Puzzle Pieces & Thread

“Let’s face it. We’re undone by each other. And if we’re not, we’re missing something.”

~Judith Butler “Violence, Mourning, Politics”

Life is made up of a series of collisions. We all constantly interact with each other – bumping into and out of lives, intersecting, taking and leaving things as we go , marking a path in the form of memories left behind. Someone has an adventure, which becomes a story that fades into memory, only to be retold – tugged to the forefront of the mind, or bobbing, buoy-like, at the surface.

Along the way we tie ourselves to each other. We become entangled in the threads we stretch out between ourselves and others. They can become so loose we have to tend to them. Some lines have to be cut. Sometimes they are so hectic that all you want to do is retreat, because any movement could result in strangulation, for you have become the prey caught up in the center of the web. But they hold us up, too.

They are tested. The lines wear and tug and tear. Sometimes they are woven into a well-loved sweater – warm and cozy; while others make up an ill-fitting mess. When things change, when our connections shift, sometimes a line is drawn so tightly that in the process of breaking it takes a piece of you with it. Then you look for a new tie to fix yourself.

Though these pieces can also be given willingly.

Each time you say “I love you,” you give up a piece. And each time you hear it, you gain one. An exchange takes place and slowly we open ourselves up, receiving elements of those we love and who love us. We make ourselves, using not only our own basic form, but also bits of those we come into contact with – of those with whom we collide, and who we emulate in the aftermath of those collisions, when parts are hastily put back together, when we unknowingly adopt elements of those around us and make them our own.

The process of undoing is simultaneously an act of loss, and of creation and re-creation. It lets us find ourselves in others; lets us add the missing parts that feel like home, that are as natural as though they were there all along.

We are always mid-undoing and mid-creation. Always hoping to find another tie, another piece – always hoping to be better, despite the potential snares and tangles an loss involved in the process.

In the end, we should all be a lovely mess of thread and puzzle pieces.


There is something about voicemail that is so collected.

The measured beeping-ringing of the phone stops, and out of the audio void comes a voice. Default and robotic, maybe. Impersonal. Predictable. Or a recording – the person you are trying to reach can’t get to the phone right now, they’re busy, they’re on vacation, they are in some way absent. But leave a message – a name, number, a stumbling one-sided sentence that is missing its counterpart.

Those recordings can trick you. The warm hello can feel bodily – a hand must be holding a device to a mouth which must be uttering a greeting to you now. Then a “Hi” in response is cut off by the recorded command for later communication. You fall into an unnecessarily embarrassed quiet on your end (now revealed to be the only end) of the line.

Or maybe you were hoping for voicemail. Hoping to avoid interactions separated by one degree of technology. Maybe all you wanted was that recorded hello. Warm – for everyone. But this time all for you. Maybe you’ll ignore the invitation for a left-behind word or two – a bit of news or an inquiry – and instead hang up at the end of the speech which acts as the gatekeeper to the inbox.

Regardless, people want a voice in response. We need it.