How To Dress Well - “Words I Don’t Remember”
How To Dress Well - “Words I Don’t Remember”
“He manages like somebody carrying a box that is too heavy, first with his arms underneath. When their strength gives out, he moves the hands forward, hooking them on the corners, pulling the weight against his chest. He moves his thumbs slightly when the fingers begin to tire, and it makes different muscles take over. Afterward, he carries it on his shoulder, until the blood drains out of the arm which is stretched up to steady the box and the arm goes numb. But now the man can hold underneath again, so that he can go on without ever putting the box down.”
It’s been a rough, trying week, but I’m trying to push that all aside for a day because BEATS MUSIC IS LIVE AND READY FOR YOU! I’ve worked extremely hard on this and I’m really excited for you all to check it out and have something much better than Spotify on your phone. To help you out, here are some awesome playlists our team has put together (out of thousands of them)!:
This is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to write, and since my sister didn’t want a funeral I’ll leave this here:
When I was growing up, I thought that my sister was from another planet. There was no way that someone this cool could be related to me. On top of being too young to understand why Kristen didn’t grow up with the rest of my family, she just seemed so different from what I was surrounded by. She was a badass graduate of the United States Naval Academy, stationed in California/Maryland back then, and each visit, each phone call as a kid reinstated in my mind that she was someone to be idolized. Whether it was appearing at Christmas to give my brother and me a SEGA Genesis or her California friends teaching me the word “phat” on the phone, she always did the right things as a big sister.
What I was too young to understand at the time was the context, the struggle that Kristen came from. She was born while my dad was still in college, and from there came a rough upbringing, one with discipline, pain, confusion, and a separation from my father until around the time I was born. This adversity, however, made her into the strong person she became later in life, a self-made woman.
It was about 10 years ago that Kristen moved to Rhode Island, and my family finally got to have her as an often-seen member of the family. What I noticed, aside from the way we all made up for lost time, was the fact that I wanted to have so many of the qualities she had in abundance. She ran in marathons, triathlons, traveled to every corner of the world, owned an amazing dog she’d rescued, always seemed to be striving towards self-improvement. She lived life in a way few other (non-fictional) people seemed to live it.
In those early years together, she’d tease me in the most loving way possible; I was a sensitive kid, but one that kind of needed guidance even in the form of teasing. She’d tell me to get stronger, work out more, to put down the books and the laptop and watch the Pats, the Sox, the Celtics, and the Navy football games with her. She’d tell me to work harder in general, to get off my ass and make something of myself. I’d like to think I did when I finally left for Brooklyn.
Once I went to college, my relationship with Kristen changed and became much closer, one that felt akin to a friendship between equals, even if she didn’t stop spouting advice at me. We’d go out drinking and try to hash out the ways our family genes had forced habits good and bad, and how to escape the latter. Some of my best memories of partying in Brooklyn and elsewhere were with her, whether it was drinking my weight in mojitos at a fancy Manhattan restaurant or pounding beers at a taqueria in San Francisco.
Mostly, though, she was there for me every time life knocked me to the ground, through every dumb breakup and retrospectively petty hardship. She’d book me a train ticket to Rhode Island on a moment’s notice and keep me from hurting myself more, forcing me to go jogging with her, to watch sports and avoid talking about my issues as long as humanly possible. She really loved me, and loved to see me happy, loved to pick me up from off the ground, and loved to give me things. It was during one of these trips that she gave me one of the most important pieces of advice I’ve ever received: despite what seemed engraved in my brain as a part of our family, I had to learn that there was a difference between letting go and failing. She loved to give, but what was being given to me always mattered less than who was giving it, I’ve realized.
Though we’d spent some time together, it was not until last year that I spent a truly extended period of time with Kristen as we spent 10 days in London together. It was a truly wonderful time even if we were on the verge of strangling each other whenever we got lost there (this happened a lot). For those 10 days, we ate and drank until we couldn’t do it any more. The centerpiece and excuse of the trip was seeing our precious New England Patriots play at Wembley Stadium, a game where they destroyed the St. Louis Rams. It was also the spot where, as far as I know, our final photo together was taken. The rest of the trip included some epic soccer games and a drink together at the top of the Tate Modern overlooking North London. I will always have and cherish this trip.
About two and a half months ago, right in the middle of the World Series, Kristen was diagnosed with what turned out to be an unbelievably aggressive form of Stage IV Ovarian cancer. It took us all by surprise that the healthiest person we knew would get something so serious at such a young age. We had hope, though, that someone so strong could overcome it. Days after the diagnosis, I teared up watching the Red Sox win the World Series, wishing I could be in the hospital room with her and my father.
I loved my sister so much. So much of the man I am today came from her. Every time I go for a long run or go to the gym, I carry a piece of her. I carry her with me when I yell irrationally during a Pats game, when I force visiting friends to watch the Army-Navy game with me when they’d rather be doing anything else. I carry her with me on my best days, when I work the hardest and try new things and open myself to new experiences.
I received news last week that things were taking a turn for the worse, and that I couldn’t see her one last time in the sort of state she was in. She was at her best throughout the process when I spent time with her during Christmas, though, and our final conversation was a good one. After writing a rough draft, I recorded a letter I’d written to Kristen for my parents to play her on Saturday morning with many of the same sentiments here. Her eyes flickered at the sound of my voice, and I’ve been assured they heard it. Kristen Claire Waller passed away a little after 8 on Saturday night, 10 minutes before I arrived in her home.
If you were going through something rough in life, Kristen always had this habit of taking you to a bar and talking about sports and movies until you were a few drinks deep, ignoring the elephant in the room. Once you were half in the bag, she’d order you a shot, make you take it, and then ask how you were doing about this or that problem. If she were to do that today, I’d tell her that I feel a mixture of so many things, that I feel energized to live life the way she did and take advantage of every moment, to do new things and not worry about money or time. I’d tell her how sad I feel that I won’t get to spend time with her any more or have anyone to text with during Pats games, to turn to in my time of need, to make fun of my siblings with. That I’m sad that our family has experienced loss and changed permanently on a mental level. And that I feel, most of all, love for everyone I know, but that my love for her shined so bright in the time we got to have together.
I’ll miss you, Kristen.
I don’t do much work spam, but I’m super-excited for you all to see what I’ve been working on for the last year. Beats Music, our new streaming service, is coming in January, and you can register your username now! Do it! Do it I say!