The 3rd of January 1998 – Lowell, Massachusetts

(found in a snowdrift underneath a mailbox)

Dear Margaret,

Thanks for writing. I’m sorry you couldn’t make over for New Year’s. We had a great party.

It snowed the other day here, too. I spent my morning watching out my apartment window all the people walking by, rushing wherever they needed to go. All these people bundled up, all these people packed into suits of wool, all these people blocking out the world.

I couldn’t help but wonder why we were here. Because they seemed like they were here just to go places. The snow – and it was a marvelous snow – to those people was just an impediment, a distraction and an obstacle. I didn’t understand.

And they didn’t understand me when I went outside in only my sweatshirt and jeans. I let my hair whip in the wind and collect a dusting of snow. I reached out with bare hands and grabbed at the flakes. And you know, I didn’t even feel cold.

I remember, growing up, when my elementary school would go on field trips to museums. I would look at everything. I would read every plaque and try to commit it to memory. I would stare and stare and stare at the exhibits, the stuffed wildebeests, the recreations of medieval farming villages, the massive, bubbling displays of chemical reactions. And my classmates would sprint on through, chatting to each other, laughing with each other, never stopping to look around and see what there was.

Once they left me. I took too long and the bus left the parking lot even before I was halfway through the natural history museum. I didn’t mind.

So I walked through the park yesterday, leisurely, watching, seeing. And people pushed past me, wrapped in scarves, glaring at the world from beneath a wool-knit cap, barely seeing anything as everything rushed past them.

I took my time. The park was so beautiful. I don’t know if I’d done it before, but it felt new, it felt incredible when I brushed my hand against the cold bark of one of those great, frozen oak trees down by the lake. I stood there, by the bank, felt the snow melt through my sneakers and seep through my jeans and I smiled. The people rushed past me and left me all alone. But I didn’t mind.

Have a good year,



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