"I wanted to tell you both about my magical year," one of my best friends recently wrote to our other friend and me. A few years ago, she explained, she had a wonderful year full of live music, meeting new people, road trips, exploring, late nights, bike rides, and silliness.
"Something important happened during that year, but I'm not sure exactly what it was," she said.
I knew what she meant, because I had a magical year, too. I'm sure many people go through a period in their youth when they're carefree, energetic, and experiencing new things, but like my friend, I can pinpoint the timeline specifically: late 2011 through 2012. I was unemployed or working a job I hated through most of that time, but I was writing for local publications and going to music shows constantly. My favorite hip-hop group played a full week of shows at a popular club, and I went to all seven shows. I would tweet mundane things and people would respond approvingly.
Some friends of mine started a dance night at our favorite bar with music that I loved. I would show up when the dance floor was still empty and stay until it was slick with spilled drinks and fog machine residue. Through that dance night, I met a couple of guys who had a college radio show, and basically elbowed my way onto the air as their guest. I DJ'd my own birthday party at that same favorite bar, and people actually came. Then I was asked to DJ a high school prom, and my friend and I led a bunch of charter school teens in doing the Cupid Shuffle.
I went to New York for the first time and walked around by myself, fearless. I chatted with a group of punk kids in Union Square Park; I brought a journal to an all-night convenience store and wrote while drinking a Bud Light, feeling silly and self-conscious but also pretty damn cool.
That's really at the heart of my magical year: I felt cool. Really, it was just that I was friendly with people who ran popular Minneapolis blogs, and one time I knew where to find a secret show. But I felt that my words were worth putting onto the Internet and saying out loud on the radio. I felt that nothing could touch me if I went out at night or traveled alone. I was single for part of that time, and maybe I worried that no one would ever want to date me long-term, but honestly I don't remember feeling that way. I was unsettled in my life and career, I checked my phone a lot for texts that weren't coming, but I didn't explicitly doubt my own worth.
My friend wrote, "I don't want to go back to that magical year, because it was somewhat unpleasant. I felt lonely and uncertain. I wondered who I would end up marrying and what profession I would join."
My magical year ended because of good things: I finally found a steady job I liked, and I started dating my boyfriend. The publication I covered music for shut down, and I realized that blacking out for a few seconds when I stood up too quickly at work probably wasn't an okay trade-off for staying out late at shows.
But sometime between then and now, I started to feel small and nervous and uninteresting. A little humility and perspective are valuable, of course, but my inner "Who cares?" counterpoint has overwhelmed most of my urge to share my writing publicly. During the magical year, I relished the fact that I knew so many people who made original work: zines, funny videos, one-act plays. I still do, and I still admire them, but now I think, "There are so many podcasts — who would ever listen to mine? Who would want my newsletter in their inbox? If I post this observation on Twitter, won't it just seem stupid next to all of these people saying clever and interesting things (or next to tweets about horrible violence and inequality)?"
I don't mean to be self-pitying, because my words really aren't that original. But I want them to be, someday, and I want to write well about the things that are important to me and that I can't shake from my brain.
I'm relaunching this blog with a few posts I've written in the past, but with the goal of writing something new at least once a week. This is my attempt to recapture that piece of the magic: the conviction that it's good to make things and share them, even if they're not perfect.