It's bloody hot in the room where my desktop computer is; that being said, I am thrilled by the number of submissions to Brevity Quest 2016. As one of the judges, I feel duty-bound to remind writers to follow normal posting protocol. One example, soft or hard link your write-up. For my old sake, please include a link to Brevity Quest 2016 with word count.

Other than that, carry on; the more the merrier! (I think some prizes other than GP are in order, but that's just me...) Perhaps a soy milk maker, a quaint book, Pez dispensers, a 1970's Playboy magazine, gently used kitchen utensils...

Keep up the good work!

Brevity Quest 2016 111

It's 11:43 pm and I can't taste life.

I remember it like an old friend. I remember the fire of youth, the heat of purpose. I remember friends. I remember white hot searing passion, the frenzy of a good book well read, the liquid fluid touch of poetry swilling under my fingers.

I wanted to be someone. I wanted to be something. But now I don't know where my life is going, and who I'm going with. If I had life enough to hate it, I would. But all I feel is lead inside.

I started a new job two weeks ago, fresh out of school. I am making more than all my fellow post-college friends. The chairs are plush. I cycle to work every day to a job where I get to do what I love. A gorgeous girlfriend pines for me in New Jersey, killing time before she goes to MIT in the fall for grad school. I am surrounded by lake water and ducks, I drown in fresh breeze and the promise of eternal sunshine tinged with the aftertaste of rain I have always just missed.

Life is perfect - pristine, perhaps. And I would happily trade it all away for the chance to get drunk and go wild with people I have known intimately and trusted all my life.

Because, for all that my life has finally fallen into the well-grooved rhythm of slow success, I have no friends. I don't think I've ever had friends. Somewhere I forgot how, in going from acquaintances to comrades, to make that bold leap, or maybe I just never learned. If I have a friend, it is the love of my life - and she's too far away to be near now.

I find myself perusing r/dirtypenpals, wondering how strangers find the strength to make intimate connections online. I watch Netflix's Stranger Things, and I know jealousy when I see teenagers wrestling with identity, friendship, the first pangs of infatuation, the sweet sin of sex with someone new in empty raucous houses. I haven't left my house in over a weekend. I can't find a good bookstore anywhere. Listening to Rene Aubry play the music of the gods stirs wistful memories.

I don't click well with colleagues. I don't click well with normal people. I try, too. In conversation I'm jovial, ready with a joke, always eager to enquire deeper into the lives of people I've just met. I've never made an Uber trip where I didn't get to know the driver better. Family I've met once or twice I never leave without complimenting their food, taking care of their kids, asking about their work.

I don't think I've made a friend yet. I don't think I've even made acquaintances. Maybe I really have forgotten. Maybe I just never learnt how.

Hell isn't not knowing where to belong. Hell is not knowing how.

I haven't noded in a long time. Years, apparently. But that's ok. I continued to write a fair amount; first about mathematics, then about travel. I take a fair few photos along the way, too.

Node what you know, was the advice I always tried to follow, and my highest rep nodes reflect that. But the coolest thing I ever carved out of the nodegel was Svalbard International Seed Vault - clearly, far from my personal experience.

Except today I find myself far, far north of almost everything. Probably I'm one of the northernmost thousand people on the planet. And I stood at the threshold of the vault. You can't go in, which caused many to ask why I would want to trek to the end of the world just to look at a door. But the 'what if?' had been kicking around in my brain ever since composing that writeup, with varying degrees of seriousness. Almost a decade later, I was able to make it happen, and there was a strange quiet confirmation; a sense of culmination of a goal never quite stated. The arctic is an ideal place for reflection, contemplation. Naturally with a project this long, I found myself thinking of all that has changed; and what remains constant.

I've held an account here for almost half my life; whilst I don't check in at all often, I never quite left. Although various friends were first met through the site, I've drifted away from the community in the larger sense. But that's ok too. I hope you're all doing well.

pic on homenode

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