To Nobody, who could’ve been somebody
Who writes letters anymore? I read collections of Bukowski’s and Fante’s letters, and they are so clever that I wish people still did, and if they did, I would write one to you. I don’t even have an address to send a letter to, because you don’t have an address, little bird, flying all over the world, leaving behind people who miss you. But there was no other way. I am bound by the shackles of the eight-to-five office job, two weeks of vacation, little money, love from a far, with so many stories and ideas to share with you and no way to share them.
I go on walks downtown and watch the people. Everyone is so important, doing their jobs and making others rich, rich people who are not here, but perhaps on their boats on nice sunny days like these. Maybe that is what everyone else is working toward. That, or retirement when they are in their sixties. That couldn’t have been their dream.
I continue to write my little stories and send them off to publishers, hoping someone important may read one and like it, but it is getting awful hot here, so I figure those important people are spending lots of time on the water about now. There are many days that I want to miss my exit and keep driving, go out to the river and just sit there in the morning coolness and watch those boats pass me by, but I need money. I’m not so far from the lean days when I considered every purchase as though it was some vital decision. Do I really need the big jar of peanut butter, or should I get the small one? Who needs bread anyway? I can eat it straight from the jar.
This little patch of land is wearing thin from my footsteps. I haven’t seen the world like you have. I haven’t veered off into adventure, but wonder if I’ll get there someday, but the days are passing by with such velocity that it is hard to see things being different anytime soon. But I am pessimistic not pitiful, and I really am content with life, if this is what it is. I can’t say that I will be happy when certain things come, because they may never come, and who has the time to wait for happiness. Better to live in it now.
But what of you? How is life going? As well as I imagine, I hope. Have you found a van? I recently discovered a little book by Steinbeck about traveling the country that you might like. I know you prefer nonfiction. Though, I’m sure he made his embellishments for the sake of the story, like we all do, even for ourselves. I myself have not been brave enough to write about my real life like you do, but I sprinkle it into my stories and characters under different names and made-up situations. Not that my life has been eventful enough to write about.
But here is something. You asked me once what my biggest regret was. You may not remember, but I do, because I never gave you an answer. Maybe I didn’t want to be too dark or make it a thing, or maybe I was a coward who has never told anyone. I was fifteen, and it was late at night, and I was at home, because I didn’t go to the football game like I should have. I got a call from my cousin, but I just watched it ring in one of my loner moods. The next morning he was gone, hung himself in the cook shed, the one that we had spent so much time in bullshitting and being kids, the one that I got drunk in for the first time, the one – on the weekend before – that we had been together in and talked like everything was going to be just fine. Life is always changing and so are its people, and it ain’t waiting on anyone to answer.
People come and go in your life, and so does life itself. Even if you aren’t where you want to be just yet, don’t be impatient with it, waiting to enjoy it when you get there. Enjoy it now. All its bittersweet moments. Our perception of time is so limited, and all we have are the moments. We can’t get there soon enough, and we can’t go back to the old days, but maybe it is the old days. Try not to miss them this time around.
And don’t worry, people live forever in the past. We just can’t go back to visit them except in our memories. They are always there though, in the past, living forever in the old days, and so are we.
Love – yes, love, because whose got time to not – Your friend forever,
Aston Lester is a fiction writer from Greenwood, LA, whose work has appeared in Five on the Fifth, Down in the Dirt, and Academy of the Heart and Mind.
image: “Lightening Rod:” Cole Martin is a twenty-something from Atlantic Canada. He is currently putting the finishing touches on his first novel, as well as plugging away on a few smaller projects. He can be found on twitter @maritimemagnate