To a friend

Hey Nicole,

I know I don’t have to catch you up with everything that’s been going on in the world since you left it a few months ago. You’re everywhere, now, and I’m guessing you can see all this from all kinds of crazy perspectives that elude each of us individual humans. It must be surreal to know everything, now. I’m betting things are a lot simpler than you ever thought… or at least I hope that’s somehow true.

This morning I drove to work in a wild thunderstorm — lightning blazing all the way across the sky, north-to-south and then south-to-north (did you notice that today?). I made it to the office in time to have a break in the rain so that I could walk from the parking lot without getting soaked. The woman who zoomed past in her fat white SUV in the alley nearly splashing me… do you happen to know why she was in such a hurry? Do the seagulls aim anus for her car on days like this? I’d like to think so, but maybe you know for sure?

Anyway, since you know everything that’s been going on, you might be more interested in knowing what’s been going on in my head — one place you’re not able to visit as you please, at least not in real time. Of course you’re there in tons of memories and can visit those locales as often as you’d like.

In fact, part of the reason I’m writing is because I visited one of those memories, today, by accident. After nearly escaping being drenched in the alley, I trundled up the stairs to the office and sat at my desk. The dim light of the dark morning barely penetrated the room, so I turned on my lamp and began immediately diving into the day’s figures and fact-finding.

Maybe it was the warm glow of the halogen lamp and the wildness of the rain beginning to pour again just outside the window, but I IMG_1130suddenly remembered that it was about this day in history (2008) that you, James, and I discovered that little blackberry u-pick place in Riverside, MI. I think it had been your idea to stop even though we were already loaded down with peaches in the trunk.

So, even as I sat in my dark office this morning staring down the meaningless, intangible, and impossible things before me, in the distance I saw us there in the sun, surrounded by those giant vines, holding those gigantic berries in our hands, exclaiming with almost childish delight as we plucked them and carefully placed them in the little baskets. I felt the sun on my back, heard the trio of our voices, felt your presence there next to me among the vines. And then I felt my chair beneath me, heard the patter of rain against the window, and my eyes filled with the tears I so often fight back, lately.

You can go there, now, to Riverside on that same day and have those same berries again… you can maybe even live there in that solitary day over and over if you IMG_1074want. I do envy you. Me, I just get to visit, and feel this unguent mix of joy and bottomless grief. Maybe just by happy accident you were there, today, as I was? I like to think so. On a day that made me want to walk into Lake Michigan and keep going… I think being with you for a moment made it not so bad.

I don’t know what’s going on with me — not that you do either, don’t mean to pressure you. I just can’t seem to find my way anymore. I used to be more sure of myself. I used to be able to find joy and carry it around with me. Now I can’t seem to hold onto anything for very long.

Some of it is definitely the new job. As you know, I grabbed onto it like a life preserver, but I’m starting to think it was just an albatross I mistook for safety in a desperate moment. Oh, and you know me: I have a hard time letting go of things. I like to clean things up, like to make them better. They say they need exactly that, and while I do agree they need it desperately, more and more I feel unfit.

Any insights for me? Am I just being my usual anxious, over-thinking, overly-sensitive self, or did I actually make a wrong turn and I’m heading into trouble? You may not know what I’m thinking, but you do have the ability to be in the past and the future, now — zipping all over eternity as you please — so maybe help a guy out with some advice?

One day at a time, right? That’s at least all we mortals are entitled to. Do the best you can with what you know. That one feels a little tougher to me, lately. I don’t feel like I know anything for sure anymore. And what scares me is that I’m starting to think none of us really knows anything for sure — we never have! We’re just a bunch of fuzzy apes trading our stories around a campfire riding a tiny space rock hurtling through space.

You know what I’m getting at, all metaphors and meteors aside. What I’m going through right now is not easy, and it’s not fulfilling. So, naturally, taking it one day at a time is not an easy assignment for me of late. I miss even the flimsy promise that better days lie ahead. Counting my blessings keeps me at least partially sane, but it doesn’t really ease any of this pain. Instead, I’m afraid it keeps me turning backward into the past. As futile as it is to grapple for joy that can’t be recaptured, those are at least joys I can readily see because I held them once. Yes… another of the blessings to count, I know.

Thank you for listening to me, tonight, and thank you for the sunny memory earlier this morning. I was going to tell James about it, this afternoon, but I started crying about my shitty day at work and then trying to gather strength to tell him about the blackberries was just more than I could muster. Maybe he’ll read this and it’ll make a little more sense to him… hell, maybe it’ll make a little more sense to me too!

Love forever (and ever always),


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