I had an epiphany recently. It happened the way the best epiphanies happen: I was in bed, avoiding my UW essay, eating fun-sized Valentine’s candy (fun-sized really is more fun), and watching Roseanne on Netflix. And I was pantsless. Obvi.

Alida Moore. Bringing the klassy since ’81.
So I was watching Roseanne and the episode was all about how one of the kids was moping around the house, all angst-y and depressed-like. She was dragging herself from room to room, sighing and whining about her life. I was yelling at the screen (like you do), “HEY. You are a middle-class white girl with two parents and a roof over your head. What the hell is so awful about your life?”
And then my life began flashing before my eyes. Specifically the 9th grade part of my life. And then I was like, “Oh. OOOOOOOH.” And then I was like, “Shit. Now I have to apologize to my mother.”
Let me paint you a picture of 9th grade Alida. Life was awful. Nobody understood me. Nobody understood what I was going through. I wanted to sit in my room and write the poetry of the oppressed but my parents didn’t get it. They wanted me to come out of my room and interact with the family. Like, they wanted to talk to me and they wanted me to say things back.
The horror.
I did what any dark and dreary teenager worth her salt would have done: I would pick a fight, stomp back to my room, SLAM the door, and then play Garbage as loud as I could (without getting into real trouble). Because y’all? I needed them to understand. I was ONLY happy when it rained.
I wanted to wear all black all the time but my mother wouldn’t let me. Specifically, she refused to let me throw out all of my perfectly fine (and mostly brand-new) clothes, just like she refused to buy me a brand-new wardrobe of all black clothing. But I was angst-y, y’all. So I found a work-around. I just showed her by wearing one specific gray shirt every single day. And I painted my nails black. With a Sharpie. (But only for like a day because people kept asking me if I’d hit all my nails with a hammer. Nobody understood me, btw.)
I was lucky though. I had an escape. I had my POETRY. And honestly y’all, one of my biggest regrets is burning all my poems when I became a Jesus-lovin’ Christian. Because my poetry was epic and I don’t throw that word around a lot. It was psychedelic and dark, deep and meaningful. I wasn’t afraid to release my inner demons, which I did by writing about all the drugs I took. By ‘took’ I mean ‘looked up on (ready for this?) Microsoft Encarta furtively in the family computer room while everyone else watched TV in the living room.’ I’d never even seen drugs, but I learned as much as I could about how it felt to take them because I wanted my poetry to be REAL. The truth is I’ve never tried a single drug because of the Sweet Valley High book where Elizabeth Wakefield’s friend tries drugs and DIES. Like, she just DIES the first time she ever tries drugs. Scared the hell out of me.
So that was me, in 9th grade. Depressed, whining, bad poetry writing, loud angsty music listening to, wearing gray, angry my mother wouldn’t let me dye my hair purple, me.
I got better though. I was saved by two things. First, I realized boys didn’t dig the whole Sylvia Plath thing. Second, I discovered Bath and Body Works. It’s impossible to be depressed when you are wearing the fruity fragrance of Sun-Ripened Raspberry body splash. Recognize.
My mother had no idea why her sweet sunshine-y girl turned into such a mess of angst. I remember her getting so frustrated, yelling at me, “WHAT is so wrong with your life??”
I understand now. She put up with a lot. And so, in honor of that, I think it’s time, sixteen years later, to let her know what was up.
Dear Mama,
I was kind of a pill in 9th grade. What happened was I read The Catcher in the Rye. And The Bell Jar. And then everything Jim Carroll ever wrote. And then I was miserable for about a year.

That was fun. Right? Hahahahaha. Ha. Ha. Ha?

Sorry about that.

Love you! Mean it,
Miss Merry Sunshine