Monday, April 09, 2007

To Garret. Thin Threads.

Dear Garret,

I remember the summer we met when I was always walking side by side with the people I'd created. I would speak to strangers the things I imagined they would say and wake with their dreams entangled in my own. I truly felt a writer then, but my words often tripped clumsily over each other in their eagerness and my plots stumbled in confusion after their initial giddy flight. I would pause, on occasion, considering the mess I'd left behind, but move forward anyhow certain that the best was yet to come. These days, I can't even imagine that sort of confidence. I suppose you have to be young to be so certain that you matter. I'm still waiting for the age when I gain the wisdom to understand that you don't have to matter. Getting through that in-between time has been a strange and troublesome process and my greatest consolation is that I have never lost my faith in writing as my only salvation.

But my writing is unpublished and unacknowledged and so I am always excited by the prospect of tapping off some letter to someone I once knew. I am so tired of writing something and finding it beautiful only to be overwhelmed by the realization that it will not be read. I throw myself into these letters seeking out a way to say the truest things because when I write a letter I know that at least one person will read it and understand.

I was very self-absorbed when we last saw one another. I paid careful attention to other people, I meticulously noted their mannerisms and intonations, delicately registered their flickers of emotion. But I always felt that whatever I saw of them was mine to have. I would take these bits of their being and scatter them throughout my creations and when I reread my work the refuse of my relationships would bob about in the rush of words and alert me to moments in memory. I always wondered if any of the people I knew would some day read my work and be capable of discerning in my vague visions their own passing presence in my perceptions.

You had (perhaps you still do) a way of concluding your expositions by leaning forward, pausing briefly in your speech and pointing with your index finger before saying something completely inconsequential and no more worthy of emphasis than anything you had said before. This always amused me and I gave the mannerism to a character I particularly liked who inhabited a story I particularly disliked and have no remaining copies of. It always makes me sad to waste my friends in this way. I feel a sense of duty toward the things that I have seen and I am always disheartened by my failure to record them properly. Especially when I realize that others so often fail to notice.

It was always a great pleasure of mine when seated with you in a public place to make an off-hand remark about someone in the room whom we had not previously talked about and feel confident that you would reply without confusion. I always knew you were watching the jack-ass at the next table ramble on confidently about his golf game to a girl who nodded timidly never taking the smile off her face with just as much disgust as I was. And I knew that I could make a snide remark about his poor grammar and you would snort and note the size of her ring commenting that he had obviously hadn't bought her attention with his eloquence. You taught me to see things like that, you brought my attention from the abstract to the material and I always appreciated what that did for my writing.

I miss those days when we strode about, each lost in his own thoughts but linked by our mutual apprehension of our shared environment. I talk to so few people face-to-face, now. Everyone I know has resolved into thin threads of words. I suspect that I have done this intentionally in order to emphasize my responsibility for my own observations. It was good to hear from you. I don't know if you expected all this in response but you've always brought out this tone in me.

Please write again.

Your old friend,