My intern made me write a love letter. This is the result.


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When I was a little girl, I always wanted to be the hider.

Not the seeker. When the game got played I’d find the most obscure places. The tiniest places. The places no one ever wanted to even dare lurk around so I could never be found.

I would stay silent and curled in a ball for long after the game was over. Long after everyone else had been found and I knew it was safe to come out. There was something terrifying— downright breath-losing— about being found. I can’t explain it. Not beyond these terribly written sentences, I can’t tell you why I’ve never known how to be found.

It’s been 15 months and 13 months.

15 months and 13 months.

15 months since I bit down hard on my bottom lip, sitting by the window of a Starbucks by Yale University, the day after a break-up with a man I tried to fall in love with. That’s when I heard him. God, I mean. I heard him whisper, “Go.”

13 months since I actually listened to that whisper, packed up my Toyota with the tinted windows of a drug dealer, and moved my existence to Atlanta, Georgia.

15 months since I winced and whimpered, “Please just me let stay in a town that keeps me comfortable.” Comfort is delicious and contagious.

13 months since I broke my comfort zone. My comfort zone exploded into a million bedazzled pieces on the floor of a new house with too small of a bathroom and an endearing neighbor with no teeth named Little Bit who would acquire bicycles and new clothes and all sorts of things in the time I lived across the street from him.

That’s what Atlanta is to me: the shattering of my comfort zone.

It started at a coffee shop with white walls called Taproom. The shop opened its doors for the first time one week before I arrived in Atlanta. I took it as a sign that God had made the coffee shop for me. I was meant to sit inside those four walls and read too many books and meet too many strangers and draw too many doodles in the corners of my notebooks.

Mornings were flushed with pour-overs and people-watching.

It quickly became my neighborhood coffee shop where the baristas would pray for you when you needed a nudge and they’d brew you a second cup on the house when they noticed your head had been down for several hours. I liked all of them instantly because they were real. I mean, you can’t really train someone to ask “how are you, really?” and teach them to linger around long enough to actually hear your honest answer— that’s just a trait of good people, not baristas.

The people at Taproom Coffee make the meanest London Fog you will ever consume. It’s not listed on the menu but order it anyway. Turns out, happiness is in white cups and foamy drinks inspired by rainy days in England.

I’ll never forget sitting at Taproom one late night talking with the owner. I always felt like I could not escape him, as strange as that sounds. But there are just some people who make you feel like you can’t actually hide from— they see you. As much as you don’t want to be seen, they see you.

This was the city I could not escape from because everyone was adamant to see the cards of mine I never placed down on the table.

He looked at me and then turned away. He turned back.

“I wonder about you,” he said quietly. “I wonder who picks you up from the airport. That’s all.”

They always ask “if a tree falls in a forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound?” He could have never asked that question and it still would have somehow made a sound.

I am the girl who doesn’t know how to mumble, “I need you.”

“I need you so bad.”

Secretly, I am hoping I can return to this page in a few months from now and change that last sentence to past tense.

That’s just me: I don’t know how to need people. So when you buy my coffee or give me ballads to knock the air out of my lungs and you make me take bites to balance out the liquor, I cave. I cave into myself and I reach for the suitcase and the running shoes. 

I’d rather dazzle you with a false picture than make you endure the parts of me that still cry out with inconsistency and resentment.

It’s been 13 months and I am still here somehow. And I call Taproom Coffee my place and I sometimes cry when I drive home on backroads at night because I am no longer traveling home— every part of this city adopted me. And people are beginning to know my real middle name. And I feel seen and I am thankful for whoever created that word and wedged it into a dictionary for a hopeful girl like me. My god, I’ve wanted to be seen & uncovered & told I am okay for so long. It was the simplest thing in the world and I could have had it years ago.

I guess that’s growing up, right? Realizing you might only have one shot to get it right so you better keep this good thing going, even when it scares you half to death.

People always told me love was quick and instant.

The kind you have after blinking twice, too slowly. And that was how I always felt about New York City— like I loved her before she ever let me in.

My walls are higher and my stakes are more and love isn’t quick for me anymore. Unless it’s cheap coffee or a Christmas song, love isn’t quick for me anymore. It’s slow and quiet and a process I want to rest my whole body inside of because I think could be safe here.

Cities have never made me feel safe. Coffee shops have never made me feel wanted. People have never made me feel like I didn’t want to hide anymore.

Until now. Until this.

Welcome to the fight it takes to keep me here.

20 thoughts on “My intern made me write a love letter. This is the result.

  1. Hi Hannah, there’s so much I’d like to say here – especially since I feel like I struggle to articulate what I am feeling – it seems to flow freely inside my head , but forced onto paper, it clings to my insides like a cat trying to avoid a bathtub full of water. I sooo appreciate your writing. It pierces through me like an arrow full of hot honey, soothing as it stings. (This is a definite compliment in case of any confusion). I know what you mean about cities & places & people. I’ve lived in Miami, Nashua, NH, Longview, TX, Chattanooga, TN and now NYC. New York is the easiest of all to get lost in – by far. But at the end of the day, flowers burst open from the tight buds they were in, just because they were ready & born to be beautiful. Thank you for giving us peeks into your petals. They are stunning.

