I wrote the draft of this post in a composition notebook that I found from the year 2000 because you stole my laptop and my journals, along with the bible my aunt and uncle gave me for my 18th birthday. I found an old vocabulary quiz in this purple marble notebook with the word “infuriated” defined by my sixth-grade self as “to be very, very angry.”
You shattered my car’s passenger window, which a repair man from Safelite is busy replacing right now (for a few hundred dollars of money I don’t have). We have all spent the last couple days cleaning up the mess that you made.
What you didn’t know when you grabbed the black Vera Bradley work bag, a graduation gift from my parents, from the used Toyota Camry my grandparents helped me buy, is that I have had one hell of a year. If you riffled through my bag, you might have found old medical bills that I stashed in there, unable to pay them for a long time. Maybe you opened my diary (God, I pray you didn’t) to see the months of prayers that have come out as late-night, incoherent scribbles of “HELP. HELP. HELP.”
In a few weeks, I will teach a writing class, but you have all of the class plans and the Anne Lamott book we will discuss with all of the passages I wanted to highlight. I especially love the parts where she talks about how writing saves lives, it puts words around life experiences that sometimes float around like puzzle pieces waiting for someone to gather and put together to reveal the whole beautiful picture.
Over my life, and this past year especially, writing has saved my life. Those journals you stole (and maybe threw in the trash) have both wrecked me and saved me at exactly the same time—a mystery of the writing life that legends have died trying to comprehend.
You probably don’t realize that this is the year that I was building a new smile. This year, I literally got a new smile, one I have needed for years. I have learned that building and rebuilding hurts, that brick-by-brick or tooth-by-tooth takes time. And no matter how you dress them up, I hate all of the words involving these concepts: patience, waiting, and change.
In the post about how 2017 is a big building year for me, I wrote that “I think the bravest kind of building happens when we show up to help the old transform into the new.”
This is exactly what I want to say to you, the person who broke into my car and tried to steal my new smile.
My whole body shook as I wept when I realized you stole my old and precious bible, filled with dates and prayers that I have scribbled in the margins to remember what I’ve been through over the last ten years. It’s more than one heart can carry. I wanted to look back and see all that God has done, all the prayers answered and still unanswered.
In this big year of building, I will have to learn the kind of building I called the bravest, the showing up to help the old transform into the new. New prayers and new dates will fill the pages of a new bible and a new journal.
With a window repaired and a heart still in progress of repair, I just wanted to tell you that I will never let you steal what so many people have helped me build: my new smile.