Imagine Tonight

Imagine tonight after the kids are tucked in, that instead of checking your phone or doing anything online, instead of opening your now nearly-exhausted-but still-maybe-one-good-hour-left-self to an onslaught of news and new To Dos, updates, fundraisers, reminders, requests, save-the-dates, campaigns, articles you should read, events you should attend, instead you sit listening to quiet music, maybe to the song “Ra Ma Da Sa” by Snatam Kaur that played at the end of the yoga class you took with dear childhood friend just a month ago, a Monday night when your hands touched during Savasana—final relaxation pose.

Imagine instead of answering texts, which only makes them multiply, Gremlin-like, that you pick up the Five Year Diary given to you by another dear friend, one who accompanied you during that semester in Toulouse, to whose French family’s house across the Garonne you walked from your French family's house on Rue des Fleurs, who sat with you outside in cafes at the Place du Capitole. Imagine you write a few lines about only today.

Instead of bookmarking Bento Box lunch ideas, instead of pinning Easy Weeknight Dinners or pining over Lemon Raspberry Cake, you pull out a cookbook, The Forest Feast Gatherings by Erin Gleeson, maybe, given to you by your publishing friend Mary Wowk, who hired you years ago to pack boxes and carry them to Mail Boxes Etc., whose daughter you used to sometimes babysit and who is now grown up and a friend as well. 

Or maybe you pick up another cookbook, Ripe, which you bought at a signing at the old Rizzoli on 57th street, and you flip through gorgeous photographs of artichokes, persimmon and radicchio. You read at the dedication from the author whom you met through your friend, her brother, Mark. You realize tomorrow you could make the corn with cilantro-lime salt to go with whatever you have planned for dinner. Or don't have planned yet. You'll find something. You have everything you need already.

Imagine if instead of reading an article on how to create calm, creative spaces, you light a candle, put on comfortable socks and make lavender tea.

If instead of clicking through on your friend’s re-posted post 10 Ways to De-stress you take out your yoga mat and sit on it. Try to remember some poses. Do them clumsily. Put your hands in front of your heart and take a deep breath.

Before you look at a screen, or touched a button, if you asked—why the endless scrolling and clicking, the what-am-I-missing? What if you questioned that sense that something is real and exists and gathers momentum and therefore significance by all of us liking it at the same moment, seeing Likes accumulate? Yes—I approve, the Likes seem to say. See? All these people approve of me. Look how many already! If the post is supposed to be funny, we know from the Likes they must have laughed. If you were venting about some frustrating situation, they empathized. If it's a picture you posted of your adorable kids, yes, they are adorable indeed. 

Instead of thumbs-upping political posts and jokes from people you know and sort of know and used to know, what if you pick up the phone and talk to one person you with whom you once ran across rooftops in Hanover. Most likely, you would only get to leave a voicemail. And if he returned your call—not particularly likely—chances are you wouldn't pick it up. 

But still.

You would have heard his voice.

What if instead of finding out what the moon says about your romantic prospects, you open the blinds back up and gazed at the night sky?

What if instead of marveling at the stack of locally-sourced pancakes your friend ate in a cafĂ© called Little Black Bird, you write a letter to the friend. One that will likely never be answered. A street name in desperate, slanted handwriting. A stamp of a Western Meadowlark or White-Throated Sparrow. Birds you studied together in 8th grade.

If instead of staring at photos of grouchy kittens, you dig back up the photos, real ones, faded, out of focus, overexposed, from your post-college trip to California and finally, finally arrange them into a scrapbook and say the name of the places you went out loud, Calistoga, Eureka, Santa Rosa, as run your hands over the now infinitely wrinkled and tear-stained map.


  1. I love this invitation to imagine all the many things we could experience if only we'd choose not to fall down the rabbit hole. It's so automatic, it almost doesn't feel like a choice--but it is. Texts, "which multiply, Gremlin-like" (so true!) stole 30 minutes of my limited writing time on Monday night. Or, more accurately, I stole those minutes from myself. Why did it feel so urgent? Why couldn't I turn off my phone? "Before you look at a screen, or touched a button, if you asked--why the endless scrolling and clicking, that what-am-I-missing?" I've been thinking about this a lot lately, that momentary pause that allows for a conscious decision, the pause that is consciousness itself. Pause. Pause. Pause. This, too, is the difference between passively scrolling and actively reading and formulating a response to a friend's blog. Right now I'm in a study hall, computer-less, writing this response by hand on a scrap of paper. It's so difficult to gather thoughts while typing on my phone. Here on the page, I can think. It reminds me of the way blogging feels like modern letter writing, our experiences transmuted into art and shared with each other. A small corner of the Internet where I pause to consciously reflect. The rest--social media, emails, texts--is so much noise. Thank you for this call to turn down the volume on that draining distraction, for reminding me how different it could be.
    I love the childhood photo!

  2. Before I forget--the most amazing thing yesterday. As we're driving through the center of town, on our way home from purchasing a new scooter, Isabella says, "I'd really like to go scooting with Petra." So specific, so perfectly pronounced, "Petra." And then we talked about our time together on the beach that magical spring day in the middle of winter. I'm not the only one missing you all!

  3. Bearette & Sarah -- thank you. Sarah - I know what you mean about the automatic habits that don't feel like choices...I think it's great you are clear about what your writing time is...that's a start...just to know what time you are designating for writing so then you can figure out how you used it. I often don't even get to that first step! (I do write...but I don't ever think deliberately about when or how long it will be...or was....) Yes - that pause, that little pause sometimes is all it takes. I love that you were writing by hand on a scrap of paper! I too feel I can think better that way. Maybe part of it is just the space. The computer now for me is so saturated...I feel like even just using Word I can hear the buzzing of the wired all feels very close by...where as on the written page I feel myself entering another space. You are and were so right about how blogging feels like modern letter writing. I love that. I absolutely love that...scooting with Petra! Remembering & pronouncing her name! We were just talking about that visit two days ago and thinking--how do we get back there and see all of them again? We are missing you too. Yet I can at least hear your voice, here and at OneBlueSail, which is more than I can say for many friends today. That is something to hold onto.

  4. Imagine...if we just stopped cyber connecting and actually connected? Isn't that what we are all longing for, at least all of us of a certain age. It is as if we are searching for something that is missing and yet, it is only a handwritten letter, or a phone call, or a visit away. The solution is simple, but it does take a moment of our time. I am thankful to still have friends in my life who mean so much to me that they fill that void, that ache in my heart that the internet never can or will. I just need to commit to picking up the phone and reconnecting. So, thank you for the reminder. This is a beautiful post and you are one of those amazing life long friends that I am so grateful to know and still be able to connect with in real time.

  5. So thrilled to find this comment here today! "We are searching for something that is missing and yet it is only a handwritten letter, or a phone call, or a visit away." Seriously brilliant how you are able to cut through the BS I so often get lost in, caught up in, trying to figure out and unwrap ("How come people won't answer email but they comment on FB constantly?") and just say it outright. I am so thankful too for this lifelong amazing friendship from first grade on. And yet even we had forgotten the phone, the handwritten letters, visits scattered that is changing. A way forward and also a return.


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