It had been far, far too long between letters by the time I sat down to write Liz. I'd started a draft of her letter weeks before, and in the time that intervened, I filled my head with as many new ideas to share with her as there were new things on my to-do list—the list that was keeping me from writing.
But I had this feeling like Liz would understand. She's my sister-in-law; she and her brother, my husband, share a kinetic energy that I have always observed in a kind of ignorant awe. How do they always seem to be moving, to be making, to be ready to act at any moment?
Patrick fixes his life around cycling and beer-making and solving problems on The Internet. Liz is always making making making things, championing other creative people around her, going to far-away places.
My life with Patrick over the past nearly decade(!) had gotten me to slowly tighten my gears. And once I gave birth to King I found myself with a renewed sense of purpose to make. And somehow, with this move to Portland I've wanted to speed everything up so I can make ALL things, all the time, not stopping to enjoy even a single episode of Louie without also knitting or sketching or planning.
There are moments—with an ecstatic baby and a two eager dogs and lunch to be made and five open projects plus figuring out the business end of things—that I've wondered how I'm ever supposed to manage the cacophony. And in these moments I think of Liz, and how she manages to always be making things, big and small.
On top of which she sends letters.
Our house is peppered with notes she's sent throughout the years. Always with an extra hand touch.
She takes all that kinetic energy and gives it away in these little pieces of love and care that beg to be kept.
We'd been in Portland only two days before we found a note from her in our mailbox.
So it was an honor to write her a letter for that reason alone. But also because I've suddenly found my brain full of these so many things that it wants to create, and I knew she would be a friend in that struggle—which isn't quite the right word. But I think she knows what I mean.
It was the first letter I wrote in Portland that was written the way I imagined I would write all my letters: Tucked in a corner of a coffee shop, snacking, watching, writing writing writing.
(I started outside; I had to gather my things and move inside because the sun was shining so bright and hot. Tell me more about you, Portland. I feel like we're strangers.)
This was a good little place to write. Fourth Estate is just two blocks from us. They have hand-made wood tables that remind me of Camino. They have croissants and cookies and banana bread that remind me of Camino.
I ended up filling my letter with vignettes, unpacking my brain where I could, corners of ideas here and there, feeling like I need to sit down with my pen about ten more times.
With all these letters—but in particular this one to Liz—I see the paper bridge we're slowly building, getting her to me and me to her. And it makes me want to write. And write. And write.