what it feels like to be haunted

by s.

i. I wrote this short story not that long ago that was rare in that it felt like it wrote itself and I had nothing to do with it. I think I’ve mentioned this before; I think I mention this every time someone asks if I’ve been writing. There is something about it that I’ve been carrying around in my pocket like a smooth stone, weighing it in my hand for comfort every time the rest of the world starts to feel too heavy. I think the story isn’t over yet. Somewhere inside of me a character has picked himself up from a pile of leaves, dusted himself off, examined his wounds, and kept walking. I have no idea where he’s going, but he’s living inside of me waiting impatiently for me to figure out what it sounds like when he talks.

Someday I will write another story about a village of people who live inside someone’s heart. It will be a children’s story but not really.

ii. Someone got to this blog this week by searching for “phrases in love letters”, which made me wonder if it is really and truly possible that someone might troll the internet looking for things to say to someone else about love. That seemed really sad at first, and then possibly sweet, and then I wanted to help them by writing some kind of “user’s guide to love letters” instead of the wildly unhelpful mess they certainly found when they arrived here. Would it be completely unromantic to start a service writing love letters on others’ behalf, or would it merely be a way to make life easier for people who are paralyzed by the thought?

[I will allow you to make the connection between this thought and “My So-Called Life.”]

iii. Speaking of love letters, I’ve also been thinking a lot about food lately. In “the age of social media” (trademarked by someone, I am sure), it is easy to see when people’s loved ones are making them meals, and there is something about this that seems inherently sad. This can happen so rarely. It makes you wonder: “if you are not taking a picture of it, does that mean it only happens on the times that you do?” Are there really people who are really in love whose significant others aren’t making them pancakes every day? Are there people who have friends who don’t feed them snack-fueled dinners on the regular? We are all at a place in life where we understand that we need to think about where our food comes from and what is going into our bodies, but I fear we have not yet reached a place where making food, really making food, is the norm. At the very least, those don’t have the time and skills should at least be making sure that they arrive with their loved ones at a restaurant that does take the care to put well-executed food into their bodies.

I guess what I am saying here is that I suspect that the world of people subsisting on potato chips and frozen meals and take-out from nameless Chinese restaurants is greater than I ever imagined, and I fear there is a deep connection between those emotionally malnutritioned stomachs and our collective emotionally malnutritioned brains. I don’t know what to do about this except to say that you should think long and hard about the people you are very close to and what you are eating with them, and if the best thing you can say about them is that they made you pancakes this one time, months ago, you should set your relationship on fire and take yourself out to dinner immediately.

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