The letter request:
About a month ago I started hanging out with this girl, who I find incredibly beautiful, smart, funny and a wee bit strange. Things were going good in a relaxed and casual way, until… she freaked out. We talked about it, and she explained what happened but then I got a text saying we shouldn’t see each other anymore. Since then I’ve been trying to meet up with her, but she seems more and more distant and less and less interested. She’s leaving and won’t talk to me – I’d really like to meet up with her at least once before she goes back to Germany forever. I miss spending time with her.
This is something that could happen…
I send this letter. You don’t respond. On the 22 April 2010, you fly back to Germany. We never see each other again.
You move into a flat that’s poky but gets lots of sunlight, even in wintertime when the sky is heavy and so low you can reach up and skim it with your fingertips. Despite the fact you’re mega smart, you struggle to find your dream job. Times are tough, so they keep telling us.
You take a job that’s beneath you but at least the furniture is ergonomic and they have real coffee in the kitchen and your colleagues seem nice. One of them is extra special nice. You like hanging out with him. He tells you you’re incredibly beautiful, which you are. He tells you you’re funny, which is true. He’s an honest guy. And kinda cute. You get to know each other. Only very occasionally does your mind stray back to New Zealand. Mostly when you’re overtired or hungry or when you catch the scent of Manuka on the breeze.
One time you even stop and ask a friend, ‘Gibt es hier Manuka Bäume in der Nähe?’
She shakes her head, ‘Ich glaube nicht.’ And you keep on walking.
One day you decide to marry this honest and kinda cute guy, because he’s honest and kinda cute and because getting married is what people do.
Though it’s becoming increasingly fuzzy, sometimes your mind still wanders back to the land of the long white cloud. Most of the time these strolls down memory lane make you feel cosy and content, like you’ve just had a sip of much-needed beer after a hard day’s work.
But now and again they make you jiggle in your chair, clutch the arm of the friend sitting next to you, and blurt out something nonsensical, just so the sound of your voice drowns out the white noise in your head. Boo-yeah, you may say. Or, chicky, chicky, boom BOW. Your neighbour may chuckle before moving a little further away. You begin to resent that you can’t look back on your time in New Zealand with a full and open heart. It’s not a deal breaker but there is, you realise, something lingering, something unresolved.
Life goes on.
This is something else that could happen…
I send this letter. You respond. We meet up before you leave. No expectations. We talk, we laugh how we used to in that one month when everything was relaxed and fun, we clear the air. I shout a round. You shout a round. We argue about the third and agree to stay for a fourth and for even numbers from then on in. It’s only fair.
We make sure nothing is left unsaid; nothing, at least, that will haunt us in years to come, nothing that will keep us awake at night wondering if it’s the neighbour’s mistuned TV we can hear in the distance, or the white noise in our head.
We say some words. ‘Goodbye’ could be one of them. Or ‘Auf Wiedersehen.’
Maybe just before that we say, ‘I’m so glad to have met you, thank you. Good luck.’
And maybe just after, ‘Call me if you’re ever in town. We could have a beer.’
Who knows? No expectations. But I’m gunning for this second version of events way more than the first.