March 6, 2023


I’m applying for jobs I don’t want. I’m selling my old clothes to the grossly overpriced vintage store in Idaho. I’m house sitting for my parents.

I’m struggling to open the sliding barn door that they placed in front of the hallway but did not install, which means that I am sleepily scraping it along the hardwood when I hear an uninvited but familiar “Hello!” from the kitchen. I have just woken up. My girlfriend is still in the bed two doors down… and the voice in the kitchen definitely belongs to my brother.

Elected member of the Palouse City Council, advisor to the Youth Advisory Board of Palouse, intern at the Henry Miller Memorial Library, Bookseller at the Esalen Institute, I write on one application, smiling at the contrast that only I know is there. Well, me and Terry Tempest Williams.

“Mimi took me on whale-watching excursions off the coast of California, where we were eye to eye with the gray whales, seeing them breach, tasting salt water on our lips as the whale’s fluke, so close, slapped the sea before it descended. Mimi talked about a place called Esalen, in Big Sur, where inter-species communication was taking place, including actual sex between women and dolphins. Anything was possible.”

I speak this passage out loud to Mary, a day prior, from the bed two doors down. I laugh and highlight it, picking it off the page like a rock from the surf: pocketing it like I do every other brief artifact from this place that shaped me. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, Big Sur, wondering what it would be like if I believed in this home the same way I once believed in that one–if I felt again like anything was possible.

Instead I wake up in the mornings, my tongue rolling over the stones I have collected here. They are misshapen and, unlike so many others, are no prettier when wetted. They are heavy though, and weigh my language down beautifully.

“The silences I speak of here are unnatural,” writes Terry Tempest Williams, “the unnatural thwarting of what struggles to come into being, but cannot.”

My brother doesn’t live here, is not supposed to be here, but is making a cup of coffee in our parents’ pale yellow kitchen before starting his day as a rural carrier for the United States Postal Service. He lives over on the North hill in an old daycare where he has his own coffee that he could be making instead but isn’t. He has no rocks in his mouth, only truths, though none of them have ever been “anything is possible.”