Well…Now You Know.

Hi. I’m still alive.

And I haven’t wanted to write.

There is no one concrete reason.

By spring 2021, unemployment got me so cray in my own head that I took a full time job, a part time job, and several theater gigs to fill my time and had no time to just stop and fart for myself.

And another reason is…

The pandemic kinda got me in this head space where all I really wanted to say to people when I pulled up an empty blog post was “Well…now ya know.”

And of course…OF COURSE…that ties back to cancer. (If it didn’t, would it be a true Jesse post?)

The perpetual state of total fear that everyone was feeling toward the beginning of the pandemic…like…yeah, I was feeling that, too.

But EVEN more than that was this really snarky feeling of like, “Well…now ya know.”

Well…now ya know” what it’s like to not feel invincible.

Well…now ya know” what it’s like to constantly worry about your immune system and sanitize everything that comes into your house.

Well…now ya know” what it’s like to not want people to hug you or come close to you without your expressed permission, and have to stay home all the time.

Well…now ya know what it’s like to be FORCED to face the possibility of your own death before age 40, 30, 20…18…

And then I thought…wow, Jess, that’s pretty bitchy. You should sort that out.

And so I wasn’t writing. I just let myself work for a little while. Get used to living somewhere new: A SUBURB.

Get used to the idea that you’re not a city girl anymore, that you live in a house, and that you have a mortgage, and you are…*gulp*…getting kind of…domestic…(Christ).

And then one day, I heard the term “death doula.”

Now, I’m not going to sit here and go into detail about the different kinds of things death doulas do. I’m going to reference some lit:

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/24/well/doulas-death-end-of-life.html

But I knew immediately, when I did some research on what a death doula is, that it was something I really wanted to do…and I hadn’t felt certain about “things I’d like to do” in quite a long time.

So push comes to shove, and long story short…I completed a Death Doula certification thru Going With Grace (with the AMAZING, enlightening ALUA ARTHUR), and earned NEDA proficiency…

And it was through the course of accomplishing the above that I discovered the HEALTHY, less catty version of “Well…now you know…and also had a major AHA moment about what truly bothered me about having cancer—besides, of course, the fact that I had cancer):

We are incapable of talking healthily about death.

It’s true. And throughout my whole cancer treatment I really felt that no one could or would look me square in the face and talk with me about death unless we mentioned God or religion.

We can’t do it. Our western society doesn’t want to talk about it. Our med-tech-driven healthcare system doesn’t want you to recognize its existence. It offers you treatment after treatment after treatment in place of saying, when the time comes, “hi, it’s time for your body to stop.”

We can’t talk about how humans die…how unsettling it is…can’t talk about why we die… or what might this all BE for?

Even for a healthy person, the questions exist because…a healthy person is also going to die. They are supposed to.

But if we talk about it, we are labeled “morbid.”

We are not “thinking positively.” If we don’t THINK POSITIVE, we are attracting the opposite.

And the message we give our actively dying folks in America is that DYING is LOSING, and so they’d better not “give up.”

Few actively dying people hear “it is okay to go. It is natural. Your body is done fighting and that is okay.” And so they fight tooth and nail to hang on for their loved ones even when it’s their time…and as a result, they reinforce for the next generation that death is not okay and you must cling on for…dear life.

Is it a wonder we have a complex?

But we cannot, cannot, cannot talk about death. Too icky. Too uncomfortable. Too morbid. Too sad.

-*-

Van Gogh, Skull with Cigarette

I’ve been wondering for years now whether I really want to continue writing a blog that is

A) totally cancer-focused

OR

B) Just…kind of spur of the moment, chaotic blather

Neither feels authentic anymore.

And that is another reason why you haven’t heard from me.

But now I feel a little bit more direction. I want to be part of the conversation about dying and death-positivity, BECAUSE:

Regardless of who you are and what you’ve been through…2020 and the world thereafter has shown us all that we’d best at least entertain the idea that we won’t be here one day.

And you know what?

I know…I know it sounds morbid. But I swear, since I’ve started my death-positive journey…I have been more present and aware of the moments of my life. Of how I am feeling. Of what’s working and what’s not. And of what I’m grateful for.

