peace piece

a long, multicolored friendship bracelet is held by a hand, in front of a background of green grass and trees

I could feel it all rising into my chest yesterday. I felt my heart beat fast and my breath get quick and I couldn’t shake it for most of the day. I finished my extremely long anxiety friendship bracelet, I talked with a friend, I texted other friends, took slow breaths. I paid attention to when it finally dissipated, just like I’m supposed to. When I opened the door to the refrigerator to pull out the Brita pitcher and refill my water bottle and it was gone.

I’ve been asking people, “How is your heart?” and “How is your body?” but maybe another question is “What’s wrong?” I would say this without alarm in my voice, with a softness. I would really be asking, “What’s wrong?” There is so much that’s wrong and I think maybe naming what’s wrong is a start.

I make a piece of mail for a friend, I feel peace. As I fold the envelope, the heavy card stock, I know this will be a three-stamp letter. Mail is magic. Gifts for others are magic. Make presents. Send them in the mail. It might take a while, but they will get there.

I keep opening my phone to look at the photos of our kitties our neighbor sent to me. I love them. I can’t wait to be tortured by them again. When Pia gets upset, she cries hard until she gets to the place of I just really miss the cats and my heart cracks because me too.

What will happen when it’s just the four of us in our one long room again?

Once upon a time, during a time of deep sadness, I was by myself listening to the radio on a Sunday night. The apartment was quiet, two different cats lived there with the two of us, me and Brendan. But that night, I was alone, with Brendan at work. All was a bit sad and quiet and then, on the radio, the most beautiful song (stop right here and play it).

I turned away from the sink, leaned against the kitchen counter, and listened to the keys of the piano play my heart, the tones vibrating through the radio and into my body. Softy, sweetly, atonally, then fast and slow, but always falling back to the measured rhythm of his left hand. 6 minutes and 41 seconds of healing. I only just learned that it was an improvisation and he chose not to re-play it in public for fear of it losing its value.

When the girls were very tiny, just two weeks old, I made a bedtime playlist of songs that we still use to this day. Before a soundtrack of ocean waves plays on a forever loop all night long, after the wind-down of Nick Drake’s Way to Blue, Bill Evans’s Peace Piece. The night begins with this song. Something inside me begins and ends with it too. It is my present to you.

two girls read while laying down in bunkbeds
from a quiet moment last year

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Lauren Sharpe

brooklyn, ny — theater maker/feels taker/educator/learner she/her/hers