I found this piece in my gray purse this morning, stuffed at the bottom with a used napkin, a loose mint, a penny, and an earplug embedded with sand and crushed to death. I wrote it last week, on a pad of legal paper, with a pen that’s bent an a little leaky, and I got ink on my fingers which stayed for days. It’s not finished, but it is written to you, so here it is anyway because it’s the best I could do that day, and also today, and I bet you’ll understand.
The sun is shining in Oregon and it’s warm and gentle like the breeze it brought along which is a measure of grace and also confusing because there are people I know and people I love — some of whom are you — who are hurting and in pain, living with confusion and uncertainty, bearing great burdens, and I do not understand how the sun can shine or the wind kiss our skin while we simultaneously live in the nighttime of our grief.
I’m sitting outside at a metal table on a metal chair — the kind that will leave a waffle print on my skin — eating hazelnuts roasted with rosemary and bacon, so mostly picking out the bacon to eat and occasionally, accidentally snagging a nut so I feel virtuous about having a healthy, fibrous fat alongside the unhealthy, salt-laden one, and I feel like I have too much to say to you to capture it well and also not enough to waste your time, which is how I feel most days and is something I have to choose to overcome all the time, shushing the push-me-pull-you of Too Much and Not Enough in favor of using my voice anyway. Using my voice which is a lot like trying to pick out the bits of bacon I like and realizing there are way more nutty things in the mix I’ll have to have, too.
I wish we knew ahead of time which things in life we will struggle with and figure out and which things we will never quite manage so we could lay those things without merit to rest sooner and bid them adieu and spend this one wild, weird, wonderful life pursuing the things that will matter in the end. But I suppose that’s not how it’s done because there are lessons in our longing, and friends to be found, and a Village to be built when we carve out the tangled jungle together. Damn it. It’s just that there are some days — most, really — when I’d pick Easy over Triumphant, and bacon over nuts, and I’d prefer a Village already built and also perfect and also-also with a bonfire in the middle of the square so we can see each other in the dark and dance there with abandon because we’re not afraid of the monsters lurking in the inky night or the monsters lurking in ourselves. Instead, we have to build the Village, brick by brick, and the bonfire, stick by stick, and we have to find the monsters and suss them out and vanquish their power over us using the usual, mundane tools, like Invitation and Inclusion and Kindness and Welcome, even while we shoulder our griefs and short-comings. It seems like an ineffective system, frankly. I’m sure I could have invented a better one.