this can happen

Saturday mornings are made for coffee and if you are wise in the ways of really making it a weekend, you take your coffee out walking with an old friend in a beautiful neighborhood. Or at least, this is what I did last Saturday. I met Sarah at a coffee place on the familiar corner of a wide, slow street. It’s called Good Neighbors, and is there anything more to say than that? 

We took our coffee to go, walking through the cool morning and talking as fast and enthusiastic as you can only do when you’re all caught up on news and move on to conversation. We talked about everything. The summer camp at which we became friends and still work for, which sort of latte each of us ordered, the freshness of the lilac hedges we walked past. Tattoos came up somehow, and in no logical sequence, tattoos led to my writing. Reluctant as I am to talk about my writing, everything seemed to tumble out in confidence of a supportive listener. The big dreams, the ones about this memoir and that book of essays, the questions about building an audience – maybe I’d held on to those secret thoughts for so long they spoke up of their own accord. I talked, laughed ruefully, wondered and dreamed a bit, and finally shrugged. 

“Who knows though. I’m not really sure what I’m doing.”

“Gianna,” Sarah turned without stopping and looked at me, face all lit up like spring, “this can happen.”

This can happen. 

I hung on those words for a minute, and she poured out enough ideas and strategies to build my dreams sky-high, iron-framed and concrete-founded. 

This can happen

It’s been five days of turning over every single suggestion she named and writing down question after question, marketing, hashtags, giveaways, monthly emails – and despite how logical and actionable every single thing has turned out to be, I still can’t believe the three words she said first. This can happen. 

It’s carried me all week now – all tired long week of parenting in a safer-at-home order, bruising my shins on the steps, wading through days of uninspired writing, closing my journal or my laptop or my mouth with a snap because I feel like sometimes I’ve run out of any words to say at all. But I remember that tiny sentence that opened a whole world of hope, and I think it to myself again: This can happen

Sometimes that’s all the seed of hope we need to keep a dream alive – one person who knows how to put shoes on a dream and make it start walking. Somebody stares at the sky with you, and sees your same dream, the one you thought was just a fleeting shape in the clouds, and calls it real. One person who can look you in the eye and say, “Yes. Here’s how.” 

I hadn’t planned on taking our conversation from the tattoos I want to the books I plan to write, but there we were, and there was magic in the unplanned sharing of dreams, because now those dreams have a confidence in them that isn’t just mine. They’re backed by somebody I trust – and sure, I’ll still have those days when I can’t see what value there is in any of my work, or I wonder why anybody would want to sign up for a future monthly email from me. But I have Sarah’s enthusiasm to fall back on too, now. I have somebody who cares about these things becoming real, somebody who won’t be shaken or disappointed when I write a bad sentence or a bad paragraph, or when nobody takes notice of an Instagram caption I crafted with heart and vulnerability. 

So darling, whatever that dream is, I want you to hear it from me: this can happen. You may not have all the details figured out and maybe I can’t tell you exactly how to train for the marathon or survive basic training or learn to lead-climb tricky rock walls, but don’t let that hold you back: this can happen. You can do this. You’re not alone. Find somebody to talk to, somebody who knows which step to take. But don’t forget that I’m here cheering for you. Your dream matters. Your goal can become a reality. Your ideas are important. 

Darling, this can happen. Remember it. Say it to yourself often. And if you know somebody who needs to hear it too – send them these words. Heck, say it to them yourself. This can happen. I’m not alone; you’re not alone; nobody is alone. Big things can happen when we begin to tip the balance from wondering to acting, to encouraging and hoping and planning. Let’s take time this week to be Sarahs – to pass out hope like coffee on a Saturday morning and remind each other the ways that big things can really, truly grow into being, one tangible, tiny step at a time.

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