Thursday, May 03, 2007

To Catherine Five- Lasting.

Dear Catherine,

I sat today beneath a sun-lit sky and watched big, soft clouds roll by slowly. Bumblebees buzzed around my face as I sat in the shade of a sweet-smelling tree with delicate purple flowers dangling down like a willow. I was at the edge of a bright green field and it stretched out before me into the distance. I read and re-read your recent letter and I wished I was on a train. I thought of how quickly things pass by your windows and of how strange it feels to be moving through something and yet to be remaining still, silent.

The last several days have been spent sitting in a bar alone talking to many but speaking to few. The smoke soaked my clothes and I smell strange now, even to myself. It is funny to sit back and watch the world interact around you, to peek out through squinted eyes seeing through the darkness, all the drunken inanity that surrounds you.

I have been thinking about all the things that outlast us- the tall, looming edifices, the streets beneath our feet, the sky overhead. And I've been thinking about making something out of nothing and pullings words-lives-from where there were none before. I watch this happen- even as I write this letter- which did not exist before I sat down to start it. I bask in the possibility which lays itself out before me- almost as a certainty. I know that each day that passes I am offered the opportunity to create something which lives outside myself. I often cower beneath the pressure of my own expectations, my own standards.

I could build a ten-foot tall tower of all the torn up scraps of stories I've tossed away. I could fuel the script for a ten-year long soap opera with all my failed friendships. All the things that build up behind me with each passing day, these things that I often run from and rarely flesh out into words- they are the backbone of my life. It is in these light and easy words I send you, it is in the glances I give to passing strangers and it is there, glaring up at me from the pages of my writing.

I have had the pleasure to watch you build your life, etch it out in words and sent it to me so that I can uncover it, know you. And I cannot thank you enough for trusting your self in my hands. I am a clumsy man, easily distracted, awkwardly unconcerned yet inwardly obsessed. I am trying to make something come alive at my fingertips and I am so happy for the chance to see my own reflection, to see your reflection in the sunny sky of our letters.

The wind is blowing lightly across these pages. It is a brisk wind for early May but brief. It reminds me of those last days of school when the inevitability of summer vacation was almost too much to stand. In those last few weeks of school before the break, I always was acutely aware of the temporary nature of youth. But, by the time summer came I was caught up in cat and mouse games with the lake water enveloping my small, nimble frame. The water was cold and refreshing around me and the sun was hot on my back; my friends' shouts were the soundtrack to my summers, my brother in the background, our mother laid out on a towel. At the end of those long humid days when my brother and I would sit in the cool night beneath the stars, our hair was still sticky and matted from swimming. We swung back and forth in silence on the porch swing and I would think in vague and simple terms: everything is fleeting, brief but boundless and life lays out before us all: a world of infinite possibilities, infinite interactions. I knew then, even with such little experience, that I would not be one to stay still, to irk out a life hidden beneath the cries of the masses. I knew- even then- even under the shadow of my brother's accomplishments (thin and silly- spelling bees- though they were) that one day I would see myself in the midst of all I'd done and I would know that I had done something.

Everything that happens is looked at in the context of everything that came before. You stood in your mother's garden and remembered your youth, those same smells caught in your nose, your throat. Your father, and his father before him and now you, Catherine, carving out the motions of your life and keeping them close. These things are all temporary but lasting. They last because we make them last.

Here's to lasting,


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