Whisper 2.33


Dear Shannon,

Can I write you? Sure I can, right? Now that I’m here, you’re there, I can write again.

Well, we’ve had a visitor! Becky came, just like we arranged at the party you threw on the day I graduated.

When she arrived, I realized that she and I don’t even know each other! We had just the one conversation, when we met at your party, before she came here.

We weren’t sure what to say to each other at first.


“Good tea,” she said. “Did you grow it yourself?”

“Um, no,” I replied. “We get maybe two days of sunshine a year up here. I think tea plants need a bit more.”

Oh, Shannon. I was pretty snarky. What got into me?


“It’s good, though,” Becky said.

“We didn’t grow the sugar cane, either,” I said.


Then Becky started laughing.  With the ice broken, we chatted for a bit. She’s OK. I mean, I like her. I’m not sure that we have anything in common, but she’s cute, and I like the way she laughs.

She’s so rich, though! I had a hard time finding where our experiences and interests intersected. Do you know where the Venn diagram of her and me did intersect? In you. You form the beautiful shaded area that we both share: our admiration of you.

We both agreed that you’re awesome and amazing and beautiful.


I headed into the garden to weed and harvest, and Becky went inside where Riley tried to entertain her.

Riley told me they watched a documentary on monarch butterflies. “It was fascinating,” Riley said. “Do you realize some monarchs migrate thousands of miles? In fact, monarchs are becoming something of an emblem for people who cross borders because each year, thousands of them fly from Mexico to the Pacific Northwest. They’re becoming endangered, though.”

Shannon, I wish you could meet Riley. You would love her!

“Did Becky enjoy the documentary?” I asked Riley.

“Oh,” she replied, “I don’t think so. She said the photography was pretty, but how many pictures of butterflies can a person take?”


I was still in the garden when Becky came out.

“Looks like you’re really busy here,” she said, “I think I’ll head back.”


“But you just got here!” I protested.

“Yeah, and now I’m just leaving. Thanks for having me, anyway!”

So that was my visit with Becky! She stayed all of two hours, and all we have in common is that we both belong to the Shannon Arkers fan club.


I don’t know about Becky, but I’ve got lifetime membership.

Miss you. Take care of yourself.



<< Previous | Next >>

Whisper 2.30


Dear me,

The gnomes may be celebrating my return from university…


but I’ve come home to a mess.

I walked right into the middle of a fight between Riley and Bo.

“But you can’t keep pranking everything,” Riley was saying.

Bo screamed. “It’s just a whoopee cushion!”


Riley was being so reasonable, explaining all the ways somebody could get hurt.

“But I have to!” screamed Bo. “You’re limiting my self expression!”


She grounded him.

He wept. Mr. Drama King, my baby brother.

“It’s not fair,” he cried.


“I’m home!” I said, once the ruckus died down.

“Thank God,” said Bo. “You won’t believe how impossible your IF has been to live with.”


I tried to offer another perspective. “Maybe she’s had reason to be a little strict?”

“ARGH!” screamed Bo. “Nobody understands me! I hate imaginary friends! You’d think, if we imagined them, they’d have some compassion. But NOOOOO! Nobody loves Bo.”


I suggested he head out for a cup of tea.


“Feeling better?” I asked him after he’d downed three cups.

“Hydrated,” he said. “And the phytonutrients are awesome.”


When I was getting ready for bed, I noticed that the faucet in the kitchen sink seemed to be pointing in the wrong direction.

I called Bo over.

“Do you know anything about this?” I asked him.


He said he didn’t know sinks from rocket launchers. Then he snickered.

“Bo! What did you do?”

First he denied everything. Then, when I said he’d have to fix it if anything broke, he finally confessed. He’d booby-trapped it. The sink would blow the next time anybody turned it on.

“How’re we supposed to cook? How’re we supposed to wash dishes? What about washing veggies?”

“Don’t eat veggies,” he said.


Bo! What’s gotten into that kid?

I grounded him.

“The prom is tomorrow,” he said. “Me and Patches were going. Not together. But separately. In the same limo.”


“You’re so grounded,” I said.

“I just want to kiss the world,” he said, “and then watch everyone die. Poison flower kisses.”

“You’re so weird. I just want to work on my novel.You think I want to spend my evening yelling at you?”

