Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! I hope this greeting finds you well and in good spirits!
Actually, I can only hope it finds you at all. Please excuse my little joke, but I saw the “Sold” sign out in front of your house, and I don’t know where you moved, so I am hoping the USPS will forward this to you.
I really hate that we lost touch. Pretty much every time we ever talked, it felt to me like we were firing on all pistons, like we had just cleared a traffic jam and that there was nothing ahead but open road. You picked up on all my obtuse jokes and added to them as if they were your own. Our conversations were like an avalanche of agreements, comments that bore double and triple nuances shared with the confidence that every point would be captured and built upon.
I always left your company with a giddy feeling, like my soul was hyperventilating, and each time, I doubted it was something that could be repeated, that it was a fluke of circumstances and it wouldn’t happen again, but the next time we met, it was the same thing! Every time. I have to wonder what we may have accomplished if we had made a more concerted effort to work on something together, but I fear it will be one of the singular quandaries that haunts the rest of my days — such a connection is so terribly rare.
There are simply too many people in the world. There is no way we can know them all. When I walk down the street, I look at the faces of the people walking the other way, and I speculate as to the lives that stretch out before and after that moment. Most of them look straight ahead, apparently unaware of my noticing them. I understand it’s a defense mechanism, a matter of focus; a lot of people will simply edit out all of the strangers that pass through.
You can’t blame them. Getting to know people takes a lot of effort, and the investment can leave you feeling empty when you don’t get something back, something positive. It can even hurt when you get something back. The slightest instant of connection can get stuck in your memory, repeating in an endless loop, a turning point that could have gone some other way.
I know I am supposed to embrace the peace of the moment, accept that everything is as it is supposed to be or is as it should be. Everything just is. But my imagination is a quantum mechanics engine, like the Tralfamadorians’ time-vision multiplied by infinite possibility. (I know you’ll get that, by the way; no need to explain.) And I’m afraid the “garden of forking paths” is expanding exponentially in my brain, all the time. It’s the All and the One, just like we talked about. Haha, and here we are at duality. You, me. Here, there. Known and unknown.
Oh, well, I hope you get this. Message me when/if you can. And don’t worry: All is well.
Free as a bird
This is my last column for LEO. As it has been explained to me, “We’ve decided to make a few changes with content and restructuring the paper, and, unfortunately, this means ending your column.”
It was always my intention to do something nobody else was doing anywhere else, eschewing the week’s hot-button topics and avoiding comment where too much has already been said.
I started out drawing attention to the role of the critic, and over the ensuing three years, as I worked to avoid the status quo, my “reviews” started to take on a life of their own. At times, they wouldn’t even let me mention the creative works I was referring to!
I was always surprised when people would tell me how much they liked what I was doing. Did you really “get” it? Increasingly, I wanted to do something that would make people wonder what was going on, the kind of thing that would surprise me if I ran across it on a random page in a random paper in a random city.
You can’t know how meaningful it is to me that some of you have expressed appreciation for this effort. It’s been fun. I hope we meet again someday.
For further consideration: “I knew everything I needed to know about you when you opened the door.”