Between you and the guy who scrawled his number on an old Peet’s receipt signing “In case you need more help parallel parking” and left it on my windshield… I’d say you have my “secret admirer” pretty fucking beat in the letter-writing department.
The truth is, I spent a long time pushing aside my rising answer in hopes one as equally light-hearted and sweet as your “handwriting” would arrive to save me. My answer isn’t the lightest one, and I’ll attempt to unpack it carefully; while it is surely a piece of me, it’s probably more accurate to call it a chunk, and can for this reason feel more burdensome than inviting. I think I pursue giving it to you mostly because it was set up too well to ignore.
Let me do my best to answer your question about what gives me “a private sense of pride whether or not I really earned it”:
My favorite thing about myself is something I did not earn at all. I only had to be born and be given a birth certificate.
You see, I’m mind-blowingly proud to be Katrina NELSON. Only to you, right here and now, will I admit that I have always agreed with everyone who has said that the Nelson girls run this town. To them I just blush and shake my head, but inside my pride is in full bloom. It’s a lot like how you described your experience with your sister. And it has nothing to do with me and my achievements, or even those of my sisters; rather, it has everything to do with the hard work of my parents. They built the Nelson name by being a kind, happy, overall loving young couple, and proceeded to quickly forge it into a family. With their admirable patience, outrageous attention to our particularities, and relentless enforcement of good-manners, we grew up lucky enough to catch their lifestyle of loving everything and being loved back.
We were the Nelsons. It was like being famous, without being a celebrity; like being famous for being only you. It was so easy to forget, but so flattering to be reminded. And so I think you can understand why, when my dad died seven years ago, being a “Nelson” at first did, too. It destroyed the sense security my life was so solidly crafted upon. Like so many who lose a parent, I struggled to attach myself to anything and everything of his, and long story short I came to my most concrete truth: as time steals away all the materials, evidences, and even memories proving that he was real, my blood alone is his endurance.It sound so cheesy, and I feel silly writing it, but running through my veins is the stable proof of his existence, and it’s a genuine comfort. When I hear “Katrina Nelson” it reminds me of the exclusive club to which only Annika, Larissa, and myself are a part of, sharing an indestructible attachment to the greatest man in the world. It’s a strange rush of pride, this exclusivity. It serves as tribute to my dad, a subtle reminder of how things used to be, and an odd physical/non-physical source of my strength.
I identify with how you described your shortcomings being countered by that latent power in your blood. I suffer from complete understanding—when I feel I’m not enough, I rely almost entirely on the power of my blood like a lifeline. Scrambling to connect to the people I look up to so much, I love that what connects me to my sisters is what dually sets us apart from everyone else. In a world constantly changing, I appreciate that our biology is a part of the permanence. It’s funny saying it, realizing how the confidence I’ve gathered relies supremely on being connected to those I respect.
And so we’ve reached a full circle, I think, as I believe you said something very similar. In other news, you should know that there are other things I do besides vomit out my life story. Initially, I knew my answer to you would be tethered to being a Nelson, but I have a feeling I gave you a brief history including the loss of my father because recently I’ve been thinking on it.
More specifically, I’ve been asking myself what even is someone’s story, in the starkest sense. While I was in the city, one impressively sweaty guy was yelling in my face over the music (spitting on me the entire time, I refuse to omit): “But seriously! What’s your story! Yeah, your story! I need to know!” Incredibly disinterested, I took the first opportunity to extract myself from his forward wetness, but not without taking with me his question. It’s got to be the biggest question you could possibly ask somebody, and there was no way he’d be the recipient of whatever strange answer I came up with. But it struck my curiosity, so I’ll toss it onto you—