Your village is growing.
I was afraid, for a while, that we’d be almost alone there, living next door to just one or two other inhabitants, holed up in our home, often feeling too timid to knock on neighbors’ doors and borrow sugar.
Recently, your father called. I didn’t talk to him and, when I listened to his message, it seemed vague and distant, as though left under haze and duress. It was clear he wouldn’t live among us, guiding you through marsh and wood and watching you become a mudperson, brandishing bugs and wielding worms, with clay streaking your face.
I thought I might have to teach you to forage alone. I thought our little land might be barren.
But now twigs are pushing through the loam. And now, there is talk of fatted calves, a small cluster of huts with perpetually open doors, and lovely wooden trellises of fruit-yielding vines. This blueprint resembles the communal world I dream for you, of bonfires with bright orange swirls of embers, crackling toward the black that shrouds Orion. We will dance too close to that fire, till our bare feet and night-cooled calves are in low-grade danger of singeing.
We are so happy to have it.
The whisperers have ceased their mocking—or better, their mocking has ceased to matter. Every village, on its outskirts, has its whisperers. And idiots. We cannot be bothered to banish them all and, in ways, they are good for the land.
Just know that this place is now sacred for you. I am soldering your shields. I am sharpening sabers of iron, of light. You must be protected here. Your village should feel like an insulation, from calamity and pretense and meanness. Whenever you retreat to it, you should feel free to run half-wild. Beloved, it is better to be wild than tame (though it’s imperative to know when you should wrangle yourself, for company).
I want desperately to screen out anyone who might damage you. I wish my only job were to sit in a tower with bowed twine stretched taut, fashioning flint for arrowheads, sniping attackers of your esteem. But there is so much other work ahead, so much past to re-envision.
Once, my own village overflowed with elders. Now, many of its pillars have crumbled under the weight of age and passed into eternity. I had a great-grandmother until I was 25. You will start with one, as well. I hope you have her just as long. You’ll begin with maternal grandparents. These you will have, for certain. You’ll have also great-aunts and great-uncles, cousins just a few years your senior, second cousins far cooler than your mother. You will have aunts by friendship, not blood, and two uncles, of the same kind of relation.
If you’re as blessed as I was, you won’t lose a single one, until you’re grown. If you’re as blessed as I was, every one of them will help me shape you. From one, you’ll glean all the confidence I lack. Another will broaden your humor, making it sharp and quick and wry. One will keep you kind, when angst and anger begin to set you adrift. One will teach you pride in our ancestry. One will hang high hopes on your shoulders, perhaps before they’re broad enough to bear them.
They all will adore you; I’ve made sure of that. Should this change, I will have them evicted.
There’s safety here, in this village, though we will not always be near it. I will send you back, when the last school bell of each annum releases you into sanguine summer. And in its pools and gardens, you will laugh and plant and dive great depths.