i am in pursuit of sunrises, warm hugs

personal news: i am a morning person, i love sunrises, and this letter is long

in two weeks, i turn nineteen. i am terrified and excited and nervous and also just beginning to reckon with the fact that i only get one more year to call myself a teen. as my friend evan puts it, “nineteen is just so old.”

and it feels like it.

i’ve been at college—at home—for just about a month and a half today. today as in when i’m writing this.

today as in your yesterday, or day before yesterday. probably. maybe, if i finish writing this before 12 a.m., today as in actually today. time is a funky thing and that’s okay. today as in whenever, wherever.

throughout my senior year of high school i got in the habit of being up early—and there’s a student in the recreation lounge using a back scratcher right now and that alone deserves an aside just because of how casually chaotic it is—and i learned to love it. i usually spent my mornings in the quiet of my room, but mornings at ucsc are different.

late nights are still things i hold dear to my heart, but early mornings, as i’ve learned, are where (when?) i feel most at ease. it’s not a new revelation; i’ve always been the last one up and the first one awake at sleepovers, forever the first one up in hotel rooms on school trips.

reader, lately i’ve been taking sunrises and mornings for granted.

but a new friend reminded me of what mornings feel like; a breath of fresh air, a quiet escape, a time you get to yourself. early morning is when you get to breathe and exist on your own, with nobody on the outside looking in. when you get to live in silence and peace.

when nobody else can hear me panting because i haven’t actually gone for a run since high school PE over three years ago.

i have another friend, sara, who only ever says good morning; when it’s 4 p.m., and i’m coming back from class, when it’s 6:53 p.m. and the sun is setting. it’s a gentle reminder that the day starts whenever you want it to, and the simple gesture of letting others choose when their day starts is more powerful than it seems.

i’ve had a saturday that started at 7:57 p.m. with a bowl of instant oatmeal and a mason jar full of black tea. i’ve had a thursday that started at 4 a.m. with guided meditation and a walk across campus and no caffeine. sometimes all you can do is stay in bed until almost 8 p.m. and sometimes instant oatmeal and watercolors are the only things you have energy for. other days you feel on top of the world and your hours are filled; songwriting before sunrise, a toasted bagel with nutella and studying for midterms by 7 a.m., and writing a newsletter for nobody else but yourself at 10:10 p.m.

sometimes all you can do is water your plant and call it a day. i’d be lying if i said i didn’t already have one or two of those days (speaking of plants, my new plant’s name is alfie, and there is not a thing i would not do for him. i think he is a lavender scallop plant, but i’m not sure). sometimes all you can do is just be. that’s okay, too.

sometimes you read a really good book in one sitting—sometimes it takes you a few weeks. i’ve been getting through war on peace by ronan farrow, which is phenomenal and riveting and so engaging, but also so much information that it overwhelms my brain and i can only digest it chapter by chapter with a few days of buffer in between.

i’ve also been getting through this piece about cyrus grace dunham, the author of a year without a name (his memoir that i have yet to read), who lets the people in his book choose their own names and edit their own passages. self-identification is powerful and everyone deserves a chance at it. i write about other people all the time, but i know that being written about feels strange and foreign and sometimes like a breach of privacy, so i let people do the same. choose their name and edit their own passages, i mean.

in cyrus grace dunham lets everyone name themselves, a piece from the cut, maggie lange writes that “it’s a principle that provides the title and thematic musculature of the memoir: an act of self-identification is one of the most potent forces around.” who we are often changes depending on who’s writing about us and sometimes that’s scary. i get it. i really do.

and getting the option to greenlight that writing yourself, to make sure the you that gets out into the world is the you that you want to be, often feels like a warm hug. like an acknowledgement that sometimes we are wrong about how we interpret the other people in our lives, and that we are not merely characters but co-authors of the stories we exist in.

it’s a lot. sleep on it, maybe. that’s what i did. until next time, whenever and wherever next time is.

forever yours,