The death positive movement IS a thing, and one of its leaders is Caitlyn Doughty of “The Order of the Good Death.” Literally, if you google “death positive,” her website is the first to come up. She kind of kickstarted the “movement” and she’s hilarious. Not morbid. She is hilarious (highly recommend her book “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”)

But the ideas behind the movement have been around. I mean…if we’re being real, indigenous peoples have been attuned to them from the beginning.

Recently, I’ve been reading “Die Wise” by “death guru” Stephen Jenkinson…and while Jenkinson can be perceived as a somewhat controversial figure…it’s one of HIS ideas that has been sticking with me most lately (and kind of haunting me every morning).

He talks about how the problem with the western world today is that we expect to live. We wake up every day anticipating that we will live, and nothing else is okay—we are OWED the day.

I mean…you don’t need me to tell you that we are NOT owed the day. We anticipate that we’ve got all this time…and we get depressed by the monotony of our days because we just….figure it’s gonna go on and on and on.

And it quite literally is not. That’s what makes each moment significant. (Yeah, a little self-help-y…but hey…whatever helps the self.)

I could go on and and on about Stephen Jenkinson, really.

But maybe another day.

My overall point here is…THIS cancer survivor wanted to talk about death from the beginning of her cancer diagnosis…and all the well-meaning people in her life wanted to “think positively,” (which has a time and place) or give her a Bible.

And those well-meaning people…have probably not had many open conversations about death before either…so how can they be expected to know what to say about it in an instance like this?

I don’t blame anyone. But the pandemic brought a lot of those suppressed questions and curiosities about death right back to me in a very visceral way. And I think that’s why I was feeling a little…I dunno… SALTY towards people and their pandemic frenzy? (especially toward those my own age, who just couldn’t understand what I was going through way back when). Kinda like….NOW YOU GET IT. I TRIED TO EXPLAIN THIS PANICKY FEELING I WAS HAVING IN 2009.

These are “uncertain times” for everyone. Not just for me, now.

Well, now you know…” I thought.

And, I learned, through the course of the past year, that the full thought is this:

“Well, now you know…we should be talking more openly about dying and not sweeping it under the rug.”

If we talk about it, if we acknowledge it…we can not only maneuver these “uncertain times” just a little more effectively, but we can find our living moments feel just that much more ALIVE.

I intend to blog more as I explore the death-positive movement and where I fit into it.

My blog may no longer be for you, and I understand. I can promise it won’t all be posts like these. I’m sure a lady at Sephora will offend me again and I’ll launch a full-scale campaign.

But I understand if this is where I leave you.

Slouching Towards My Locker

One of the first books I read this year was a collection of essays called Slouching Towards Los Angeles. The essays are all reflections, observations, etc, on different works by Joan Didion (the title itself a spoof of Didion’s own Slouching Towards Bethlehem, further derived from a poem by WB Yeats called “The Second Coming”).

Like many female writers, I love Didion. Cliche-be-damned.

Specifically during pandemic year, I’ve enjoyed the way she writes about location. As the title suggests, she’s famous for capturing a certain essence of Los Angeles through a unique lens of grit/nostalgia/romance/surrealism that I can only relate to the way Lana del Rey sings about Los Angeles.

I’ve never been to California, and while I’d like to go one day, I feel like I’m in no rush, because I’m more than happy living in the Los Angeles that Didion and del Rey have created for me in my head.

It was in those first months of the pandemic that I first read Slouching Towards Bethlehem, and in it, saw myself quite clearly in an essay she wrote called “Goodbye to All That”—essentially, Didion’s goodbye letter to New York City.

Despite Didion and me being vastly different in our New York careers and social circles, she summed up what I’d been feeling about New York City so perfectly that I wished I could have it tattooed up and down my arms:

“…it is distinctly possible to stay too long at the Fair.”

And further…

“All I mean is that I was very young in New York, and that at some point the golden rhythm was broken, and I am not that young anymore.”

Joan Didion, “Goodbye to All That.” Slouching Towards Bethlehem

I felt the beginning of a peace with leaving that I had been desperate for for a while.

But then it occurred to me—rather, it was pointed out by the inner saboteur we all have and struggle to muzzle—that Joan left New York to live in LOS ANGELES where she became an icon OF LOS ANGELES, (and is, of course, a literary Icon in her own right).

I was in…Syracuse… The thought made me wince. Of course, my family was here, and my boyfriend…coming back here was an inevitability I had felt coming for a while.