  2. If you can not know how to need someone, and at the same time need them too much, to the point where you push them away, I’ve done it. I’ve been afraid to let anyone get too close, and more afraid to lose them at the same time. So I keep them at arm’s length. Close enough to pull in and hug on my terms, on my time–yet far enough away to not let them see the inner contents of my heart, the ones I’m even afraid to see myself, let alone someone else. And that’s what I did. I pushed him away by needing him too much and not enough at the same time. It’s a lonely place to be, but strangely, a good place. Because I know this now, and I am learning. And even though I spoke the words that said I didn’t need fixing, just someone to listen, and he didn’t know how to do that, I still needed him too much somehow. I needed him to be more than he could. And yet I couldn’t just be and let him love me. I was always too scared the mess would scare him away. And even though he said it wasn’t that, it did. I know it did. I don’t know how you get to need people in just the right amount, but I’m damn determined to try and find out.

  3. Dear Hannah,

    There is this nagging feeling that has been sitting in the back of my mind since I read your Love Letter. I feel like something/someone has left these words in my bones that need to to come out, “Not everyone is going to get to know you and then tell you goodbye.” I don’t know why I feel the need to write these words, call it grace? But something is telling me to write this to you.

    Every part of you deserves to be seen. Even the parts of inconsistency and resentment that you think people would not want to endure. There are people in this world who are willing to sit and listen to what you believe to be the darkest parts of yourself without getting up at the end of the conversation and running from your truth. There are people who truly want to get to see the stained glass window of your soul even if you think that a couple of pieces may be broken or dingy. Guess what? There are people in your life, there are readers that you have who think the broken and dingy pieces make your window of your soul, that make you all the more beautiful and strong.

    I get the feeling that there have been people in your life that have told you to hide the pieces of yourself that are less than happy, less than perfect and I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to do that. It takes courage to tell your story and lay the broken pieces of ourselves out there for people to see. It leaves us more open and vulnerable to people leaving, people deciding that we are too much, to people deciding to say goodbye, sure. But there are also people who hear about the broken pieces and say, “Tell me more. Don’t be afraid. I want to know about the broken parts because that has made you the amazing individual that you are.”

    Hi, I’m Sara. I am a person who listens without grabbing running shoes or a goodbye on my tongue. I listen to the darkest truths and admire people for the strength it took to tell it. I don’t sit there and think a person and their story is something to be endured. I’m here to listen if you need it. I sent you my Starbucks card without expecting anything in return, I just wanted to show you kindness. Everyone deserves kindness without strings attached or a dotted line to sign. Without fear that one day that kindness and the person it’s attached to are going back up and leave….pick up their running shoes and dash off into the night or the next town while you’re mid-sentence without so much as an explanation. Maybe that’s why you started writing letters, you give the world the explanations that you never got from people who decided to pack up their hearts and leave without a second glance.

    Not everyone leaves. Not everyone offers kindness with their eyes and with their words while plotting the ways they are going to say goodbye.

    There are golden people around you, Hannah. Those are the ones that stay in your life no matter how far you’ve traveled and who always want to know about the parts you feel like hiding. They have not judged you for telling your truth.

    The people who have run from you or judged you? It’s not because there was something wrong with you. It’s not because you are broken, resentful, or inconsistent. It’s because they’re fool’s gold. They look golden, but don’t have the strength to be malleable. To still be beautiful, but change change with heat. To take a beating, but still maintain it’s strength…still be able to hold whatever shape it needs to be molded into to provide happiness for others. Gold does this willingly. It’s made that way. Fool’s gold is pretty, but breaks into pieces under the first sign of pressure. That’s how you tell the difference. You deserve real gold, Hannah. You deserve people who are real gold because the stained glass window of your soul has real gold all over the place.

    You are wonderful, you are beautiful, you are gold. Let people see. Take the risks and find out who is real gold and who is fool’s gold. Don’t beat yourself up if you think someone is golden, but they end up being fool’s gold. That kind of thing happens every day to multiple people all over the world….with the metal and when someone hurts their heart.

    Don’t be afraid to keep it 100, HB.

    Golden people will love you as you are and stay.

    Sincerely, Sara

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    1. Sara,

      This was so beautiful it made me cry because that one line in Hannah’s love note screamed me-everything I have ever felt. “I’d rather dazzle you with a false picture than make you endure the parts of me that still cry out with inconsistency and resentment.” This- this sentence has always been me. Pretending and taking on new personas every time I moved and now I have lived in one place for so long, I no longer dazzle. The shine has faded and I don’t know how to get it back. But every thing you said Sara about “gold” resinates with me. It gives me hope. Hannah has been such an inspiration, love you HB!!

      Much Gratitude,

      Bee

  4. I am SO happy for you. I just couldn’t not tell you. Maybe because it sounds like such sweet relief…relief I too would love to experience. Thank you for articulating conditions of the heart we’ve never found words for. You’re good at that, Miss Hannah…very good. You serve us, your readers, well…very well. Thank you again.

  5. Loved the love letter. I could picture the Taproom in my imagination and wished I had a Taproom. I have not found a place to just sit, watch, read or write that is comfortable and everyone there cares about you or even knows your name. Thank you Hannah!

  6. This is lovely, as always. One of the hardest things for me to learn was the ability to receive. We can be fiercely independent yet we still need to know how to receive. Thank you for sharing your heart once more.

  7. Hannah, you rock. Thanks for your openness and honesty. Even if Taproom weren’t your coffee shop, I’d still rejoice at your journey and how Atlanta is now your home. Keep stretching yourself, keep pushing outside that comfort zone, keep responding to God’s nudges.

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