The newest update at The Secret Knots.
The letter arrives as an unexpected gift, the writing inside looping with the earnest sincerity of reaching out with not much to say. Concern, care, an anecdote misremembered, a stamp very carefully picked. My reply is more dense, close packed words scribbled under pressure, hurried with the knowledge that people-are-going-to-want-my-time-any-minute-now, difficult truth compressed into just under one small page. I barely find space to sign my name. It’s a haunted torrent of words, something released under pressure, as if I’d been holding my breath, waiting for someone to say my name.
The only thing, we’ve never been at the same place at the same time.
Our friendship might be an odd one, growing as it did out of a completely chance on-line encounter, but it feels like home, spilling quarrelsome affection across the planet to someone I’ve never met, flirting, arguing about our friends, fording the unavoidable textual misunderstandings, allowing complexity to flourish long distance. (If it felt strange, I would be someone else.) He seems so familiar, I speak to locals as if he was only just here, though sometimes I wonder details, the gestures of his hands, or the way he might smile, human ingredients only available face to face, how they carry their weight through space.
(I never, for example, would have guessed at the incredible presence commanded by Steen’s hair, no matter how many pictures we might have shared.)
It occurred to me, writing my letter, this might seem strange, almost unfathomable, and yet, here I am, holding closest people who exist father away from me than the end of the sky. Among my papers are other written letters, unsent rough drafts meant for South America as well as New York, aborted confessions, cafe conversation arias scripted as short stories, she said, he said, fictional encounters, scraps of meaning as solid as mercury, certain only in that they prove I care, that I wish we were closer, that I wish I knew a better way for us to meet, as if we are kissing cousins, family unrelated, hiding, seditious accomplices rebelling against our current distant state.