Discover more from noticements
I went down to get my mail and found a L.L. Bean catalog. I’ve never purchased anything from L.L. Bean, but I do happen to own a hand-me-down L.L. Bean backpack, which I love and which has recently fallen apart. “The outside is inside,” Mr. Leon Leonwood Bean brags. I don’t know what that means, but it speaks to me.
Did the gods know I needed a new backpack? Perhaps. But it was addressed to my apartment’s previous occupant.
We get all sorts of fun mail meant for other people. My favorite are the GQ magazines, which I read for the Nicolas Cage covers. My least favorite are the clean energy ads that pretend they’re going to shut your electricity off. URGENT! FINAL NOTICE!* We get calendars from nonprofits to whom former-us must have donated. Once we received a letter from someone asking for his grandmother’s golden bracelet back. It’s a nice reminder that other people exist in this world, have existed and will exist. Our apartment number is 813, which will also be the date of our wedding, 8/13, so it feels like it belongs to us. But it’s not forever. One day there will be a house we call home. Who’s living there now?
Almost every day I go to Rock Creek Park, and almost every day I enter by taking a dangerous crossing during rush hour, on a crosswalk with no stoplights. We put ourselves in the hands of strangers in hopes this crosswalk is enough to slow them. There can be two blind girls and the cars won’t stop. Then there is a handrail on the other side. It extends four feet on the path. Who needs a handrail for exactly four feet of walking? I’ve somehow never noticed it, until I ran my hand right into it.
So I punched this pole by accident and my knuckle turned blue. Other things exist! Not just people, but pointless poles. This was also very exciting to me. That night I went to a party and showed off my damaged hand. But no one seemed to see my pain. “It looks just like your other hand. I don’t know your knuckles.”
Seth knew. He could see how the swollen bit had changed my hand’s composition. “You were very brave,” he told me. I said, “You should see the other guy.”
After I punched the pole, I felt my hand swell and kept running. There on the other side of the creek was a horse! It was the most beautiful blonde horse I’d ever seen. It came to a trot at my exact speed. Across the river, we ran together. So consumed with staring at this horse, I nearly stepped on a dead opossum.
Animals exist! Poles exist, people exist. Carcasses exist.
Blankets exist. We have a beautiful blanket with three massive holes. The missing pieces are sitting somewhere in the stomach of our former foster dog, who exists somewhere with her blindsided owners. With a sad sigh I switched it out for another winter blanket instead, an ugly old duvet. The duvet is fine. But it had a stain. So into the laundry it went. The building has one laundry room for several hundred people, and often you’ll see the machines churning, but I’ve never seen more than two other people there in the flesh. It’s always eerily empty.
Let me get to the point. Someone stole our duvet.
“Did they take it when it was still wet?” our apartment manager asked.
How the hell should we know?????
“We didn’t watch them steal it.”
If this email feels a little chaotic, let me calm it down. Sometimes when I meditate I think about a visualization. After you take your perfunctory deep breaths, and settle yourself in your environment, paying attention to then forgetting about the noises that surround you, you picture a small ball of light in your stomach. It’s warm and soothing and turns your bones to jelly. Then you let the light ball grow so it covers your chest and shoulders, everything turning to jelly but somehow strong at the same time—don’t think about it too much. Just let this ball of light grow. It takes over your body, your fingertips, your head. Then it keeps going. It surrounds your chair, then the room, as you keep sending this light radiating outwards. The building. The park. Keep going. Now the city. The entire city is in your brain-powered light, including the local zoo and coffee shop. Every lion goes quiet, every coffee pot stops percolating. All is subsumed in the light. It keeps growing and you’re the center. Picture this ball lumping over the horizon from space. It grows still to envelop the state. Then the country. Then the world. How much further can you take it? It surrounds Earth—surrounding you. It moves faster as it reaches our planet neighbors. Then the sun. Yes, even the sun isn’t powerful enough to withstand the power of your brain light. The solar system is now in your light. The galaxy. The other galaxies. Stretch it to the edge of the universe. You’ve surpassed it. That’s you.
It’s a fun meditation, but then you open your eyes and you see… people. There are all these other people with their own light. Each one of us is walking around with our humongous bubbles surrounding us. They intersect and overlap. In this light, everyone is here. We share it.
In these intersections, things happen, like a letter goes unanswered, a strange girl punches a pole, a free ugly blanket appears in the dryer.
So please accept my brain-powered light and know that you’re in my universe, and I’m in yours, and even when I lose a blanket, I’m grateful for it.
*Side note: We already get clean energy from a non-scammy company called Arcadia. It’s awesome and easy, we’re hooked up to a nearby community solar farm. It’s available to anyone in the DC region and I’m pretty sure it’s expanded to certain areas across the country; if you’re interested, check it out.
We got a new piece of furniture (thanks Jeremie)! To us, it’s a bookshelf. To cats, it’s a toy. What do you think?
PS: No newsletter in two weeks, as I’ll be in India without a laptop. Who knows why Substack won’t let me publish from my phone.
So, see you in December!