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He’s back, almost two years later. Everyone is unsure how to feel. Happy, at first. Excited for some amount of joy, eager to soak any of his sunshine in during the dark times. Confused, unsure, hesitant, guilty.

Was he guilty? If she thinks so, does it matter? What matters? Does he still matter to us? Are his words still important? Can a man be separate from his work? Am I?

He painted in rainbows, in sunshine, in colors so bright they might still blind us from our harsh realities.

It’s been more than a decade, more than a moment, more than that night we sat together in the same room and thought about the same things. But he was with other people in other rooms, too.

We move on.

There are seedlings growing in the sunshine on my balcony. Sunshine itself is sadly not enough for you and I to grow. Apart or together.

They abuse the colors of the rainbow to make money, to spread fear and misinformation, to tell truths we may or may not need to hear. There is very little silence. Here, too.

Writing is speaking. Speaking is wind rushing out of your lungs, through your vocal cords, over your teeth – back into the air. Release it all.

There is very little space, now. Too many people stuffed in too many homes. Don’t spread anything. Keep quiet. Share nothing. Don’t move. Stay still.

Yes, you’re all special. Loud and terrible beings. Your mother is the worst, your dog is the cutest, your life is the most important. Here, too.

It is warmest in the sunshine next to the window. From there you can look out onto the street, watch the people riding their bikes, buying fresh bread, holding hands.

It’s always been very distant. There’s never been a goal. I’ve never been part of it.

He’s back, feeling not too bad about any of it. He tells us he’s learned a lot about himself. Is that possible? Do we care?

Everyone is very tired. They nap in the sunshine, in the quietness, next to the colors of life.

The old man walking down the road calls to his little dog: Come, come here.

If she could see me now, she wouldn’t believe it. Look at us, I whisper at her through time, you’d love this. Everything you wanted and still nothing.

We are at the brink, at the edge of destruction, at the cusp, the final race, the last human choice. We will go forward from here. It may be a beginning or an ending – we won’t know for many years.

Years ago the future was dark to me – a mystery. It still is. He still is. We still are.

The ivy plant I stole is growing in the windowsill, so slowly. What will its future be?

You should write – you should sing – you should dance to bad music – you should travel before your hips and knees and eyes go out.

What is it to us? We cannot see the melting glaciers from our ivory towers.

She told me it was a fine example of fictocriticism. I told her I like to refer to it as my life.

Ich bin ausländer.

On the train a little girl tells her mom about London. London doesn’t hurt like Berlin does, she says, leaving the train. She goes back to her hotel. She leaves Berlin. She grows up and some other things happen.

Photographs like the blink of an eye. Memories like faded photographs. I can’t see anything in my head. All is dark here.

Today it snowed in the place where I was born. Today it was the hottest it’s ever been in Antarctica. We are all cold and dying like the sun. Her son will be born soon, into this mess we’ve made. Clean your room, child. Put your toys away. Be responsible for something.

 

Do you feel old yet, dear? Do your bones ache at night when you lay in your soft bed? Do your blue eyes wrinkle at the edges, does your blonde hair grow grey?

The joints go first, torn up, imagine how much effort they put in as you walk casually along, unafraid of death or destruction.

The eyes will sink into your face, dear, but you’ll still be beautiful as you cry in the mirror.

Your dreams will become stranger as you grow slowly towards darkness. You might see me there sometime.

You’ll know it’s time when you start to miss your grandmother’s clothes.

Her bones became your bones, you share the same face now, and fate.

Are you happy? Are you well-loved? Do you miss me? Who do you miss? Will you answer my questions, one day?

She isn’t waiting for you anywhere. You’ll never get to meet her again. Does that make you feel better, or worse?

You will sing to him before he can understand you. You will keep singing and become a memory in his head.

Sleep gently in the cool autumn nights. Feel restful in your bed. Stand still in the sunshine.

We are all going there.

Perhaps there is a parallel universe in which you are happy. Maybe there is one where her mother is a good person. Maybe there is one where you never hurt anyone. Everything would be different. Or one thing would be different.

