Dearest You—Build a surprise in the outside public world for a lucky stranger to discover. Add magic to their day, their existence. A favorite book, a gift card, a sweet note, stickers, origami, etc. Notice how the scenery’s colors transform through your precise placement. How you alone are the source.
“Letters to a Young Brown Girl” by the poet Barbara Jane Reyes made me see how wonderful me and my fellow Filipinx are. I saw myself in the pages in ways I never witnessed in mainstream media, not even in the Philippines. I was seen and understood and I want to leave this book in Jersey City, outside of Jolibee for another brown girl to find and cherish. To grant more wonder and kismet to their world.
In the last few years, I have left beloved packages of loosely connected favorite books, zines, literary magazines, small gifts and written works inspired by the prior. No one has said a word to me and I am scared they were all quickly discarded. But the knowledge that I would’ve been overjoyed at such windfall makes me want to continue. Now I have some Bored to Death Book Club tote bags and bookmarks from the Netherlands website I do my abandonedb2dbc book column/dream project for. I was waiting for the Jersey snow to completely thaw before I abandon another but now we’re nearing winter again.
I have a sign made from “You are beautiful” packaging with some of their stickers to hang with it. A digital photo of an abandoned mattress against a stop sign to type some poetry on which I will later on print at my local drugstore. Books and such connected to the themes of the bed like vulnerability, dreaming, sex, and flesh. And a lavender infused eye pillow for when they go to sleep. I have put more care and thought into curating this stranger’s gift than I ever had for any of my loved ones’ presents. I just want them to be happy and for me to be the reason. To bear this pandemic a little more stronger.
But I’m scared to start, to finish reading those works. To pen the missive for the stranger to read first. To write a tale that’s rooted in all of what the book forms offer. To even update the instagram that I have received the totes even though it’s been weeks. I was using the snow as an excuse and I think a part of me wishes the dirty white would stay forever. But Autumn has arrived and nothing frozen in sight for months, and now what am I waiting for?
I think it would break my heart to pass by that present and see it still there many days after. Like my generosity, goodwill, and time have been wasted. But there’s other ways to beautify this world, my neighborhood. Like building a cairn, writing a poem in sidewalk chalk, inserting homemade zines in between park bench slats. Even a simple paper lotus on a brick wall would stop a jogger in their tracks. How different would your world become if you noticed something special and secret in your proximity?
I would pay attention more. Would want to pay it forward somehow. I just want to give what I want to get. To feel more special for what I do. I hope someone will write back. But until then, I’ll keep writing, keep leaving, keep hoping, keep being.