Caller no. 99
A long, long haul at invisibility and lying on the verge of quitting being consistently miserable at something sporadically dear had become a way of life. Nothing ever happens by itself, so much I had started telling myself. And without much conscious effort, I started taming the social sloth. An outward peek let in many a furtive glance. An extended smile met with assured reciprocation. Share a tale and there’d be three right back. Then one day, the world didn’t feel like a small place. On another, somebody found me.
He was quite. Or so I thought from the way he didn’t direct much at me. In a way he had been invisible too; he definitely wasn’t a resident of my thoughts. He had a slick way of showing up and when he did, it felt like side-notes written way off the margins. He stayed in contact, though.
He stayed in contact long enough for the notes to somehow move to the middle of the page. This made me go back to all the notes he had ever scribbled and it all added up to one linear, conducive message.
“You use your hands a lot.”
That was the first time he made an observation about me, aloud. I had been explaining to him of the time I discovered as a kid that I didn’t have a 20-20 vision. He listened to all my meandering musings through the evening as we walked and walked and waltzed, eventually, into our separate ways.
I would see in my dreams that I’d conjured up the courage to quit my job. Sometimes I’d say something laughably dramatic, other times it was a scathing comedy, and some fortunate other times I’d be relieved to be fired. One morning when I woke up I decided to turn the dream into reality.
Only after having been home for a week and listening to nothing but Chris Cohen (Overgrown Path, indeed) did it seem like I’d left the city in a hurry. There were cafés I’d always passed by that I’d always wanted to go to, pens made of bamboo that were a pending buy, plays and screenings I could never catch because work always held me up. When one day I got a text message from him, asking me to a free film screening a couple of days in advance, was when I really accepted that I had left behind some unfinished business.
I started by replying by e-mail how sorry I’d been for never telling him that I’d moved, abruptly and tentatively, back to my hometown and how much I appreciated the thought of the free film together. It led to a steady back and forth of replies, which slowly took form of letters. Over the course of a month, the contents of the exchange went from nervously platonic song recommendations to a postmodernist Her (the film Her… minus the futuristic overtones) where the possibility of my moving back again wasn’t exactly lying on the moon.