A Strange Handkerchief of Wishes And Lies

“What do you have faith in?”

As a matter of course, I’m not religious and it took exactly one slight shift of my eyebrow for my brother to amend his question.

“I’m not talking about spiritual things necessarily,” he said. “Where do you place your faith? When do you trust that something will work out and why?”

Placing faith. Like a handful of eggs in a lace handkerchief, set somewhere safe to hatch.

I generally feel like I carry one single egg around in my pocket, willing it to open while inconveniencing myself at every turn because I’m carrying a fucking, delicate-ass egg around in a pocket for no reason.

Force of will over assured faith.

Apparently, when I was little, I asked my parents what we were.

“Are we Methodist?” My friends were Methodist.


“What are we, then?”

“We don’t really have a group.”

“So we’re nothing.” I was just trying to clarify, but this struck a chord and we spent the next few years popping into various services. My mom didn’t feel right going back to her Catholic roots, but my dad had a better experiences in temples. When I was 12, we decided to try on Judaism in full.

This, however, was not what I had intended with my questions. I wanted to be more like my friends, not even weirder and now, suddenly, with terribly dull plans for all Friday nights in the foreseeable future.

Religion, therefore, didn’t stick for me the way it does for the earlier indoctrinated. There is, however, something about saying “I’m nothing” that rings false even still. There is something tenable but intangible on which to place a fragile, lacy handful of eggs; I just don’t have the map of where it is.

Twice now, I’ve moved across the country. Once with no plan, no money, and no friends, and the other time with a little bit of savings. If you were to ask where my faith was both times I would have said, “half tattooed on my skin and the other half in the wind.”

I knew I would make things happen. I don’t know where I get this from but it’s deep like a bone. Or popcorn under the back molar, next to the gums.

Every January I sit with my planner and do some goal-setting. Reluctantly, like it wasn’t my own idea, and then furiously, like I’m sending wishes to a genie.

And, like wishes, it feels finite, numbered, constrained.

“This isn’t all going to happen,” I have said, out loud, to my pen.

I must ration these.

And yes, prioritizing is a main tenet of goal-setting, but so is belief.

This, I think, is the crux of the New Year’s Resolution. This list in particular is the pile of things we have no faith in actually achieving. Or else they’d be done by now, secured in the secret place we put things of delicate value.

This is the year I finally become a person who enjoys mornings.

Where are you putting this strange handkerchief of wishes and lies?

And where, instead, do you place your faith?

I have been so sure and so wrong, and maybe I’d rather just be one or the other.

January, as I’ve said countless times before, is not when things start new for me. It is when things are dead and cold and cracked. But I live in a sunny place now, so that could explain the softening.

There are the things I’ve never fully trusted will work out. Not in the way I believe in finding joyful employment and making friends. The things I carry around half-heartedly like they are plastic Easter eggs and not something I am determined to protect and hatch against all odds.

This is the year I get a literary agent.

This is actually the year I stop sending that out into the universe and instead believe in it like it’s something I have control over. The truth is, the answer to my brother is that the things I have “faith” in are things I believe I can do all on my own and for which I don’t need a special lace doily. Just a pocket.

But if you count up all the times I’ve been sure and wrong and still OK, it will tell you that this answer cannot be the whole truth. It’s not nothing and it’s not just me by myself and that, well, that’s the best I can do. A map on the scale of Neverland, but a map nonetheless.