top of page

In a name

Saturday 7/22/23

I wanted to include the following in this record. It's a letter I sent the other day to someone I knew once, for several hours, on a single day thirty years ago. I don't think she saw it anyway, but it's a nice bit of writing, it's true, and it says something about its author.


Hey there. This is likely to be the most random note you've ever received, or perhaps will. I see that we have Matt Vollmer in common as a Facebook friend. He's one of the few people I find to be both a stand-up person and an intelligent one in a world increasingly lacking for such people, and I was going to ask him how he knew you, but I also didn't want to open up a memory I had to anyone else. Maybe you know what that's like--there are certain things one experiences that can feel a little less precious, or magical, if they don't remain entirely within one's self. Not that they're ruined--they just become different.

It was in the summer of 1994--I think it was then--that I was working at a super market called Jewel in Lake Forest. I was only in Lake Forest for two years. My mother, who just went back there yesterday after a Boston visit, lives in town. I was a senior in high school, bagging groceries and rounding up shopping carts. You came down from a wall above this parking lot to acquire various foodstuffs for a party you were having at a house above said wall. You had some friends with you, but you made a point of introducing yourself to me in line, as I was bagging everything. You said your name was Seraphim, and I misheard you for "Sara Finn."

I thought, "hmmm, who says both their first and last name and does so that automatically?" You must have noted a look of confusion on my face, because you said your name again, and added a definition. "It means choir of angels." You then did a very strange thing. Well, not really strange, but let us say different. The kind of thing that a person who is an individual would do. A person of spirit and a certain free spiritedness. You invited me to this party later on. I got off work however many hours later, went home, changed, and headed out to this party, which I can't believe I did. These were college kids, I didn't know anyone. Looking back, I'm struck by how unlikely it was that I did this. I don't think I would had it been anyone else. Which is itself a weird thing to say, because what can come of a brief meeting at a checkout line at Jewel? In Lake Forest, no less, where the likes of the Lantern represents the spontaneous side of human nature?

I asked for you upon arrival, and someone produced this young woman without any shoes, who also gave off the impression that these shoes were gone for good. I can say this now at the distance of all of these years, but I thought you were the most beautiful, transfixing person I'd ever seen. And it wasn't just a physical thing, or primarily one; something deeper. You were funny and kind and different. We just hung out. Connections are curious things. They're amongst the rarest of all things, and sometimes they're the stuff of decades and lives, and other times they're but of a moment, a few hours. They're not tethered to the temporal.

Eventually, you asked me to drive you home, which meant to the college. By some miracle, your shoes were found, and away we went, across the train tracks, and stopped outside your dorm. We sat there in the car. I was very scared. I thought, "Should I kiss this person or what should I do?" And I did nothing, save say goodbye and watch you go. That sounds melodramatic, perhaps, and indicative of a certain naivete, because what was I going to do? It's funny the things we think about. Anyway. I was so happy to see how happy you seem to be, and to see that you have a beautiful family. You even look as I would have expected you to look. I'll always think you a person most aptly named, and all my best to you.


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page