Born in the Wrong Time
I have been considering your problem every day for the past six months. Your letter is affixed to the wall above my desk, between an illustration of a fluffy yellow chick and a drawing of myself as a Russian princess feeding peacocks.
While Kate’s reply is sensible advice, and probably well worth heeding, I can’t help but feel that she is the kind of woman who has never inhabited the fringe of conversations, struggling with her internal monologue: Who are these people? Why don’t I find that funny? Am I from another planet entirely?
According to Kate you and I are nostalgics. We can’t deal with the present so we seek refuge in a place we have the ability to shape according to our desires: the past. As I sit here writing to you I am surrounded by objects, many of which are older than myself. I feel an attraction to these objects, as I believe that they become more animate over time, they develop spirits. I am lucky to be able to inhabit this world, as many people in the world have no choice as to the world they live in, but this privilege does not alter the often terrible shock of adjustment to the world out there.
Yesterday I found myself in Bankstown Centro, a hell of a place. Never go there. A sprawling shopping mall with crowds – actual crowds – of people, and no obvious exits. Things were terribly Bosch, as I wandered in an increasing panic I came across the terrible scene of children in harnesses, bouncing up and down in tall rack-like contraptions. No one seemed to share my panic. I had to ask a girl at Fields of Fruit (which were not fields, they were display cases with piles of miserable apples and oranges) how to escape. She gave me a look which allowed me to see into her innermost thoughts: she too would have got out of there if she could have. Had the world been different I would have grabbed her hand and we would have run through the crowds and out of that place, to find the real fields of fruit, however far away they might be.
Hoping, you are right to hope. There is hope, and in some moments you come across it. But the signs are subtle, almost imperceptible. This is why I started to write. I knew that nothing much good could ever come out of a conversation at a party, but if I put as many clues as possible into words, then they would reach the people for whom they were intended.
Yours in love of trees,