Hey, it's Lex. Some people are made of light. The guest letter below is from one such person. It's a bit longer than what I usually send you, but I promise every single word is worth it. You will feel a weight disappear from your shoulders by the time you're done reading. Then, go and follow this writer on Instagram @starlingchild for more light. I'll see you in my letter on the 31st.
Darlin, dearest, liebling (you’re groaning right now, I’m sure. I wish I could see your eyes right now, glowing with that begrudged spark I adore coaxing from them).
It’s been too long. I know, I know, that’s a phrase reserved for boring adults and mundane phone conversations. I remember eavesdropping on my mother when I was little, hearing her repeat those exact words and wondering: how can you lose time like that? But maybe we need to accept it, Love: We’re getting old. Rather, perhaps we’ve begun to truly live. Life has a way of enforcing checks and balances, even when we neglect to keep track of our debts/deposits ourselves.
To further address this truly living business… I’ve recently developed a theory about it. Mainly: the wilder this life situation gets, the longer it takes to find a moment with myself. I cherish the times when I get to just be, to arrange this cacophony of emotions down into a song for you. You’re worth it, more than you know. I’ve found that these transmissions ground me in a way nothing else does. I tend to gush about you for this reason amongst others. So I cast this letter down into the depths, a golden anchor hoping for a soft landing.
It has been a summer of clockwork thunderstorms and heat in many forms. I’ve found hearths in humans and allowed them to singe my core, I’ve sipped 100 degrees and relished the smoke on my tongue, I’ve fire-breathed into parted lips, swollen with want. You’ll be happy to hear I haven’t regretted a single moment of this, you've never failed to remind me how precious each second we're existing in is (even though I've rolled my eyes at that more times than you do when I call you lovely, Lovely). I savored every experience this summer like those peaches we used to eat on your steps in the midst of the hottest Dog Days, nectar dripping down our chins. It’s been easier to do lately… this relishing in the present tense, this desire to release the worries distracting from what's right in front of me.
I held a snake (rather, he held me) in the middle of his molting process recently, encased in a delicate halo of his own form. Isn’t it fascinating the variety of ways we inhabitants of Earth shed our former selves? It’s admittedly pleasing to witness a creature gracefully slither out of something that no longer serves them, happily leaving behind a biodegradable ghost without second thought. Such a good lesson in letting go, I feel. There's just something so beautifully cyclical about it all, the lack of fanfare, the complete release. But there’s also something beautiful to be found in how we transform as well: the silent waltz of greet and goodbye with our own cells, the endless replenishing of Us. We're working so hard on being, even when it doesn't feel like it. On that note: I'm so proud of you (are you rolling your eyes again)!
It’s dawned on me that we haven’t spoken much since the previous July. It's been a swirling galaxy of a year, but you certainly caught me at the aftermath of its crescendo. I wanted to thank you for the softness your voice carried over the phone while I half-whispered my tale, how casually you conversed with me as I hovered over my body. It’s been good to have the presence of months expand between the morning I attempted to describe to you, and I am grateful for the reflection the passing of time placed gently in my palm. I realize now how hard I had been running then, wielding adventure and distraction as a vice from truly feeling the heartaches that had been hot on my heels for years. But we can’t run forever, and those checks and balances I mentioned earlier came to deliver their swift justice in the form of screeching wheels, concrete meeting metal, a roaring, then nothing. I can laugh now at the irony of my state: rendered unable to walk when all I knew of life prior was sprinting again and again.
Needless to say, this healing process has been quite the learning experience...even though I've felt for years that empathy is by far our most essential renewable energy source, I truly underestimated the extent of compassion’s role in not only the quelling of fears, but the knitting of bones. I think back to those studies they did with plants, you know the ones...where the sprouts that were sung to grew taller than those left in silence? It makes more sense to me now than ever before.
Yes, I think in a way these dozen months have renewed my optimism in humanity a bit. Moreover providing a greater understanding of how natural it is for humans to heap kindness upon someone they can identify as needing their help. I don’t know how I would have survived without the arms that lifted me time and time again, whether crumpled in a mangled passenger seat or curled stubbornly in my bed. I remember all of the hands that held out comfort in the form of gentle embraces and firm grips to save me from falling (common occurrence). I had people beside me every (limping, halting) step of the way, and my gratitude for that serves as a reminder of how vital it is to bestow that same care upon others.
