My young friend, Katie is on a Grand Adventure in Paris. She writes me the best letters and generously gave me permission to share the one I received in the mail yesterday.
This is, perhaps, the best post I never wrote.
“Auntie M: 10:18 PM
This is a letter entitled:
“How To Be A Punk-Ass Kid”
A few weekends ago I bought this absolutely gnarly hunting jacket from a thrift store in an area of town near Chatelet. It’s dark blue, fleece-ish lined, with corduroy on the collar and sleeves. It smells like one giant mothball. It blurs the line between charming and horrendous. I wear it almost every day.
Here’s the thing: I like it because it makes me feel like a punk ass kid. I’ve totally sought out ways to achieve this feeling for most of my adolescence, if not my life, and it wasn’t until I bought this wicked coat that I found the words to describe what I’ve been going for all this time.
I spent pretty much all of high school squirming. I felt trapped by a lot of things. A religion that just didn’t fit, despite its good intentions. A school system that seemed to place emphasis on all the wrong things. My own expectations of myself, (crafted in large part by the former two areas) which I had sadistically placed out of reach of any actual human, especially little old me. I was consumed by a feeling of powerlessness. All these institutions seemed to showcase my failure and trivialize my accomplishments. This is the worst thing I have ever felt.
Somewhere in there I started to take that power back. I tried lots of things. I wanted ownership of myself. I wanted to take action. This, I think, is a piece of the psychology behind my history of self harm. I was just so tired of feeling helpless in the face of other people’s standards – especially the standards that I had at some point picked up and refused to let go of. Making a mark on my body felt like empowerment. Keeping that a secret felt like ownership. It was misguided and unhealthy. But in retrospect, I see it as the sad, backwards cousin of true punk ass kiddery.
Because that’s what it’s really about. That’s what it’s all about, maybe. Just completely owning it. Owning yourself. Taking
initiative, ruffling feathers, doing what you want fearlessly and triumphantly, and taking the consequences.
There were a few times there, in my distant youth, where I wanted to get in trouble. I threw parties at my house and would leave something out of place. Just one empty beer can or I would just tell my parents flat out or I would open the door to the party outside, knowing that my uncle was in the house. I wanted confrontation. I wanted to get yelled at, kind of, until I realized my parents were not really the people I wanted to confront. This was the stupid cousin of the Punk Ass Kid.
I think I actually really nailed it with the tattoo. A pure show of Punk-Assedness in maybe its original form. I love that it wasn’t random, or a result of intoxicants or a last-minute decision. I love that I did it only for myself and didn’t post an Instagram picture of it. I like that I came up with the design, and that I can shift the meaning depending on my mood. These days it mostly resides beneath the left sleeve of the hunting jacket, but I can still feel where it is.
It occurred to me, while writing this, that all of the great goals in my life are woven together, feed into each other, or are maybe all the same thing. Finding balance, finding peace, staying focused on ~the now~, taking ownership of yourself and your actions and your beliefs. It’s all just being a Punk Ass Kid.
Like, share, comment, tweet and let us all dream of becoming Punk Ass Kids.