And I thought…Syracuse…maybe not as exotic a location as Los Angeles. But still a place with history and proud community and burgeoning artistry. Maybe I could write about my life in Syracuse with the same vitality that Didion wrote about Los Angeles (no simple feat, I admit, since Didion is a master).

Only thing is, along with the history and community and burgeoning artistry…came, for me, a lot of ghosts.

Talk about the power a particular location can have on a person—I just stepped into any SUNY Upstate medical building and felt immediately possessed by a nasty, defensive, up-tight demon, ready to lash out at well-meaning nurses.

And so over the course of the past year, I’ve written quite a bit in this blog about my confrontations with the “locations” of my past—and reading Joan Didion helped me begin doing that. Walking through my old neighborhood, driving to houses where pivotal “growing up” moments took place…

…Hell, I even parked and sat in front of my late grandmother’s house at 2 o’clock in the morning, feeling what it felt like to be so near to another time. Willing myself to be 12 again, about to go inside for Sunday supper.

I may not yet be able to write about place with the power of Didion and her Los Angeles prowess, but I’ve certainly been able to feel that power.

It’s an intense power, because you feel so connected, you feel such strong, visceral feelings for these places on a spiritual level, but on the real plane of existence, it doesn’t matter a bit. Someone else is living, loving, grieving, eating, shitting, sleeping in that house now, and they don’t give a f*** about your “visceral feelings.”

Visceral feelings.

Yes, “visceral feelings,” are what I’ve always felt whenever I’m home in Syracuse and drive by my old high school. It’s on the main road, and nearly impossible to avoid.

In 2015–before I’d found Didion, I might point out—I underwent EMDR therapy for PTSD that was manifesting in disturbing nightly dreams in which I’d always be told I had to go back to high school because “you didn’t finish right.” “It doesn’t count.” “You were too sick to do it right.” “There’s a cancer in locker B1385.”

If you asked me to explain EMDR therapy, I don’t think I could. But for a while, it worked. No more nightmares.

Gone. Done. Finis!

But then, after a few years, they’d start creeping in again. Not every night, but often enough.

And then move me back to Syracuse? Where I’m driving by that school nearly every day?

Now they were happening every other night.

As I read Slouching Towards Los Angeles, I began thinking about all my little drive-by trips down memory lane, leading me all over Syracuse. It was her writing that had inspired them after all.

And it occurred to me that maybe there was a place I still had to face down.

I’d been inside the school a few times since graduating—visited a teacher, judged a talent show. But only in one particular section of the school, and for a very limited time.

After my cancer diagnosis, the adults really made it so that I never had to set foot in the school again if I didn’t want to.

And I didn’t want to. I’d attend a chorus rehearsal once in a while if I was feeling up to it. But the reality is, one day I was a regular student roaming the halls, and the next day I had cancer and basically never returned. I couldn’t even tell you (nor can anyone in my family) who emptied my school locker, my gym locker, my band locker…

So this week, with the approval of administration and the accompaniment of a school social worker plus Matt, I roamed the halls of my high school, 12 years later.

I went back to the place with the most ghosts. And the night before, I could feel them swirling around me. My friends and me—the ghosts of our former selves—traipsing to lunch, loitering in a practice room, crying in a bathroom, gathered on the bleachers…

…My ex boyfriend, strolling to my locker, smiling at me and my full head of long brown hair.

All of these memories of the “before.” They were the ones that caused the bad dreams and the sadness and the pity I have for my own former self.

I knew she might be there. That she was the one I was afraid of most of all. The one I could sense was trapped inside each time I drove by the school, and the one I wanted to hug and shield, and somehow protect…

It felt epic. As epic as Joan Didion’s Los Angeles, me walking into that school, to confront this demon that perhaps lived in locker B1385 and snuck out at night to badger me in my dreams.

And then truly inside the school…

It was a building. There were classrooms. There were hallways.

The hallways were somewhat familiar. I remembered my way. I remembered staircases and where they led. I remembered certain days, certain specific memories with a friend or a boy or a teacher.

In the auditorium I stood center-stage, where I’d taken my bow as Millie in Thoroughly Modern Millie junior year. I exited the stage via the chorus risers in the pit, and the path of my trajectory felt familiar. Not sad. Just very familiar, like my brain could place it as a “former thing we did all the time.”

At my locker I stared for a minute—wanted to reach out and touch, but didn’t know if I was allowed during pandemic-times.

I wasn’t moved to tears as I expected I might be.

