- You will get arrested for the first time, under the disdainful eye of the Victoria’s Secret regional manager. Upon seeing you chained to the front of the store chanting about trees, she will sigh, roll her eyes, and say, “Oh, it’s you,” crossing her arms over her smart black blazer.
- But first, you will teach others on your dorm floor how to do laundry. How to separate the loads—what needs cold water and what wants hot. How to measure and where to pour the soap. How to remove clothes from the dryer right away, warm. How to hold them to your face and breathe, though that isn’t part of doing laundry. But isn’t it?
- You will navigate public transit home from the Castro on Halloween while rolling on MDMA with your friend, all wigs and shouting. You will learn to find your way using the hills and the stars as guides, even though they double themselves as you hold yourself against a lamppost. You will know that sometimes shame smells like coconut rum.
- You will let Eva Hesse save your soul more than once. You will come to understand that bell hooks and Angela Davis have the answer for everything. You will let Fiona Apple and Tracy Chapman rock you to sleep. You will have your fake ID confiscated at the Yeah Yeah Yeahs show at Great American Music Hall, but you will not hold that against them. You will discover that you are more of a Brontë sisters person than a Jane Austen person, which is saying a lot.
- You will smoke clove cigarettes under the neon signs in the Mission, the smoke curling into a vision of your future like a horoscope, while you wait for the bus on an inappropriate street corner, electricity crackling overhead.
- You will stare down the man in workshop who describes the poem about your grandmother’s death as being “not credible.” Your face will grow hot, its own incredulity. In that moment, you will grow up and resolve to be more choosy about the people you fuck. You will struggle to imagine the future: that you will find a life that is everything you could possibly want.
- You will feel tempted to become a religion major, a pull that will make no sense to you as an agnostic. The only gods you have known have been horses and the sound of their hooves splashing through creeks.
- You will feel kinship with your elderly Irish Catholic World Religion professor, and will be drawn in by his warmth, a grandfather free from disdain, the grandfather you did not have.
- It will make no logical sense to you, until you discover that you are the Buddhist you will write term papers about. You will practice the bliss of sitting in silence, watching the breath that breathes you. You will embrace the agony of aching knees as you watch your spinning, obsessive thoughts and try not to hate them. You will learn that your love of trees and the moon is not merely an exercise as a poet, not only something to digest and regurgitate for workshop.
- You will discover that everything is holy. This will happen, too.
Christy Tending (she/they) is an activist, writer, and mama living in Oakland, California. Their work has been published in Longreads, Catapult, and Electric Literature, among many others. Their first book, High Priestess of the Apocalypse, is forthcoming from ELJ Editions in 2024. You can learn more about their work at christytending.com or follow Christy on Twitter @christytending.
Header photograph by Linds Sanders
Header artwork by Jordan Keller-Wilson