Ah, Sylvia. Thousands of eulogies for you have been written so eloquently that it feels redundant to write yet another. But here we are.

Sylvia, I still remember that afternoon in 2010 when I found myself reading The Bell Jar for the first time. I was at Kinokuniya at Plaza Senayan in Jakarta. That book changed my world. It was the gateway to you, to Ariel, to Daddy, to Lady Lazarus, and to the Curious French Cat you drew in 1956.

Even when your two poppy poems are sad and haunting, Sylvia, I cherish them more now because of a personal meaning I’ve indulgently attached to them. July is my birth month while the man I love was born in October. Some may call it a coincidence. I call it kismet.

Sylvia, you made me fly halfway across the world to pursue my degree in creative writing. In the end, I abandoned my family, my friends, and my homeland in exchange for adventures in this reckless, savage, and dying empire of dreams.

I’m not angry, Sylvia. How could I? Through your work, I found happiness. I found love. I found myself.

Sylvia, remember that night in San Francisco? I was dating The Priest. We saw Life of Pi at Westfield and afterward, he kissed me as we rode the elevator down from the top floor. I was giddy because this handsome ginger giant practically proclaimed to the world that I, a dumpy, skinny guy with bad teeth was his. He then said he’d like to meet his friends at a bar in the Castro. But I didn’t have an ID and the bouncer refused to let me in (damn this perpetual baby face).

Remember what I did, Sylvia? I waited for him at CafΓ© Flore, relieved that I had your journals with me. I know. You probably wouldn’t have been too happy knowing your private life has been mass-paperbacked for all to see and relish in a voyeuristic, vulgar attempt to dissect you. But I read them and read them and read them, until the waitress wiped the last table and brought the last chair in. The Priest had promised to fetch me but I never heard back from him. I turned off my phone and boarded the Muni to Embarcadero and began my hour-long journey back to my cold, dark apartment in Berkeley. Days later The Priest told me I was passive-aggressive and codependent. Weeks later, in a Chinese restaurant in Oakland, he told me he didn’t have time in his life for me.

Oh, Sylvia. I wish you’d known how much you were loved. Maybe not by your own giant, that raven-haired cad, but by so many others.

You never lost yourself, Sylvia. You freely gave it away, bit by bit, breath by breath, until you were spent and empty and all that was left to do was to leave the world.

Oh, Sylvia, I wish I’d been there that morning sixty years ago, to pull you out so you could pull through. Hell, I wish I’d been there a week before to help take care of your kids, feed your cats, walk with you to your doctor, make you endless cups of hot tea, take you out shopping for hats and scarves, gossip about how our giants treated us, discuss Keats and Yates, compare our dreams of being published, complement your fabulous Transatlantic accent, talk about politics, about the state of the world, about anything.

But you were gone two decades before I was born. And all I can do now is celebrate you, your work, your life, and your death.

Thank you, Sylvia. For the poems, for the stories, for the drawings. For inspiring me, for being there for me, and most of all, for saving me. This year, I’ll be a decade older than you’ll ever be, and I wouldn’t have been here without you. So many times you’ve saved me. I’m not unscathed, but I’m alive. And for now, it’s enough.



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BTS Thoughts:

Chrissy’s wearing a long t-shirt that says “I am, I am, I am.” This quote was taken from The Bell Jar, the first book of hers I’ve ever read. The book was originally published on January 14, 1963 under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas because she was worried it was too autobiographical and would hurt her family and friends. Almost a month later, Plath killed herself and the novel was republished post-humously with her real name.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health or substance use problem, please click here to reach out and seek help.

Dollsexposed showcases queer erotica, kink, fetish, and activism through twelve-inch doll photography.

Their adventures in the doll world began in 2011 before establishing a home on dollsexposed.com eleven years later.

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