• Ryan Oliveira

Dear Ryan (Age 30)

You started this decade like many young men do: illicitly dropping shots of sake into glasses of Sapporo with sweet, suite-people. You wore your electric blue shirt - a favorite topic of yours for years to come, your safety blanket, your North Star for homosexuals as to how you would become. Boisterous. Colorful. You were finally breaking with conventions you thought long to be true. You would soon fall into and fail out of your first relationship. You would suddenly discover speech and swizzle that you never thought you had. You would end your first foray into the twenties - the "exploratory" period - with your arms on the shoulders of your friends, dragged drunk to your dorm room, loving every single passing one.

You spent your twenties in the age of Barack Obama. You would discover that depression desired company and attention in a series of explosions - often occupational, then relational, almost always familial. You'd brave New York. You'd trek miles in bitter slush and self-defeat - not just in New York, but in Iowa, in Chicago, even in Edale. Underneath your spectacles, you'd reveal yourself a charmer, at times a sex god, other times a serpent heartbreaker. You'd discover the price of cowardice. You'd let karma run you ragged - deserved, really. You'd deal with death close up and learn its weight on your shoulders. You'd lose your cool over cocktails, your tonsils over pollen, your teeth over tequila and insecurity. You'd nearly lose your life over loneliness - five life-liters worth of blood, to be exact.

And here you are, the last day of your twenties. You've taught at a university, if only too briefly - a flicker of what you could really accomplish, what will call your heart to accomplish in life. You've probably written twenty plays; you're averaging about three a year, but you're still guilted by not enough, so much so that you've tattooed you are enough inside your arm to remember your pain, your writing and your perseverance. You've seen auroras, shooting stars, foothills, fados. You've accepted your love of the ocean, the missing element in your stars. You've decided the drink is less important than the dreamer. You've given the universe an offering of service, an echo of your mother's wish to God when you were first born, uncertain you'd survive at all. You're reciting Thank You and Yes and I Can and I Will as daily acceptance of the universe's bounty, whatever it holds. The worm you thought you were is slowly transforming into a more brilliant butterfly, a more curious creature, a lover of what it means and feels and fucks and stings to be human.

Your last food is a 4 for $4 value meal at Wendy's. It's sad because you wonder its large value of tasting the world these last few months. You're attending a reading by a writer whose play made you go into your trademarked Aquarian Dramaturgies. And tonight, you're on a Whatsapp message chain of three hundred family members from Brazil - some your parents never even knew existed.

And you are reminded of how connected you really are in this world.

And how beautiful you're becoming.

Despite the fight ahead.

Despite the failures.

Despite the future unfolding.

You're becoming the line that never fails to move you: "When I look at you, I'm...I'm home."

(Thanks, Dory. I'll keep swimming.)

Keep building your home in the universe. Keep bringing people in.

Here's to another ten years,


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Ryan Oliveira

Ideas.  I'm full of them.

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