Instructions for a stranger

Dear stranger who took my “concealed bag with no markings” home with them from the New Years party we both attended last night,

I write this from my kitchen table at twilight on December 31st, 2015. I like that I’ll spend part of the last moments of this year lavishing attention to detail on something I’m making for someone I’ve probably never met. I’ll make sure the cap is on nice and tight and I’ll smooth out the tissue paper just so. In a way, this is what I tried to do this year: to be kind to strangers and kinder to the people I love, to do the right thing, to be more deliberate with my time, and to leave situations with grace and without regret whenever possible.

Some years are like a never-ending fireworks finale while other years seem like an unremarkable game night where you play tic-tac-toe over and over again and no one ever wins.

I’m not sure what your 2015 was like, but mine was like a choppy sea. I started liking the Dead this year. I left a job that didn’t serve me. I healed from serious illness. I ate sea urchin. I explored an abandoned quarry, had cocktails in mausoleums, slept in a Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece, wrote strategic plans in a Beaux Arts library, and got to see where the first subway ride in NYC departed from. I learned how to apply eyeliner properly and how often to wash your makeup brushes. I got to meet my high school idol. I incorporated a company and took on consulting projects. I sent a mass email to 2,000 people in an effort to fund a Kickstarter campaign (it worked). I became a professor. I wrote for three new magazines. I watched my father take his last breath and wrote his obituary.

I saw New York through a 15 year-old’s eyes. I felt confused by the plot line in Midsummer Night’s Dream. I stopped being able to read books, but finished several audiobooks (does that count as “reading”?). I learned how to make patterns for bathing suits and became a regular at Spandex House. I fried catfish and made black-eyed peas. I moved into an accelerator. I was in Cosmo. I talked on the phone more. I deepened some friendships and let go of some. I really took notice of that Maya Angelou quote ‘When someone shows you who they are believe them; the first time.’, but didn’t put it into practice as much as I could have. I went to Cape Cod. Lastly, and most importantly to you, dear stranger, I got caught in a warm summer rain without an umbrella and had the nicest time getting drenched while walking home. I also learned how to take baths properly.

It seemed like the only fitting thing was to make you was a box of rain and the closest thing to a box of rain was a chance to reflect in a nicely concocted bath. You’ll find everything you need to do just that, and if you feel so inclined, here is a playlist for you while you are in there. No more Grateful Dead, promise.

May your fingers turn into prunes and may you have the loveliest start to 2016 feeling warm, happy, and fresh and clean. Just add water .sk

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