How are you doing these days? she asks...

First I have to apologize for doing the following to you. I'm writing to the universe and myself but you got in the way. You're a total stranger to me now and I have so many memories of us kids back in the day, the high-school way.

How many quarter-life crises have you seen? I always expected to hit one right in the middle, buy a sports car, maybe get a trophy wife or something, and realize on the back end what a dick I was and repent and be forgiven. Sunset fades to black on a typical life, banal but not trite.

I feel old, and a line from an STP song plays in my head. So very thin. And I realize that we all think this way sometimes, and no I am not special and never will be. Special is the rumored green flash, seen in far away places, when the sun dies at just the right moment and you realize you were part of something ephemeral. Special is ephemeral. But we live a long goddamn time.

The internet sucks. You love it at first. "Wow!", you say. You never thought to hear from so-and-so ever again and here this wonderful technology has delivered them to you with no effort whatsoever. Delivered you to me. There are consequences to such occurrences. Consequence is always paired with truth. The truth of the past, forgotten for so long, is suddenly here and no you aren't even close to the same person, so you get to experience it anew. Retrospectively. You always come out looking worse in 20/20.

That's how a life is lived.

The monks will tell you that the way to enlightenment is now. Not in heaven. Here. Bliss is experienced as a series of infinitesimal moments. Suchness, they say. And they are right, but that's not living. That's dying well. And that's fine, enticing even, but I don't want to die just yet.

Should I repeat the apology? I am so very selfish, I know. I do this from time to time. Hit people completely out of nowhere, because that's where I live and I don't know how to play in the real world. I know all the rules, but am too forceful in my execution. In absence so long, that when I visit I am overblown, incomprehensible. And secretly I like it that way. I like to be mysterious. I like to shock people, and fade away like a well delivered punchline. But no one ever remembers punchlines. You end up as fodder for awkward social engagements before the alcohol has taken effect.

What to do when angst becomes ennui? Some do drugs. Some grow up. Most just fade away and die long before their bodies give out, and roam malls like vampires feeding on the energies of a youth they no longer understand. But the thing they don't tell you is that drugs work. Hell yes, they work, but the price is very high. Everyone secretly knows this, but please don't tell the children. No sex. No drugs. No music, because these necessarily involve difficult emotions and no thank you I don't want to talk about that right now. Anger is easy, and so we dose our kids with violence because it's the easy thing to do. I understand it. I hate it, but I understand it.

You used to write forever, and while this may be reason for me to do this, it is far from justification. This is not a letter to you. This is an insane-man's ramblings, drunk on Elliott Smith and regret. So yes I expect to never hear from you again. What could you possibly say? But I don't want to be polite today, and you're the victim of that. Probably you will mutter a small WTF and go on about your life, forgetting a strange occurrence in a world rife with weird. And that's ok, perhaps even preferable.

But I wanted to tell you that I remember you, favorably even, and truly I am curious about how you're doing now. Aren't you so very sorry you asked me in the first place? Oh. Right.

I'm doing great. So good to hear from you. :)

Inspired by and as a possible response to MCD's Response to an Old High School Friend:

How are you doing these days? I asked. . .

But what I really meant is, how am I doing in comparison?

We were all so full of potential then and I’m terrified I am the only one who didn’t fulfill mine. The more others saw in us, the greater the chance and immensity of our failure. Even the teachers seem to think you and I were some how gifted, remember? My god, what pressure!

I really did think I was in love with you back then, we were so close, such catalyst for what was the best in each of us.

I could easily fall in love with you, or more honestly with us...or with who we both were then.

That makes it sound like I think that I am nothing now, or at least less than I was, but honestly I don’t think that is the case. Rather that here is still so much to do, to see, to be; and back then I still had a whole lifetime to do it all in. Now, I see my mortality and I am already mourning the things I’ll never get to.

God, remember all those books we read? I ask, sipping my coffee.

I haven’t seen the Green Flash those sailors wrote about, but I have seen St. Elmo’s fire. One night when I was standing in the kitchen, it just ran up my sleeve, a ball of brilliant blue flames dancing toward my shoulder. It shimmered for only that moment and then returned to some alternate state. But I saw it, and it has become my tailsmen for the unexpected and the mythical embedded in common clay.

How are your folks?

I use to think that being here, living, was how we paid our debts in hell. Lately, I’ve come to realize life is actually my  vision of heaven. My seemingly dysfunctional childhood, and the latent evil of certain people was something I have come to believe I prescribed myself . I chose to experience those elements in mass and early; so that I would have truer perspective and deeper appreciation of what is good, for the rest of my life.

You haven’t changed a bit. You lie.

I may still have my looks for the most part, perhaps more so than many of our peers, but my edges are fuzzier and there are is a indelible line between my eyes that was seen only transitorily when you knew me.

We were all so breath-takingly lovely then, made more so because we didn’t know it.Our elders tried to tell us, but we couldn’t believe them.

Even when my outside was camera-ready and fantastically curved, I focused on that one blemish or the hairs that were always out of place, missing the beauty of the whole.

I kept saying that I wanted to be loved for my mind and my soul. I actually thought I meant it, not valuing being so blatantly and easily loved for my face and my body.

If I remember correctly, you were one of those who reportedly loved me. And I you.

Did you think you still loved me when we arranged to meet today? Or am I projecting?

I see you’re still charming! I observe and smile.

It’s funny to me how often people say that to me now. I am effortlessly popular with both my students and my peers.

Oh most folks still think I’m strange,  a little off kilter and decidedly not the norm, but now they call that being a free-spirit and refreshingly unique. It's weird.

Somehow, my personality has become fashionable. It's maddening. No one found me charming when I was "angry".

Back then, people use to ask me why I was so angry all the time. Like it was a choice. And I wasn't angry, I was just so repeatedly and yet surprisingly disappointed when people didn’t live up to my expectations. It seemed like everyone had clay legs rather than just clay feet. I resented what I saw as false advertising. I was always imagine the ideal, but never finding it.

Yes, I really did learn to scuba dive.

Perhaps I should apologize for having become this abberent twisted optimist when I was such a goody-two-shoe pessamist before.

God, our angst was so sexy…

 I check my watch. It's getting late, I really should get going.

I've just realized I've become a leech of someone else's ideas.  Maybe I just needed the stimulation of another's thoughts to make my own flow, a kind of mutual mental masturbation if you will. But now I'm running dry, at least until next time.

 It was so great seeing you! I stand to give you a hug.

Tell me what you've been up too. I think you asked, way back there at the beginning.

I hope this answered your question.

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