“You don’t?”


“Not really,” I said. “I don’t like being mad at you.”

“Then don’t be,” he said.

“All right,” I said. “I won’t be.”

We both started laughing.

“Poison flower kisses!”

He exploded in laughter.

He asked me about all the pranks I did as a teen. I’d only done a few. And I never got in trouble for them.

He said he shouldn’t get in trouble for them, either.

I realized that the only reason he got in trouble was because he’d gotten caught; whereas, I’d never gotten caught, so I’d never gotten in trouble. Which made me think about what kind of lesson we were teaching Bo. Which was, don’t get caught.

We made a deal: I’d let him off the hook, if he’d promise to clean up any messes that his pranks caused, including fixing anything that got broke.

We shook on it.

“I’m so glad you’re home,” he said. “All I want is a little self-expression.”

Good grief!

Welcome home,


<< Previous | Next >>

Whisper 2.28


Dear me,

I made it through finals! I’ve been reading so much about the benefits of oxygenating the system before mental concentration, so I went for a long run before the first exam.

I think it helped–I mean, I’m sure it did! I cruised through each test.

But by the end of the last final, I was bushed.


Then I got a text from Shannon, saying she was throwing a party and would I come?

Of course I’d come! I know Shannon doesn’t do goodbyes–or graduation ceremonies–so this would probably be the last time I’d see her. Of course I’ll be there!


I was so excited to see her that I forgot all about being sleepy while I rode my bike up the hill to her place.


When I arrived, I took a moment for all of it–the snow, the cold air, the feelings of anticipation, success, excitement, and tiredness, all swirling around. I’m a writer, I remembered. I may have just earned my phys ed degree, but I’m a writer! And every book I’ve ever loved has been made of moments like these.

Maybe these moments are what make a life. We store them inside of us, sensing their significance. Or maybe, compared to other moments, they really aren’t significant at all–and it’s only us, in our endless quest to make our existence mean something, who separate moments like this.

As I breathed the frozen air, I let the cold freeze this moment: I’d remember this and stick it in a book sometime.


I found Shannon alone in the kitchen.

She looked like she felt cornered.

“I’ve got to check on something,” she said.

I know how she feels about goodbyes. She doesn’t do them. I wouldn’t trap her.


I was so sleepy that I found the loveseat in the library. No one was there, and the lights were off. I shut my eyes. I could hear Shannon’s guitar from the other room, and I fell asleep to her music.


When I woke, she was playing something Classical, something by Granata, maybe.


I listened to her until after midnight. The roads were frozen, I was sleepy. I didn’t want to ride back to the dorm. I wanted to stay, spend my last night under the same roof as Shannon.

When I asked her if I could stay, she replied, “Sure! We’ve got extra sleeping bags in the closet under the stairs!  Find a spot on the floor, and knock yourself out!”


No one was in the kitchen. I washed the dishes and spread out the sleeping bag on the linoleum. Shannon kept playing her music long after I fell asleep.


I woke in the silence before dawn. I rolled up the sleeping bag, stuffed it back in the closet, and headed out to grab my bike.

The strains from a Corelli sonata greeted me.


Shannon stood in the snow, playing. I listened and watched, from a distance. I knew she’d stop if she saw me.


She’d turn and head inside. She doesn’t do goodbyes. And this goodbye isn’t an ordinary one.


If we were to do this goodbye, chances are it would be the final one.

Let’s skip it. I realized she was onto something. We’d already shared forever. Why bother with a goodbye? It would only interrupt eternity.


I took a last look. I tucked this moment so deep inside of me, not even sharing it in this private letter can dislodge it.



<< Previous | Next >>

Whisper 2.25


Dear me,

I’m still shaky inside. I’m hoping that writing will help me calm down. But it won’t make things right. Nothing can right what happened tonight.

The evening started so happy. Shannon called after the lecture to ask if I wanted to come to her bonfire. It had started to snow that afternoon, and the idea of a blazing fire while snowflakes fell had me feeling excited. Maybe we’d roast marshmallows or build snowmen–away from the flames, of course!

I was so excited I smiled the whole ride over.


Shannon was just lighting the fire when I arrived, and the heat was already melting the snow along the slope.


