Letter to an absent friend (Wednesday, December 30, 2015)

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Dear friend,

All of my letters to you are coming back to me. For no reason apparently, since there’s no reason listed on any of the envelopes. The mailman refuses to speak to me whenever I try to question him. At times I believe he is avoiding me. He tiptoes into the apartment building, then runs away like a bandit. It’s not his fault, I know. Maybe you’ve moved to another place without leaving behind a forwarding address, without telling me. Maybe you’ve instructed your landlady to return any letters coming from me. Regardless of this, I shall keep sending these letters to your old address because it’s the only one I have and because, well, you’re the only one I can talk to at the present moment.

I had the chance to reread all of my past letters to you since they were all returned to me. For an instant, when I opened one of the envelopes, I had the eerie impression that perhaps you had opened the envelope, read the letter, and then sent it back to me as a sort of reproach. The paper felt strange in between my fingers, the words oddly aloof and cold. It was as if I had not written them myself. In fact, for a long while after I had resealed the envelope and put it in the drawer on top of the other letters, I thought that, considering that sudden first impression, the letter had not been written by me at all but sent from some distant, parallel universe, where we were still together and were able to actually share these words.

It doesn’t matter anyway, I shall keep writing to you, and this is not the reason I’m writing to you today.

I write to you from distant lands, where the winter feels unnecessary, and the holidays are colored in green and red, and the women in food markets speak of broccoli and avocados, give voice to the promise of quiet dinners that stretch long into the night. I sometimes listen to them because the promise is so soothing that I suddenly want to inhabit it. I desire to have those dinners, in homes that actually feel like home. I wish I could offer you that feeling.

One of the things I like about the cold in winter is the steam that comes out of people’s mouths on freezing mornings. It feels as if they actually have a soul reaching out to stretch its limbs. I say as if because I do not believe they actually have a soul. I know, it sounds like the momentary wisdom of a child, but have you ever wondered why people can’t see the fire in your eyes, why they are so heedless of the fact that, at times, molten rock bleeds from your nostrils and eyes when you suddenly feel a wave of affection for the world that surrounds you? It’s not because you lack that feeling. It’s there, you can feel the warmth of it going through your hands and legs, it makes your eyes wet, you cannot deny it, and you feel as if there’s nothing else that could better prove the existence of the soul, your soul. And it’s not because they are incapable of seeing it. Their emotional antennas haven’t been numbed by repeated exposure to television drama. It’s because there is no fire in your eyes. You are not bleeding molten rock. The warmth you feel is but a slight change in your body’s temperature. Language itself has given you the fire and the molten rock, and these gifts are so paper thin that they wither the very instant they are given to you.

Yet, is there another way to speak to you? Steer clear somehow of this eccentric matron, our language, that comes to sit in between the two of us every time I try to reach you? If I speak to you of love and friendship these gifts have already withered, centuries ago. If I touch you, no matter how sensual that touch may be, my hand has withered long before I made the decision to reach out and touch you. The letters that have come back to me have not returned to encounter me but a creature so withered that I cannot distinguish the piece of paper I’m writing these words on from the hand writing them. You have withered as well because the people you don’t see every day parch and then crack like plaster. You see what language can do to us? It turns us into plaster, makes us bleed molten rock, and burns our eyes.

Remember the flowers we used to hide in books during the summer when we were children? Remember how the books sucked the moisture out of them and turned them into distant memories? How suddenly the language in those books gained vitality, how much they resembled life. Maybe that is even the reason why those returned letters felt so eerily distant. Their words, I believe, had gained their vitality from that earlier version of me.

I must end this letter by telling you that I am now afraid. Not of some approaching danger, no clouds darken yet the chunk of horizon I manage to see from my window. I am only afraid there is no way out of all this, that the more you dig the more words will come out and I will never be able to find you.

Until I will have proof of that, until I am reassured of the outcome of this premonition, I shall keep writing to you, no matter what.

Your lover.

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