I found a piece of torn paper on this cobblestone street a few months ago, and I wanted to know the story. The ink was smeared, but I could make out a little heart. I kept walking, taking in the foreign air and people around me, and I remembered what I almost always remember when I notice a homeless handwritten note.


Once upon a grad school class, a friend and I were walking to our cars, and she told me a story that worked its way into my bones. Her husband had died of melanoma a few months prior. She had tons of pictures of him skiing, doing patrols at dawn—action shots worthy of Life magazine covers, but she confided that she had frantically searched every physical scrap of paper and hard drive in the house for any remnant of his writing. Any story, any sentence, any love note...and specifically, any to her. Any words that could be salvaged that stayed behind - in his voice - in his handwriting - his inner thoughts. At that point she had found nothing. But the moment I saw the piece of paper perched on the street, I breathed a breath of hope for her.