By Anne T. Donahue
Whenever I ask my uncle whether or not he’s worried about what someone may think, he looks at me with an earnestness I’ve yet to see anywhere else and exclaims, “I don’t care! I don’t care.”
This moment is usually followed by the reminder that he has no time; that he has a million things he’d rather be doing than putting effort into a situation he wants nothing to do with at all. It’s an incredible m monologue, and has become one of the most important catchphrases in my life and the lives of my loved ones. My dad used to emulate it perfectly, I adapted it to suit my own needs, and my beautiful Edith Bunker mother channels my uncle any time I ask her about a tedious task and whether we should even bother doing it. We are a family of non-carers.
At least about the shit that doesn’t matter and never really did. So in the spirit of me aging one million years every six hours, here’s the list of what I’m willing to let go of to create more time to watch my stories and ask the cat if he’s my son.
What I wear anymore
I mean, it’s over. We’re in year three of a pandemic, and I’ve not only grown out of my existing wardrobe, I don’t care about it at all anymore. I want to be comfy. I want to feel good. I want to channel the spirit of my much younger self and wear only clothes that make me feel like I’m cool (in my own mind) and/or able to run across the street to show everyone how fast I am. (I am not fast.) I don’t have even an ounce in me left to stress about the vibe and whether I am “hip” or “trendy.” I am neither. At all times, I want to be wearing roomy sweats, t-shirts, shorts, or denim, and if you even approach me with a crop top I will scream until my throat is sore.
This year, I turn 37. To some people that’s old! To me, that’s fine! No one on this cursed planet is looking to me to decide what’s cool. This is because I am not cool. Also, to most youths, I am old. And I should be! If a random 36-year-old rolled in and sat atop your cafeteria table, trying to chat like best friends when you were a teen, you’d be disgusted to the point of switching schools. Guess what: I’m not supposed to be in the loop in the same way as younger people. They’re supposed to be figuring out who they are, what matters to them, and what clothes to embrace or to write-off forever. I get to try and be a decent adult who doesn’t make the world even shittier for them than it was for me. I also get to start using Tums much more than I used to because my stomach has been decaying for years.
This deserves about 200 pages per letter, so I’ll just say this: my body is a mess, I’m trying to create a healthy relationship with it after many years or doing the opposite, and this week I ate several types of cheese in one sitting which extended my collaboration with Imodium and the bathroom. But also, I only get one body. And while I may have a thousand terrible things to say about it on my bad days, I am working very hard (with help, holy shit, I couldn’t do any of this alone) to simply be, “But here I am, I’m a living person, and fuck anybody who has a problem with it.”
Which is night and day from a few years ago when my mentality was in a dark place that told me everyone is zooming in on every one of my photos and listing every flaw they see. I simply don’t want to live that way anymore. I just want to walk around wearing my dad’s old hoodies and in my pink fleece-lined Crocs and think, “Yes, I will absolutely have fish and chips tonight.” And then move on to another line of thinking because I have to go buy lightbulbs.
Let me begin by saying I love TV/movies/music, but I can’t love them the way I used to because I don’t have it in me. I’m tired always. My day-to-day end-goal is to simply get through the day. I love that creative people are making wonderful and creative things, but I also know that if I don’t participate in the discourse surrounding them, I will not die and they will not die and everyone will simply continue to live the lives they were living. Nobody on this planet is sitting at their homes, wondering what I think about any number of new TV shows. And this thought calms me every night and strokes my hair until I am asleep. I watch what I want, and I bypass what I choose, and I don’t weigh in on most things because why would I. Why would anybody? Please just let me watch Chopped and yell at the contestants I’m sure can’t cook as well as I can.
(I can’t cook at all.)
Whether my friends are still my friends
I have recently come to the dramatic conclusion that as long as your friends don’t say they’re not your friends, they are your friends. Why wouldn’t they be? Did you do something? Are you spreading lies about the people who love you? Of course you’re not. Like them, you, and me, and everyone reading this (my mom and two of six neighbourhood cats) are living their lives, likely not concerned at all with whether you’re a shitty human being. (My friends have known for years that I’m a shitty human being. And they still talk to me and send me cards.)
Sometimes you talk to some people more than others. Sometimes you go through phases where you’re inseparable before not hanging out for almost a year. Is that cause for concern? I don’t think so. One of my best friends once told me that friendship wasn’t linear and that you treat it like it’s some unbendable, straight line. And I love that. Time is all over the place. We’re in constant states of growth and “Who am I and what am I doing and is this coupon for denim still valid at Mark’s Work Warehouse?” As long as no one’s purposely ignoring their pals or dipping out of massive life events and avoiding big talks and check-ins, what’s the issue? Sometimes I take weeks to text a friend back. But if she needed me ASAP to fight her enemy, I would be there and ready and politely asking her not to ask why I took so long to respond to the thread we had going from May. (Spoiler: I am lazy.)
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