Sensitive Friend,

We choose tough subjects for discussions. Perhaps, this friendship would not last face-to-face, as many of our values and interests diverge.
Wise Friend,
You smashed me! Let alone, that it would be even possible to have such dialogues because of millions of reasons!
What’s there to surprise?
Please tell me precisely what “heavy” subjects of mine infuriate you, so I try to avoid them.
Renouncing the dialogue doesn’t seem probable from my end, even if spells of silence would follow, mainly depending on you (though not only).
Sensitive Friend,
What can I say? One thing is sure. I like this country though my stay here might be shorter than I would want to.
I lived in four countries for long periods of time, each. Many define one of them as the happy country. I found that a misnomer. Too many of people there drink a lot, much too much. They lack a joie de vivre I see here. I’m not talking about my close friends. Would find here within this vast country too many people who never read a serious book, never heard a classical music performance, unless when watching a movie? Yes, indeed.
On the other hand, I cherish the concert halls, the museums, the incredible variety of discussions on so many radio stations. I also meeting local people, just finding out about their life. I have a lot in common with them, and sometimes I feel as if I have nothing in common with them. Right now I lived in an odd confused state, mixed with a bit of madness and a lot of serenity. I might fear it’s temporary; I push that fear away as it gives me no help or support.
I’m in contact with people from everywhere. Something strange happens with my heart. I like others more and more, and I feel as I care for many. This is even though I would be reluctant to spend endless time with most of them. I find myself, thinking about what issues I can raise with each person and what can I share intimately about those subjects, but not about anything else. This is a selective friendship intimacy, Two subjects with one friend, three different ones with another.
I can’t be alone going through life like this, am I? When I say goodbye, I miss each person straight away. An odd state of mind.
Certainly, many others leave me cold or lost my trust (do they care?).
What were we talking about?
Wise Friend,
Are you tabulating friends and intimate conversations? If yes, I think you might be alone, doing that.
Sensitive Freind,
I sensed you’d answer this way. Maybe because I migrated so many times, and then moved back, I ended up with this tabulation, as you call it.

Wise Friend,

Finally, I received your long emails. I read them as compositions looking at both undertones, one as literature the other of the soul. Your observations become more valuable in your eyes as you write them down on “paper”, and makes you feel more comfortable with yourself. This is a goal in itself. There is no irony here!. On the contrary, you write beautifully, confirming the opinion of this reader that you “possess a fine and sharp spirit of observation woven with instincts full of vitality and curiosity leading to continuous revelations.”

To go further (without being asked to do so) with the analysis, I note your extreme sensibility in understanding that French movie. I strongly doubt that anything else but a French film could present those relationships as such.  I can’t imagine how that would be possible with an American or any other European production.

I envy your availability to access the cultural phenomena, and I understand the satisfaction you feel when you describe what you understood and your capacity to associate and enrich yourself when you attend any such event. It’s a critical thing.

I differ from you when it comes to the American psyche. You seem to like it. I can’t take it seriously,

Sensitive Friend

The fury of the furies!

Two subjects infuriate me when I address them with you: (1) my family, (2) I and the Americans.

Yesterday, I meditated. Yes, I meditated! It sounds like I lock step with those vapourware books, doesn’t it? Well, I’ve been meditating since I was sixteen years old, a heavenly gift I discovered by myself I didn’t even know its name was “meditation”. Others call it “relaxation”. So, yesterday evening, I was meditating. When fleeting thoughts pricked through, I saw my image with me swearing and throwing objects unto you. I don’t swear, and don’t throw objects at people, but these were my fleeting thoughts. Strange way to relax or meditate!

I’m now in an excellent disposition. In future, I will avoid these subjects, though I know that from time to time you’ll try touching me with “me and the Americans”.

You seem to repeat your disdain for the American superficiality. In the same email (let’s call it “breath”) you write you envy my access to the cultural phenomena, which is here in the US, not somewhere else.

