We are the Ones
Dear Evan and Lulu,
I spent a lot of my life waiting.
It started at a very young age. One of my front teeth was stained the color of tea that had steeped too long. It was the result of fevers or antibiotics I had received when I was very little. It started showing up when I was about 7 and progressively got worse the older I got. I used to hold my finger over my teeth to find out what I would look like if I was a “normal person.” The older I got the more I hated that tooth. I tried to yank it out thinking a replacement would at least be a solid color. I tried to bleach it with peroxide. I considered gargling bleach itself. I stopped smiling. Stopped talking in public. I stopped being. I didn’t want to do anything that would draw attention to myself because of the awful teasing I endured. I waited for something to magically happen to change the way I felt about myself. I waited for someone to step in and tell me my one imperfect tooth didn’t make me any less beautiful. I waited for my tears to dry so I could try to teach myself how to smile again. When I was 14 I got my braces off and the dentist sanded off the very top layer of my tooth and the stain was gone. I waited 7 years for that white tooth.
Much later in life I waited for other things. I waited to travel because I didn’t have a travel partner. I waited to start graduate school because I didn’t have any money (then I started and really didn’t have any money). Most of all I waited, and waited, and waited for the right guy to come along who could make me feel like the person, the partner, and the parent that I wanted to be. I waited a long time for that one.
There are many things that I have read that changed my life. Words are what fuel me and make my existence possible. Perhaps few words have had a greater impact on me than a poem by June Jordan titled, Poem for South African Women. The poem is about revolution for women affected by apartheid. The last line of the poem reads “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.
When I read it I knew my life would never be the same. Seven years later I am still dissecting just how those words have shaped me. The way they sliced through me, opened me up, and gutted me to the truth. The deepest form of revolution I know.
The truth that I was the one that decided to be silenced. That decided to stop smiling. That decided not to stick up for myself. The one that could have asked my dentist 7 years earlier if there was anything he could do about my tooth.
I was the travel partner that I was looking for. I was the brave one I needed, the confidant and the risk taker. I was the one that could make plans, break plans, and forgive when things go wrong. I was the one who wouldn’t tell if I wore the same outfit three days in a row.
I was the one, the only one, who was going to make myself a better person, a better partner, and a better parent. I was the one that had to wake up every morning and decide what things I truly cared about in that day. I was. Nobody else can make you those things no matter how long we wait.
I was exactly who I’d been waiting for. All this time.
Isn’t it amazing to think that you were born with precisely everything you need to survive in this world? The body to move you, the mind to engage you, and the heart to love the life it encounters.
Wherever you are when you read this letter, and whatever it is you are waiting on, I hope you will stop. There is no reason to wait for your dreams when you have every tool you need right inside of you. The only thing you need to do is arrive.