On correspondence
Thursday, October 6th, 2011

I write letters and then don’t send them. Is this pathological? I mean, if I send them, and the recipient refuses to respond, that would be worse than if I just didn’t send them, right? Same outcome; less embarrassment. They still won’t respond, but I will still retain the benefit of a doubt. They might think, maybe, that I am clever and niceā€”as long as I don’t put anything in writing. Right?


The last letter I sent, I rewrote three times. I can never know, but I suspect that at least one of the unsent ones was the best. In fact, I imagine it shines like a diamond, overflows with wit and wisdom, flips cleverness through several somersaults, landing on its feet. On a high wire. Spinning plates. It was good, and long, and…

I didn’t send it. I sent something bland, and moderate. Safe. And there was no reply.

If correspondence is to be worthwhile, it needs to be dangerous, reckless, spontaneous. Stained. If I am to create a letter, it must be improbable, unexpected (even by me) and surprisingly revelatory to both the one I address and me.

I am however convinced of several things:

  • I am dull. If you think so, let me know, I will cross you off my list. I only want pen-pals who have successfully disabused themselves of the notion of my dullness, successful schizophrenics are especially welcome.
  • I am terrified of any kind of human interaction; this includes communication (of course!). Especially communication. Communication is the root of all trauma in my life. Unfortunately, as David Attenborough likes to tell us, primates (including us) are compulsive communicators. Blah, blah, blah. Some of you all do it so effortlessly. As if it were …natural.
  • I am an alien. I do not belong here. I don’t fit in anywhere, and nowhere fits in me. (Yes, there’s been some of that.) That may be why I like typewriters; ostensibly they do not have a place anymore. This is not typed on a ‘manual’ (which by the way could very likely have been called automatic in its day). Electronic fits in. Typesmacking machines employing paper and inky ribbons, they don’t fit in. They make the NSA’s job more difficult. See? I’m an alien.
  • I drink too much coffee, and not enough wine. This applies here only because I only write when I feel, and I seem to feel a little more when I drink wine. Maybe that is when the hall monitor falls asleep allowing the mischievous little boy to run around and be out of control. Blessedly out of control. Coffee keeps the monitor on his toes. That makes the little boy want to cry.

So, I write letters. And I don’t send them. I can write one to you. And I can avoid all the risk of it upsetting you, and making you dislike me, or making you think that I am odd (which I am). I can write you a letter, and pretend to send it, and pretend to be understood, and pretend that it makes you smile. I can pretend that I am on someone’s list to write back to.

I don’t understand why pretending is not better than not pretending. Not pretending is so, so scary.

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