In fact, I couldn’t even sense a demon. The only sense I had was the sense that Alissa might run up any second to open the locker beside me. We’d been locker neighbors every year since middle school.

Remembering her helium-balloon energy made me smile.

In retrospect, I wish I had just asked for a moment or two longer, to just stand there at that locker. To momentarily align myself with whatever alternate universe was still locked on September 2008, after home room, retrieving my books. To fill that space one more time as ‘pre-everything’ Jesse.

But who knows? Maybe if I had, it would’ve become too much. Maybe there would’ve been a demon in there after all.

As we crawled into the car after the walk-through, Matt asked how I felt.

I took a deep breath, and looked over at the school again, at the doors we’d just crept out of…and then at a bench, erected in honor of a boy who’d been diagnosed with cancer a few years after I graduated. He had passed away in a matter of days.

”Honestly?” I asked.

Another breath, as I let the significance of what I was about to say wash over me…

“It’s just a school…”

Those visceral feelings…

Those “Joan Didion-visceral-location-memory-based feelings” didn’t feel so powerful anymore.

…because in the actual plane of existence, it didn’t matter a bit. Someone else was living, learning, grieving, eating and shitting in that school now, and they didn’t give a f*** about my “visceral feelings.”

I haven’t dreamed about the school in the nights since.

My Name is Jesse and I’m a Gold-Digger

I have a confession to make, and it’s probably going to gross you out. I can just imagine my mom reading this—the gagging sounds she’s going to be making.

But I need a place to work this out, and where better than a glorified diary that can be read by the entire internet?

I have a strange behavior that has developed over the last year—in the months since I moved back to Syracuse…

I’m just gonna say it…

I’ve become a “sleep-miner.”

As in “gold mine.”

As in “mining for gold.”

As in for some f**king reason I’ve started picking my nose in my sleep.

Like I’ll be mid-sleep, mid-dream…and then the dream will start becoming more and more lucid.

And then it’s just me, awake, staring at the ceiling with my finger in my nose.

It’s very strange and I feel dirty.

I googled “I pick my nose in my sleep” to find support.

The most relevant hit was from a website called (I’m not making this up, I will link below): F MY LIFE

http://www.fmylife.com

There is a place to “submit your FML” and also a place to “moderate the FMLs”.

I am not making this up.

See?

Do you see this?

It is entirely unhelpful. In fact, in case you’ve missed it, Emily in Canada picks her nose in her sleep, and her husband has taken a video to post to Facebook.

Instead of offering solutions to this subconscious/unconscious behavior, the site provides a place for you to vote “I agree, your life sucks” or to vote “You deserved it.”

The comments range from calls for her to break up with her boyfriend, to calls for her to kill her boyfriend, to calling her a “literal gold digger.”

There are not any helpful comments offering advice or insight on why one might pick their nose in their sleep and how to stop.

I’m sure this nocturnal behavior could be explored in therapy, but I’m not in a therapy mood right now. I’ve gone to therapy on and off since I was 10, and I like to think I know myself well enough to decide when I feel like it’s therapy-time, and I’m not there yet. I’m due probably next year-ish.

I mean, therapy is amazing, and I highly recommend it, even for people who have not had cancer or OCD or PTSD. In fact, if more generally HAPPY people went to therapy, they would probably be more likely to STAY happy people, and we could have an overall HIGHER functioning society.

Of course, not all people can afford therapy, which is another issue in and of itself…I mean look at the world we live in: non-white people are getting shot and killed left and right, white people are personally offended that you asked them to stay inside due to a deadly pandemic, and some just feel like they should storm and riot our government buildings because they’re feeling disappointment similar to the disappointment that many of us felt in 2016, but somehow managed to survive without invading the capitol and propping our stinky feet on Nancy Pelosi’s desk.

WE ALL NEED THERAPY.

BUT THIS IS NOT ABOUT THAT.

THIS IS ABOUT ME, MYSELF, AND MY NOSE.

And my boogers.

Okay?

Anyway, nocturnal nose-picking seems like something I should be able to manage myself.

I regret even searching the internet for a solution.

The internet is entirely unhelpful and I wish it could be gone forever.

Of course, then I could not have this blog.

But somehow I think we’d all be okay without it.

I would probably be way more high-functioning and just pick my nose during the damn DAY like a normal person.

A Passage I Love

Finishing up “UNTAMED” by Glennon Doyle this week.

