Origami Post-It Notes

We stay up late and play charades. You pretend not to notice how your knees touch mine beneath the kitchen table and I pretend not to hear your girlfriend come in and out late at night. We have good lives. You bring me carrots from our garden while I read in bed and we smile at each other and miss the fact that we’re the luckiest people in the world.

The first day I met you, I knew. You opened the door and I knew. I knew I knew I knew. I knew because I was expecting nothing. I knew because it was a surprise. I knew because it felt like the most natural thing in the world, the only logical conclusion. I walked down the street and arrived at your door and I knew it would be mine, too.

Later, we’d sit on the couch and get to know each other. You showed me how your bones grew in broken ways, how you were clumsy and athletic. You peeled your lip back and leaned in to show me your chipped tooth and I knew. I knew I knew I knew.

But we are the story of missed beginnings and obvious endings. We take up temporary space and only remember names until we forget. And you’re everywhere and I’m always looking. On the train past West Oakland, I look out at the crates and read the graffiti. I search for your name or my face. I want to write to you and tell you that you’re my muse. I want to ask how many girls have told you that. I want to ask if you’ve caught your breath yet, because I still lose mine.

And I remember one of our last nights in that house, in that kitchen. You picked blackberries from our backyard and you made that tart. I remember you told me you weren’t a fan of sweets, so you cut me a slice and we shared.

Has anyone ever loved us the way we loved each other? I wanted to wrap my arms around you and pull you closer, I wanted to listen to you and talk to you, wanted to cement the two of us together, wrap myself up in you like Klimt’s lovers. That night we walked back to our bedrooms and said goodnight. I shut my door and kept my thoughts to myself. But I knew. I knew I knew I knew.

Now I write notes to you. Long notes, short notes, notes on “While You Were Out…” stationary at work. I fold them into impossibly small squares and put them in pockets, purses, sometimes even the trashcan. I release them like messages in bottles to the future me that will search for them. I write reminders that I had art and hardwood floors and chickens and blackberries and sunflowers so large they couldn’t help but bow their heads.

“But still, in general, I know what I’m doing. I did something to make your eyes open up, right? So why is you talkin’ ‘bout it for?”

38.8403° N, 97.6111° W, or Salina

Everything is the same.

The girls’ locker room with the automatic light that only comes on seconds after waving your arm in front of it.

My name, written in shitty cursive, calling out to the Class of 2008 from the underside of a bright blue support beam. Other names etched into decade old dust. Tara from the Class of 2002. Kendra from the Class of 2007. We were all that young once. I want to write a thank you note to the janitors that never visit here. I want to write it in the dust and see how long it lasts.

Posters defining courage and integrity and excellence still decorate the hallway. Touchdown Jesus still has his arms raised and our senior pictures still hang in thick plastic sheets across the hall from him and the storage space and development office.

Everything is the same.

It’s strange–strange enough to force us into classrooms to try to find our names in books older than we are. It’s strange enough to make us lose track of time as we scan their histories, dating from 1988 to 2011. It’s strange enough to make it a little more believable when we find our siblings, but never ourselves. But we look and we look and we look.

We look through stacks of Physics books, Grammar and Composition books. We don’t bother checking the Bibles but we check the weight room and then we realize that it’s all so perfectly familiar because it is the place. The place where, if not all, at least most of it happened. I want to sing “Oh, you are the roots that sleep beneath my feet” to the hallways and the classrooms and to that one teacher who kept her closet light on and her room covered in butterflies.

I want to say thank you, but mostly I want to say goodbye.

“There was this book I read and loved, the story of a ship

That sailed around the world and found that nothing else exists

Beyond his own two sails”

And mostly, I want to let go and move on and find a way to make a life that dares me to act, then asks me for my truth.

And what did you learn today, it will ask. And I will tell it all.


“and mostly, I am grateful that I take this world so seriously”

It’s time to tuck a few notes into the Internet time capsule.

The abstract ones and the notes scribbled on legal paper with phrases like “we are all the sum of our contradictions” and “it’s hard to pull off anything, take as long as you need.” Cheesy book quotes, like: “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” Or essays that start with, “It’s a long story…”

Because it is a long story, so save the Playbills and the concert tickets and remember the funny phrases and the pizza and the good weather and the love (and shame) and love. Always, always, always love. And balloons.

21, thanks for the drinks.

Thanks for the goodbyes and hellos.

Thanks for feeling like a million Alanis Morissette songs.

Thanks for Big Bear and the beach.

Thanks for graduation and the discovery of deer.

Thanks for The OC game and Joan Didion.

Thanks for good lighting and simple songs.

Thanks for Pet Sounds and Born to Run.

