your very best friends.

But you’ll make new friends.  Greg, Ryan, Amanda, Jason, they’ll all come into your life in the next couple years.  You’ll even gain yourself a professional mentor, Bill, who will follow you and your moves all the way to Georgia.

What’s that you say?  You say that you were born in Michigan, are going to go to school in Michigan, and continue to live in Michigan, because you are a Michigander?  Yeah, about that…

See, your high school years are going to be pretty interesting.  At some point, the fact that you are gay is going to occur to you and finally settle into your head and heart, and over time you’ll be comfortable with it.  On St. Patrick’s Day of your junior year, amid circumstances you’re far too young to scare you with now, you’ll tell your mom that you’re gay.  She’ll say it’s okay, and your life will move on from there.

But your senior year of high school will end up troubling you like you might never expect.  You don’t think about suicide now, do you?  You don’t expect it to ever touch your life, outside of news stories about Dr. Death.  Well, unfortunately, it will touch your life hard your senior year.

That October, your Friday afternoon will be shattered by the suicide of your uncle Jim.  You’ll go to your second funeral ever that week.  When you get home and back to “life,” the suicide of your uncle will haunt you in ways you will never expect.  You’ll think about it every day for months, your grades will slip.

A major shift will happen when you learn about suicide and depression in your psychology class that May.  You’ll go right back into your thoughts from the previous fall.  You’ll become consumed in your own depression as you worry about facing your parents with a failing grade in psychology.  You’ll walk from your Advanced Comp class one May day, and your mind will drift to ways you could possibly kill yourself — and what the world would be like without you in it.

You’ll scare the shit out of yourself with that line of thinking, and instead of going to your next class that sunny May day, you’ll go to a counselor’s office, tell her this story, and then be ferried off to a psychologist’s office so you can get “mentally cleared” to return to school the following day.

Life will get better from there though, for a time.  You’ll graduate high school, move off to Michigan State.  Michigan State, yes.  That school to the north that you currently hate.  You’ll go there to get an education, ostensibly.  And you will, but not a classroom one.  You’ll get your “gay education” during your pair of semesters there.  You’ll have your first boyfriend, your first sexual experiences, make more friends.  And then your grades will send you back home.

Along the way, you’ll throw aside the advice of your mom and come out to your dad — and he’ll be fine.  His conservatism is trumped by his love for you, as you should probably expect but as your mom will fear will not be the case.  In that same sweep you’ll also come out to your aunt — who is the only person besides your mom who will completely expect it.  You know, that doggone twin thing…

You’ll have hurt your parents during your time at MSU because you’ll have wasted their money in many ways, and that will take a toll during your year at Schoolcraft.  You’ll argue with them and fight them in ways that you probably can’t presently imagine.  Your bitterness toward your parents will lead you to another bout with depression, but in October a guardian angel will land upon your shoulder.

Your thirst for journalism will lead you to create a “community” on LiveJournal for LGBT news and views.  One of the first to follow it will be a guy from Georgia (you know, the Peach State, all down south and stuff) named Jace.  Jace will be dating someone when you first start talking to him, and you’ll start out as his friend and confidant, but have no fear… eventually, you’ll get a chance to meet him in person (though the details are too much for 8th grade ears, I fear) and you’ll fall in love, and six years after meeting him, you’ll still be together, and you’ll live in Georgia, and your life will be more complete than you probably can imagine it being right now.

There’s other things that you’ll want to know, but I might wait and send you another letter as you get closer to your senior year of high school, because you’ll need to hear from me again.

As weird as life feels now, I promise, it does get better.  Take it from…yourself?

With the greatest of love,

Brian of 2012

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6 Responses to “An open letter to 8th grade me”

  1. pinkagendist April 19, 2012 at 5:41 am #

    Beautiful, 2012 Brian 😀

  2. PETE April 19, 2012 at 8:10 am #

    I’m sure this means very little by this point but… I’m sorry.

    A better friend wouldn’t have left you to go through all of this.

    Whatever the future may hold for today’s Brian, I hope its happy and fulfilling.

    • Brian Smith April 19, 2012 at 8:38 am #

      Pete, I hold absolutely no grudges from that period. And as far as friends went back then, you were a good one. Hope life is treating you well these days 🙂

  3. Torchic Maniac April 19, 2012 at 8:51 am #

    I might do my own version of it myself. Wow, that was 12 years ago. It sounds like a past life because you traveled a long away and met some wonderful people. Then again, it is the past that help us become who we are. I am glad to have you in part of my life, my friend, because you are a great person.

  4. Jaguwar April 19, 2012 at 8:58 am #

    Ok, between 2012 Brian, 8th grade Brian, and Pete, I’m blinking away tears.

    Pete, btw, I’ve had that happen once, an old classmate who apologized to me many years later. I don’t remember her being particularly evil or anything, but she remembered me as someone she needed to apologize to, so she did. I’ve had a few years to think about it, perhaps it wasn’t so much any one thing in particular, but a realization that in her circle of friends, I was on the “losers list” or whatever they would have thought of it as. Either way, as an adult, she was perhaps realizing she could have been a better friend, or at least a better classmate. although we’re separated by nearly as many miles as Brian now is from Michigan, once in a while she pops into my life and surprises me with her compassion, simply reaching out when I need a friend.

    My point is, you couldn’t have been too bad back then: Pete-of-way-back-when contained the seeds of apologetic-2012-Pete, after all. But it’s nice that you did, and it’s not too late.

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