We played our guitars. Shannon taught me the riff to an old protest song she loved. The chord changes were challenging, and all of our attention was engaged. I loved playing with her.


I kept playing the riff, and Shannon began to improvise. The snowfall, our rapt attention, the way our music combined, I didn’t think I could get happier. And how is it that the moments of extreme happiness usher in extreme danger?


Corrinne’s screaming broke through our music. But by the time we reached the flames, we heard only the fire’s roar through the silence of snow.


I felt Death’s shadow.


So many times, I’ve seen this figure.


One of the zombies that had gathered around the fire began cackling madly.


She said horrible things–jokes I can’t bear to repeat, and she laughed until she grew hoarse.


Corrinne’s ghost smiled.


I’ll never get over the way she approached Death so gracefully, with full acceptance.


Had she done this on purpose?

Then, I heard Shannon weeping.


I snapped out of it as quickly as I could. Maybe that’s why I still feel so shook up, because I tried to be brave for Shannon.

“It was my fault,” Shannon was saying, over and over.

“It wasn’t,” I told her.

“It was. I shouldn’t have built the fire. I shouldn’t have added the extra logs. I should’ve stayed with Corrinne. I knew she was overtired and stressed out. She’d been wearing herself down all semester. I shouldn’t have bought the keg. Do you think she was drinking?”

I tried to comfort her as best I could. What could I say? We didn’t even know exactly how it had happened.

“It was an accident.” That was all I could think of. “It wasn’t your fault.”


I stayed most the night. The cops came. There were forms to fill out. There was talk of investigations and insurance stuff and whispers that the sorority would be disbanded. Shannon sat numb on the couch through it all. Eventually, she went upstairs to sleep, and I came back to the dorm.

I keep going over it… how we were so happy, and then–tragedy.

I’ve been googling “Happiness Tragedy.” “Happiness Leads to Tragedy.” “Joy Danger.” It hasn’t helped. Or maybe a little. I’m less jumpy. But I don’t have any answers. I don’t know what I can say to Shannon tomorrow to help her feel better. I don’t know why this had to happen.

This is one of those times when I could use that quiet voice that Mom said was always there, waiting to whisper to us. But when I listen, I just hear the silence and the flames.

Hang in there,


<< Previous | Next >>

Whisper 2.24


Dear me,

I feel I’ve never noticed how beautiful autumn is before! At home, it’s not so different from the other seasons–gray skies and rain. Here, we get enough rain that I don’t feel homesick, but we also get sun that sparkles the ground in gold light.

I’ve been watching the chipmunks and squirrels. We have so many now! More than were here in Mom’s day. They chase each other over the lawn.

One squirrel grabbed a twig and began doing gymnastics with it, and the more I laughed, the sillier he got!


Since Shannon and I reached our sort of understanding, I’ve been feeling peaceful. Settled. All my doubts and questions have dissipated, and I can concentrate more on my studies.


Funny thing is, I actually don’t need to concentrate on phys ed. It just comes naturally to me. So I’ve been reading the chapters in my art history book that I skipped last time. It’s fascinating stuff, and surprisingly, a lot of it seems to intersect with phys ed. For example, in art, the Fibonacci sequence forms the essence of Classical composition. And, in phys ed, we find this same sequence is repeated throughout the human body.


It’s fascinating to me! How is it that something can be at the core of both of these disciplines? And would I find it in music, too? (Answer: yes.) But what about technology?

I asked one of my dorm-mates, who’s a tech major and one of the biggest geeks I know.

“I live for Fibonacci!” He said.”It’s for recursion. It gives a base case then allows a program to make repeated calls to a method to solve the problem.”

“Do you think there’s something mystical about it?” I asked him. I’m starting to think there is.

“Oh, no!” He replied. “It is no more mystical than the human mind! It is something we invent. Outside of us, and our ceaseless quest for patterns, it doesn’t exist.”


I’m not so sure.  I asked Kenyon about it. He didn’t know what the Fibonacci was, but as I explained that it’s a sequence that shows exponential growth over time, he thought for a bit, and then he said that, in the creation of the universe, exponential growth was essential.

“That’s what allows creation to flower,” he said. “You need the exponential. So, yeah. I think it’s, like, integral.”


I asked Melvin Moon.

