Not Past It - We Found Love In A Historical Place

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When Clint Buffington was a kid, his family had a very specific vacation hobby, my family and I are kind of beachcombers most folks dig around in the sand to find.

The biggest shells or the prettiest ones, not the buffington’s, we would compete to find the smallest one because that would show who had the sharpest eyes.


He took a trip to the Caribbean with his dad and his early 20s.

And while walking down the beach, those sharp beachcombing eyes Speights.

Dang way cooler than a shell.

And all of a sudden, I see this blue bottle is bright blue bottle, lying on the sand.


As if someone had just put it there, you know, the cork still in it and then he noticed what was inside.

Clear as day.

There was just this orange paper rolled up inside of it.

Like, boom.

This is a message in a bottle.

I was like, okay, I’m pretty sure I know what I have here.


The bottle was sealed shut with a rubber cork attached to a piece of floss.

He opened it.

I literally just use the corkscrew, you know, just inside he found a message from a couple that had traveled across the Atlantic on a sailboat at the bottom of the page was an AOL email address.


So Clint reached out to the couple and surprise their AOL was still active.

They wrote Clint back.

It’s just that the joy and the Sense of wonder in their email, back to me.

That was like, it brought their whole Adventure, right back to them.


They were like, right there again on that, boat, crossing the ocean, reliving, all of that.

I mean, no one expects their message to be found.

That’s what’s so magical about it.


Clint became obsessed with finding these magical messages.


He even began studying, ocean currents to figure out the likeliest places to find them for over a decade.

He’s collected 98.

Eight of these bottles Summer from school kids, running science experiments.

Some are romantic.

Please, lonely Sailors, looking for a boo thing, love connection and a little bit of melancholy.


I mean, what screams Valentine’s Day More Than That?

From gimlet media.

This is not passed it a show about the stories.

We can’t quite leave behind every episode.

We take a moment from that very same week in history and tell you the story of how it shaped our world.


I’m Simone Pullin on what the lovers holiday coming up.

We here at not past.

It are sending out our own little messages in a bottle to you.

Our producers have Stories from across history about love of all kinds that all took place on Valentine’s Day.


We’re setting sail on The Love Boat.

After the break.

We’re sending our first message in a bottle out and to the Audio Waves.


Okay, come on, that’s pretty good.


And what kind of messages do you put in bottles?

Anyway, how about a Valentine’s owed?

Our producer, Laura Newcomb takes us to a Young Writers early for a and to love poetry.


It’s late.

And I’ve got about, oh, 5,000 Tabs are so open on my computer.

A distressing number of them are helping me, keep track of nightgowns and to be totally clear.

Nightgowns is not a euphemism for something actually sexy.



No, I’m on a website called the Vermont Country Store and admiring bed dresses that are puritanical in their modesty, mostly flannel and sometimes even ruffled.

So what brought me to Ye Olde jammies the influence of a cool teenager, obviously, her name is Emily Dickinson.


And despite having been dead for over 100 years.

She’s having a bit of a moment right now.

Maybe you’ve seen the Apple TV show Dickinson where she’s played by the actress / literal pop star.

Hailee Steinfeld this Emily Dickinson, twerks tells off the row.


She flirts with Wiz Khalifa.

All while wearing a series of perfect looks including a number of incredible.

Nightgowns in real life.

The genius poet brought us some of the best Works in the English language, about Hope and Madness faith, and despair, the Earthly, and the Divine, and outside of her home town of Amherst, Massachusetts.


She was largely unknown.

She was also kind of a loner.

After she reached her 30s, she rarely left her family’s home.

She was known to speak to visitors from behind her bedroom door and she never married.

So you might be surprised to know that Emily Dickinson’s, earliest known, poem is of all things.


A valentine.

The tradition of exchanging poems on Valentine’s Day was established in England and had made its way over to the US by the mid 1800s and back in Emily’s day.

It was normal for young people, to celebrate the holiday over the course of a full week.


So Valentine’s haters.

You can go ahead and count your blessings that you only have to endure it.

For one day, Emily wrote that early love poem during Valentine’s week when she was 19 years old and slipped it to a lawyer.

This guy Elbridge Bowden who worked with her.


Emily and Elbridge exchanged.

A few letters.

He wants, lent her a copy of Jane Eyre, that kind of thing.

The to, as far as we know it, we’re just friends.

So this Valentine’s Day poem.

It seems like a strictly friendly flirt, which makes sense.


