To celebrate our ten year anniversary, we are inviting back former writers back to tpc in order to hear what they’ve been thinking about since leaving the post calvin. Today, please welcome back Will Montei. Will is a writer based in the Midwest. He wrote his first post for the post calvin back in 2013.
In the morning darkness, a breeze washing through the open window and tingling my arms, you were crying as you read an email next to me in bed. The baby squirrel you found the day before, the one that gave you fleas because you refused to leave her shivering on the ground like I might have left her, who you sent pictures of sleeping in the warmth of your sweatshirt pocket, died. The kind woman from the wildlife refuge who sent the email still thanked you because you cared about the soul of this little creature, as so few do, which gave her the privilege of waking up at two in the morning to be with her, your baby squirrel, so she wouldn’t be alone. And for some reason I kept saying “it’s time to get up,” like getting out of bed was the most important thing to do even though you were weeping because somebody died.
Calling her, your baby squirrel, “somebody,” still feels strange. I do it because you once referred to a bird as “somebody” in a text and it rocked me, how that choice of word recognized the soulfulness of a bird’s life. You said in the text that when you were six years old or so, you stood as still as you could in the yard, pretending to be a bird feeder in the hope that somebody might land on you. That normal word, so unexpected and challenging, somehow. Now I feel bad whenever I refer to a creature or a plant as an “it”—I feel it sap the animacy from them, like some kind of lingual climate change.
Even bugs, like the injured one we found on the windowsill above our bed at the biostation—you said, in a voice with all the warmth of mother to her child, “Oh, sweetie,” and you helped them onto your hand and carried them to a sunlit leaf outside where they could at least die closer to the earth. You always insist on helping creatures find a better burial. So many chipmunks moved from concrete or pavement or gravel to be nestled in some shady spot between the roots of a tree, all of them cooed with an affectionate, low “sweetie,” while I watched and feared touching decay. You held each of them with a leaf. You loved them with an all-encompassing, anomalous kind of love, generously and immediately aimed. It’s the same love you give to plants—how you had tears in your eyes when our neighbor’s parents mowed down the smooth asters in front of our home. They thought hostas would be a better fit, and later that day, you said, “Hostas? Hostas don’t support a single invertebrate life!” But the asters, being native, were flush with invertebrates. Anyone who knows you, who has felt your love aimed at them, strange only because it’s so tremendous in scope, probably knows what you said about the asters, and how you said it. Yearningly: “They were so special.”
How many dates was it before you aimed that love at me, saying, as you looked directly into my eyes with astounding sincerity, “I would die for you”? Only four or five, I think. Chalk on our faces, climbing gym ropes dangling around us, and just moments before the rope you held me with accidentally slipped a little between your hands, dropping me several nervy feet. You were so apologetic between giggles. But who cares? I was in love with you, too.
If you are a former writer and interested in contributing this year, email email@example.com
Will Montei is currently in pursuit of a Masters in Teaching at Seattle Pacific University. He has been writing for the post calvin since it began in 2013.