“I use the Fibonacci all the time in computer graphics,” he said. He told me he even designs color palettes using the sequence.

“But what I’m getting at,” I asked him, “is whether it’s a human thing or more universal?”

“Does it matter?” he asked. “I mean, we’re part of the universe, right?”


Melvin and I played a game of hopscotch on a hopscotch court designed with galactic patterns.

Melvin said, “Let’s play Fibonacci hopscotch.”

We hopped once, once, twice, three times, five times, eight.

“I’m out of court!” Melvin yelled.

“Keep going!” I encouraged him.


It was the funnest game of hopscotch I’d ever played.

I watched the chipmunk run across the lawn. Of course! The Fibonacci sequence was first developed to predict the population growth of rabbits! It applies to little rodents, too. No wonder we have so many more here now than we did when Mom was here, when there was just one, then another one, then two, then three…

I looked at the pile of leaves that Kenyon had raked. The shape of the pile, the shape of each leaf, the gradation of color from one hue to the next, the various hues themselves. When I toss them, do they even fall in Fibonacci sequence?


Miracles repeat–within us, without. Is it any wonder that we fall in love when the very universe is designed in mystery?

Keep wondering,


<< Previous | Next >>

Whisper 2.22


Dear me,

Now that Shannon’s said she doesn’t want me to write her, I don’t know who to write.

What I want to say, I don’t want to share with anyone, except Shannon. But she says it’s silly for me to write, since she’s right here. If I’ve got something to say, say it.

Only how do I say it when I don’t know what I want to say?

That’s the beauty of writing: I can explore, shift around, pose it one way, pose it another, and maybe, on the fifth run through, I’ll stumble upon my truth.

I can come upon what’s true for me through painting, too. I wonder if Shannon would let me give her my artwork?


While I was back home, I felt so close to Shannon. Through my letters, I felt we’d found a new level of intimacy. I shared things with her that I’d never shared with anyone. I let her see my inmost heart. Sure, her replies were often single words–but I could feel her through the writing, as if each stroke of her pen carried her to me.

Now she says don’t write. And I have a feeling I’ll hardly see her while I’m getting this degree.

I’m confused about what we are.

I’ve decided while I sort out our relationship–what it means to me, what it might maybe mean to Shannon, and what’s going on to create this weird distance between us–I’ll meet some other people. It never hurts to make friends, right?

There are some neat people at campus this year. I like the guy Kenyan. He’s got a rad Afro and a really intense gaze.


He came over for a bonfire party we threw, and I found him out watching one of the squirrels. Reminded me of the stories Mom used to tell about Uncle Shea.


Melvin Moon is pretty cool. He says his uncle Anoki knew Mom.


Jaclyn in still here. She’s still working on her phys ed degree. I’m really happy that we’re in the same degree program now. We have classes together, and we’ve been talking about squeezing in some extra workouts. I’d love to train her.


I’ve been hanging out with all my dorm-mates, too. Campus life feels so different to me, this time around. I’m actually meeting people and doing all the typical college things.


Like soccer.

I met this interesting-looking older guy who reminds me a lot of the famous artist Harwood Clay. This guy’s not an artist, though. He’s another phys ed major, back for a second degree after a long career as a pharmacist.


He knows Shannon. Everybody knows Shannon, it seems. I invited her over to our bonfire party, and she spent the entire time out at the bonfire, talking to all my dorm-mates.


And that brings up what I don’t get. Wouldn’t you expect that she would want to spend time with me, even if we were part of a group? But she doesn’t seem to. I never see her alone.

I don’t get it. I really thought that we were something to each other. I knew not to ask her to go steady–I mean, she was always really clear that her freedom is the most important thing to her. But I thought we enjoyed being with each other. I guess I sort of thought we were maybe in love with each other.

Now, she seems to be talking to everybody but me. And she asked me not to write.

I wish our social lives could be as simple as the squirrels’. They race around, chattering in their little squeaky clucks, and play tag and steal each other’s acorns and generally have fun causing mischief. And obviously, their attempts at romance work because back when Mom was a student there were only two, and just tonight, I saw five of them.


If I were writing Shannon–which I’m not, and probably never will again–I’d write something about charm. I’d write about how I feel when I’m around her, which is that I could spend every moment with her, listening to her stories, looking in her eyes.