Wanted to share my favorite passage as we creep up on a full year of so much sadness and dying.

The scary part of dying isn’t the dying itself…it’s the question it brings, and I find myself plagued by that question a lot lately as we lose so many humans.

This passage brings me so much comfort that I might just have it printed and folded up in my jewelry box for safe keeping and frequent reminder.

Now it will be here, too:

Tish has always understood metaphors best. (That thing you feel but can’t see, baby is like that thing you can see.)

…I told her that maybe when we were born, we were poured from our source into these tiny body buckets. When we die, we’ll be emptied back out and return to that big source and to each other. Maybe dying is just returning—back out from these tiny containers to where we belong. Maybe then all the achy separation we feel down here will disappear, because we’ll be mixed together again. No difference between you and me. No more buckets, no more skin…all sea.

“But for now,” I told her, “you are a bucket of sea. That’s why you feel so big and so small.”

“Untamed” by Glennon Doyle

Hope your week is off to a good start.

Love,

Jesse

A poem I like…

Pater noster 

Our Father who art in heaven
Stay there 
And we’ll stay here on earth 
Which is sometimes so pretty 
With its mysteries of New York 
And its mysteries of Paris 
At least as good as that of the Trinity 
With its little canal at Ourcq 
Its great wall of China 
Its river at Morlaix 
Its candy canes 
With its Pacific Ocean 
And its two basins in the Tuileries 
With its good children and bad people 
With all the wonders of the world 
Which are here 
Simply on the earth 
Offered to everyone 
Strewn about 
Wondering at the wonder of themselves 
And daring not avow it 
As a naked pretty girl dares not show herself 
With the world’s outrageous misfortunes 
Which are legion 
With legionaries 
With torturers 
With the masters of this world 
The masters with their priests their traitors and their troops 
With the seasons 
With the years 
With the pretty girls and with the old bastards 
With the straw of misery rotting in the steel of cannons.

—Jacques Prevert

wish I could say I’ve always known this poem and didn’t just learn it from HBO’s The Sopranos. But alas…

Enjoy the rest of your weekend ❤️

Trust You to Death

Matt likes to watch chiropractor videos on YouTube.

I get to be the test subject.

I often find my arms pretzeled around my head, insisting aloud that I’m very, very, VERY not sure of this thing he’s about to do, but he says I should really just trust him, and I can’t argue with that.

A good relationship needs trust.

Please trust that I’m really feeling like maybe you’re going to snap my neck” is often what I’m thinking, and it puts me in a real tough spot because I’m also trying to work on trusting MYSELF, and trusting my body.

“I just need you to keep your hand on your hip and push back against my hand, trust me.”

“I just need you to know that my body doesn’t twist like that. Trust me.”

“Just trust me.”

“I’m really, really, kind of completely terrified. Please trust me.”

“I trust you, but you should trust me.”

And so on, and so forth. In circles.

A simple hug likely ends with a warning: “TAKE A DEEP BREATH…”

And he squeezes so tightly that my back crackles like crushed rock candy.

Sometimes there is no warning, and the squeeze makes me pee a little and I wonder if it’s the incontinence before death.

I love Matt very much, and I know he would never hurt me or try anything that he didn’t think he could do.

Still, I often walk into the dark bedroom at night, ready to fall peacefully asleep to the sounds of “Forensic Files,” and can’t help but feel my heart drop when I see the little glow of light from the cell phone on Matt’s side of the bed.

As I creep closer, I can hear it:

“…when you do this, gravity is going to help take it and traction open the upper back into the middle back and shoulder blades region…”

There is a tingle up my spine.

I like my spine. I hope it will be okay.

We’ve had honest conversations about this before. I tell him that sometimes I am afraid for my life. But I know he is a smart person. After all, he has a degree in physics—not exactly an anatomy badge (or a chiropractic license), but he is, at least, a man of science.

So I tell him I am relying on him to please, please, please just never attempt anything that could even remotely go wrong.

“Of course! I love you. I would never, ever do something that could hurt you. Half the time, I just want to try it out so I can teach you to do it to ME!

….You know, Jesse, you really just need to trust me.”

I trust you.

To death.

My death.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Goldfish Weight

OMG Hi. I’m alive.

I survived the end of 2020 and the beginning of its twin, 2021.

I realize it’s been a minute since I last posted…I’ve been so bad.

