Somewhere in the southern U.S.
December 5, 1998

My dearest friend,

The weather here is unseasonably warm, and the southern sun sets quietly in the horizon, whispering in cautious tones, leaving behind a taste of what tomorrow may not bring. The trees shed their leaves little by little, and the bare branches are the only signs of winter I can detect from my garden-surrounded window.

The wind sweeps the dead leaflets on the floor, and the sky is so bright, filled with three-dimensional clouds that move quickly and, eventually, bump into each other in a silent kiss. The bugs fly around my weary hair, enthralling my attention for many minutes, and, since I can not fight them in number or in philosophy, I let my arms flail in the air, just for the plastic effect of the scene, pretending I am bothered.

But I am not, really.

There is nothing to be afraid of here, except for the fear I may not stay here much longer, or, maybe, my newly-developed sense of guilt that, by coming here, I may be leaving behind important people who, even though it might be just my imagination, seem to be so helpless and in need of my company at this point.

I sigh, and blame fate for my early and forth-coming decisions. But my Heart beats faster when the word fate comes to mind, because he insists in not believing in it, even though my mind seems to be hinting at that direction, showing every single aspect of it.

But what am I talking about? Is there any logic in fate anyway? Isn't it just another one of my whims, or crafted excuses so I can go on being selfish? Am I really self-centered for pursuing something I believe to be true?

I cannot spare my thoughts from this apparent happiness/guilt paradox. Instead, I can only suppress my consciousness to the point where the paradox becomes something apart from me, like an amputated limb, a lost cause.

The feeling the landscape imprints in my soul resembles that of just having met someone, and yet, everything seems so familiar, as if I had lived here all my life, or all my dreams. Maybe it is just my perennial unawareness of the things that are always about to happen, a sort of controlled self-esteem comparable to the attitude of refusing to learn something new by labeling it useless, or unimportant.

Well, you know me. I bought new shoes prior to my trip, a self-flattering and yet condescending gesture since I really didn't need new shoes. But I wanted to look good, make a good impression. Don't ask me why, my dear friend, for some things can not be explained in a paragraph and, trust me, that is all I am planning to spend on this particular subject.

I have no wish to prolong this narrative any further for there is so much to be told about vanity, that just the thought of such dissertation at this hour in the afternoon makes me sick to my bones. Consider this an extended parenthesis, a useless attempt to make this letter longer, a caprice.

The South could be a perfect place to write.

Maybe it's the weather, or the social tension of the hidden history of these fields, or just my state of mind. Do you remember when we used to talk about the many ways we could find our writing nirvana, and the many places we built in our minds where our artistic selves would express themselves effortlessly, just like a natural combustion, or a wave in the ocean?

Yes, this could be it, my dear friend. This could be one of those places where desire meets the keyboard in perfect harmony of rhythm and sympathy. I have been sitting here for hours, and the loudest noises I have heard so far are those of birds looking for food or a mate and, eventually, the sound of my own fingers stroking the keys down on the laptop.

My legs, crossed and currently standing for my desk, are long numb, but it took me extreme effort to realize it, such was the degree of concentration I was devoting to these words. I have them - my legs, that is - all stretched now, and my consolation is both physiological, since I can feel my blood flowing, and intellectual, since I am proud of the level of detachment from reality I managed to achieve in the last few hours.

Is that the feeling we have been seeking all these years? Is happiness nothing but a notebook, a pen and porch overlooking the woods? Is the audience important? Does it really matter how many people read what we write? Could you be my only and effective reader, the interactive intellectual mentor every writer seems to be so anxiously searching? Is there anything else we need to fulfill our dreams?

You tell me.

I will most likely be back to the city by the time you receive this missive.

Stay up late, and do write.

Yours faithfully,

- J.P. Vicente

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