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"Just be who you are, calm and clear and bright." - Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah

Life After Life After Life

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(Main Street Vegan Academy, part 4.)

I was staying downtown (more on that tomorrow), so on Sunday afternoon I took a wander through the Trinity churchyard.

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Every time I see an 18th-century grave marker I’m fascinated, again, by the phrase departed this life. I like to take the words out of their Christian context, and simply consider death as an onward journey. I can almost get excited when you frame it that way–as J.M. Barrie put it, “an awfully big adventure.”

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One of the doors to Grace Church.

On the other hand, don’t we “depart this life” and begin another quite frequently throughout our lives? Coming back to New York often feels like peeping in on that version I was living twelve or fourteen years ago. I pass Grace Church on Broadway, and remember how I admired the view over the churchyard from the window of an NYU dorm room when I was visiting as a high school senior. I walk through Washington Square Park, and think back on all the conversations I’ve had there, all the interesting people who came in and out of my life.

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(Some things thread themselves through, joining each chapter together: to the end of my life (the actual end), whenever I see hydrangeas, I will always think of my sister.)

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Maybe it’s odd that I love graveyards as much as I do. Part of it is the romance and the gothic flavor and all that, but there’s a practical reason too. We need every reminder that our lives won’t last forever, that we must experience them as fully as we can—the highs and the lows, avoiding none of the messiness. Those colonial New Yorkers have had their turn; now it’s ours.

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Hi! I'm Camille. I only write stories that could never ever happen in real life, though I do believe in real-life magic. If we were in the same room I'd fix you a cup of tea, but for now we'll have to settle for a virtual connection. I'm really glad you're here.