I guess these comuniqués are supposed to start off like that; dear Mirai. I found an example in an encyclopedia. The pages were wrinkly and stiff like it had been watered and dried. (I never really paid that close attention to a paper book before. Didn’t know they did that.) About the “dear”... In my defense I knew these letters started off with something. I remembered the name had to come first. We’ll all get used to this now. Dear Mirai, I wrote a letter, love, me. It takes so long to write the words out by hand, I forget what I’m saying half way through the sentence. Since I’ve only got the money for one of these a day, I should make it count. But I’m struggling now to think of anything to write. Dear Mirai, life here is hell, I can only imagine what it’s like for you there… At least there’s a city’s worth of people and buildings surrounding me here. You in the desert, barely anyone else around, how do you manage? Will you come to be with me here?
Let me start again. My hand is already sore from writing that first paragraph, but I’ll give it another try. Ever since Lock-Off I’ve been wandering the streets looking for something to do. My old routine is dead of course. Actually I’m amazed how many hours there are in the day. Before LO, time passed so fast. Now it drags and drags. I’m not the only one out there, though. Tons of others are just passing time outside as well. The streets are full. I tried talking to someone the other day; old man, big pot belly, dumb smile, cigarette, you know the type. He just looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language. Maybe I was. What do I know? Mostly everyone is quiet out on the streets. Some people walk quickly like they have somewhere to be, but everyone knows it’s just an act. I think it helps them fit in somehow, to move quickly.
Being out among strangers made me yearn for friends. Talking to that old man; not talking to him. But I haven’t seen anyone in so long. I haven’t seen you in years, eight years? Nine? Of course I’ve seen you, but not the real you… You know what I mean. Everything moves so slowly, even my hands are slow. They’re not really, trick of the brain; I know. But I can’t rid myself of the sensation. When you’re so used to a developed sensory world, it’s a real shock to be forced to build a new rhythm. Of course I was never a total Jack, I followed your lead a little… always made sure to get four hours offline a day, but it’s a rhythm thing. Those four hours felt manageable. They felt normal. A drop out like you, even now it still amazes me. How did you ever survive on an hour a day? Perhaps I’ll understand in time. I guess at some point I’ll grow used to walking to the beat of the offline drum; just like you.
Do you put it in the middle of the letter as well? When you want to start a new thought… It feels like I should. The example in the encyclopedia only has one paragraph, so I’m not sure what people used to do in this circumstance. I wanted to say, I’m almost out of money. What they give us is just so little. I try to make it through the day without spending anything, but after 8 or 9 hours of nothing, I just give up. It’s so hard. Do you think you can send me a little money? Just until I’m more used to this lifestyle. They calculated that the Basic Income was enough. They’re probably right. It would be enough if I didn’t have to spend time outside. I remember once you told me about the smells you discovered; out there. I tried to find some for myself here, but none so far have been pleasing. I wouldn’t purposefully smell them again.
Do your aquaponics still operate? Did they rely on Them too? Or was it just me and the rest of us. I’d like to visit you out there in the desert. How’s that guy you were with? Are you still together? You haven’t spoken about him in a while. I almost forgot he existed. What else can I ask? How can a conversation be supported in this way? Did they really used to talk like this, long written letters, waiting for a response, days and weeks of waiting… How could they have had the patience for that? I guess I’ll learn, of course. I’ll have to.
The first few days after Lock-Off I walked around looking for anyone I might have known before; any online friends, but I couldn’t find anyone. I never really thought about how far apart we might have been at the time. Why did I assume they were in the same city as me? I guess it just never came up. It wasn’t relevant. Then, when they were gone, I went out to look for them and realized how absurd it was. I had a thought while I was walking around. Were we ever friends? Me and those people online. Or was it that we had split egos. Our true selves on the one side and the demi-ego that existed online: the one that made friendships that couldn’t possibly last in the undeveloped physical space offline. Maybe I was two people, two entities. One that was connected to a body, that hurt to look in the bright sun, that hurt to stand for too long, that required food and water and sleep. And one that needed none of those things, just the stimulation. That’s all the second entity required. What do you think? Never mind, I know what you think. That’s why you went out there.
Will you come to be with me here? Now I hear how stupid that question is. I don’t know how to erase what I wrote before so I guess I’ll just leave it. I can’t start a new letter. My hand hurts and I don’t have the money anyway. Perhaps the better question: Will you let me come and be with you there? I don’t know what else to do. All the strangers everywhere. They pass beneath my window like an endless school of fish following an invisible current. I can’t be like them. I tried. I went outside. I talked with an old man. I know now, without my purpose, my id was there all along. Now I must feed it. Will the pain grow less in time? I guess you answered that question many years ago. I guess I will too, before the end.