She has this way of looking past my shoulder when she laughs that I find completely and utterly enchanting. I’m charmed.

Since I’m not writing to her, I’m left circling around my own feelings of disappointment. If I were more more interesting, or more of a rebel, or more intelligent, or better read, or less naive, or more adventurous, then she’d be charmed by me.


But as it is, I can blow my pungi all I want, and the snake remains in the basket.

I’m trying to work my way around to something positive out of all this, but all I feel is bummed out and confused. What did I do wrong?

I guess I’ll just end with what Mom used to tell me when things were tough:

Hang in there.



<< Previous | Next >>

Whisper 2.21


Hi, Shannon!

Back at campus, and it feels so good!

Can I keep writing you, even though I’ll be seeing you every day, or nearly?

See, I just got into the habit of it, and it feels good. I mean, talking is one thing–and it’s great, especially when you tell me stories. And writing, it scratches a whole nother itch.

I hope you write me, too. I love your letters, even when they’re just one word missives, like “Iconoclast!”

I heard my phone ring as soon as I arrived at the dorm. I knew it was you. ❤


It felt so great to say, “Yeah! I’m here!” And your voice sounded different, closer, since you were just calling from across campus, not from worlds away.


After orientation, when I called you again to see if you wanted to meet up at the café, I felt a rush of anticipation. To see your face again! I guess you know I missed you. I’d missed you for so long from home that now that I was here, and about to see you in a few minutes, all the missing-you rushed out and in its place was… sparkles.


When I hung up, I wondered, “Are you excited to see me, too?”

Your voice sounded pretty casual.


It was so great to see you. Something in my throat always catches when I look at you. You’re just so awesome.

We didn’t have much to say.

“Hey there, you,” you said. “Seems natural to have you here.”

Was that your way of saying I belong here?


I liked your suggestion of reading together. On a blustery autumn day, with the storm blowing outside, reading together is cosy.

Plus, like you said, they’ve got that incredible collection of botanical journals.


I never realized that acer macrophyllum was a wetland indicator species.


This wasn’t exactly how expected our first afternoon would be. That’s expectations, for ya! It felt comfortable, though. Kinda homey to spend time together, reading, thinking our own thoughts.

You know, I think I’ll do college differently this time. For one thing, my major is in something I’m naturally good at and already skilled in, phys ed. And for another thing, I think maybe I’ll spend time with more people, make more friends. Last time, my whole college experience was painting, going to class, and you. This time, I want to broaden my sphere a bit. That’s why I decided to throw a party tonight. I’m glad you said you’d come.

Just because I’m expanding my circle doesn’t mean I don’t want you in it. The moon and sun share the night sky with the other planets, after all, even if the moon does reflect the sun’s glory.

And you know that I’m hoping to always be…

your moon,


<< Previous | Next >>

Whisper 2.20

Hiya, Shan!

So I had a lot of time to think.

One thing, I decided that I wanted us to adopt Stray Cat and get her settled in before I return to school.

I figured it should happen any day now, since we’ve become BFFs already!

Then, of course, there was talking with Riley and making sure she was OK with me leaving again.


I finally had a chance to talk with her late one night after the kids were asleep.

“I’m getting sleepy,” she said, just as I joined her at the table. “Think I’ll turn in.”

As soon as I told her I’d been waiting for a chance to talk with her alone, she said she wasn’t that tired. Bed would wait.


We small-talked for a while about music, about Roxy, who’s growing up to be such a good kitten. About Zoey, who’s everybody’s sweetie. Riley said she thought Stray Cat would fit in just fine.

“I hope so,” I said. “You know, after we adopt Stray, there’s something I’m thinking of doing.”


Not smooth, I know. But I didn’t know how else to tell her.

“You mean, going back to college?” she said.

Of course, she knew. I can’t keep anything secret from my IF.

“But how would you feel?” I asked. “I really think that what I want isn’t more important than what you want, and what’s best for the fam is most important of all.”

Have you ever known anyone that, when you look in their eyes, everything suddenly becomes clear and simple? That’s what Riley’s like.

“Dreams are important,” she said. “You know, we can’t always do what we want. And so that makes it all the more important that we do so when we can. And right now, you can. There’s nothing keeping you here. We did great last time you went away, and we’ll do great now. And you’ll keep in touch.”

