Screen Shot 2014-04-06 at 6.43.39 AMI look through pictures as I get ready to write. Coffee. Check. More coffee. Ready. Silence. For the moment. All things are in place.

I pause a moment. I savor art running through my feed while my thoughts get ready to wake up. Sarah turns casual happenstance into cartoons– watch out, you could be next. Kristen doodled a picture of herself, and lettered things I want to hang on my wall. Marius turned real people into superheroes. I wish I was a superhero.

Kristen's original picture.

Kristen’s original picture.

I always wanted to turn the ideas rattling around my head into pictures everyone could see, capturing sentiment–humor, emotion, love. Whatever. A visceral image to go with the words on this page.

Alas, it is not my superpower.

In school I played sports. I wanted it to be my superpower but I was awful. Coach let me stay because I tried so darned hard. In basketball, I was the”one” in the “box and one.” The “one” who shuts down the star shooter. No talent required, no superpower, just grit and determination.

Screen Shot 2014-04-06 at 6.46.52 AM

Sarah Steenland decides whether to bring vegemite to America.

“You’re funnier than the Cosby show.” I got ovations if I ever scored a basket. There’s no trophy for stopping the other team from getting points, only for getting points of your own. That’s the superpower.

It’s true in life as well.

“Your sister was a good clarinetist. You were a disaster.” Someone recalled my musical career. I practiced, played, tried. It didn’t work out.

It wasn’t my superpower.

Years went by. The type of years where we join the ranks of the normal and do what normal people do. Nothing heroic. Nothing super.

I always wished for friends’ talents. Art. Sports. Theatre. Music. Fashion. I never got them, but somehow, I found places I could navigate, corners I could round, and rooms where I could stand without too much shame. Next to the artists, athletes, actors, musicians, martial artists, writers, and stars.

Funny things happen through the lens of age. I look around the rooms of superheroes in my mind. I realize they’re real people looking for their own superheros, wishing for the talents of their friends. There’s always someone better than us in every single category. I never met anyone who had superpowers who thought they had superpowers. Especially the people who really do.

“I hope I can do this,” I hear their thoughts. “I’m so bad at this,” they’ll say. “I wish I could be like her…”

Her, who? Me? You wish I had my superpowers? What superpowers?

I look in the mirror. I think back on the time I spent practicing sports and clarinet, working on art, fashion, theatre, fitting in…At the same time, my superheroes were doing the same thing. Practicing things I take for granted. Academics. Speaking. Writing. Telling a joke.

Things I never consider superpowers. I’m too busy being my own kryptonite.

I smile. Smiling is one of my superpowers. I look at the pictures everyone drew. I don’t wish I drew them anymore. I love them for what they are–perfect.

I finish my coffee. I put on my cape and tights, gather my superpowers, and fly off to save the world…


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