August is a great month on the post calvin because we get a set of new regular writers. Please welcome Caitlin!
My friend Kristen’s sunroom is cracking at the seams. Thin, jagged rifts furnish every wall, and the white window trim peels in diminutive squares, suggesting lead paint. But the July morning slips through its wide windows and buckled mesh screens, and this morning is all clear skies and easy breezes. This is my favorite place to write. I sprawl across a faded floral couch and doodle flimsy sentences until Kristen enters and asks to sing with me. Yes, of course. I set my notebook aside as she tunes her ukulele.
Summer is sprinting past faster than I can blink, but here in the sunroom, our voices, together, slow its pace to a stroll. I sink into F-major and swim along with Kristen’s melody. This is a nostalgic morning song. I can intuit harmonies far better with friends and Bob Dylan feels like warm, well-worn denim. Our tentative music floats in and out on a breeze as hammers bang new shingles to the roof of a nearby bungalow. Outside, a tree’s leaf-tops glow white in the sun.
Our dear friend, Marissa, got married last night. We met five long, fast years ago, as freshmen: we lived in the same hall for two years. Now, she has made her vows, changed her name, found a job, moved to Indiana. Days earlier, Kristen graduated with her master’s degree. She will move home soon, find a job, and move again. Another cherished friend lives and works in Philly, and she is here for the weekend with her boyfriend, whom I just met for the first time. Yet another is moving to China in a week. I moved from Chicago to Milwaukee last weekend, moved into a new neighborhood, and started a new job. Impossibly, we are all here: here in our shared place to celebrate Marissa’s wedding and to hold each other as tight as we can.
It is a gift; it is the end of an era; it is too much to carry. So Kristen and I sing low and sober, catching our breath in unison.
How many roads must a man walk down before you can call him a man?
At the wedding, the pastor referenced Ecclesiastes: two are better than one. I have remembered my ex too many times this weekend. Ghosts of us linger on patios, at stoplights, and in parking lots. But I find solace here among the women I love. We, too, can help each other up.
How many seas must a white dove sail before she sleeps in the sand?
Milwaukee will always have my heart, but Grand Rapids tugs at it this morning, hard. Every crack in the sidewalk trips me and whispers: remember. Remember that time you got stranded by the bus on a Sunday on this corner; remember that time you bought too many apples at this farmers market; remember that time you wept in the back corner of that coffee shop. Remember that you told these women, your friends, all these tiny stories and that they listened. How can I thank these infinite street corners and sunrooms and couches and kitchens where we have loved and lost and breathed again?
Yes ‘n’ how many times must the cannonballs fly before they’re forever banned?
When will we return, all together, to this place or another, and once again snuggle away an evening with flushed cheeks, giddy giggles, mismatched wine glasses?
My friend, I know where to find the answer.
Caitlin Gent (’15) graduated with a writing major. She lives in Milwaukee and works in fundraising and development. When she’s not working, Caitlin is usually walking with a friend or singing in the kitchen. She likes to wax poetic about Wisconsin to anyone who will listen.