I was at a bookstore in Boston back in 2006 just after spring semester of college had wrapped up. I don’t even really remember why I went to Boston. I guess I had just figured I had never been and it seemed like the kind of place I could get to easily and explore for awhile and be alone with my thoughts. I’ve always felt more at home the closer I am to the ocean.
So I went but I was sad the whole time and pouting a lot. I’m pretty sure I was on the verge of tears for most of it, for no reason other than I was missing someone a great deal. Anyway, dramatics aside, I eventually wandered into a bookstore and stumbled upon Miranda July’s collection of stories No One Belongs Here More Than You.
Sitting in that bookstore, reading her stories, discovering the way this woman thought about life and her perspective on love and relationships and friendship, I suppose it made me feel a little less alone on this trip. And I hope wherever you are these quotes from her make you feel a little less alone too.
“LA isn’t a walking city, or a subway city, so if someone isn’t in my house or my car we’ll never be together, not even for a moment. And just to be absolutely sure of that, when I leave my car my iPhone escorts me, letting everyone else in the post office know that I’m not really with them, I’m with my own people, who are so hilarious that I can’t help smiling to myself as I text them back.”
“I laughed and said, Life is easy. What I meant was, Life is easy with you here, and when you leave, it will be hard again.”
“Some people are uncomfortable with silences. Not me. I’ve never cared much for call and response. Sometimes I will think of something to say and then I ask myself: is it worth it? And it just isn’t.”
“Some may say that such a girl is not ready for a relationship with a man, especially a man in his late sixties. But to that I say: We don’t know anything. We don’t know how to cure a cold or what dogs are thinking. We do terrible things, we make wars, we kill people out of greed. So who are we to say how to love. I wouldn’t force her. I wouldn’t have to. She would want me. We would be in love. What do you know. You don’t know anything. Call me when you’ve cured AIDS, give me a ring then and I’ll listen.”
“We were anxious to begin our life as people who had no people. And it was easy to find an apartment because we had no standards; we were just amazed that it was *our* door, *our* rotting carpet, *our* cockroach infestation… We were excited about getting jobs; we hardly went anywhere without filling out an application. But once we were hired—as furniture sanders—we could hardly believe this was really what people did all day. Everything we had thought of as The World was actually the result of someone’s job. Each line on the sidewalk, each saltine. Everyone had rotting carpet and a door to pay for. Aghast, we quit. There had to be a more dignified way to live. We needed time to consider ourselves, to come up with a theory about who we were and to set it to music.”
“All I really want to know is how other people are making it through life? Where do they put their body, hour by hour and how do they cope inside of it?”
“Do you have doubts about life? Are you unsure if it’s worth the trouble? Look at the sky: that is for you. Look at each person’s face as you pass on the street: those faces are for you. And the street itself, and the ground under the street and the ball of fire underneath the ground: all these things are for you. They are as much for you as they are for other people. Remember this when you wake up in the morning and think you have nothing. Stand up and face the east. Now praise the sky and praise the light within each person under the sky. It’s okay to be unsure. But praise, praise, praise.”
“People tend to stick to their own size group because it’s easier on the neck. Unless they are romantically involved, in which case the size difference is sexy. It means: I am willing to go the distance for you.”
“I looked at other couples and wondered how they could be so calm about it. They held hands as if they weren’t even holding hands. When Steve and I held hands, I had to keep looking down to marvel at it. There was my hand, the same hand I’ve always had – oh, but look! What is it holding? It’s holding Steve’s hand! Who is Steve? My three-dimensional boyfriend. Each day I wondered what would happen next. What happens when you stop wanting, when you are happy. I supposed I would go on being happy forever. I knew I would not mess things up by growing bored. I had done that once before.”
“If you are sad, ask yourself why you are sad. Then pick up the phone and call someone and tell him the answer to the question. If you don’t know anyone, call the operator and tell him. Most people don’t know that the operator has to listen, it is a law. Also, the postman is not allowed to go inside your house, but you can talk to him on public property for up to four minutes or until he wants to go, whichever comes first.”
“You always feel like you are the only one in the world, like everyone else is crazy for each other, but it’s not true. Generally, people don’t like each other very much. And that goes for friends, too.”
“When she saw my messy desk, she said she was the same way, and there was no dust on the TV, and I was easy to love. People just need a little help because they are so used to not loving. It’s like scoring the clay to make another piece of clay stick to it.”
“This person realizes that staying home means blowing off everyone this person has ever known. But the desire to stay in is very strong. This person wants to run a bath and then read in bed.”
“I cried in English, I cried in french, I cried in all the languages, because tears are the same all around the world.”
Inner beauty shines through us all, regardless of differences in color, shape, and size.
Inspired by individuality and unity, the Soul Sisters Collection is a loving reminder of our collective impact. May we learn from one another through patience, courage, empathy, confidence, peace, and fearlessness.
*A portion of the proceeds from the Soul Sisters Collection will be donated to the National Black Arts.