I have a suspicion why our communication has been so sparse lately. I don't want to say I worry about you, because I know you wouldn't tolerate that. Instead, I'll just mention I saw a picture of you yesterday. I recognized that smile, the way it didn't reach your eyes. I only mention it because I want to describe the other facet of healing I didn't describe above, namely the void I fell into near the end of it. Ironically enough, the world felt more frightening to me once my bruises faded and my injuries mended. I no longer wore a badge that signified I should still be handled with care, and I felt jarred by everything life entailed. This final chapter of healing had turned inward without me realizing, and I was stuck inside a mind still navigating through a pain no longer accompanied by crutches or indicators to the outside realm of how much was still aching within. Even now I tend to cringe at admitting weakness (product of my upbringing), but if it helps you feel more understood in what you might be going through, baring myself is worth it. I hope you know I see you, darling. I know your heart, how quickly it opens to anyone who seems to need it. I'm also aware of how difficult it can be for you to direct that same compassion towards yourself at times. I think we forget as a society what pain can look like. Then far too often these unseen hurts become specters which trail us for longer than they must. It’s unfortunate that the presence of these figures are seldom addressed until they threaten to pull us back into whatever inferno they come from.
I know the world seems crueler than ever much of time, but I think something is shifting. I can feel it thrumming in my veins, another force is beginning to surge forward. I think it starts small, just with an intent to change habits that have locked us within ourselves...what if we treated the obligatory "how are you," as an invitation for earnest eye contact and honest answers? What if we were to teach little ones that their harder feelings aren't an inconvenience to those who love them most? I know these might sound like lofty goals, but I believe in you and I. I know we have to keep exposing the darkness to light, and it starts with being tender to the softest components of what we are. You shine far brighter than you might be feeling Love, and I just wanted to remind you of that in case you forgot.
By the time you read this, I'll be in the city. I know how much that place can overwhelm you. I think I find it soothing because it matches the pace of what life often feels like for me. The chaos, the bustle...the moments when humanity glimmers where I've least expected to find it. I began writing this in the airport actually, and couldn't help but feel at home in the midst of the Busy. This world is such a dance, don't you think? Everyone pirouetting to their own destination, each route a specifically tailored choreography. How beautiful it is then, when souls find themselves intertwining, even if just for a moment. It's worth holding out for just that, for the connections that arrive when we least anticipate them.
I hope you can picture me right now, sipping coffee in a sundress, sleepily wandering through that library you know I love, greeting the ghosts by name. I'll wake up early, before the noise arrives...I'll wait for the train with the enthusiasm you always tease me about, but I know you'd secretly smile at the novelty as well. I'll fall into the rhythm of solitude I never used to cherish: my steps, my breath, myself. Relenting to the peace of it all, spreading across the surface of my thoughts like a mist of lavender haze. I feel like we don't give our own company enough credit much of the time, we don't give ourselves the chance to just immerse in the sacred simplicities of this existence. Maybe on the way home. I'll hum that song we both liked to harmonize off-key when we were younger, and I'll imagine your voice chiming with mine.
I wish I could time travel and tell my year-younger self how it'll get good again, how seeing snow for the first time will make her cry, how her heart that seemed like such a black hole will fill with light once more, how she'll wake up to find cherry blossoms have bloomed across her chest. I only mention this because I want to remind you how much can change in a year, how you deserve to be here to see what happens next. To exhale the terror of close calls in order to embrace what's now rather than what wasn't. So many good things are coming darlin, and you are one of the very best things.
In an alternate universe, I like to think that there is still the me that quietly rolled out into the night during the tail-end of July. She's spinning her wheelchair under streetlight glow, relishing an Independence Day different from anything she's ever known. Except now I see two silhouettes on the asphalt; there you are, arms outstretched, twirling by my side. You push the me that is not me inside eventually, once our laughter begins to ring down the quiet block.
Perhaps I play too much with hypotheticals and metaphor, I know. Sometimes I just can't help but travel to Elsewhere in my mind. A shift in time, a difference of inches, the tiny miracles that find us both alive at the same place in space. What's more fucking magic than that?
I know I’ve written quite the novel, so I’ll end this here. It’s just hard to stop writing when I can envision that sly hint of a smile you get when you’re listening to a story of mine. You’ve always been so tender, and I love you for that. Humor me once more, please...and picture this little daydream of mine: I'm at the airport again, but this time I'm waiting for a different reason. There you are at Arrivals, darlin. I can see your heart glowing, all the way from here.
Never fear the portals, there's nothing but light inside.