With a broken-down oven, in a hotel kitchen, on an uninhabited island
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In grad school I had a writing teacher who’d completely cream my essays.
Cross-outs and tracked changes. He took me at my word
when I said I wanted to get better. But when he liked something,
he’d point to what was working: More of this, please.
Did I mention he was British? This is important because lately,
whenever something is really working, I tend to think to myself,
in a British accent: More of this, please. A lunch date turned dinner date
with a dreamboat who is slightly embarrassed his eyes water in cold weather.
Him looking like he’s tearing up at Shake Shack. More of this, please.
A toddler turning to me at the park holding her hair tie, asking me
to fix her ponytail. Her grandmother nodding to go right ahead, my hands
collecting wisps of yellow. More of this, please. Any time my family is honest
about mental health, what my grandparents were up against. This.
Cough-drop wrappers that say, Bet on Yourself. Pop-up concerts in the city.
Stevie Wonder playing Songs in the Key of Life at 10 AM on a Monday,
hundreds of people stopping midcommute in button-ups and blazers
belting out every word to “Sir Duke” and “Isn’t She Lovely,” saying, “My boss
is just going to have to understand!” The subway tiles under Carnegie Hall
with names of performers who played there: Lena Horne, September 29,
1947. The Beatles, February 12, 1964. Dance classes with live drummers.
An editor saying, “I’ll pass this on,” instead of, “I’ll pass on this.”
A stranger falling asleep on my shoulder for several stops. Staring at dates
in authors’ bios: Ruth Stone, 1915–2011. Larry Levis, 1946–1996.
Recommitting to living as much as I can. Realizing the dash between the year
you’re born and the year you die is smaller than your smallest fingernail.
It’s smaller than a strand of saffron in a bottle the size of a thimble
in the spice shop across the street.