the other day something happened. i say ‘something’ because i only have a sliver of the story. it is a found pulsing, an unsolicited voyeuristic thrill, a jackpot-level luckiness, a feeling of catching/being caught, a … something.

i’d been eagerly awaiting the arrival of lingis. it showed up a week later than expected.



when i tore into the packaging, and recognized the cover, i was overcome with [what my daughter calls] ‘the squeeze-y feeling’ of excitement … so much so that i fumbled a bit. in the near-drop, four pieces of paper slid out from the pages and across the floor.




i was immediately reminded of my dear friends lisa and hannah and the artful notes that we regularly crafted in middle and high school. we stayed up late into the night collaging and writing, so that we’d each have something to exchange when we arrived at school.

warm fuzzies evaporated the moment i looked at the back of the assemblages. this was not the loving/agsty/grungy/silly kind of art that i was remembering. this was something … else.



[i am not big on censure, but feel compelled to clean up for reasons – the writing is so explicit that it feels intensely private. the author could very well be alive and unaware of the traveling her words have done. though the work was signed with a mere initial [just in case?], my best guess is that this was not intended for more than two very specific sets of eyes, or perhaps only one! on how many occasions have i taken the time to artfully craft, only to realize that the thing was never for the addressee, but for myself? i want to honor these possibilities.]

so many questions, tho:

what did i miss in my fumble? was the placement of any significance? did i destroy some important clue? or had these letters just been quickly shoved into a somewhere for hiding? or was this intentionally filed under dangerous emotion?

did my new [old] book belong to “M”? M’s lover? some other strange soul [like myself, i guess] who found the penned fantasy and couldn’t muster the discard?

[assuming the letter reached its intended] was this a fun spicing-up? a desperate want sent across miles? was it solicited? how was it received? what kind of reaction did this affect? thrill? terror? did they see each other soon? did M ever get what she wanted?

did this come to me in error? will the original owner one day wonder what ever happened to that note? or was it tucked inside as a gem for whatever human had decided that she needed a tattered and torn $4 worth of lingis in her life?

what meaning can be made from fragments? from a half-peer into the thought-life of another? i have not finished the book yet, but in some ways, this find, in this tome, becomes an ironic representation of the struggle i have with ethnographic research – particularly in assuming that we can answer to anything as an outsider with half-clues, burning curiosity and best intentions.

even still, i’d really like to know the story.


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