Old Relics

by Chris de Serres


I find a coffee shop because I need people around me.  I need movement, talking, and indirect interaction.  Then I put on my headphones and go back inward.  I look over to the other tables and see at least 10 other people playing the same game as me.

From as long as I can remember I have felt my loneliness in a room full of people.  I’ve been in remote areas of Alaska, 10 miles from the nearest road and probably 20 miles from the nearest human being, and felt so alive.

Isolation has nothing to do with the proximity of people.

I logged into Gmail and pulled up an old piece of writing.  It felt familiar and distant.  Before love or fatherhood.  Who was that person?  Why was he always so sad?

“Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.”                                       – Stephen King

I pulled up 50 old essays, clicked on Select All, and the finger hovered over Delete.  My body had this tingling feeling, as if I had already done it.

Then I see the emails.  I still have our entire interaction.  This long email.  It was the end of our relationship.  It was horrific.  You wheeling your luggage down one of those steep Seattle hills.  I got in front of you, trying to reason,  trying to stop gravity from taking you away.  I didn’t succeed that day.  This one stays in the archive.  A reminder that all could’ve been lost.  Can still be.

I’ve been sick for the past few days.  This is must how my father feels.  I saved this attachment, a picture.  It was the moment I left him.  He cried.  He never cries.  The death of boyhood.  Now he cries again, for real deaths.  They are all real though.

I haven’t cried yet.  Maybe I will later.

I found this old email from a guy named Joe.  He was abused throughout his childhood.  This was decades ago.  This was the first time he told anyone about it.  I see that I started to reply to him, but I never sent it.  It was too difficult to tread those muddy waters again and again.

I hope Joe found peace, good health, and someone worthy to receive his darkest secret.  His imeasurable moment.

I take the email, place it into the stream and it drifts away.  I release you.