My sister graduated from high school and left home for college. Alone at home without her, I became an only child. I felt like a wilted flower in a winter storm, as if she left me behind for a life without me. I didn't consider we were growing at different rates. I still had a sibling on weekends during her visits home. She blossomed and returned home a different person, telling me college forced her to think critically and come to her own conclusions about world issues. Clouded with university logic, she still accepted the ideas tossed to her as fact. Mom called it indoctrination.
When my sister and her friends reached their twenties, I thought they were adults with their lives pieced together. I realized then that youth are grown children trying to figure out where the free food is.
I had a boyfriend once. He tallied every time we kissed. All I know is we reached the hundredth mark. Then we broke up, he got a boyfriend, and came out as gay. My friends informed me he became a furry. Sometimes I saw him in the halls at school wearing a collar and a dog tail. At Pride one year I saw him wearing a thong and buckle straps circling his torso. I noticed liberals wore fewer clothes every year.
I began to care about politics, packing my brain with opinions and the knowledge of too many agendas.
I graduated from high school feeling invincible to the world. It pierced me hard.
I left home for college. My mom feared I would become indoctrinated like my sister. I became a different person each time I returned home.
I came out as bisexual before I was ready. I admitted to feeling fake because I was unsure about the concept of dating a girl. No one cared. I knew two girls who fit the definition of bisexual, but neither of them would date boys. People stopped using labels.
I fantasized about jumping off the balcony of my dorm and waking up in a hospital bed to a rainstorm of tears pouring from the piteous faces of those beloved to me. My heavens and havens. A test of their affection for me.
When I told my mom I dreamed about death, she told me to enter therapy, so I did. After one month of appointments, my therapist told me to go on medication. My mom said my brain suffered from a chemical imbalance that could be fixed by medication. I packed my veins with happy pills, wondering, "Is this what happy feels like or is this what normal feels like?" A year later my mom demonized me, saying medication was useless. Food could fix everything. Mental illness was a fabrication of the liberal agenda. I saw three therapists within one year. I continued injecting pills into my stomach lining. Medication brings back feelings. I was supposed to have those.
I blacked out once at a house party. My friend told me I fell down the front steps and wept to my old roommates, crying, "I feel like I was a bad roommate." I stumbled, puked out my dinner behind a tree, and cracked my skull against the cement of the sidewalk as I laid in my vomit. I woke up bruised in my dorm. When I told people this story, they called me a wild child. I grew out of it fast.
I watched fights unfold from petty disagreements. Videos of my friends engaging in a campus protest surfaced across their social media platforms. Circling and shoving attendees of the event, they chanted with other protestors, "Nazis are not welcome here." I wrote an article evidencing my disappointment at a lack of constructive dialogue. I had no issues with disagreements, but violence crossed my threshold of tolerance.
Thousands of people formed a habit of silencing conservative stragglers while claiming to lift the voices of groups silenced for centuries. Liberals would burn houses down to spread peace and love.
Nobody knew how many genders there were. The options were: two and infinite. I didn't understand how the world lost sight of biology.
Everything was based on feelings. Feeling triggered, feeling uncomfortable, feeling angry. "I feel like vodka is just angry water," said my roommate. I feel like I feel like I feel like…
Everyone had lost their minds. Logic and reason were no longer welcome guests. Discussions disappeared out of fear of causing offence.
I was the maid of honor in my sister's wedding. My speech consisted of a poem I wrote for her and an anecdote about my brother-in-law. Unintentionally, I made all eighty people in attendance cry. A left-leaning man I liked asked me to dance with him during the reception. I didn't say yes.
Safe spaces. Diversity and inclusion. I listened to my friends bash conservatives for thinking differently despite desiring acceptance.
The youth were filled with rage. Anger infiltrated their minds and spread between them like a disease. They couldn't enjoy entertainment in the media anymore. It must have been tiring for them to always hold anger in their hearts. If they continued to live that way, they would never get free.
I attended a liberal university that turned me centrist. Blame the books, blame the classes, blame the people; I still lean liberal. Pointing fingers gets people nowhere. Professors of Women's Studies classes claimed that in their teachings, "There is no devil's advocate." They tried to mold my brain for me, but I knew there would always be a refutation.
I wrote a lot about my sister. She guest starred in my poems, stories, articles, and media posts. She lived between the words in everything I wrote. I was afraid I would lose her to a family I didn't belong in. No one could know my mind deviated from the norm.
A boy once asked if he could kiss me. A New Year's celebration. I feared his judgment of my opinions but instead he gave me an outlet for my love to flourish. That was how I learned to nourish myself.