Like, for real, it’s been two months, and I know, I know. You’re just now realizing what was missing from your year so far:

It’s not socializing with friends…

It’s not going to the theater…

It’s not a genuine feeling of safety and confidence that the world is gonna be okay and we aren’t going to continue being killed off one by one by disease, violence, and hate…

IT’S ME.

I was missing.

What was missing was me.

And if y0u’re wondering why I’m being so repetitive and blocky and short in my phrases, it is because I would literally rather stick a pen into my eye than write in this blog right now.

BTW guess what? I have over 100 gel pens.

I’ve been avoiding this first post back like the plague (too soon?) Cuz I feel bad that it’s been so long and I know that once I start again I have to keep in a good flow or else I’ll drop off again…

So here are my excuses for going MIA:

Before Christmas I was in kind of a sad, weird “Covid funk” where I ate lots of rainbow goldfish and contemplated the meaning of life all day until my boyfriend—I’m just gonna start calling him “Matt” because I feel like a thirteen year-old every time I say “my boyfriend”—came home from work and I cried because all I did all day was eat rainbow goldfish and feel sorry for myself and he has a job.

You can ask him. It’s true.

I’m currently working to shed the goldfish weight.

Then right after Christmas we got a puppy and he’s a dream, but he’s also very needy…because he is a puppy. If you follow me on social media, you’ve seen him. A lot. You probably unfollowed me to get away, and are only reading this new post because you forgot you’re on my mailing list, and now you’re gonna unsubscribe, and then I’m gonna get a notice that you unsubscribed and I’m gonna wonder if I was mean to you in high school or in Target last week, and it’s gonna be a whole thing.

Speaking of high school, I was thinking about my senior year the other day on “World Cancer Day”…where the whole world comes together to…celebrate? Cancer?

I dunno, I’m not really sure what you do on that day so I just posted a pic of me looking pathetic and sh** during treatment and was like “this is me I am strong.”

(And like, don’t worry, you don’t have to be like, “awww Jesse is making fun of herself because at heart she doesn’t truly believe she’s strong”. That’s not the case, though. I know I am strong—I’m a proud carrier of my “cancer card” and I will always lord it over your psoriasis and seasonal allergies).

What the actual f**k was I talking about, though…

Oh. High school. Yeah I was remembering how I heard that this kid, who shall remain nameless—BUT YES, I KNOW WHO YOU ARE AND I KNOW THAT YOU DID THIS—

This kid sold fancy lollipops in the cafeteria to “raise money for Jesse.” But I dunno, it must’ve paid for prom or some sh** because I didn’t see any of that money.

However, I am very, very patient. And you—-you know who you are—whenever you would like to a) apologize for using me and get right with God or b) pay the f**k up, I’m back in the 315 watching Cobra Kai, and anxiously awaiting your call.

**(I’m also aware of a similar ruse in the Syracuse community theater scene, although with that one, I don’t have names or specifics)

Also, guess what? I am learning self-defense. Matt is a black belt and is teaching me, even though every 30 seconds I go “owww, my ankle” in a really annoying voice.

Cobra Kai!!!

Cobra. Kai.

2021 has given me a lot of things I didn’t need, but am happy to take.

For example, I never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, EVER. Thought. “I wonder what happened to every single character in the ‘Karate Kid’ movies.”

But I discovered the answer in 2021. (I know it is technically a 2018 series. I just found it this year, k?)

And I found Russell Stover sugar free peanut butter cups, too.

Didn’t need ‘em. Happy to have ‘em!

Oh. Oh. OH. And this song about dinosaurs in love that I just heard yesterday and almost cried?

YEAH I DIDN’T NEED THESE THINGS.

BUT I LIKE THEM. I’LL TAKE THEM.

Alright, I’m gonna wrap this up because it’s not really going anywhere. I gotta go watch Sopranos. (Tony just whacked Ralphie for setting his horse on fire, and now he’s trying to pin it on New York.)

So yeah, I’ve been avoiding this post because it is the “band aid post.” It’s the “I’m sorry, I’ve been bad about posting, so now that I’m posting again, I’m gonna be better about posting” post.

Band aid ripped.

I’m back.

And maybe…just maybe

My next post will have a clear, concise beginning, middle and end.

And a point.

HERE’S DEWEY:

Dear Old Friend,

You’ll never read this, which begs the question: what is the point? 

