Imagine standing on the gray surface of the moon. You’ve been there so long you can’t remember why you came, or where you came from. You can’t remember that you’ve been anywhere other than here. Maybe your parents came first. Maybe your grandparents. Maybe their grandparents. Regardless, this is all you know, all you’ve ever known, all you ever expect to know. You’ve never thought of anywhere else, or imagined that anywhere else could ever exist.

But you’ve seen the planet. The blue one. Everybody tells you that it’s just some rock, or maybe a dying star, if it’s even there at all. Very likely, it’s just a figment of your imagination, or some strange refraction of light in space. It could be explained away, with scorn, or with facts and science and numbers. It didn’t matter how. It didn’t matter that it was there. It wasn’t you.

Of course, you can’t help but wonder why, in this monochromatic world, in this gray, barren, godless universe, the color of the dying star is the same color as the eyes of your parents.

What is art?

Now imagine you brought paint here, that you have colors and paper and an easel. And in the twilight, you sit down and stare at that dying star, and watch it come to life as the blue goes dark.

Why does it feel so much like love?

You don’t know what you’re recreating. You don’t have a word for it, because you can’t imagine life anywhere but here. You know nothing but this bleak, cold world. But if you had a word for the feeling, it would be something like homesickness.

Whatever it is, it hurts in your chest.

Do you have the image in your mind yet? Is it an image, or more of a feeling?

It’s not a true story, but it’s truer than fact.

It’s why we have art. What else would remind us of the place we’re longing for?

old stories

I am lucky enough to be homesick for a place almost a thousand miles away.

I was there in my mind, and then I was there in person. I don’t know which was more breathtaking. It was a place where the mountains are so old that they almost breathe, and the rocks stand tall and story-worn like humans. Where old stories and legends could come true. The cracks in-between the fairy tales, the places of danger and mystery, the side-plots, where it always seems to be night but the air is hot and red from the monolithic sun. The stars are bright and old and the dusty earth sparkles beneath them.

Old things have histories, fingerprints from everybody who has touched them. Old trees have laid their roots in more than just soil. Old books tell more tales than their own. And in some places, if you’re lucky enough (or if the old tales are strong enough), you can know them and turn them into a story of your own. They live on in places where the world hasn’t changed, not yet. There are places where, when you step on the footprints from thousands of years, you find yourself embracing them, wrapping around them, realizing who you are and where your heart can stand on the earth and stretch far into space.

We’ll see creation come undone
These bones that bound us will be gone
We’ll stir our spirits ’til we’re one
Then, soft as shadows, we’ll be gone.

It stays with you. I have seen the sun rise and set on your face, and know it rise and set again. Once the mountains called my name, and I woke to find the dream was not different from the reality. You never need to worry about being forgotten. I believe that nothing falls apart without coming back together, and sure as the vast and open hills remember my name, I know I will return to all the places I have ever been homesick for.


fall driving

Morning is beautiful when autumn begins to flirt with aging summer.

It’s more about the feel of the air than the look of your surroundings. It’s more about the hints than the actualities. When you touch the green leaves, you already know the flame and crackle to come. The sky is blue, but as pale as snow.

When you start to drive, the smell of pavement and gasoline reminds you of donuts and cheap coffee. The sun is almost too bright, and you lay your arm outside the window to test how sharp the air’s teeth can be, and high-five the occasional truck barreling down the other side of the road. Corn taller than your head rises out of either side of the streets, punctuated only by white farmhouses that are beautiful with a new front porch and a mowed lawn, and would be beautiful if they hadn’t seen paint in fifty years. From the side of the street, you pass telephone lines that remind you of when the world tried to change the planet, and wind turbines that remind you of how the planet changes the world right back.

You listen to songs through your car speakers and pretend it’s the radio —

Fleetwood Mac, the smell of an old cabinet and the taste of cheap wine —

Helios, subtle stars and feathers in a pale dawn —

Fleet Foxes, coarse like sea salt and soft like honey-colored fur —

Sigur Ros, splintered glass with all the colors trapped inside, like the broken heart of a prism —

Enya, long grass growing through the cracks of a forgotten church —

Debussy, shimmering and drowsy, a morning on the side of the river —

Keaton Henson, the smooth curves of a violin —

The music interprets your surroundings for you.  The rising sun is the loneliest thing you’ve ever seen. There’s absolutely nothing out of the ordinary about a morning like this, but if there were something grand happening, perhaps the morning itself would stop being so significant. Because you have to reach the place you’re driving to. The first few steps out of the car feel like getting out of bed into a bright planet that you had just dreamed of, and for the next few minutes, hours, your mind is far away from the drive and the season and the music because you’re focusing on school or work or wherever you’ve arrived.

But on the way home, the sun is setting on the other side, and once again it feels like a movie as you drive away from the shadows and head into the deep glow. It glistens on the dark windows in your house, almost like the lights are all on, and it’s almost like there’s someone waiting for you at home.


There’s an old legend that when you can’t sleep, it means you’re awake in somebody else’s dream.

Sometimes I’ll imagine that somewhere, someone is sitting on his bed and looking out a window. He can’t fall asleep. His eyes are open. He looks like he’s awake. But his mind and heart haven’t been awake for ages.

And then, somewhere else, somebody’s dreaming about him.

He doesn’t think she’s there, he doesn’t even know she exists. He’s never believed in angels and doesn’t think that dreams can come true. But in the recesses of his mind, he’s aware enough to cling on to a mad hope that there’s someone out there who can help him.

You’d think that he can’t fall asleep because he’s inside of her dream. But in reality, she’s wide awake because she’s inside of his.

He’s sound asleep inside of his mind. She’s awake inside of hers. He’s desperate to be saved by her. She’s calling out to wake him. They’re looking for each other. They just don’t know it yet.

They breathe in each other’s minds. Lonely, longing.

She hangs, in deep, dark, space, looking down. It’s another sleepless night at the window, and with red eyes he looks up.

boarding pass // almost

Ironic, isn’t it? I used to write to you. Now I write about you.

I’ve written so much in the past year. I couldn’t count the number of songs and poems I’ve scrawled onto computers and notebooks and iPhones. None of them have your name, but you were so deep in my soul I’m certain that if I read between the lines I would find your name saturating every word.

How does that make you feel? Permament, steady? Or do you feel uprooted? Because I can see the roots that you planted and I watered. I can go back and count every day that they grew deeper, like counting rings on a tree. They stretch from my heart to my brain to my fingertips and back again, and pulling them out has taken longer than I imagined. But the music helps, like it always does.

One word repeats itself — almost.

We were so close in so many ways. I thought I could count the distances on one hand. It was like chaos and order. I had your heart, all the way. You were gone, all the way. But there were more almosts than I had ever imagined.

You were almost who I thought you were. We were almost what I thought we were. We were almost that way forever.

the lost words

I wrote poems for you.

About the way you made me laugh,

about the songs that made me think of you,

about the way your words ran down my spine,

about the northern lights that shone in your eyes.

But the words are gone now,

missing, like you,

and loss consumes me.


But when we drive for hours,

and the stars are bright about us,

I find the northern lights again.

I hold them in my hand, and they are brighter and clearer than my words ever knew.

And we play our songs,

and I feel your voice and shiver,

and I throw back my head and laugh until tears stream down my face.

The words are lost.

But they were always so much more than just words.