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These are letters from home to home.
This one is written to Zosia Rose Waitr, 10.03.09.
Once, in Olympia, I was standing on my balcony & looking out over the blinking, bedtime city lights of Downtown, the Sound, & the East Side hill. Just thinking about that sight now makes my heart skip certain beats. It must've been early summer, because the air I breathed out was the exact same temperature as the air I was breathing in. When that happens, time pretends to stop, & allows you to believe that you are standing in a living memory.
"There really is something magic about Olympia," said Robin Rapuzzi, a close friend of the time, someone full of poetry & resurrected dreams of the American Folk Body, "but it's like the shire; you've got to leave if you want to do all the things you were meant for. It's so safe here, and so comfortable. & everything really does seem possible, in a way. Olympia is such a difficult place to leave. But you've got to, eventually. There are bigger things happening out there, & they need you."
He returned, then, to his hand-rolled cigarette, & I squinted my eyes to look beyond the Shire, to where young dogs lay gutted across whole avenues, businessmen fall to their knees & pull at their hair every time they walk past a mirror, or any kind of reflective window, & there is always some explosion set to level whole neighborhoods in a matter of moments. But it was night, I couldn't see far, & Mt. Rainier was in the way.
I've lived in New York City for one month now, but it feels like a month-long moment, scrambling for definition & refusing--at the cost of blindness--to blink. By now, I've buried those dogs. I've met those sad men & I've been blown apart by those explosions.
You said in your letter that everyone you talk to is in some kind of transitory state. I agree. Every note of news I gather from Olympia these days seems to carry with it undertones of gross mutation and loss. It's as though all of the houses in town are being set on fire one-by-one, & all the displaced hobbits (to return to the Shire analogy) are now standing bare-foot in the middle of the street wondering what holes to dig their houses into now. This keeps me up at night. Why are all my friends not happy? Was leaving the right thing to do?
I'm sure things aren't quite so bad. Perhaps the grape vine I listened through is sour. How does the world look to you these days, Zosia?
Thank you for the Wallace Stevens poem you sent with your last letter. I loved reading it aloud to the three cats who likely know more about me by now than all of my roommates combined. But I have to say, I'd love it even more if you'd send a poem of your own. I've always liked them very much.
In the spirit of long-distance solidarity,
P.S. There is someone walking around on my roof. I hope it's God.