Letter to an absent friend (Wednesday, May 4, 2016)

couples-kissing-hugging-public-spaces-black-white-photography-mikael-theimer-2

Dear friend,

Before I say anything else, allow me to thank you for your last letter, the one that never got to me, unfortunately, due to the hectic nature of our planet’s temperamental atmosphere. Black holes must have opened in the very fabric of the night sky while you were writing it. Don’t get me wrong, the letter did get to me, yet it was impossible for me to read it. The pages were all wet, the writing illegible, so much so that when I finally managed to open the envelope, fretfully, the breath running out of me and hiding in the corners of my room, I thought you had sent me an ink blot test to figure out my personality traits. So I immediately sat at my desk accordingly and started to write a response letter about the figures that seemed so obvious on the humid pages. And while I was doing it I was thinking, again, as I did on many occasions during our affair, of writing the letter in such a way so as to show you how good I was for you, how lucky you were to have discovered me on that dating site. I wanted to show you that I had changed, that I did it all for you, and that I still lived in that bedroom-world I had imagined for the both of us. In that bedroom-world we were still together, and I was still the man you wanted me to be, protective, jaw clenched, omniscient in the way American men living in the suburbs with their wives were supposed to be.

What you are reading now is not that response letter, of course, I burned it long after I had realized your own letter was, in fact, not an ink blot personality test. In the fury that followed that realization, by mistake I burned your letter as well, and so I no longer remember the details, as I no longer hear the voice that was so carefully embedded in your handwriting. I now find myself in a state of despair because I feel as if, once again, as I did on many occasions, I lost you once more because of my innate stupidity when it comes to matters such as these. And so, I had to go back to our bedroom-world to find you again and to be able to write this letter.

Our bedroom-world is in a rather shabby state, I’m afraid, mostly because of my carelessness. I’ve been trying to stay away from it for as long as I could, returning only at night when I find it difficult to fall asleep. Because of the brevity of these moments I never have the time to think too much about the context. I never think about the lighting in the room, or the furniture for that matter. The sheets and the pillows are the only elements I manage to think about extensively nowadays. The tapestry has faded, the windows have disappeared, the rest of the furniture is but a presence, akin to the one inspired by invisible gods. There, we are in a constant state of darkened mood, made so by our need to fall asleep in each other’s arms. The greatest detail, however, and the highest imaginative effort are bestowed on that final embrace before sleep comes, on the way I try to control my breathing so as not to disturb you, on the way our embrace turns to heat as if we are about to cross the wide expanses of a polar night. That night never comes, of course, and every morning I find myself alone, not in our bedroom-world, but in actual physical pain.

On a merrier note, rumor has it that you finally graduated from law school. I might have seen some of the pictures from your graduation ceremony, but then again I have seen so many such ceremonies in my life that I can’t remember whether I have actually seen yours. I might have seen you wearing that green laurel wreath that is customary in Italy with graduation parties. I might have seen your friends congratulating you, your mother and father proud by your side. I might have seen you smiling for the camera, and I might have imagined us together in our bedroom-world on the night of your graduation. I could have been in on one of those pictures, not knowing how to stand or where to put my hands. I couldn’t touch you the way I would have liked to because I was afraid some of the people around us might frown and smile awkwardly, the way people whose heads have been detached from their bodies smile before realizing it. I might have flown in from London on that very morning, and I would have acted the way a stranger would, always on the fringes of the conversation, always the one taking the picture without being in it.

I might have listened to all of the congratulatory notes coming from all those people around you, only to prepare my very own special congratulatory note. I might have chanted dottore, dottore… along with the others. I could have gotten you a graduation gift, something fancy and expensive because in our bedroom-world money has never been a problem. I could have arranged your tie and spoken to you softly while doing it. I would have reassured you that everything was going to be fine, and that your thesis defense was flawless. I would have made small talk with your father who would stare down at me from the skies of his own failures, knowing somehow that the question regarding my intentions with you would never come. I would have talked about the weather with your mother, and finally, when she wouldn’t be listening, I would have told her that you are the most handsome law school graduate.

But I wasn’t there, so isn’t this letter some sort of apology for that?

I assure you it is not. You wouldn’t have wanted me there. I would have ruined everything for you. Most likely this letter is just one of those congratulatory notes, written and read at a time when all congratulatory notes have been written and read, and consumed, and returned to their rightful places. The only thing I can wish you now, irrespective of your future academic plans, is for you to find somebody who would look at you adoringly, awe-struck. Somebody who in those moments would think of you as his and consider himself to be the luckiest man on earth.

Yours truly,

Rob.

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