When you consider that, the whole thing is basically a joke.

No, I love yous.

No, roses are red, violets are blue, but instead a sophisticated satire of every overblown love.

From across history.

She begins awake.


Ye Muses nine.

Sing me a strain Divine, there.

She is dunking on the ancient Greeks and tropes from classical literature.

Emily goes a big on imagery, taunting Elbridge by listing all the various couples that exist on Earth and Beyond the bride.


And then the bridegroom, the two, and then the one, Adam and Eve his, consort the moon, and then the son.

And she even makes fun of poor sweet Elbridge for being so single all things do.

Go a-courting in Earth or sea or air God.


Hath made nothing single but thee in his world.

So fair then she really goes for the jugular vein.

How art a human solo, a being cold and Loan.

Wilt have no kind companion, that repurposed what thou Hast sown.


Brutal definitely less of a love poem and more of a roast but it is kind of reassuring to know that even Emily Dickinson.

Participated in the age-old tradition of using humor to mask your real feelings.

Emily was careful about who she chose to really share herself with almost all of her poetry remained unpublished until after her death in total.


She wrote thousands of poems.

All, but a few stayed hidden in a chest at the foot of her bed, lots of messages and lots of bottles.

Not yet tossed into the sea.

She kept her truest love poem, The Secret.

And that might be because the person she was actually in love with, was her sister-in-law.


Susan Gilbert Scholars.

Generally, agree.

That Emily and Sue were in a long-term romantic relationship.

Emily wrote to Sue and about her vividly expressing her feelings for her just about 10 years.

After her joke Valentine.


She wrote another poem widely speculated to be about to and she didn’t hold back.

You might notice the tone of this one’s very different.

Totally sincere, and full of longing.

Wild Nights wild nights where I with thee, why Of nights should be our luxury Wild Nights.



Bye, 19th century standards.

This is pretty spicy stuff.

Futile, the winds to a heart in Port done with the compass done with the chart.

Well, well, well, it sounds like somebody Found Love in a hopeless place that place being America in the 19th century and in case there was still a chance, you thought this was a poem about seafaring and not not something else.


Emily goes on to really bring it home.

Rolling an Eden, ah, the see my tie, but more tonight in thee more in.

The, she’s basically saying she wants to Anchor her ship in somebody’s Court.


I think you get it a little hornier than you might have expected based on her nightgowns.

Some of the thrill of reading Emily Dickinson, isn’t so different from finding a message in a bottle.

It’s hard to say whether she expected or wanted her words to be found, but they were, and since then they’ve traveled far beyond Amherst and into the hands of anyone, lucky enough to find them.


All right.

We’re moving right along from a woman who went hard on the page to a man who goes hard in the paint producer.

Remove the lip brings us a message in a bottle to a certain basketball fandom.

This Is A New Kind of Love and Basketball, take it away remotely on a cool Valentine’s night.


In Toronto in 2012 news cameras, captured one of the greatest love stories of all time a Valentine’s Do you like no one had ever seen before it all started in a garden in New York City like every great love story does.

No, not that kind of garden.


This one.

This is Madison Square Garden where the New York Knicks play.

It’s considered the mecca of professional basketball.

In February of 2012, the Knicks were in need of a spark, they’d been a middling team for roughly two decades.


And this year, they’ve been depleted by injuries.

It seemed like it was going to be another annoyingly.

Typical frustrating lackluster.

Nick season until we met Jeremy.

Jeremy Lin is a six foot three taiwanese-american, Harvard, graduating Hooper.


And And he wasn’t meant to be a star, he’ll he’d only been signed on a short-term contract, a worst-case scenario kind of backup plan, but when Lynn stepped onto the floor at MSG, my dude came to play.


That started linsanity a 27-game run where this one player pretty much single-handedly filled the garden and lit, New York City up each morning.

The papers printed a new linsanity headline.


He was all everyone could talk about in bodegas and bars.

This average-looking.

Asian American kid was the Talk of the Town.

Did you see what he did last night?

The Knicks, got it this season, that Lynn.

He’s so nasty but it wasn’t just the highlights.


He was bigger than that.

This moment of linsanity.

It felt special because Asian Americans weren’t usually seen as professional basketball players.

There was the incredibly tall yau-man.

But outside of you, how there weren’t really any other well-known Asians who had played in the league.


Blind star continued to rise over the weeks.

He led the Knicks to an unexpected win against the Los Angeles, Lakers and their star.

