We never met. You lived in the same city as I did, until I left, moved to the other side of the country, another coast, this time facing west. Still, there you were. You didn’t have a family, as far as I could tell, or if you did, never shared pictures of them, never felt the need to explain to anyone why you were busy, why you weren’t around, where you’d gone. We had that in common. That, and a mutual friend or two, twice removed, in the early days when the world wasn’t quite so overwhelming and that was enough. I know you liked river otters. And I liked that you liked river otters. I liked that you were thinking about getting a tattoo of one, though I don’t know if you ever did. You liked the pictures of sunflowers in autumn that I shared, and on those occasions when I would say something sarcastic out of nowhere, to no one in particular, you liked that, too. I liked that you knew how a barn owl sounded, had heard them barking in the woods behind your house, and so you found it distracting when movies got it wrong. Be still my heart, I said, and you liked it. Somehow, we keep finding each other, site to site like stepping stones—where we track the books we’ve read, where we save the vintage-filter photos from our phones—the same profile pics, our usernames like variations on a theme. Blossoms, owls, otters and such. And that’s enough. We’ve never met. We have that in common.
Alison Leigh Lilly nurtures the earth-rooted, sea-soaked, mist-and-mystic heritage of her ancestors through poetry and creative nonfiction. She is a columnist for SageWoman, and her writing has appeared in publications both in print and online, including Stirring, Eternal Haunted Summer, 7×20 and Third Point Press. You can learn more about her work at http://alisonleighlilly.com.