And I suppose there is no point.  

My head has just been swirling since I heard the news this afternoon, and I thought that maybe I’d feel better getting my thoughts on a page.

Maybe I’ll light a candle and read it aloud, later.

Just this past week a friend sent me a silly meme.  He wrote, along with it, “Jess, why do I feel like this will resonate with you?

It was two of the Powerpuff Girls, their hair sopping wet, pouting at each other.  The caption: me at age 9 saying goodbye to the girl I met on the beach that I would never see again.

I laughed because it was true.  I’ve always been a sentimental person, and I remember all of my friends, however long or short our friendships—even though, many of them, I’d have no idea where to find, even with social media at my fingertips. 

The 1-day beach friends.  The McDonald’s PLAYPLACE friends.  The theater camp friend who made me snort Dr. Pepper out of my nose…my best friend from children’s choir, who loathed choir practice as much as I did.

And you, of course.  My first “boyfriend.”

Well…I suppose you never were my boyfriend—at least not knowingly. 

After learning, at age five, that it would be illegal for me to marry my cousin, Sammy, I decided to marry you, instead.

That was why I followed you around at our parents’ boring parties.  You were fun, and intelligent, and, of course, my future husband.  

You were a year older than I was, a full six years old, and so very mature in my eyes.  I considered myself lucky to have you!  I’d pick out my best and most twirliest dress to wear when I knew I was going to see you.  I had to make the perfect impression.

You knew how to pop the Pepsi can tabs at the parties without cutting your fingers, which was most impressive.  You opened mine for me, and listened to me dawdle on and on about how I was going to be the head majorette in the 4th of July parade even though I didn’t know how to twirl a baton and was a goddamned liar. 

And when I’d stop talking for a few minutes, you would teach me things about math and science and we’d run around until the adults inevitably said “slow down, you two!”

I was so sad when you moved away.  Over the next few years, whenever I got dragged to a party, I’d ask if you were going to come, and the answer became “no” more often than not.  

On rare occasion, usually in the summer time, the answer would be “yes.”  One summer, at the lake, we rode in a boat, and you showed me how to fish.  You liked a band called “Slipknot,” and at the end of the day, you gave me your screen name. I remember it by heart, to this very day.  

Then lots of years went by.  You got into a school in the city.  I got very sick.  

During my recovery, I looked you up on Facebook and sent you a message.  I wasn’t sure if you’d remember me, but you said “of course I do!  How are you, little Jesse!”

I thought to myself, maybe I’ll become a Broadway actress next year and we will reunite in the city, and fall in love, and my five year old self would’ve been right all along.

But we didn’t.  Fate had other plans.

Last I knew, you were living overseas.  Multi-lingual and as intelligent as I always knew you to be.

I live in our hometown again, since the pandemic, and I have thought of you from time to time—I’ve had so much time to peel back the pages of my childhood memories.  

You don’t have social media anymore, but I found you on LinkedIn about two months ago.  Your face is more mature, but it is still quite the same face from my memory.

I’ve only just started monkeying around with LinkedIn, and I thought, “shall I add him? Send him a message and say, ‘I know this is strange, but it’s me: Jesse.  You used to open my Pepsi cans, and I was in love with you!’”

But I didn’t.  The fragile ego in me thought “better not.  He looks awfully professional and awfully important.  He’d be far too busy.” 

I’m very sorry that I didn’t.  I had no idea you, too, were drowning in the sea of unemployment that this violent pandemic has sunk us in.

I don’t pretend that my reaching out would have changed what happened.  I just know that I’ve felt so hopeless and purposeless and just plain sad through all this, and now I know you were, too.

Maybe our commiseration would’ve brought you some comfort.

Maybe just the realization that your long lost “girlfriend” across the sea still remembers our talks and our memories.  Still remembers your screen name, and your favorite band.  

Maybe knowing, even in your darkest, most loneliest moments, that someone so long gone from your life now, still held you in such high regard…maybe for a moment, you would’ve felt better.  The smallest moment can sometimes cause the biggest shifts in perspective.

Your childhood friend loves you very much.  Even though it’s been so long, she wishes she could still reach out.  Even if it was just to say “thank you for teaching me to fish.”  

When I look back on the people in my life, you are one of my favorites.  

You’ll always be one of my favorite people.  

My heart breaks. I hope this pandemic is over soon.

Love,

Jesse