Letter to a Newborn

Dear Marius,

First of all, welcome. Hey. You don't know me yet, but I'm a friend of your mom and dad.

I am a little in shock, about you being here. I mean, it's like the best magic trick ever. Something out of nothing. Not just something -- you. I saw the YouTube video your dad made. I watched it six times in a row. You appear to be perfect. It's bizarre. It's possible that you are the most adorable thing in the world.

For you, being born is something that you'll only have to think about later, when people show you the pictures. And then you'll probably make a face and be like, "Come on, guys, I was NAKED." And go back to whatever you were doing.

But you being born is ridiculously awesome.

I had a moment. I was looking at your tiny face, in the Youtube video, and you scrunched it up for a second, like you were thinking about crying, and then you changed your mind and went back to looking around with big eyes. And suddenly I got this urge to tell you stuff. Even though I'm 25 and what do I actually know about stuff. Twenty-five is a lot older than you. Maybe I've picked up a few things along the way.


Sometimes it doesn't hit me until I see the sky. Like, a lot of the sky. Most of the time, I actually just forget to look up. But walking back from the A train the other day, I remembered, and for a block or so, between buildings, I could see a sizable chunk of sky -- clouds and everything. And I realized that I'd been thinking about deadlines and whether or not she meant to sound so irritated when she said that in the meeting and, of course, dinner. But then, when I looked at the sky, I was suddenly thinking about how perfect it is, to be alive. Being alive is this crazy, ridiculous, utterly ordinary gift. You were given it. Make sure you look at the sky.

You are loved. A lot. Which you should probably try to remember as much as you possibly can. Because it is the thing that matters most. Really. You and I are both incredibly lucky to be born to parents who will love us no matter what. Sometimes I call my dad at work, and I'm like, "It's so weird -- this cream sauce is all clumpy." And he says, "Lower the flame, stir constantly." And then we talk about life for an hour. Sometimes the only thing in the world I really need is my mom. That still happens. Just so you know.

You are going to be good at a lot of things. They might not be the things that you wish you were good at. They might not be things you even notice all the time. But you are talented. And there are people out there who think your talents are the coolest ones. But more importantly, they are, because they're yours. I, for example, am great at making grilled cheeses. You'd think that's this little, practically meaningless skill. It's not. I promise you, it's not. It is a mighty, noble power. I'll make you one when you're older and can eat solid foods. You'll see.

No one is normal. I swear. Not even one of us. We're all just pretending, so that we can be a part of a group. But what makes us hilarious and fascinating and cute and promising is how quirky we all are. So don't worry too much about being normal, if you can help it. Also, along these lines, if you want to dance crazy, you should just go for it.

It's better to be happy. Even if there are times when you can only find one thing to be really happy about, and it's the egg sandwich at the deli on the corner, that's cool. I love me a good egg sandwich.

But it's OK to be sad. It will happen. Even though I wish it would never happen to you. When I get sad, I always get angry at myself for being sad. Which means that then I'm both sad and angry. Don't do that. People say sadness is like a wave. You have to let it wash over you. I would never say something that clichéd -- but seriously, just let it wash over you -- it'll go away and then you'll be there, sitting on the beach, thinking, "Hey, I can actually see a lot of sky from here." The important thing to remember when you're under the water is that you'll always come to the surface again.

It is tempting to protect yourself a lot, when you get older, by being sarcastic and cynical and cautious. But it's when you let yourself be vulnerable that you'll learn the most, and feel the most connected to other people. Like right now, I'm making a lot of little jokes, because I try to protect myself. But really what I want to say is something corny and earnest and utterly defenseless. Something like -- let yourself love. Let yourself be passionate and interested and engaged and captivated. Let yourself cry.

And make sure to make a fool out of yourself. Just get it out of the way -- life is more fun if you're willing to embarrass yourself a little. My arm got caught in the subway door the other day. The doors opened and snapped shut, and then my leg got caught. Everyone was looking at me, like, "Um, can you just get in the friggin' train so we can go, now? Why do you have so many limbs that you don't know how to use?" I laughed, to lighten the mood, which I thought was pretty ballsy, since there was a chance I was about to lose my leg. No one laughed with me. But look! Now I have that hilarious little story! So, to summarize, when you put yourself out there, you might end up somewhere really interesting. Like, in my case, Queens.

At some point, you will probably think it looks better not to wear a coat, even when it's really cold. But you should wear a coat anyway.

Honey Nut Cheerios are always good. You can eat them for breakfast or dessert.

Words are dangerous. That sticks and stones thing that will definitely still be around when you're old enough to understand it? Total BS. Once you can use words, be gentle with them. You might hurt someone otherwise.

But for now, enjoy being carried around. That stuff is amazing. You've got a while before you have to think about any of this. But when you can talk, if you ever want to talk, I'm here for you. We don't even have to get into anything deep. We can just eat a grilled cheese or two. Maybe some cake.

(Aunt) Kate