Thanks for the uke and Dream a Little Dream.

Thanks for cute faced kittens and dogs with a sense of humor.

Thanks for belly laughs.

Thanks for family and long days in pajamas.

Thanks for “Shall we dance?”

Thanks for Beyonce.

And thanks for Harry Potter. Because that had to happen.

22, I want even more karaoke.

And finger picking ukulele songs

More give

More patience

More poetry

More accents

More songs of myself and long walks and Xs and Os.

And maybe a little Mahler spilling through those songs.

22, there’s something about you that I really like already.

I wanted to thank the mockingbird for the vigor of his song.

Everyday he sang from the rim of the field,

While I picked blueberries or just idled in the sun.

Every day he came fluttering by to show me,

and why not, the white blossoms of his wings.


So one day I went there with a machine,

And played some songs of Mahler.

The mocking bird stopped singing,

he came close and seemed to listen.


Now when I go down to the field,

a little Mahler spills through the sputters of his song.

How happy I am, lounging in the light,

listening as the music floats by!


And I give thanks also for my mind,

that thought of giving the gift.

And mostly I’m grateful that I take this world so seriously.



March 20, 2009. “Day 54”

“Frankly, Rosebud, you can’t handle the truth!” Have a favorite line from a movie?

For some reason, this prompt took me a while to answer and now looking back on my answer I don’t think this is at all one my favorite lines from a movie but just a line from one of my favorite movies.  Nevertheless, here //EDIT/it/EDIT// is my answer to the prompt:

The Royal Tenenbaums is filled with hilarious quotes but these quotes don’t particularly make sense out of context. At the turning point of the film Royal turns to his family, after being kicked out, and says: “These last six days have been the best six days of my entire life.” A frequent liar, Royal is surprised to realize that this statement is absolutely true.

He then says this:

Royal: Richie, this illness, this closeness to death… it’s had a profound affect on me. I feel like a different person, I really do.
Richie: Dad, you were never dying.
Royal: …but I’m gonna live.

I can’t think of why exactly I enjoy this quote, except for the fact that it’s full of hope.

I think my favorite line from a movie is much more simple than that.  It’s from ‘Half Nelson’, the movie from 2006 that earned Ryan Gosling an Oscar nomination.  He has a one night stand with this teacher who then rummages through his bookshelf.  She finds a copy of Che in Africa and The Communist Manifesto. Since he owns these books she asks him if he’s a Communist; annoyed, he replies back with the question:  “If I owned Mein Kampf would you think I’m a Nazi?”  Their conversation ends like this:

Isabel: Well, you don’t have a copy of Mein Kampf, but if you did, then yes, I’d ask if you were a Nazi.
Dan: Maybe I’m hiding it.
Isabel: Why would you hide it?

Dan: ‘Cause it’s just not cool to be a Nazi anymore, baby.

Ryan Gosling is a phenomenal actor and I would definitely recommend watching this movie.  I always like to watch my favorite movies with the director’s commentary on after I’ve seen them a couple of times and listening to the director’s idea for this film was eye-opening.  It’s such a beautifully written and well-directed film, with profound meaning wrapped up in simple gestures and words.  Everything has significantly more meaning than you think it does at first glance.

This is not one of those moments with profound meaning though.  This is just a scene where Ryan Gosling looks and sounds really sexy.

Another favorite line from ‘Half Nelson’:

Second chances are rare, man.  You ought to take better advantage of them.

Even if it’s only been a few days, I can’t read anything I’ve written without wanting to take a big red pen and slashing and rearranging sentences. On the Internet, specifically WordPress, it’s so easy to make corrections but it’s so much harder to remember the first mistakes once you’ve taken them out. I want a track record, I want a list of edits in case I want to put something back in its place, keep a little reminder of a longer story for when I have time to tell it.

I spent the better part of an afternoon this summer roping off entries, marking things as private from years past (more because of my gratuitous use of the “F” word and “like” and less because of confidential information) and now I want to retell these stories because sometimes I got it right the first time–like Royal’s quote.

Doesn’t it always feel so profound when you realize that everything is always ending and beginning? That you can always decide to live and it’s always going to be a BIG DEAL moment?

I think the more of those moments you can get the better; I think I got it right the first time (although second chances are pretty great, too, so…you know). And while that sounds much more congratulatory than I intend it to, it’s just right.

At first, the idea of retelling stories (or just straight-up telling them) seemed like an implication that I had nothing else to say, but it’s kind of the opposite.


I was happy. I am happy. Hell, I’m often drunk on a complex cocktail of profound gratitude, enjoyment, wonder…

Jennifer Gilbert, always getting it