Kobe Bryant Lin scored 38 points against Kobe’s Lakers the most points.


He’s scored.

During linsanity New York, got even more lit.

And you know New Yorkers love to talk shit on it lay.

So this was pretty huge by this time all of my York was in love with wind but a true love story needs romance, you need a bow for a bro.


Difficult, there’s steps in fellow, Nick’s player.

Landry Fields.

Landry was another not so typical professional basketballer.

He graduated from Stanford University.

Like, Harvard not known for whooping needless to say, Landry and Lynn.


They hit it off.

Lynn literally moved into Landry’s house, famously crashing on his couch and has linsanity.

Off before games began.

Lynn and Landry would line up in front of each other and proceed in one of the dumbest dorkiest.


Pregame handshakes of all time y’all.

This was dumb.

But so sweet.

You see what their hands they mimic putting on glasses.

Then one of them would hold out an imaginary book the other would intensely mind turning through the imaginary Pages, then you get the all too.


Typical Sports mating ritual, the bro.

I love you, but slap so cliche, so dorky, but seemingly so in love.

Then ten days until Insanity came Valentine’s Day.


The ultimate day to consummate ones, love or at least watch some basketball.

On February 14, 2012 in Toronto, fans, watched as the Knicks battle the Toronto Raptors and it was a battle towards the end of the game.


The game was tied.

The clock wound down and lean showed no sign of wanting to pass.

He slowly dribble down.

And with the swag of a Greek god, Lin pulled up.


Fans everywhere celebrate the love for Lynn was at its peak, right?

Then and you know, who’s right there to embody that love.

That’s right.

His bestie Landry Fields after the game.

Lynn’s stood Courtside all the cameras and his face from out of nowhere.


Came Landry.

He quickly hugged the shit out of him and then Landry planted a big fat kiss on land.

The cheek for all the world to see you there.

In the end.


Linsanity didn’t last Lin played great, the rest of the season, but the Knicks didn’t sign him to a new contract.

So Lynn signed with the Houston Rockets.

But I always remember that time how this unassuming Underdog came out of nowhere and dominated the sport.


I love.

I also think about how linen Landry became these basketball brothers, not afraid to show their affection, no matter how dorky, no matter how sweet, and also, how Lynn and Landry in rather a typical fashion found each other in a garden, in New York City and Adam for Nev Berlin for a Landry.


A bow for a bro.

Coming up a love letter.

That is out of this world.

Literally, that’s after the break.


Welcome back.

Our final Message in a Bottle, isn’t a love letter to just any one person.

It’s meant for every Earthling who has ever lived.



Padula has, got that story.

Back in the late 1970s, NASA launched an unmanned spacecraft called the Voyager 1 probe.


It was dedicated to studying the outer reaches of the solar system and it had this space camera.

That would take all kinds of flyby photos of the solar system, and this camera went far, we’re talking billions of miles away from Earth.

It’s still up there.

By the way, it’s been roaming around the universe for more than 44 years.


One of the groups in charge of this Mission back then was called the Voyager Imaging.

Team on that team was an astronomer Carl Sagan.

He’s this blend of a physics professor and a poet.

He became mainstream famous for hosting a TV show in the 80s called Cosmos, a super popular public television program.


He made Americans think space was cool.

The cosmos is all that is, or ever was or ever will be.

When it came to the Voyager.

Probe Sagan had a special dream, of course, he was super excited to see all the images it would produce but he really, really wanted a shot at another classic photo of our planet Earth.


We already knew what earth looks like from outer space.

The famous Blue Marble photo taken by Apollo 17 depicts our planet, as this massive swirl of color water clouds land, but Satan wanted to know what it looked like from.


Lee far away beyond the scope of our imagination far away.

Now Sagan had lobbied hard for this photo to be taken early in the Voyager. 1’s mission some other scientists on the team.


Objected to the idea.

A photo taken from that far away with the camera pointed at the sun.

It was hard to pull it off.

They could fry the camera and still not get anything in the meanwhile Voyager 1 kept taking photos of other stuff in its Journey Through the solar system.


Saturn Jupiter, but Sagan couldn’t let it go and by B9 who’s running out of time, the project had planned to shut off Voyager 1’s cameras to conserve.

Power the spacecraft would stay in flight, but this would be the last call for any photos from Voyager.


Sagan is like, please, please take this photo.

He’s out there like John, Cusack with that radio standing at the window, begging for one more chance, Seguin even begged one of the bigwigs over at Nasa at the time to plead his case.