“I’ll email everyday,” I said. “And we can chat online.”


So just like that, it was settled.

We talked a bit about living arrangements. I’ve decided I want to move back to the old dorm. I really like the bed there. And you can stay over whenever you want, right?


So it was settled. As soon as we adopted Stray Cat, and she was adjusted to living here, I’d head back to campus.


I went out to see if I could talk Stray into coming inside.

But when I got out there, she’d already crossed the street. I called to her, but she kept on walking. I watched until she was just a tiny white speck in the distance.

Stray Cat’s left. She made up her mind to be a solitary. She’s chosen to live wild like Stray Dog before her.


When I got back inside, I felt sad at first. I’d really wanted Stray to join our family. But it’s her choice.

Then I realized there was nothing holding me back, no reason to stay any longer.

“Guess I’ll take off, back to the university,” I told Bo.

“You mean, tonight?”

“Yeah,” I said. “I’ve already been accepted. Why wait til next term?”


“Can I have your laptop?” Bo asked.

I told him sure. I’ll buy a new one at the University Bookstore with my student discount.

The shuttle dispatcher said my ride would be there in an hour, just enough time for me to pack and say my goodbyes.


“Don’t forget to study,” I told Bo. “Work on your skills. You’ll be heading off for college yourself soon enough, and you want to be ready!”


He blew me a kiss. My brother may be crazy, but he’s a tender kind of nuts.


“Don’t worry about us!” he shouted as I got into the van. “We won’t burn down anything!”


I rolled down the window to shout my goodbyes to Patches and Riley.

“Be good! Have fun! Keep my brother out of trouble!”

Patches just laughed.


Shannon, I’m so excited to be leaving, and at the same time, my heart got tight when I looked back at our house. Would they remember to water the plants once the frost left? Will they get along OK? Will Roxy be a big cat by the time I get back?


Riley looked at me. I could see she was telling me that she’d miss and not to worry. I know she thinks I’m doing the right thing. I think so, too.

And soon, I’ll see you!

It just hurts my heart a little bit to say goodbye to our home, my family, and our sweet misted valley. The van pulled out just as the sun was rising.


I heard tiny voices shouting. “Farewell, fine scholar,” it sounded like they were saying.

And when I turned, I could’ve sworn one of the gnomes was waving.


Shannon, I don’t know if you’ll get this before I arrive! If you do, you can laugh behind my back at how foolish and sentimental I am. And if you don’t, we can laugh together.

Shannon babe, I’m on my way!

Love you,


<< Previous | Next >>

Whisper 2.19

Hi, Shannon!

So, I guess you noticed that I’d been ignoring your suggestions that I come back to college.

I wasn’t really ignoring them. I was just pretending to ignore them.

Truth is, every time I got one of your letters, I had to stuff all my wishes to return to the university for a second degree. I mean, it just felt selfish to me. I wanted to go so badly, but I’ve already been, and Riley hasn’t. If anything, I felt, she should go.

And I’ll go again when Bo and Patches go.

But that might be too late for us, mightn’t it?

So, I decided to try the aptitude test again. Just to see what my options were. I mean, I wouldn’t have to go, but it might be neat if I could.


The test was a piece of cake! I qualified for full scholarship and advanced placement in technology and phys ed. Plus I earned a few carry-over credits in communications, too.

I put on my graduation gown, just to remember how great it felt.

Man, I really want to return to college. I want that second degree!


Bo and I talked about it while we worked together in the kitchen.

“I don’t see why not to go,” Bo said. “It’s not like I don’t know how to take care of myself. Plus, Riley’s like an aunt to me and Patches.”

He said I should go now and go with him and Patches. “You know you’ll want another degree as soon as you earn this one,” he said.


I wasn’t sure how Patches would feel.

“Doesn’t matter,” she said. “If you want to go, go. If you want to stay, stay. Same difference, far as I’m concerned.”


Once the kids went to school, I really felt my mom’s presence so strongly.

Did I ever tell you that I write to her sometimes? It really helps me clear my thoughts.

So I decided I’d talk with her, see what she suggested.


“I want to go back to college, Mom,” I said. “But I also want to do what I need to here, you know, to take care of everything.”

It’s also important for you to take care of yourself.

