Some days my creative nonfiction techniques and fiction story lines get sassy together. On these days I think I write the best. Or at least I have the most fun.
I spent all day looking for the Bridge. You know the bridge, the purpose. A reason to sew this whole thing together without seeming too pathetic. A lot of us are building bridges though, scrounging up relevance so that we can pour our heart out onto a page and then feel more like Artists than People who wish for more “just seeing how you are doing” phone calls. Trust me, I am not the only one in this city keeping her eyes wide open for something to mention to someone who matters at the end of the day. I am not the only bridge builder.
So here it is: 2 minutes and 32 seconds. I thought you might want to know. That is the exact point. Right There. Two Minutes and Thirty-Two Seconds. Then hit the back button.
Thank me when you side swivel the drawn-out chorus on repeat. We all know that I would only listen to the first 43 seconds of the song if I had the choice. Some days I do . Lord knows, all I really need is the familiar bell sounds and the a capella of her voice. The rest is just gravy. But go back to the beginning at 2:32. You won’t get sick of the tune as quickly.
You know, for years she has been telling me that she does not want a lot for Christmas but this year I really get it. I really do. She and I are on the same page, I only want you too.
Don’t roll your eyes, I already pinpointed the spot in this letter where the first infamous rolling of the eyes would come in. At the very point where I mentioned Christmas. You want to say “too soon.” Might I remind you, this time last year I had the apartment fully decorated with a 5-pound box of cotton that turned out to be an obnoxious proponent in turning the bedroom into a Winter Wonderland. So don’t criticize me for starting the holiday season before Thanksgiving. Macy’s started first, so there.
I am sitting in a Starbucks window right now. It is the awkward spell of time between the briefing on food security and the Working Group for Girls meeting. I am choking back tears, sipping my Gingerbread latte, smiling at my red cup.
You want to tell me that I have cried a lot this year. I guess so. But welcomed tears, they are. Good & Welcomed Tears. Pampered by my eyelashes and cheeks, really. They are about as careful with the tears as an Italian Grandmother who hears you are hungry, or maybe a Greek one.
But oh yes, that song. Mariah. You think it is ridiculous already, the thought of me donning my snow-white ear warmers and combat boots that I have managed to fit into my Gap poster child wardrobe, tapping my feet at a busy intersection to commercial holiday music. But it is better than the Nutcracker, give me two more weeks for that one. And I bet you wouldn’t be so shotty if you knew it made me happy. That it makes me love the city a little more, to have a holiday soundtrack in the background.
Sure, there are days where loneliness is my only company. But Loneliness Is Not So Scary. Nothing to be afraid of. I am starting to see it is very much like when I used to connect my freckles with a Sharpie marker to make pretty pictures. Loneliness is a Connector between People. A feeling that freckles all of our timelines.
You’ll say I am pathetic for supporting such a capitalist cause like Starbucks but its the red cups at the holiday that make it all worth it. Every Bit of Capital. Because no matter where you find the red cup, you always feel like you are holding a bit of home between your hands.
This year they are harping on the notion of Strangers. Funny right, I thought that was my platform all along. Strangers is such a silly word. Silly before. Even Sillier After. Sometimes Sad. Sometimes. Sad.
I really want this to have a point. To prove to you that I am not just stringing together weak sentences these days. No, no, my sentences are strong. Like Strings of Christmas Lights. Like Boughs of Holly. Like Fa La La La La, which an extra La to prove some point.
So here it is: I am doing well, thank you. I am safe, thank you. The Bronx is not so bad, you should really come by sometime. The coffee is cheap, no coffee shops, but the coffee is cheap. I am taking care of myself. I am finding my way.
No, please don’t join the already assembled Chorus that is my mother, best friends, and a slew of others who believe that I need to do something for myself once in a while. I hope you know it too, putting myself on the back burner was the best thing I ever did for myself. One more stove top metaphor: I really believe that it is only when we put ourselves on the back burner do we find the real flame to life. I am helping people, and that is good. I really only need a hot cup of coffee and these ridiculously comfortable socks made for men who work in the cold all day. I wear them with everything, even under my dress boots. They make me smile.
And that is really the only point of this letter. The only Decent, Valuable, Valid Point. The Take Away. To remember to smile from time to time. Your smile is brilliant. da Vinci would have dumped Mona for a chance to use his palette on your smile. Seriously. The world misses it when it hides behind a furrowed brow.
So yea, scrap the Christmas song reference. Trash the mention of the Starbucks cup, and my pathetic mentions of loneliness and stove top metaphors.
And just smile. Would you?
Funny. This whole thing would probably be much more powerful knocked down from 1030 words to seven. Just Smile, you are doing just fine.