For about two and a half years I’ve kept a small slip of paper (the one they have by the card catalog search at the library) adhered to my bedroom wall.

It reads:

“To be a highly skilled and productive writer/ performer.”

I wrote it when a book asked me, point blank, what I wanted to be and then asked me to write that thing down. I almost didn’t write it down. I don’t like when inanimate objects like books or tea bags tell me what to do. In my early twenties I thought goal writing and choiceful affirmation was for white girls with communications degrees and ombre bejeweled iphone cases. I was above it. I was far away from it — I had a leather jacket and lack of mailing address. I was cool and stupid and entirely for show. I was not wanting or willing to work yet.

I would spend the next few years (including today) being reminded that raw talent without hard work is nothing and maybe that’s what that quote is hand-lettered onto coffee cups and posters and everywhere. I would try and outrun this truth. Maybe you’ve seen me running.

What I did not expect when beginning to do all the things my heart wanted (write, perform, stop hating myself) was that I would find my peoples. MY PEOPLES. I had felt vaguely alone for so long that I had begun to assume that all paths were more or less solitary. There was an Ali who thought she’d be dying alone by 27. There was an Ali who thought she’d be dying alone by 34.

Melodrama aside, I’m saying:

When you have your peoples and your peace of mind, the life you want doesn’t seem elusive or unattainable, the life you want seems just down the line a little bit. The life you want is just over there. The life is on the train, which train? Every train. You and your peoples work towards happy and true together. You build lives and homes together.

My peoples,

Thanks for letting me hang.

Thanks for allowing me space to show up to.

Thanks for telling me when I’m being a fucking brat.

Thanks for telling me when I am simply phoning it in.

Thank for reminding me everyday that:

If you are not making what you were put on this planet to make then you are waiting around (for nothing).

I’ll see you (tonight and so many other nights) under the stage lights and in the crannies of the non-fiction aisles. I’ll see you wherever we end up.

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