Hannah Brencher of HannahKaty.com
I fell backwards into the habit of calling Hannah a friend. First, you know, you scope them out on the playground, checking to see what kind of backpack they’re sporting and if their shoes light up when their butts fling from the seat of the swing and they fly back to Earth.
Then, you make the decision to approach.
Instead, on an otherwise normal Sunday evening, holed up in the quiet of my childhood bedroom, still ounces and pounds shy of my more curvy self, I read her words for the first time.
She was talking about dreams, leaving them out in the rain to get soggy and distorted. She was talking about writing books and ditching storylines and yet, she wasn’t.
Instead of “You need to feed your dreams,” I saw, “You need to eat. You need to feed yourself. You need to live past next Monday because you are meant for big things.”
On that day, that month, that terribly antsy summer, I’d been floundering between growing bigger, consuming more, and growing smaller, squeezing myself into a crevice where I might forget what it felt like to be this miserable.
Hannah didn’t know me. She didn’t know that timing sometimes plays on us in silly ways, dancing around its true intentions until we are hit with a friend, three or five or seven hours away, that we didn’t know about.
Now, when I go back to read my first words to her, it is like the middle of a conversation with my best friend, the one who calls me and doesn’t have to say it’s her, the one who remembers when I’m supposed to go somewhere and asks about it later.
When I sat down to write this, I thought Hannah’s lesson was that things rarely turn out the way you anticipated in the beginning. And that’s still true. She’s built a small monster of a movement, a hate- and harm- and hurt-devouring project called More Love Letters.
She took her own loneliness, ingested it, spit it back out onto the page, and suddenly found herself on hands and knees, wondering how the world could be so broken and how so many could want to help her tackle all of it.
But there is the other side, where one fleeting comment on a blog, one click and scroll and type and submit turn into someone who knows how to ask the tough questions, someone who listens.
Someone who gives and gives and gives and is painfully aware of the world that’s broken yet able to be put back together.
So maybe she taught herself that with one letter written on the train. But she also taught me, in a few words, that I am a dreamer. That I was not ready to let go of the reins and pass on living because I’d rather die thin than live with a pair of pants hugging my hips.
Her end, my end, every end is rarely the same as the one you anticipate in the beginning.