Chelsea, New York City
April, 1999

Dear Michael,

After a whole year of absence, we finally speak again.

What does it mean, a year, or time, anyway? Is it just a euphemism we use to describe our inevitable journey through the path of decrepitude? Or is it just our manner of saying we're still okay, although we know our life is ticking away? Either way, we seem to stop at the same signpost: We will, one day, be outlived by the world. The magazine I write for, the newspaper I read, the mountains of West America, maybe, even, my neighbors' old VW bug will still be after me, and their existence then, very much like their existence now, will not depend on me.

Not that I ever wanted the world to depend on me, mind you. God forbid I make this letter another egotistic, self-indulging vitriol. That is one thing the world doesn't need. My argument is more about relevance rather than time. My thoughts today go for the things that we consider indispensable, and, more to the point, for the reasons that drive us to elevate some things to that magnificent high level of indispensability.

Michael, what's it that you cannot live without? Have you ever thought about it? What are the things, person, people, you find to be indispensable, that you find yourself attached to in a way that goes beyond the usual fad? What are the things that act upon you like a drug, which lure for its short-term pleasure, and then become an addiction, like cigarettes, like a loveless marriage? Or, on the other hand, what are the things that you seem to have been born with, or born for?

After mild scrutiny, I realize two indispensable items in my life: Jonas, my five-year-old dog, and my diary. I know it might sound selfish, even sad, that I, of all people, included none in my list of indispensable things. But Jonas had to be there for he is the only one who can understand me these days, if nothing else, because of his passive approach to the world, more like a slow clarinet solo than the frantic whims of a jazz drummer. That apparent peace of mind, which so much contrasts with my restlessness, is something I could not let go now.

My diary is crucial because it is the only place where my existence has been recorded, it's my only passport to prosperity. Nothing that I have written professionally tells the world, or anyone, who or what I am. They are just stories, fragments of my thoughts meshed together with other people's opinions for objectivity's sake. I know what you're thinking now. I know the dreaded phrase "I told you so" is right at the tip of your tongue, tingling, eager to be pronounced, even though you and I know the negative effects of cliches. It's good to imagine you laughing. You know me so well...

And as I picture your smile, something else comes to mind: The differences between being indispensable against being irreplaceable. Could we replace all the things we consider vital today with some newly found articles of faith we encounter along the way? Will I be able to substitute Jonas when he dies, if it is true that he will die before me? Would I be able to re-enact the broken pieces of my love and gear it towards some other being, be it a dog, a fish, a snake or a lover? If so, was Jonas ever really indispensable?

My thoughts now come full circle, and send me back to the topic that sparked this whole thing: Time. We were very, very close once, Michael, close to the point where I thought you were indispensable. But we then parted, our paths forked, and our lives dissipated from each other's memories. Now, a year later, I am here, typing these words to you thinking that, despite my efforts, you're still part of me. And what was once indispensable has over time become irreplaceable. Do you know what I mean?

Much love,


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