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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.

kityy

Would you rather live a year in complete darkness or a year with only sunshine? Could anything grow in the dark? How long could we survive?

My friend messages me from the other side of the world and asks for my address. There’s a letter for me there. It flew from America to Asia, and now it’s coming back again. Who is it from? Who do I even know in that state? There’s only one person I’ve written a letter to that lives there. Could it be? The sun shines in me.

Letters are like memories. Even though they’re written down, recorded, we forget them. I have no idea what I wrote in that letter. I don’t remember how long it was. I don’t remember what my handwriting looked like on the outside of the envelope.

Possibility. It’s a seed of unknown origin. Limitless. It could grow forever, into anything. Memories that haven’t been made yet. Words that have been written down but not read.

Balance is important. Half day, half night. Darkness is quiet, terrifying, calm. The sun is blinding but it lets us live, grows us, moves our skin. Balance. Humility and pride. Sadness and joy. Sorrow. Love.

My friend doodles tiny colorful monsters on paper. He paints them, creates them, shares them. Sells them for the big evil dollar. Nails them to trees. Talks about sunshine. Paints happiness on his feet. Looks like joy. The definition of.

I don’t know anyone purposefully living in darkness. But there are a lot of people who don’t have rainbows on their shoes. I’m getting older waiting for this letter to come. Another week or two. When I’m waiting, sitting under the mailbox, I watch my friends go by. They walk  past me. Some don’t turn their heads. Some are too far away to see anymore. I wonder why my parents don’t have friends. I wonder why people stop loving each other. It’s not that hard. It’s worse to be alone. It’s harder in the darkness. It’s better to try to keep growing as a person.

I wonder where that slip of paper is. Anticipation. Focus. Mathematics and a brain-powered global positioning system. When? Who? What answers will it have? Did I ask questions? Will anything change? Will there be blinding sunlight in it? Sunglasses shaped like flowers? A thoughtless reply?

I’m thinking about that particular smear of pencil lead on the palm of my writing hand. How I can never paint anything very well at all because I don’t pick up my hand enough. That particular triangle shape of accidental art. But I think I wrote the letter in pen.

Wheels spinning on ground. Planes flying in air, high above us, that we still claim as our own. Not outer space. Travel. Thoughts. Responses. Emotions. Relationships. The final delivery, someone lightly stepping on the brake to insert the letter into my mailbox, months after it was first deposited into one and sent my way. Sent to where I was. Sending to where I am.

It will probably be light out when it arrives. Sun. Shine. Wind. The smell of winter. Cold. Ice on the ground. The feel of it. The corners of such a small, flat thing. Who knows?

“I don’t care if you’re happy,” he says, wringing his hands in the air. “You shouldn’t be.”

He’s standing in the middle of the busy sidewalk preaching to his date and anyone else who’s listening. I’ve known he exists for less than three minutes and already I’m mesmerized by this weird boy with weird hair who’s wearing a purple polka dot shirt and leather pants.

Fucking art kids, I think, and he continues.

“You’re sitting there on your couch, fat and happy, watching television. You’re with another human who you tolerate enough to spend the rest of your life with. You both have well-paying middle-class jobs that pay your rent bill and your cable. You’re a great, contributing member of society. A well-oiled cog in the machine. You have your purpose. You have your paycheck. You have most of your life mapped out.”

He stops talking and later I find myself in a large room filled completely with fog. There are bright lights in the corners of the room, and everything is white and thick and the room doesn’t feel like a room, and I don’t feel like a person — only a floating, dizzy set of eyes in a world of white and black and flashes of color. And there is no purpose in that room, no ultimate goal; no deep thoughts, and no shallow ones. There is the smell of the fake fog, and the sensation of floating, and two dozen people watching the lights strobe on and off and on. It is simple and beautiful and more compelling than anything I’ve ever seen on T.V. It is strange and wonderful and someone dreamt it up and made it real.

The art kid appears beside me in the white fog in my mind, later. He’s several years older and still stacking things on top of each other, hanging weird things from ceilings, banging things onto and into walls, building robots and talking machines that fly when you whistle “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” in their direction. He struggles to find jobs for himself and doesn’t own a couch or a cat but he’s happy in his own way. People look at him and wonder how he’s done it, wish they could too, whatever it is. They snap pictures with their new iphones and wander back out of the fog to make babies and nest eggs.

“I want you to be happy,” he says, waving the fog out of his face. “You should be.”