Please, please show me one country (or land) on this Earth, with a high level of quality of arts and colleges, lacking the superficiality of a large part of its population. The protagonists of this very French movie are the epitome of vacuousness, shallowness, emptiness. I never hear people, or you say “I love France, but…” (or Italy, Sweden, or Spain.). However, when it comes to the US, it’s like a knee-jerk reaction. That you allowed yourself to fall into this pit and stay there, it’s a big unsettling mystery for me. US is not my country, though I feel blessed I’ve lived here for a few years.

Wise Friend,

I held many diverse responses, all of them full of question marks and raised eyebrows. Firstly, let me know if you want me to respond (you’d have good reason both for wanting and not wanting).

Sensitive Friend,

I apologise. I can do nothing else. I’m tempted to hear what you would say, though in this case, we would return to these two subjects, I would prefer not to touch any longer. It’s not fair to you, though, I stop talking about these subjects with anybody after I sense that we debated enough.

I was in a good mood when I wrote. It’s not a good excuse.

Wise Friend,

No need to apologise, I had an almost ready response, and I’ll keep it for other more propitious times, if still current then. Therefore, I will respect the desire and the wish, with no further comment. The only lesson would be that I’ll try to avoid stepping into a subject you consider delicate.

We have plenty to write about movies, concerts, observations about other, jokes, anyway, daily life. As far as I’m concerned, I want you to know that I have no taboo subjects with those close to me, and when somebody mentions inconvenient topics (I believe you misread my message that infuriated you), if the person is somehow significant to me, I try to understand, or I try to help the person understand me. So, be my guest!
I wanted to tell you that from time to time you are very childish though this part of your charm. Keep it!

Sensitive Friend,

Childish? Did you just say that? Only I know the efforts I make to behave always like an adult.

I tell myself I’m the only one privy to those spots of mine. A tiny example, I’m aware as soon as I’m relaxed we somebody, I joke and laugh easily. Daily, I have to remind myself my age. I’m afraid of being ridiculous at my age by belaying like an adolescent, which I would actively love to do.

Wise Friend,

Until my bruises caused by you throwing those objects to me heal, I can’t say anything.

You must know what I would tell you.

I can abstain. I need to end with the slogan of the day: “Be spontaneous!”

Sensitive Friend,

It’s not a matter of taboo subjects between two of us. It’s about communicating via emails. To discuss some topics, I need to be face to face, to see each other expressions and for instant reactions.

Are your bruises yellow by now?

Sensitive Friend (quite a few times you called yourself “the one so good to give advice to others”),

From time to time, we have no choice but to accept realities we don’t know, and our perception of others would be wrong. We also have to admit the construct of others about ourselves, and their impression would be wrong occasionally.

It’s too complicated like this, in writing! By the way, the ‘compliments’ I mentioned last time, were not necessarily from my cousin. They don’t matter nowadays and yes they are silly. However, they had affected my behaviour and disposition for many years in the past.

Finito! A long time ago! Unfortunately, because of them, I ignored warm gestures I should have accepted and would have been healthy to feel and have. Fortunately, I continue to communicate with those people.

I don’t throw out of the window some relationships, especially as I need to maintain a behaviour as an example for my children, even if they are by now adults.

Wise Friend,

There’s nothing wrong in this, I have to be circumspect you don’t misunderstand me.

This way you end up liking yourself. It’s normal in your case, as I don’t believe anybody who knows you doesn’t like you.

Therefore, I keep bringing up those books located in American libraries intending to improve the quality of life (self-confidence…). They recommend such results, and therefore, the goal is reached. You’ve created a method, unconsciously out of instinct.

This is good for you and this all that matters. I repeat, I understand you. How much I do!

Sensitive Friend,

Again those “vapourware” books? Without a solid basis, after reading them, one ends up talking as if slightly dizzy.

However, these books have had a positive role by discussing excellent values in a world where many people are either fanatic or incredibly selfish.
People, otherwise too self-centred, learned with the help of such books or similar workshops to listen and know others also have something to say

Such books brought to light traumatic family secrets, well hidden in the past.
It’s good that victims of incest, paedophilia, rape, violence are now free to speak out and use such book for recuperation.

