I suppose I should propose some small talk to mend the space and seasons that have stretched between us. To ask how you're doing and namedrop a specific aunt, parent, pet, or cousin I vaguely remember meant very much to you. Social parlor tricks, I like to call them; the verbal nickel behind your ear. Conversational magic tricks aimed to misdirect your attention from the facts: (1) roughly seven thousand three hundred and twenty hours have passed (≈ 11 months) and (2) in all that time, in all those moments, even in prolonged toilet-breaks-gone-too-long-being-distracted-on-your-cell-phone, (3) not once did you cross my heart or mind enough to send a measly text. Or hell, even if I was feeling unoriginal, at least an emojii face screenshotting a meme.
I could distract from that abandon and make our interaction pleasant and superficial, politely bypass whatever damage or resentment has remained lingering within you. Substitute it with a flavory tasteless chit-chat, seasoned (because I've done this so many times before,) and peppered with a daft aloofness you would literally not believe; served table d'hôte and, just as our wait staff, lacking absolutely even the slightest bit of genuine sincerity.
But I won't. I respect you too much for that. And to be honest I'd rather we skip to that part where I get to talking too much about myself. I should feel bad, but our relationship has always been pretty one sided, hasn't it? The digital equivalent of that friend who only calls to brag about something, or has a problem that could wait until morning, but doesn't. You shouldn't blame her, because that is the problem - with friends and literature. We're always aiming for the top or bottom shelf because nobody really cares about "Okay." We prefer a pain so deep and seething we can relate, or happiness that shapes our dreams to the point our own joys feel weak and unsubstantial to. Our hearts in competition with our imaginations.
Some eleven months ago I left here following my own, having nothing but a mild goal, handful of ideas, and a chip the size of Atlas on my shoulder. Now I've returned with not much to show for where I've been, except a mental memory box and my heart quite full. Of what, I couldn't, or rather, shouldn't say. Some victories are so recent and painfully earned, they would shyly wince to be displayed or bragged in a prose or Facebook status. These are private and my own, sensitive as newborns, who I'll hold close to my breast until they are ready to meet the world.
I'm different now, I think it's important that you know this. I'm still the man you met, but whoever he was, I'm not the same. I can no longer play the part or card of starved artist- the seams of my heart are too mended to moody myself back into the angst of broken. My veins don't even moan any more. A strange calm has taken the reigns over my melancholy. I've been domesticated and it's the slowest kind of suicide, so balanced and healthy I didn't notice how I wasn't quietly angry at everything any more. And it's startling, to suddenly discover your life as well adjusted. At first I was worried; terrified that awful curse they call complacency had finally trapped me and I might die inside the lying cage of a steady life. But there came vignettes, episodes of lonely that still moved me without me lowering to terrible heights. Like when I watched a garbage bag barrel down third avenue at four in the morning, or witnessed a drunk man stumbling against a lamp post and making catcalls while silently resenting it at his cigarette. Silent and indescribable moments that fill me with sadness while she holds my hand and I coo her name, I realize: no matter the circumstances, my blood retains its blue.
And now I practice sadness from hills that are much greener.