Today’s journal prompt is to write a letter to a loved one. The hardest thing for me to get started with this prompt is to decide on a loved one to write to. I am very privileged in the regard that I have had the opportunity to amass a host of people whom I love (or have loved) very dearly, and in a comfortably diverse series of ways. Romantic, friend, undefinable, etc.
Hi, we speak often; but you know me well enough by now that messages and Skype calls don’t scratch the itch that I get around writing long-form communications. Sometimes, when we’ve not spoken in a while and I have no way of knowing if you’re ok - I’ll email you. You know this, of course, but what you don’t know is that the mere act of emailing you - of forcing myself to form a comprehensive paragraph to express my concern and dump my three months’ of emotional baggage into something you can read and follow; helps me more than you know.
Then, of course, there’s the anticipation of a reply. “Are you ok? What if you don’t reply? What if you’re ill and I can’t do anything?” becomes mixed with “I love reading your replies. I can’t wait to just look down at my phone, LED blinking, and see that email icon” in a swirling vortex of adrenaline and anxiety that I can’t turn off. Selfish right? I’m sorry. Emailing you because I become worried about you, quickly becomes about me. Sorry for that.
Anyway, digressions from my point. I think this letter is becoming a letter of gratitude in my head. What I’m trying to say with it, is what I’ve tried to say a million times, in a million ways, still hasn’t got across the message that I want to convey. Thank you. Just that. Thank you. You’ve saved my life in so many ways. I was headed down a dark path, a one filled with spite and hate. I needed your guidance. And now look at me. I’m definitely not perfect, but when I look at the alternative path - turning right instead of left at the junction where we met, I see nothing but images of what I was to become had I continued down the road; hollow people leading lives without purpose and without true joy. People who rely on the half-artificial dopamine rushes, without the growth that is supposed to come with it. MRAs, basically. That was a dangerous path, and one I’m glad I didn’t tread.
I still remember the light, dancing through the red brick arches as I walked towards you. Strands of damp hair were clinging to my shoulders, and my gym bag was digging into my right neck. I remember the light, the golden light of spring morning, bathing the world, and made the grass appear the most wonderful shade of green. I saw you see me, I saw your face light up. Of course I remembered you, how could I not? I remember you saying “Hi” and hugging me closer than I’d ever remember a relative stranger hugging me. I remember the light, making your skin appear as the softest substance I’d ever seen. What would’ve happened had I turned right, as I was supposed to that day? Ever since, then - I always turn left.
Part of me feels that I’ve robbed you by remembering you this way. You’re not my saviour, and you’re not a narrative construct who plays an important role in a male life. You’re a person, whom I still love dearly in that way that we do. I’m glad that our paths became entangled, I’m glad that we did something for each other, and I’m glad we both understand that. I’m sorry if I sound sycophantic, or that I’m reducing you to a narrative device; it’s honestly not my intention, it’s just I can’t think of any other way to describe the impact your life had on mine. And I can’t think of another way to emphasise how much I’m grateful.
Thank you, I will forever turn left.