Dear Courage Care Resilience (Letter 17, to an old mentor)

by austin beaton

Dear Courage Care Resilience,

To write this I put on the full Explosions in the Sky album that scored the movie Friday Night Lights.

You were the first person I came to know well that was from Texas. There’s a haunting beauty in empty places.

I think of Frisco when I return to my hometown—the fingernail edges of Portland extend a little closer each time I’m there. A new Five Guys in the pasture, a stop light hanging in the still of the night over what once was a hay bale.

What courage you had leading us.

I’m five years younger right now than you were when I first heard your drawl (over the Skype audio). You would’ve liked to stay in Santa Barbara, but it was too expensive.

Some term I’d have to peel galaxies behind the word grateful is what I’d call how I feel about you moving to Oregon, instead.

A woman and I have dreamt about living in Santa Barbara together once or twice.

But not too much—I’ve pulled enough neck muscles looking for the bottom of rabbit holes.


You taught me to take care of myself. Didn’t you say that as a sort of goodbye? “Take care of yourself.” Or am I making it up?

Isn’t that funny about story? One day on a park bench or over email I’ll tell a nephew about the importance of finding a male mentor and inevitably I’ll characterize you with a bit of my own fiction.

I’ll make you pretty enough with the words that come. But, I’ll be honest. The gray hair and grumpy moods are only tick marks to pass over on the journey of resilience.

Or some shit. That’s what I’m thinking right now, alone on the second floor of my duplex in San Luis Obispo. Drinking pumpkin spice tea and thinking about the north.

Thinking about a man that always stayed behind me clapping, that stayed in my corner.

Be well,