I wish I could tell her: wait. I wish I could tell her: someone is coming. Look at the light, the sunlight behind you, the window, the plants. Look at the blue ruffles on your costume, the stuffed white rabbit in your lap. Your two black eyes (playing blind man’s bluff by myself, I think) will heal. You will leave Indiana. Leave Ohio. You will grow very tall.
But I don’t know. Sometimes I just don’t know. Sometimes I stay up late and drink red wine and read old letters and just don’t know.
It’s Yom Kippur, and I don’t know exactly what that is. I’m not Jewish, not Christian. I was never baptized or confirmed. I don’t even know how to spell that, but I think it’s about forgiveness. And I would like to be forgiven, world, for not listening enough, not paying attention, or paying too much attention, not answering the phone, not dialing the numbers, not answering e-mails, not writing enough letters or reading enough poems.
There are some things that should not be said, and I say them all. And others, like a simple hello, I don’t.
When I drove across the country, you sent me the most beautiful letters and e-mails and messages and advice. When I got there, there were photographs waiting. Every day, something remarkable: a text message, a box of books, a cloud.
My friend writes: Your life will not begin and end in_______. Your life found a magic there, sure, but it began long before, and it will end somewhere you haven’t yet been. You will be someone you haven’t yet been.
The new person I would like to be answers her phone, and knows when to go home, and chats with the person next to her on the train, and carpools, and waves to the storekeeper, and works on her book every day on a scarred wooden table in the tiny public library, listening to the children at the school next door. Whenever I feel lost or lonely or tired or adrift, I will go back to the book. I will live in it as I used to live in books, when this picture was taken, the ones I could read, the ones I could write already. My mother had taught me a few words and I wrote them again and again on lined pages, making a story out of the order and re-order: hello, you, Alison, love.
I want to recapture that joy. I don’t want to tell my story. It doesn’t need to be told. I want to tell one for you, friends and strangers. I want you not to be alone. I want to comfort you, and only in doing so, I think I will comfort myself.
459 unanswered e-mails in my inbox, your time is now. Novel, your time is now. Phone bill, your time is now. You have words coming from me.
Someone is coming, and it is me, me who’s afraid, me who’s alone, me who is walking up that hill, running to get to the top, and is out of breath, and has messy hair, and says too much, and talks too fast, and doesn’t think, and looks back, and loves you, and is sorry, and is sorry, and is running up that hill, running up that hill, running up that hill.
Hold on. I’m coming.