My name is Brie. I am another non-Kelsey wanderer through the universe—though funnily enough, it’s the wandering I want to touch on, today. Writing this with snow enveloping my red-brick home, I, like you reading this, am the product of a thousand forks in the road taken, an impossible amalgamation of choice and something else—luck? fate? nonsensical, pure chance?
Raised in a tradition of faith, I press back on inherent design, preset destinies like railroad tracks, and yet--
I have always felt that the universe is playing tricks on me. Tricks of timing, perfect or absolutely, comically abysmal. tricks of the light; tricks of paths and crossings and leavings and song.
Kelsey had been to my hometown before she met me. Mere miles apart, and we didn’t know each other yet. She’s showed me an entry from that night, where, with her toes in the sand, she speaks of waiting for something.
I go to college a thousand miles away, and there are still pine trees outside my window. I speak in unison with people I barely know; a well-timed ‘good evening’ at work ends up with adoptive host-parents; our families trading Christmas cards. My short haircut coincides pretty much exactly with some personal revelations (ironically, one not preceding the other).
I catch the eyes of someone from my dream in crowds, convince myself they’re an assassin from an alternate dimension, (that, or my one true love). The morning before I leave my home, I bob like a cork on the sunrise waves, and my laughter is a living thing, because the storm on the western horizon is cut wide open by the stretch of a rainbow.
Three friends scattered up and down the eastern seaboard, the unquantifiable vacuum of the US postal system, and somehow, three letters arriving on the exact same day.
My grandmother would call these miracles. Me? I simply extol in all-caps texts to my best friends: THE UNIVERSE IS MESSING WITH ME.
And then of course to wonder: for what?
For me? all that trouble, a finger brushed over three stamps, a postman feeling oddly industrious, a yellow envelope sliding to the top of a pile, just so I could feel my breath catch in my chest as I turned the dial of my old-fashioned college mailbox and saw it there?
On the bad days, it feels ludicrous— the audacity to think we could matter like that.
But I do not have a monopoly on miracles. And let’s apply the same logic to a flower in some unwalked Maine woods in midwinter. For what? All that trouble, each curling leaf, whistling hair, a frost not a moment too soon, a thaw not a moment too late, something guiding each foot elsewhere, just so it could breathe its soft color onto the morning snow once, and fry when next things drop below zero?
The whole of human history turns on a dime. If Alexander the Great had eaten a bad date as a gangly preteen, perhaps there never would have been such a thing as Sputnik. If a girl from the blue ridge mountains had never introduced herself in verse, the novel I’ve just finished would stay an idea, in some unopened journal, gathering dust.
So which tricks of the light matter? Which miracles ought to be made mountains, what do we do with all this impossibility?
Mary Oliver, who’s been on my mind since her passing, says it best:
“It's like a schoolhouse
of little words,
thousands of words.
First you figure out what each one means by itself,
the jingle, the periwinkle, the scallop
full of moonlight.
Then you begin, slowly, to read the whole story.”
All this impossible chance, one story. And it all matters, even when it doesn’t. A pianist I interviewed a few days ago told me, ‘everything is everything’, and he’s right. it’s all this.
It’s all here, alone in pre-dawn light or tangled up with strangers, stumble and coincidence, as I laugh, laugh, laugh, at the staggering, ridiculous, blessed ways the universe is messing with me.
Okay, I say, throwing my hands in the air. you win. I’m listening.
How lucky we are, to exist, we say to one another, and I think that’s the truest way I’ve found to say it. I am here, in all the strange and awkward and unpoetic ways and all the divine, eternal ones too.
I am here, and again, Mary Oliver asks it just right:
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
So, trickster universe, I’m listening. I take my impossible chance with both my hands, with the audacity to call it mine, to claim this accident of light for my own.
And some naïve part of me sings out, ‘see? it’s listening back’, when the letter comes.
kelsey day is a young award winning poet who grew up in the blue mountains of north carolina. she has received recognition for a collection of short stories, as well as two novels she published at the ages of 11 and 13. today she is studying creative writing in boston, massachusetts.