Wise Friend,

Personally, I’ve told you before, I have a different opinion. I think one’s personality must manifest first of all somehow passively, though the way you are and you show yourself, for others to appreciate you (or despise you, or watch you indifferently) step by step, and culminating maybe with love and passion.

The feedback those around gave you (within a variety of circles of interference) might give you a sign of how you are, better than how you see yourself.

Indeed, not all reactions matter, though. The reaction of those important to you matter.

This has been my brief theory for today. I hope this doesn’t antagonise you. This time, I don’t know on which leg I catch you. Had I told you these words face to face, you’d understand better.

P.S. I exchanged a few words with your cousin. He called me a cynic, as this is how his retina has a faux imagination about me, though we are amicable friends.

Sensitive Friend,

Was that P.S. necessary? I love my cousin, and you know that.

I don’t agree with you statement about the feedback of the others and who one is. Ther’s a some truth in that, though only some.

Wise Friend,

I was just wondering what is going on with you and these long silent spells of yours. I received your picture. You look so well as if years haven’t gone by.

Sensitive Friend,

I’m thinking, not writing, “How come? What do you mean by ‘as if years haven’t gone by?’ Did I look like this when I was twenty?”
I’m writing, “Thank you.”

Wise Friend,

Don’t be slick. This is a provocation.
You’re welcome, in the strict sense of the word “welcome”.

How is your family?

Sensitive Friend,

They are well. My cousin lost a lot of weight, and he looks well. The children are cute. Maya is Maya, much to admire about her, though any discussion requires to be beyond delicate.

Mum is quite well though unhappy about not being in the centre of attention and cannot find anything interesting to focus on. This is a huge shift. She refuses to go out by herself. Therefore, she and her husband play a game of interdependence and power, for which I have no patience.

Unfortunately, I visit them only for two days at a time. I would like to visit them more, even monthly, had it been cheaper. Not out of pleasure, but out of obligation. I hope no longer for emotional and intellectual communication with my family. In their eyes, I’m the black sheep and basta.

It’s not fair to write these details to you. You asked. Would I write they are lovely, I would feel uncomfortable with you and dishonest. Better not to ask me again. What’s the point? I end up pulling you into a “litany”.

I owe respect to my mum. Thank God, I go there in peace, and I return in peace. The emotional tumult has been over years ago. I watch them, and I learn a lot, and I try to apply what I learn to my relationship with my children. Maybe I’m wrong, but I want to let them take the freedom to take risks and to lead their lives the way they want. Ouuf! This subject is out of the way–let’s move on.

Wise Friend,

I don’t always have words to answer. While I read, I feel like sending a smile, to show surprise, a nod without words. No emojis, though.

Sensitive Friend,

Hundreds of things I must do have flooded me. During such times, writing to you falls by the wayside. I sacrifice you. Your answers, help me though. They are funny and make me laugh, and they come from a space of a bond with a male who happens to be both solid and sensitive, a different kind of friendship, though significant for me.

I hope you don’t confuse me with my cousin. My relationship with my cousin during our youth helped me learn how to bond with males. He invited me over when he had male friends or acquaintances coming to visit. They were from such diverse ways of life: some well-read, others rough and never read a book, and those in between, rough and first generation to read and enjoy art and literature. My cousin let me be there in the room, asking me to stay quiet. I learnt how to relate to anybody with fun and ease, irrespective of their background. He also taught me how to befriend women as friends.

Wise Friend,

I’m not sure if I should respond to your letter. It’s beautiful, sincere, well felt, personal and human. I only want to tell you it surprised me your ”hope” that I don’t see you as being like your cousin.

What you wrote about “the black sheep” I can’t comprehend and basta. I suspect that there is more in your head and maybe there are Freudian explanations. I have no cousins or siblings, and I can’t know better. However, I saw my daughter’s influence on my son, and it led to similar problems.