And what do you know?


The guy had a way with words on Valentine’s Day 1989 just 34 minutes before Voyager 1’s camera shut off.

Sagan got his wish the cameras turned pulled.

Their focus away from the rest of the solar system and set their sights on Earth.


And then click the photo.

The image is obscure faint, really barely decipherable.


You might take a look at it and go that’s it.

A few faint, white beams of light, run up and down a muted grey blue background, suspended, within the brightest beam sits, a tiny Speck of a thing.

You really have to squint to see it.


It looks like a piece of dust almost.

Like an ordinary star like a blurry photo of the Moon.

You might take with your phone from way far away.

Just like Seguin wanted it.

Consider again, that dot.


That’s here.

That’s home.

That’s us.

This image.

It’s known far and wide.

Now as the pale blue dot Sagan, even titled his book after it in which he wrote about the photo on it.

Everyone you love everyone, you know, everyone you ever heard of every human being who ever was lived out their lives.


That’s a Himself in the audiobook version his writing about this photo.

It’s almost like a node Valentine even to every living being on it.

Every King and peasant, every young couple in love every mother and father, hopeful child inventor and Explorer every teacher of morals.


Every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner.

A sinner in the history of our species, lived there, on a Mote of dust suspended in a Sunbeam.


That’s what Sagan thinks is important that were all contained in this tiny little bit of dust and that we must take care of this place.

This fragile little pale blue dot.

This was Sagan’s, Valentine to Earth, the only home we’ve ever known.


Here we are at the end of our show.

Our little messages in bottles, have surfed, the sound waves and washed up on the coast line of your eardrums.

Just stay with me here and I’ve been thinking about why these little acts of reaching out of showing our love expressing it.


Why they feel so momentous every time writing a silly little poem kissing a friend on.

Taking a photo from an out-of-this-world angle or writing something down.

On paper, rolling it up real tight and setting it out to the world for someone somewhere to find.


I wondered, if Clint Buffington The Beachcomber from the top of our show, could tell me why the message in a bottle felt like, such a fitting image for that, vulnerable, and scary, and electrifying feeling of reaching out for love.

It’s a For that, we’re all sort of alone, but we’re not alone at being alone.


And that’s the ocean out there full of messages in bottles, which to me, I Envision them, as just friends.

I haven’t met yet and they’re just out there.

They’re all out there hanging out, swirling around out there in the gyres waiting for me.

Hopefully to find them or someone.


How poetic is that?

Well, considering I just said Coastline of your eardrums not too long ago.

Maybe I’m not the best judge of that.

But I do feel that recognizing that loneliness and then reaching out for love.


Anyways, that feels pretty radical every time at every scale.

Maybe there’s like an equally poetic less pollution e way to do it or whatever just something to think about.


Not past.

It is a Spotify original produced by gimlet and zsp media.

This episode was produced by Amy Padula next week.

We’ll hear about how one man devoted his free time and his doctor said you need a hobby.


The night Simon said, I need a hobby, what hunting Nazis isn’t enough of a The rest of our team is producer.

Sarah Craig.

Our associate producers are Julie, Carly and Ramon Philip.


Newcombe is our production assistant.

The supervising producer is Erica Morrison editing by moral Waltz, Andrea be Scott and Zach Stewart, Ponte fact-checking, by Jane, Ackerman sound design and mixing by Hans Dale.


She original music by Sachs kicks, Ave.

Willie Green, Jay bless and Bobby.


Our theme song is Toko Liana by Coco, Co with music supervision by Liz Fulton technical Direction by Zach Schmidt show art by Elysee Harvin and Talia Rahman, the executive producer, at DSP media is Zach Stewart Ponte a, the executive producer from gimlet is Abbie ruzicka, and hey, not past, it is doing a live show, we’re going to on are Fest at the end of February.


It’s a festival that celebrates all things audio.

So if you’ll be in the New York City area on February, 25th, come through for tickets and more information visit on are fast.

Dot-com special, thanks to Lydia Pole.

Green, Dan, Behar, Emily wiedemann list, Styles and Nabil.


Cholan pot.

Follow, not past it now, to listen, for free exclusively on Spotify.

Click the little bell next to the follow button to get notifications for new episodes.

You can follow me on Twitter at Simone.


Thanks for Hangin.

We’ll see you next week.


My wife says that no one can ruin a Caribbean vacation faster than me.