You Don’t Get To Choose What Happens To You

Brittani Lepley
Brittani Lepley

Remember how when I had my headaches I would always want to listen to Leonard Cohen? And you would read me one of his poems from your little book and one time you saw him in a hotel bar? We behaved much like any couple in one of his songs, fighting and fucking and leaving and coming back for more, the entire time we were together. I used to wake up whimpering with a headache and I’d ask you to press firmly on my jawbones or the back of my neck.

Even now when I have headaches I just want to cover my eyes and listen to Leonard drone about the Sisters of Mercy and about Suzanne. Last spring, when the headaches were particularly crushing and kept me in bed twice in one week, I thought they might be the seeds of a tumor. It’s not normal to feel like your head is being sliced in half by some white-hot knives. But they went away for awhile, so I stopped being afraid.

When I was younger and felt sad and dark, I’d wish to sleep a Sleeping Beauty sleep, the endless kind for an infinite amount of time. But I knew that if that were possible, I’d wake up in a day or two, afraid that I’d missed something. I was very afraid of things like that when I was in college; I was afraid of everything, and it kept me up at night.

Growing up felt so easy and natural, but at the same time it ripped me up emotionally, my insides shredded like the lining of my favorite leather jacket. I don’t know why they choose to line those in such thin, easily-torn silk. It tore me up, left a bunch of scars and scratches and marks on my skin, but I made it out alive.


This is the fine print. You don’t get to choose what happens to you, not really. Things do not always go your way, greedy and spoiled as you can be. Things unfurl slowly and then suddenly, and they can easily go haywire or grow out of your control. This is the fine print of everything, of life. Take a minute to read it.

Little children aren’t afraid of anything, so why am I? At least, they’re completely unafraid until we teach them to fear. Babies and small children aren’t scared; they’re just warm little beacons of hope. It shines right out their eyes. I like thinking I’m a mass of electricity, a human firework. I just don’t like thinking that we’re wired in such a way where it could all freeze up and short circuit. Your heart beats so fast in the early morning hours – I can see it lit all golden and brave through your skin. I can feel it and trace it with my fingers. And the fine print is that that steady and true thud thud thud thud could just stop.

Maybe that’s better, though, than having your life leak out of you. I don’t know.

Everything is beautiful, and everything hurts.

Once I read that when JFK died, his loved ones slipped little talismans and trinkets into his casket. They sent him into the next world with small reminders of the people and moments he’d loved on Earth. I’ve always thought this was the most wonderful thing and I should hope that when I die, you’ll all fill up my coffin with everything good. I always put a lot of faith in objects, you know.

I still wake up with my lipstick on, sometimes. You always thought that was funny. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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