You’ve spent nearly a decade jumping between two countries, as well as dragging your loved ones and antique furniture between cities littered along the elongated, slow-rolling I-35 highway stretching from Minnesota to Texas.
And you’re 26, and dumb (well, still dumb) but more hopeful than you could’ve ever wished to be at this point in your life. The darkness of your early twenties has lifted, but you wish the ignorance had, too. Despite your dense moments, you’ve learned a few things—and you keep them in a list in your head so you can write them down on “goodbye & good luck” cards to friends that are looking to uproot their lives and wade out into the quiet, chartered waters of their dreams snaking to that place— somewhere else.
At the beginning of the letter, you give them a fierce and serious warning.
You warn them about the transition process and how it will throw them—throw off their expectations of themselves, throw off their assumptions of others, throw them into loneliness, and throw them into a royal funk for, at the very least—a few weeks, maybe a few months, hopefully not years. You give the bullet points from the list you’ve worked on for a decade (i.e. find the nearest public library in the first week of your new place of residence, try to make a contact with someone before you move, be sure to exercise—you’ll need the endorphins, etc). You write down as many as you can fit on the page.
At the end of the letter, before you sign your name in large, swooping letters (lest they forget you entirely at they go bounding off into the void), you tell them that they’ll discover the constants, too. The things inside themselves that are solid—how the constants rarely—if ever—are deterred or hidden in the social experiment that will become their life. And that the only reason you know this is because you’ve lived it, and realized that there are unchanged, noble things inside you, too. And you smile, as you seal the envelope, knowing they’ll discover those things about themselves when they need to.
What the recipients don’t know is that these letters and the list and your swooping signature is your big, worn-out, ever-beating, and ever-bleeding heart, wrapped in paper and handed to them like a nice cut from a butcher shop.
Micah Ruelle is the Creative Non-Fiction Editor for New Found Journal and resides in Austin.