A major theme in the works of the impressively melancholic Edgar Allen Poe was the idea of people who were supposed to be dead coming back to life. Not in the happy, hope-inspiring style of Jesus, but rather in the horrifying style of, say, reality television shows. Just when you think it’s really over and you can move on with your life, I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! makes its debut (I am not making up that title, either).

In Poe’s life, what he was trying to bury was his emotional side. Believing that a person could and should live a life guided by reason, Poe sought to suppress his unreasonable feelings and emotions. He found that this was easier said than done.

And so, from this we move on to the question of why I took the time and trouble to configure my google chat such that it would never show me whether you are online or not. Related, perhaps, is the fact that I have now ardently wished, on three separate occasions, that you would simply never talk to me again, like in some modern-day remake of Good Will Hunting. The first time, when I left Budapest, again, when you left for Lyon, and then yet again at the beginning of this year. In this manner, I had hoped that the so-called “Kata problem,” which isn’t a problem at all except in my own mind, would simply take care of itself. It’s becoming clearer to me that this is not going to happen. And so I engage myself in writing this absurd letter.

For some reason, I always find things that I read have remarkable insight into my current state. So, I’ll present two quotes, the first from something happened to read last night, the second from a bit longer ago:

Quote 1:
“[A psychologist gives this lecture:] “The happiness books say, ‘Try happiness. You’ll like it a lot more than misery’—which is perfectly true,” he told them. But why, he asked, do people tell psychologists they’d cross the street to avoid someone who had given them a compliment the previous day?”

Quote 2:
“When I ran a mind/body clinic at Harvard, the principal problem that most people shared was self-criticism and low self-esteem. Most felt that if you really knew them, you wouldn’t like them. Students, housewives, physicians, and bank presidents all shared this same basic wound, regardless of their worldly success.”

My hope was that putting those two thoughts together would grant me some insight, and this is it: whatever it was that I considered the significance of my relationship with you up to this point, I never wanted its integrity to be challenged by a long, drawn-out demise. Perhaps a more pithy way of saying it would be, the more chances I have to talk to you, the more chances I have to screw something up. Does our conversation on Tuesday indicate that I was right all along, or that my prophecy was self-fulfilling?

There’s another aspect which might be important. When I think of the kinds of relationships I have with people, they strike me as mostly shallow. As Saint-Exupery puts it, “I would never talk to that person about boa constrictors, or primeval forests, or stars. I would bring myself down to his level. I would talk to him about bridge, and golf, and politics, and neckties.”

But of course, that’s not the whole story, because the thing is, I’m usually the one who wants to talk about politics and neckties with people I meet. I’ve been doing it long enough and consistently enough that I can almost convince myself that these things really matter and that I’m really interested in them. But I still have this vague, uneasy feeling that I’m just a big phony.

That is, it’s vague and uneasy, as long as I don’t have anyone around who is capable of reminding me of that fact. Which is where you come in. As idealized and unrealistic as my image of you is, one thing that I think is objectively true is that you have very low tolerance for the kind of phony bullshit that gets me through life on a day-to-day basis. So in order to interact with you properly, I feel like I have to open up a part of my character which generally goes unused. The kinds of conversations I want to have with you are about italicized concepts like the things that really matter and who I really am. The problem being, of course, that once I start to think on that plane, all kinds of emotions are possible that would be safely avoided by conversations that revolve around quoting movies.

So there is all this stuff inside of me, a level at which I do realize that everything grown-up people talk about is a joke, and yet talking to you doesn’t act as any sort of pressure release for me. Instead, it just opens up all these introspective feelings in an environment where they can’t do me any good. I can convince myself that I’m happy, as long as I am not forced to think about it.

All of the preceding, by the way, is what would have been written by a person who is as ridiculous as I am, yet didn’t realize the banality of his ridiculousness. Trust me, I feel it very deeply. As Mr. Johnny Cash sang,

I know that hearts were lovin’
long before I was here,
And I’m not the first to ever cry,
in my bed or in my beer.

I’m well aware that I’m not the first guy to have such absurd notions about who you are and express them to you. Frankly, that’s why I’m so surprised that you are still spending any time and energy trying to contact me; I figured you’d be glad to get rid of me. I would be, if I were you. Another guy who puts you on a pedestal and expects you to solve all his problems. Fucking boring. Believe me when I say that I agree with you completely on this one.

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: