I hate you. I hated you by the end of the first paragraph of the Introduction to The Opposite of Loneliness. I hated you because even in a few sentences, I knew what kind of person you were. You were one of the .5% of humans who radiated life. You had talent in excessive abundance. Just a ridiculously unfair amount. Everyone loved you, not just your family or some of your peers. Everyone loved you. Strangers loved you. Your professors looked up to you. Hundreds of people sobbed at your funeral.
I know it’s taboo to talk ill of the dead, but I can’t quite get over my seething anger towards you. Maybe it’s because we were born the same year, that I’m struck with biased jealousy. We were the same age, but while I was struggling to simply interact with other humans, you were having chats with Harold Bloom and watching your works be published or performed. I don’t at all agree with your political or religious views, but you had strong ones. You weren’t sucked into this singular world you’d created for yourself. Instead, you genuinely lived in the world.
What’s worse is that you weren’t even a bad person. You cared about others. You didn’t put yourself at the top of the talent list and look down on others. You thought other people did brilliant work and you didn’t hold back those opinions. You were so genuinely amazing you didn’t have to feel threatened by anyone else doing well. You could openly admire them from your heart.
Mostly, I’ve come to hate knowing you’d probably would have been nice to me too. You would have complimented me or hung out with me. Your behavior towards me would have been full of honesty because you probably saw no reason to play games with people. Happy – smile. Sad – frown. Use the corresponding face with the corresponding emotion (French Kiss). I went to school with someone like you. I know what it would have been like. I would have gazed at you with angry wonder, trying to decided just how you were able to do what you do. You would have had the relationships with staff, faculty, and other students that I could only dream of having.
I hate that you are a phenomenal writer worthy of every single modicum of praise you have ever received and will ever receive. I hate that you won’t have any more published works. You could have written anything for any point of view. Gender, demographic, age, none of these were roadblocks. Unlike any book that was structured similarly, I understood the title with each piece of fiction and with each essay that I read. I got it, and I never get it. That never happens. Your work exploded in my mind and carved out all this crap that usually muddles my thoughts. It was like you found this light bulb deep inside my brain that I didn’t think I had the capacity to own and then you turned it on.
But mostly, I don’t hate you. I want to be you for sure. I want to finish works and I want them to be good. I want to exude life the way you did. I want to be able to think about ideas and social issues that way you were able to. I want my brain to stop throwing speed bumps and roadblocks in my way. I want to not be my own worst enemy and instead live. Not many people make me feel like I’m existing. Most of the time, I can adequately say that they live a life I don’t want or don’t need. We’re living at the same level, just with different interests. But you make me feel like I only exist. You make me feel like I’m drifting along on an inner tube in a lazy river, while you’re captain of a ship crossing the ocean in the hope to catch a white whale.
So thank you. Thank you for writing. Thank you for living more in your twenty-two years of life than I will in my eighty. Thank you for showing me what good writing is and what someone my age is capable with. Thank you for being the type of person to understand this letter. Thank you for being the type of person who’d probably still be my friend after receiving this letter. I needed you and your book. I needed a goal, or at least a swift kick in the ass. I’m not going to publish a book tomorrow, maybe not in year, but when I write, I’ll think of you. I’ll hold myself to a higher standard. I’ll think bigger thoughts. I won’t give up my fight with depression and anxiety. I’ll keep challenging myself. Thank you for being a friend even thought we’ll never be able to meet. You are wonderful and I appreciate you.