It’s different now, a year later, at least for him. He’s taken up watercolor painting and poetry, mixed them together like two paint colors and formed some type of art that’s popular with all people. He’s selling his work online and making enough money to buy extra pairs of weird shoes. He’s thinking about going back to school but he doesn’t know what for yet, doesn’t feel the time has come yet, not yet, not yet. He’s still wearing that same old polka dot shirt, hasn’t found another like it or better. He doesn’t consider himself to be like those people he talked about. He thinks he’s different, he tries to be, although he’s still fighting the pull of “normality” everyday like gravity. It’s hard. But the more he builds and paints and rhymes, the more times he shaves his own hair, the more people who call him “interesting”, the further away from that life he gets. The more foggy it all is. He can’t see those other people anymore, they don’t really exist to him. He lives in another place, another world. No more sidewalk preaching, only painting in cement with colored chalk to make people smile. He wants them to be happy, he says. You should be.

I see two women walking together on the side of the road as I drive past, and I wonder if the woman waving her hands is talking and talking and talking too much, and if the other woman is regretting inviting her friend to exercise with her on this chilly late summer afternoon, since that’s what she really wanted to do, exercise, not walk slower than she normally would and listen to all of her friend’s  updated life struggles. “My cat just won’t stop staring out the window,” I imagine her saying, waving her arms as she walks, pretending that she wants to exercise, too.

And now the women are in my rearview mirror, I can look back and see them, and see the leaves turning orange or brown on the trees they walk under.

People are already complaining about the cold, about how it’s almost fall and the weather is colder than it was a month ago, and I think about how this always happens, every year, everything. Hot in the summer, cool in the fall, cold in the winter, with snow, and the same fetching of the dusty snow shovel from the basement.

I look in my rearview mirror at the beautiful orange leaves and I think about how I’ve seen this all before, seen those women before, or women like them, had those same experiences, talked about that same cat, seen those same leaves change from green to orange to brown, raked them into piles and jumped in them, or left the piles to rot. Again and again, year after year.

“It’s so cold!” she says, another faceless woman in my mind, pulling on the sweater she hasn’t worn in nine months.

Winter will come. Snow will fall. Salt trucks will melt it away, or try, or make ice patches that are worse than the snow was.

Again, again, of course. And of course the people will go on, dealing with seeing their breath in the air on cold winter mornings, plowing through snow drifts and piles of paperwork and gallons of hot coffee. What else can they do?

This is a picture from 1601 of what our world was thought to look like.

I feel like I could end this post right now and it would be amazing enough for someone to spend their time reading it. I mean, did you see that first sentence?

  1. In 1601, people were drawing pictures of our planet.
  2. In 1601, people were pretty darn close to drawing pictures of our actual planet.
  3. In 1601, there were actual people doing actual things – like, for example, drawing pictures of our planet.

Just look at that map. Look at all those markings of places that, in 1601, were known to exist.

Today in my travels across the world that is the internet, I discovered that there is such a thing as a World Heritage Site. Basically, a world heritage site is a place that is considered to be significant in our world. Think: Pyramids of Giza, St. Petersburg, Russia, Easter Island. Many buildings are also world heritage sites. Even a field of agave in Mexico is on the list!

Since I’m from the US, here’s map of World Heritage Sites near me:

So many! All of these places are important to our culture and history as a planet.

A few of these markers are close to where I live. I could travel to them in less than a day! These things are so close to us. We are literally surrounded by history! But, we don’t care.

We really don’t! And that is so sad to me. We all go about our own lives – whatever they might be. We are all so caught up in the importance of whatever it is we’re doing at the moment, that we forget about the past.

We forget about 1601. We forget that there have been billions of people who have lived on this planet before us. Before any of our living relatives. Before any of our family history occurred.

Ultimately, it is such a small thing to forget about when compared to everything else we ignore on a daily basis. Our neighbors. Our in-laws. Our melting glaciers.

We own this planet. Earth. It’s ours. All of ours. Yours, mine. And it came free to us, however we came to be here. It should be our most cherished possession – not our iphones, not our t-shirts, not our cars. Instead, we ignore it. And in doing so, we ignore ourselves. We ignore everything we are doing now, and everything we have done. We don’t care that there are special places scattered around the planet. We don’t care that we could go to a place where someone else stood in 1601. In 1201. In 801.

Well, I care. I’m going to go visit those places in my life. I’m going to care about our planet, and our history, and our present, and our future. I hope you will, too.