I haven't been writing as much, partly because I've been busy, but also because writing can be, well, difficult.
Did I ever tell you that I took up running again a few years ago? It was part of a personal renaissance, or so it seemed, but which looks, in hindsight, more like a second adolescence. I used to run as a kid, and in running again it seemed as though I took on a lot of the qualities I had back in the day. Like hubris - I felt indestructible. And then I hurt myself and it was all over.
A friend once confessed a dark secret to me and then, later that day, fell down a set of stairs. They always linked their falling with a kind of karmic retribution for having hurt me with her truth.
I dismissed this attitude from my friend. And yet there is a part of me that wonders if maybe the injury that keeps me from running anymore was due to a terrible secret of my own which I have kept to this day, the result of something which happened right before the injury.
And, of course, I was keeping it from the same friend. I mean, our friend, M.
So then it's quid pro quo, right? The last time I ran this friend watched me cross the finish line, with tears in her eyes, and at the time I thought they were tears of pride and of celebration, but now, I see them as tears of sadness, of something that had already been lost then, lost in that secret, a secret she didn't know, but which she understood enough to feel that all was lost.
It was just a matter of time and although I believed that we had all the time in the world, it turned out we had already run out of time. The reality is that this secret had doomed us long before she herself ran away.
M, you know I am being cryptic for a reason - I am always cryptic!
But can you answer one question (I've never asked you a question before!) - did she ever tell you our secret?
I honestly don't know if she did, but I know that, when you read this, you will either know exactly what I am talking about, or you will read this and wonder if I am trying to tell you something the only way I can, which is right here, because there is no other way for you and I to talk, or to have this conversation any other way.
But know this - if you know our secret, then I am glad that you were able to begin with an honesty that eluded us, and if you don't, then maybe you should ask her what that secret might be.
But if you know the secret, you will also know why our friendship is in tatters and it is not simply because I am a bitter old fool. Indeed, maybe know ing our secret is why you and I correspond like this.
It is all too easy to dehumanize our opponents, and our correspondence, if nothing else, shows a desire from both of us to strive toward some kind of understanding. And for that I am grateful, because understanding eludes me nearly everywhere else. Whether you like it or not, this correspondence demonstrates that we mean something to each other.
I mean something to you.
But then I know it is difficult for you to ask her what this secret might be, because it would reveal our secret, M, namely this correspondence. And of course the greatest irony is that I will never know anyway because you will both keep it all a secret! What strange richness there is to life!
But M, honestly, I can't really help you anymore, I can't help you find what you are looking for, even though I know you are looking to me for some kind of guidance. But you will not find your answers here.
Instead, you need to ask yourself why people run, and what they ran toward, and if they might not just begin to run again. Are they just injured, and have found themselves a healer? But then, we only go to the doctor when we are sick, right? So are they still running away, or are they actually running to you?
I don't know the answers any more than you do. Perhaps the problem is that she has maybe set me up as someone who should have those answers, because I kept so much of her. Supposedly.
Do you wonder why we have had this correspondence at all, M? I know why I have, but I do wonder what motivates you - if it's fear, loneliness, even hatred. Perhaps it's just curiosity, but if I know our friend, I suspect it's likely also anxiety. Just please don't let it be jealousy.
M, I am happy to continue to tell you stories, to talk, but if you are looking for answers, you will not find what you are looking for here. Maybe you know, deep down, that you will not find it from me, only from her. I have tried to provide some manner of understanding to you these past few months, but at the end of the day, if you are looking to me for understanding, you are in a much darker place than perhaps you want to be.
Or look at it this way - in a month, suddenly none of this will matter. Hopefully, I won't matter anymore. Perhaps this correspondence is just a feature of the distance between all of us - I have honestly tried to bridge that gap, but you know how unsuccessful that was. And you probably want to believe it to be entirely my fault, but then, we have this ongoing correspondence, so perhaps you know all too well there is another side to all of this.
But you will not find what motivates her by getting a sense of what motivates me, because there's a good chance I've been making everything up the whole time. If she's told you anything about me, it would be that I'm good at telling stories that aren't true.
But at the end of the day, you must know this - if she remains a secret to you, she is a complete enigma to me now.