This is where we live. Hello, again. Reaching for another day and more attention from the sun. From the son. Only boy child. Father, holy spirit, wholly ghosts in your closet.

We are all the same. Broken, immature humans. It is all we can be. Don’t worry if you’re not OK. We are animals, too. Don’t forget.

Give me some sugar. Lend it to your neighbor. We don’t do that, we’ve recessed into our own minds and walls. Share more.

He thinks about talking to him seven times per day, but doesn’t.

She thinks about being brilliant three times a day, but doesn’t.

The coffee is old and black and has been microwaved four times.

She said the words are woven together. Maybe that’s what you are, a weaver.

1.They can come back. It won’t be the same, but it will be better than emptiness

2. I know you love your new human and all, but everyone else really doesn’t need to see each picture you take of it. Thanks.

3. Look further out.

4.Floss your teeth, god dammit!

5. We are all family.

6. Are we getting better and worse at being nice to each other at the same time? Do we need to police each other’s niceness? Do we need to rate all of the social interactions that ever occur?

7. Dropping your cell phone is the same as dropping your baby, change my mind.

8. It doesn’t matter. We’re all going to die. It does matter. This is your life.

9. We are all still here. You’re still here. Hello. Thank you.

10. Do kids still build tree houses?

If this is the only thing I am good at I will keep mining the words. I will hack at them with what mental strength I have that my arms do not share.

Everywhere is ugly. The ocean turns ugly, the palm trees turn ugly, the most beautiful old cathedral turns into yet another building you have to walk around to get to where you want to go.

Picture the male university professor. I have him stuck in my mind. He is tall, bearded always, shabby but neat, well spoken. He leans against the front table in the room, always, he sits there listening, nodding, looking for more people to tell him what they think morality is and is it real or did we just make it up and is there a god and what do you think about what this German philosopher had to say 500 years ago please give me 12,000 words double-spaced by Friday at midnight to my email.

I miss him, this authority figure who had all the answers and so many more questions. Your brain would never travel that far down a path otherwise.

I was 17 when he announced to the class full of college freshman, “There are two very strong writers in this room.” I don’t particularly know why he needed to say it — doesn’t that make the other 50 people feel bad? — and of course he went on to point us out — doesn’t that make us feel bad? — me and another girl, both of us quiet little mental philosophers who enjoyed listening and reading more than anything else.

Something Sylvia Plath wrote in her journal made me stop and think, I am listening to her, reading is listening. Writing is speaking. Hello, hello.

I want to write a book. I want to make a movie. I want to learn guitar and make music. These things are beautiful to me, like old cathedrals.

He tells me I don’t need to be so hard on myself. (Trust me, I’m not.) But what if that effort, that little mental push, is what draws the line between the successful author and the professor?

What the hell is his middle name? I thought, suddenly panic-stricken, elbow-deep in a filing cabinet at work. I stared blankly at the air in front of my face but couldn’t remember a thing. What does that mean? Shit! I don’t forget middle names. Middle names are my thing. That can’t be a good sign. He hates me already and now I’ve forgotten his middle name, this is not going to end well.

But later, at home, I remembered. The J name that he was embarrassed to tell me because it’s from the bible and his mom was really religious and it shouldn’t be anyone’s middle name but it is his.

Driving home I thought about brains and how it’s ridiculous for me to be upset at him because people are just lumps with electricity and heartbeats and it’s amazing we can get along at all any of the time, really.

I think about how I sent another person a song earlier this week, and he replied back that the piano player was lovely, and I think about how that made me want to be an epic piano player. I wanted to go learn the damn song by heart so I could play it just as good. And I didn’t want to learn it to make this person like me more, but because if he thinks something is wonderful then it must be. And if I want to be a wonderful person, I should try to be better. He makes me want to be a better person; whether or not he knows about it doesn’t matter. Which is a strange feeling and thought to have, and it may have made me cry in the middle of an LA traffic jam one night because it was beautiful, and I always cry, and sometimes I cry because things are beautiful.