Kali Van Dusen
for kerry ferrell
a letter you will never read, which is why I used your whole name
KBF. Kieran Brian. Keeks. Kerfer. Freak. Dude. Ferrell. Idiot. Kerry.
Kerry, I threw away everything you gave me. I threw it all away in a trash can at the Boston Logan airport in the JetBlue terminal. It was cold, it was late, I was crying. I put it all in this white trash can and tried to walk away. I went back for the journal. You know the one - the black moleskin (now it’s stained, and I had to tape the pages back in because I read it so often, and it made so many moves with me. Now it’s covered in my own memories). I went back for the journal, and couldn’t look back at what I left behind. I am so sorry. My anger was seeping out of my veins, staining everything around me. I was angry with you in a way only a 19 year old can be - without reason, forgiveness, and sympathy. I wanted you to be different which, of course, actually meant I wanted every part of me to be anything else. If there is one more thing I ever say to you again, it’s I am so sorry
When I met you, my brain wasn’t tethered to my body. Everything felt bigger than my hands could hold - it was spilling over. When I met you, my face was hot and I couldn’t look away and I probably laughed too loud and said things I shouldn’t. It could have been a Tuesday or a Saturday, on set, in the library, or in the Tam. It doesn’t matter. When I met you, nothing else mattered. I want you to know that. I didn’t tell you before, because I didn’t know how. I couldn’t string words together if they meant I love you, and it wasn’t your fault (like I told you it was). Nothing felt indifferent back then (note: it still doesn’t) - everything touched me and I couldn’t separate what was my own deep resentment for who I was and what was “I love you too, and I love how you love me.”
Nobody loves like you. You love with your whole self. You give your mind slowly, almost like you know how expansive it is but tiptoe around the depth. You see those you love with such clarity, it’s almost scary. Any blurred lines you trip overself trying to clear up. Let me open you up and look inside, you say. Crack open your brain, break your heart in half, let me taste what pours out - I want to drink it up. I let you and it scares me. You ask me to look away from you in case I don’t like what I see, but you have already stared at all my most naked parts and I wasn’t ready for you to see them. I blamed you for my rawness, and I am the most sorry for that. Nobody loves you like you, Keeks. You say I love you in thousands of languages. Music, movies, the sun, the rain, family, coffee, dinner, books (so many books), did I say music? It’s worth being listed twice (I would believe it if you told me you only spoke in lyrics), writing - so many beautiful sentences (who else tells me that to love someone is to admire them?), friendship, cereal in mixing bowls, conversations that span lifetimes, the driver’s seat of a car, napping on my chest, laughing - so much laughing. I think they must reserve the gift of this sprawling love only for those who aren’t afraid of how it feels.
My love comes out baring teeth, fangs first. She hisses, coils, strikes with fury. I’m defensive, reckless, I toss it around like I won’t care if it breaks (I do, I do, I do - in fact, I don’t care this much about anything else). I’m afraid of soft landings - who can describe to me what that feels like? I know only hard, bone shattering places of comfort. I treated your warm, glowing emotions like they were venom. I yank my hair, I lash out, I laugh at you instead of with you, I roll my eyes, I sigh too loudly, I scream at you even if you can’t hear me, I sharpen my teeth and lead with them again, thrashing around in this body I never seem to recognize.
I’m so sorry I have loved you in all the ways you didn’t deserve. I want you to know everything I couldn’t tell you before - you filled pages up with me and I will spend forever trying to make sure you know I have enough to fill up books with you. I hope you’ve started to close your eyes when the world is exhausting, I hope you still see colors with every voice, song, sound (am I still pale blue?), I hope you know how warm you are (in all ways), and how I didn’t deserve the way you saw me. You are the smartest person I know and in another life, maybe we are gazing out a 11th story window breathing in the night air. In another life, maybe we are reading side by side in North Carolina, or Will Rogers beach. In another life, I drink wine at your brother’s wedding, you fall asleep holding me. In another life, we fall asleep laughing, tangled in a mess of arms, chests, and beating hearts.
I’m sorry I wasn’t ready to love or be loved by you. I’m sorry you have been a part of all my paths and never my landing spots. I wish I could reintroduce myself to you. I wish I could show you how tall I stand, how curly my hair is, how you can hear my voice all the way in New York City, how much space I take up. I wish I could show you all that I’m learning, all the wine I love to pour and cheese I love to eat now. But, maybe then this wouldn’t work. We are parallel lines, racing through the same city. Now, I don’t know what you read or listen to. I don’t know where you are at 11pm on a Saturday or 4pm on a Tuesday or even where you wake up. I don’t even know what car you drive now. I don't know what words you write, who is next to you in bed, who you say “i love you” to.
I hope you have someone who loves you the way you deserve. With all of you, all at once, always. I hope they hold your tender heart with soft hands and remind you how beautiful you are. (if you can’t listen, I hope they tell you anyway). I hope they love listening to your dad tell stories, and smile at how much your mom loves you. I hope they ask Declan about music. I hope they don’t challenge Jack because, of course, he knows more. I hope they ask your dad about Elvis Costello. I hope they ask you about Choker, Frank, The Beach Boys (pet sounds). I hope they feel important, and big, and exciting. 3 Please remind yourself to forgive her flaws the way she will forgive yours.
I’m sorry. For everything I told you and everything you never knew.
I’m sorry for the way I carelessly held you.
In another life, you’ve forgiven me. We toast glasses of any kind, we eat across from each other, we drive for the rest of our lives, we laugh even longer than that.
Thank you always, KBF.
I will always love you, stupid.
And I will always love you stupid.