Ms. M. reminded me of Drew Barrymore in Donnie Darko, and it wasn’t just the red hair. She was unconventional, or so I’d heard. The rumors were confirmed when I started 12th grade honors English, and she had us make post-secret cards our first semester.
Most people wrote things that were shallow or things they thought were funny (most nerds aren’t funny). I can remember such gems as “tan people make me feel sun burnt”. I took personal offense to this since I was usually unnaturally tan. Another one said “I tend to scream in my sleep” – stupid and definitely a lie.
I spent weeks laying awake at night planning my card. “I’m a drug addict” seemed too obvious, and that wasn’t much of a secret anymore. I’d become so use to lying, even at 17, that the truth was hard to find. Even alone at night in the dark when things were always much clearer.
My biggest problem at 17, other than the heroin, was that my parents were constantly monitoring me, chasing, prying, watching. I found a black and white picture of a happy family from the 1950’s, smiles plastered across their faces. I used black sharpie to draw a frowny face on the boy and used a red sharpie to write “I wish my parents didn’t love me so much”. I’m pretty sure no one understood what I meant except Ms. M.
Towards the end of the year, after I’d become dependent on heroin, we did a semester on poetry. I’d never written poems before, and it was the first time I wrote about being addicted to cocaine or my new found love of heroin.
My post-secret card and those poems may have been the only honest things I did that year, that decade. I have Ms. M. to thank for helping me find truth through writing, even though I didn’t realize it at the time. So if my writing scares or offends you, let me know, and we will both tell you to fuck off.