1. if someone invites you back to their place
for coffee, and you only drink tea,
you probably won’t actually be drinking coffee.
2. when the creepy guy from work asks you out
again and you think about accepting for the first
time because you’re sick of going home alone and
you have never learned how to say no, don’t. learn.
stand in front of the mirror until you love yourself
enough for your skin to fit snug on your body. read
about the hundreds of millions of planets out in the
hundreds of millions of galaxies and feel so crowded
that you’re about to burst all over again.
3. you’re gonna screw up.
Jesus Christ, you’re gonna screw up so bad
and i’m not talking about forgetting an appointment bad,
or spilling coffee on your boss bad
or getting into a small fender bender on the side of the interstate bad.
i’m talking about the kind of bad that ties you down
into your bed on Monday morning when you
need to go to work. the kind that weighs on your shoulder
during the entire day, the kind that everyone can see,
like a neon bar sign flashing in a bible-belt town,
or the guilty and private kind,
like a two-bit hooker pressing the money
as close to her heart as she can get,
as if she could absorb it
and finally feel like she’s worth something.
4. distance really does make the heart grow fonder.
4. so call your mother. often.
you’ll miss her when you’re struggling
to wrap presents on Christmas eve,
and when you’re paying
taxes for the first time.
4. and keep track of your old friends:
they’re the only ones who remember your
first time drunk in high school,
or the time you wanted to be a ballerina
or how to climb in through your old house’s bedroom
window at one o’clock in the morning.
4. and while you’re gonna move to a place with mountains
or plains or beaches or deserts, a part of you will
always miss these rolling hills.
5. people are gonna stop telling you that
you’re beautiful because you’re not a kid anymore.
that doesn’t mean it stops being true,
just because you get crow’s feet at the corner
of your eyes when you smile or laugh lines like
curtains framing your mouth.
you are beautiful still, with your bruised
knuckles from punching the clock,
your torn up lungs from breathing in
a ruined ozone layer; this is what happens
with age: you improve, you prove to be better.
you are beautiful still. more so now.
6. always use blinkers, never roll through
a stop sign, drive with the windows down,
and when you’re running on fumes, pull over.
keep your eyes on the road.
it’s easier than they tell you.