I don’t know how old I was the first time I had an obsessive-compulsive thought. I’m not even sure of my age in the earliest memory I have of such an event, although I’ve always assumed it was 6, the number we tend to attribute to all early childhood recollections.
I chose to believe the story for as long as I did because it was the kind of story children want to believe, and, if we’re being honest, the kind of story grownups tell in the first place because some part of them wants to believe it, too.
Today I thought about you. And you. And you as well. I wonder what you think about me, when your memories are likewise unpacked and hooked about your head like a series of collected ornaments, out of season and shaking loose too much glitter and dust.
The thing about the act of burning is it destroys only a shape, impermanent to begin with. It disassembles. Not unlike a caterpillar in a cocoon, dissolved to paste only to be remolded. Not unlike a star, flung into disparate corners of the universe to make a planet, a foot, a piece of cake—stardust, all.
Pain is like a wave, she told me, although she almost certainly wouldn’t have used that word. “Pain” has no place in the universe that is childbirth, even though it is so often affixed to it. What is pain when it’s only currency for something miraculous? Pain as the gateway to life. Pain as mother.
Starting a business requires something usually reserved for religion and relationships (both of which often suffer in the throes of entrepreneurship): faith. A truckload of it. A truckload with a tendency to back over and flatten too many other things that matter.
It is quiet now at night, even in the city, roads and voices muted by the mad hush of rain. Rain against pavement is also a sound, but it slips through ears like it does through gutters, spilling over and out and rushing to sea in the way all moments and memories eventually do. But I imagine that tonight even without the rain the world would seem silent, no matter the city or bustle or subway line. Tonight is made for our quiet.
It is a different kind of motherhood to tend a garden, one that is probably more about nurturing yourself than a tiny creature. But as we each stretch further from our childhoods, grow like saplings toward the sun, so it becomes more important, and often more necessary, that we learn to provide ourselves with some parenthood as well.
When I was 18, before I knew anything about publishing or pitching or rejection or acceptance, I tried to get something published that didn’t belong to me, but, rather, belonged to my mother. Years earlier, when I was only 8, she had written a poem that had become famous in my family.
Desert lights buzz like cicadas, the fluttery rumble of all those wings and photons shuffling against each other and stretching into an air so thin you wonder if it is even there. When all else is quiet, there is still that soft, eternal flickering. The night was hot. And quiet, for a time.
There is something haunting about a rip in your skin. It reminds you that the whole thing could fall apart, turn to ribbons and dust. It reminds you, in fact, that one day it will. And then you are left with that to think about.
Journalists are a lot like scientists, really, seeking an objective truth, trying to put pieces together. No one does it for the money. It’s a longstanding joke in the industry that most of us make very little. Some might do it for the power, or a hopeful slice of fame, although both are unlikely. I do it because information matters, because while there are some relative truths in life, often the answer is strictly “true” or “false.”
A letter isn’t a book. A letter is simple. A letter is something you can write throughout the week or in one great, long breath. And if a few people expected it at a certain time on a certain day—well, that I could do. And I have loved it.
The first time a boy pinched my ass I was in the fifth grade. His name was Spencer. He probably did it on a dare. I slapped him across the cheek as hard as a 10-year-old girl can slap. I stomped away, red-faced, to find a corner where I could cry.
The day we found Rokan, the sky was blue, that sort of crisp, surreal cerulean that might only exist in New Mexico and other arid, sweeping landscapes that offer nearly nothing in the airways between you and the vastness of the beyond.
Take a look around.
Be your own best editor.
What are you making?