The family I was staying with in New York, they’re friends of my parents I hadn’t seen in years. Her, especially. She intimidates me, because she is everything I am not : loud, fierce, unapologetic, extroverted. She is also kind, and so wise.
I have one, crystal-clear memory of her; of being thirteen and her looking at me and telling me it must hurt when you smile. Your muscles aren’t used to it.
And I know how that sounds, but the truth is I do not remember it as being an unkind comment, just fact and maybe some genuine curiosity and a gentle nudge at infuriating teenagers. I didn’t much smile when I was thirteen.
It’s been ten years since that comment, and look, sometimes my face still hurts from smiling. But I smile so much, now. I smile and I laugh and I make faces to the point where people who didn’t know me before call me an optimist, or a happy person, which if you’re my family will make you go I’m sorry, what.
I’m not sure what the point of this is. Maybe just to say, I have become so much more of a happier and confident person over the course of the past years. Smiling comes so easy and is one of my favourite things.