LETTER EIGHTEEN

Tuesday, April 5, 2016
Butler Library, 4th Circle of Hell

Hello Friend!

It may be an annual tradition for you to make plans and not keep them, but we have plans. You hear me. We have plans. I’ve been stranded alone in this wretched city at the centre of the world for months and I’d like some company, goddamnit. We have plans.

I’m sorry I’ve been silent for so long. I’ve been busy, I think. I can’t really remember where the time has gone since I last wrote you. I’ve been busy with school and I’ve been watching the magnolia’s bloom and all the spring flowers starting. Have they even started where you are? Probably haven’t. I’m not sure.

I was feeling kinda down for a bit. For the second time since I moved here I got some unfortunate news. I was turned down for a certain opportunity I would have liked to get. It wasn’t a nice feeling. I felt kinda stranded. Kinda reckless. And the worst part about feeling down is it’s insidious, you know? Starts creeping into everything. Makes you just want to sleep. Except you can’t. You can’t because even though you just missed the exit you really should have taken, you’re still speeding a hundred miles an hour down the grand ol’highway of life, and there’s traffic everywhere, you’re almost out of gas, your tires are nearly bare, there’s smoke coming from under the hood, and this whole damn road trip was your choice anyway, so shouldn’t you be enjoying it? But you just want to sleep.

I’m feeling better now. Don't worry. To stick to my very original metaphor: I’m driving along a nicer stretch of road, enjoying the view, and ignoring the fact that there’s still smoke coming from under the hood and I’ve been coasting on siphoned gas since for most the trip.

In other news I got a job finally! You are talking to a librarian, buddy. Well, I work at a library anyway—not sure you can call yourself a librarian until you’ve shhhh-ed someone. And I haven’t shushed anyone yet. Just before Easter I got myself a job shelving books 20-hours a week, making not even half what I made at my old job in Toronto. (Oh, New York. The greatest city on Earth, where the streets are lined with buildings tall as old gods, and minimum wage is enough for food or rent—not both.)

It was a real hassle getting work. Getting myself a job was easy—it was all the paperwork that was the hassle. I had to do piles and piles of goddamn paperwork! Then I had to spend an entire day running all over Manhattan and getting a bunch of people to sign papers proving that I am in fact really me. The best part of that day was eating a Filet-O-Fish at a McDonald’s under a bridge on 125th St. (I like to get myself some kind of little treat on days when I have to do a bunch of crap. That Filet-O-Fish was my little treat. It tasted terrible, but man was it good.)

I’m telling you being an alien—that what you’re called when you’re foreign, ‘an alien’—is more trouble than it’s worth. But now I’ve got myself a Social Security Number—what we’d call a Social Insurance Number—and I can work.

It’s nice, working at the library. It’s real quiet and everything smells like dust. And there’s no stress there. When you’re done for the day, you’re done. There’s no work to carry home with you in the back of your mind. I like that. It’s refreshing.

Of course now that I’m working here, it means I’m not coming back to Toronto for the summer. I thought about it, about coming back. I got offered my old job, and it was hard, really hard, to turn it down. But I did. I think here is where I need to be. I’m going to come visit though, at some point. And I have a friend who’s supposed to visit me here soon. And, like I said, you and I have plans. You’re visiting me sometime. You promised. I always hated summer vacation as a kid. Too hot and too lonely. But now there are patios and parties, and Coca-Cola, and eating outside, and beer. There’s a lot to look forward to. So, I don’t care if you’re living out of a half-burnt out Toyota Camry that smells like fast food wrappers and Listerine, we have plans! You’re going to visit me. You can park your home on the street near my house, I don’t mind. We’re going to get fancy, go out, and have ourselves one of those real proper summer nights like we did last year. You and me strutting around town like the great northern kings of nothing that we are. Come on, it’ll be great. We can wander around Harlem, and I can show you the university. We can go and be hipsters in Soho and drink wine out of the bottle on street corners in front of bar and cafes we can't afford! Come visit and we’ll go chasing after girls far better than us, and then go to all the dirty little bars this side of America. We’ll get mightily drunk, and eat lots of good food and laugh and talk and talk and talk about nothing, until we’re both too tired and too hoarse to talk anymore. Or not. We can do whatever, anything you want, it doesn't matter to me. I just want to see you, buddy.

Yours less poetically,

Henry


One last thing: my father never paid more than five-hundred bucks cash for a car. You can get a car pretty cheap if you know who to ask and you don’t mind that one day it’s just gonna stop working. Ask around at the body shops. Someone there always knows someone who’s selling.