“I love having my fine arts degree,” I continued, “but I want to be well-rounded. You know I love working out and being fit. I want to learn more about physiology.”

You should learn everything you want. It’s your life. Live it in a way that brings out your best.

“But I hate leaving Bo and Patches. And I hate asking Riley to take care of everything while I’m gone for two terms again.”

I’ll be here, too. Just because I’ve passed, doesn’t mean I don’t remain here to look after the family.


Riley walked in then.

“What’s this you’re saying?” she asked.


Oh, Shannon. I didn’t have the heart to tell her I was thinking of leaving again already, so soon after getting my first degree.

I will talk to her, I promise you. We’ll have a long talk, but not yet. I need a little more time to get clear with my own desires, to figure out why I want this. Do I want it? Do I just want a way to spend more time with you? If so, that’s fine, too. But I need to be clear so that when I talk to Riley, I can tell her why I want this, why it’s so important to me.

And does it matter to you? Do you want me there, or were you just making casual suggestions like it might be an idea to consider, like trying applesauce for breakfast?

Let me know if you want me to come. I’ll think more and let you know what I decide.

It would be amazing to see you again.



<< Previous | Next >>

Whisper 2.18

Hey, Shannon.

Got your letter. Thanks. I like your response to the Stray Dog story–I sort of had a feeling you’d identify with him.

What you said about not wanting to be part of a dyad, though, surprised me. I mean, I get you on being an individual. But for me, I like being an individual within a series of domestic dyads. I mean, think about it: a dog and his girl. That’s an awesome dyad. A brother and his sister. Also awesome. An IF and her person. Very cool.

And then there was my mom and me. That’s maybe the most significant dyad I’ve ever been in–that’s the one that lets me connect with everyone now.


Are you saying that you never were part of a secure parent-child dyad, and that’s why you like being independent and, as you put it, “an individual I” more then “being half of a we”?

I remember what you told me about your mom. I guess that must have been hard. My mom was always there for me.

Well, not my birth mom. And I guess if I hadn’t been adopted–or been adopted by Mom–then maybe I might feel the same, too.

I wonder if that’s why it’s so important to me to adopt this stray cat.


I want him to get to feel what it’s like to be “part of a we,” and not just a solitary “I.”

I remember my birth mom. I never told you that before, did I. I never told anyone, not even Mom.

I remember breast-feeding. Funny thing to remember, but my fingers remember holding onto her. I remember softness. I remember how she smelled: like Vaseline, breast-milk, and cinnamon. I don’t remember her voice, but I know if I ever heard it–like on a recording or something–I’d recognize it immediately.

I can’t really compare my having lost her to what you experienced, for I had her, before I lost her. And then, after that black time I hardly remember at all, I had Mom. And, just the first look in her eyes, and my whole world fell into place. I had a happy childhood from then on.


I think I understand what you wrote about having to always fight to keep your solitude.

I might know what you meant about the pressure to be part of a couple. I felt that when the paparazzi started making a big deal about me and Chet when there was nothing between us but a few nervous flirts and one skittish dance. He was cute, and I went along with the hype that we were an “item.” But a dyad, we weren’t.

There were a lot of times when I just wanted to be me, without any pressure from the gossip columnists to be in a couple.

I can’t really imagine what it’s been like for you, all your life, to have people wonder what’s wrong with you that you’ve stayed single. What a weird awkward burden it must always be to be asked, “Why aren’t you in a relationship?” Like that’s the only normal.

I’m glad you were with me, when I was at college. I loved the private universe we spun around ourselves. I’d love it if you came–and I know you won’t and you don’t even want me to bring it up–but I’d love it all the same. And at the same time, I feel something like awe of you and your way of approaching life as a solitary.

I want to adopt Stray Cat–just like I wanted to adopt Stray Dog–because I want to give every individual a chance to have that closeness that I got when I was adopted by Mom. I want to be the one who provides the home, and I want all the single ones I love to be brought into that home.

I’d adopt you if I could, you crazy old lady!

I’ve been playing with Stray Cat every day. She and I have become BFFs.

And still, at the end of the day, when I head inside to make supper, she doesn’t come in with me. She walks across the street and into the frosted meadow.


You lonely tigers. Is it any wonder that I love you?


<< Previous | Next >>