I am a dame of intense passions.
As a teenolescent, this proclivity led to mildly deranged romantic obsessions with boys who were wildly unenamored with my shy-manifesting-itself-as-creepy brand of infatuation. Think Helga’s shrine o’ lust from Hey Arnold! Or Angela Chase’s reverence for Jordan Catalano. Or Sméagol’s ring, “my precious.”
Ergo, historically, I’ve been prone — wont, if you will — to idolizing individuals/“falling in love” with ideas of them, amorously and otherwise. Which I’ve concluded is vastly unhealthy/detrimental to both parties … which is the crux, thematically, of my (forthcoming, eventually) novel, Paperboy; its title is a metaphor for flimsy, one-dimensional perceptions of people, like the kind I so oft created as a green-o teen-o.
I’m also guilty, repeatedly, of not articulating my feelings to people who matter/ed to me. So, in the vein of expressing myself honestly whilst treating those with whom I’m smitten as the fully-fledged, imperfect human beings they are, I presenteth thee with a love letter. STRAP IN:
I discovered Rookie magazine, an online publication for teenage girls created by Tavi Gevinson, at 18, during my freshman year of college. Consequently, I began to blog using WordPress. At 19, I started writing fan letters — mostly snail-mail — to people I admired, from authors to actors.
At twenty, during summer 2015, I was injected with poison and trapped by the viscid spider web ropes of clinical depression, whose behavioral hallmarks included lying naked at the bottom of my bathtub, lights off, shower on, for extended time periods and bawling. With time, marinating in my misery expanded to include destructive habits such as: prescription drug abuse, binge drinking to attempt to escape the prisonous confines of my mind, self-harm.
“Lately, when I’m feeling conflicted,” I typed in an email time-stamped 10:41 p.m. on June 19, 2015 to Rookie writer/editor Amy Rose Spiegel (who soliloquized this magnificent monologue on “chronic dreamgirl-ization” I reference here), “I’ve been turning to your essays as I would turn to a friend. Your brazenness in your writing is inspiring me to be more forthcoming with my own inner thoughts/expressions/feelings/desires/doubts.”
I mentioned I was attending a Morrissey concert at Madison Square Garden the following week. (I brought my mom as m’date. My parents’ve escorted me to rock concerts on instances multiple — mom, Morrissey; dad, U2 times two.) I knew from reading Rookie that Amy Rose dwelt in Brooklyn and dug The Smiths’ brood-mood-music.
Precisely 90 minutes later, AMY ROSE REPLIED.
“EMILY.” she wrote. “I am also taking my mom to Morrissey at MSG. We have to say hi. It’s the law.” @#$%^&*!!! “… And tell the world everything you have to tell it, your eloquence.” YES, MA’AM, WILL DO. (Her epistle was printed and saved to my inbox, naturally.)
A week later, post-concert, Amy Rose, who, as I, donned a pixie cut and crop top, bestowed me a hug and introduced her boyfriend with a husky, “This is my dude.”
The following year, I traveled from D.C. to New York City to attend a talk for Amy Rose’s book, Action: A Book about Sex, but shyly declined to reintroduce mesirch afterward.
Later, I tagged ARS in an Instagram photo along with an extensive, fangirly caption, on which she commented with a bunch of exclamation points. Possibly she felt flattered, possibly wigged. Prolly a combo.
Amy Rose Spiegel embodies characteristics I aspire to — funny, profane, conscientious, frank, flawed. (Prime Amy Rose-ism: “Fucking up is how you go pro,” she writes in Action and in daily affirmations for Lenny Letter.) I tend to subliminally emulate her prose, not only in terms of osmosis-ing her style (see: frequent utilization of parentheticals, CAPS LOCK & SAT words (… I AM cultivating my own voice, though (my mantra: “How can I say this … weirder?”))) but also, I hope, her candidness. As in, the best way to be like her is to be like me, speak my stories.
Reading her reminds me why I write — not just as a form of catharsis, but to affect and inspire people how she affects/inspires me. (I’m verging on ass-kissing now, but to my sesquipedalian brain, her employment of vocabulary such as “flotsam” and “peregrinate” are, like, orgasmic.)
4+ years elapsed since I first stumbled upon Rookie; I’ve evolved as a person and as a forthWRITEr. Professionally, I earned a First Place screenwriting accolade from Writer’s Digest, maintain this website with personal-essay-driven content and I’m working on a novel. Personally, I’ve hurtled (hurdled!) away from self-hatred/deprecation towards -acceptance. The latter was, and is, exponentially more challenging.
There’s not a word — that I know of — for the type of love you feel for a lead-by-example mentor who impacts your daily life without being a physical fixture in it (or even knowing you), unawares/from afar.
“Sisterly” is a close adjective, except it implies reciprocity, both parties knowing each other. I know Amy Rose (a smidge) from her self-disclosures better than she knows me from one quick meet-n-greet after a Mozcert and a semi-stalkery social media post.
So I shall send her this essay how I hit PUBLISH on many a piece I pen … nervously, then decisively, because revealin’ feelins to someone you like — in this case, in a much more profound way than, like, a classmate crush; less “I want/like you,” more “I want to be like you” — can be a vulnerable task, but I am brave, and I am a writer.
Thank you, Amy Rose.