It is what it is, and it doesn’t merit your preoccupation.

You know what you know. Anybody who knows you knows with what to deal.
I don’t know why I chose this subject out of everything you wrote.

I want you to believe me (I hope I don’t disappoint you!) I don’t feel you sacrifice me.
When you feel like writing, write; when not, don’t. It’s elementary and unnatural otherwise.

Wise Friend,

Nature was mad today. It poured with fury. It will continue during the night and tomorrow.

Sensitive Friend,

Oh boy! Take care!

I was in Philadelphia during the Floyd hurricane, decades ago, attending a conference. The friends with whom I stayed begged me to come home by lunchtime before the water would have covered the train tracks.

At 10:00 am the conference people announced that the airport was closed.  After the sessions finished, 12,000 people had to stay there. It would have been an excellent opportunity for business.

While feeling guilty, I left hoping to catch a train. It worried me I would end up in a stormy city with no place to sleep and no way to get back home. As I entered the train station, I heard the announcement my route was suspended. I rushed out, and luckily I caught a cab. The driver told me the road I wanted him to use was not accessible. He took a long trip around. I couldn’t care less, I was in a dry cab and sure I’ll get back home.

When I arrived at my friends’ house, we went in the storm to look at the river. The river covered the streets, and we could see only the top of the traffic lights, popping out of the water.

A nearby, usually fickle, waterfall became a torrent. The water was hitting the bridge with all its might.

Suddenly, Floyd retreated, the night descended, and the stars showed up.

Next days were so sunny I had this feeling that this time the sun was angry.

Wise Friend,

Philadelphia has many nice spots, some beautiful, and a nice mixture of old architecture and small buildings.
A famous person once said, “I went last week to Philadelphia, and it was closed”.

Sensitive Friend,

Hmmm! Maybe!! However, I trust my friend and his passionate love for the city. They have a marvellous Rodin museum.

Wise Friend,

This time, let’s make no sense. Let’s throw thoughts to each other. Unrelated, maybe even illogical.

Sensitive Friend,

You start! Perhaps I can fall in line.

Wise Friend,

Here it is: What word would describe a state of mind when you have questions and thoughts about some events, and they are not real questions–like interrogatively or judgemental, and not worries either? They are on your mind.

Sensitive Friend

Ohhh! I don’t know.
Let me try as well, the throwing part: I’m not even sure if life is unfair, though it is a mystery.

Wise Friend,

I feel as we are already in full winter while people around me tell me they enjoy the Indian summer. I delight in the crispy air mornings and evenings and ask around how much crispier they will get. I get these mysterious smiling answers. They assure me it will get much crispier.

Sensitive Friend,

Driving now is a joy. The trees are in any shade of yellow, green, red-purple you can imagine. Not only the trees but the bushes, too. It is so strange. While still light with the sun practically gone, I go out of the building, and I feel as if the sun is shining, because of the colours of the leaves. Even when raining, I have the same sensations.

Wise Friend,

I’m so unwilling to miss any tree changing its colours, and I have to be extremely careful when I drive, as I look even inside the gardens I pass not to lose any autumn effect.

I imagine having a camera all around the car and being able to push a button on the steering wheel.

Sensitive Friend,

When visiting my aunt, I joined a community event. This was my second time there. The first time, everybody ignored me. This second time, women asked me questions, and one woman invited me to visit her next day and to see their private beach.

The wind was fierce, not beach weather. However, as I’m always willing to meet new people, I went. She wasn’t at home yet, and the husband took me to the private beach, with extensive dunes at the back, a hidden path along the dunes, where the privileged of the area, walk and greet each other like in a secret ploy. Everything is manicured, beautiful, rich, wild, and strange at the same time.

He told me they had adopted a child from Turkey. As we walked, we met a couple that wanted to adopt a child from one of the Eastern Europe countries. I admire people who adopt. They hugged me, just for saying that.

We walked back to their home–a huge house, in dire conditions. It had a beautiful Mediterranean architecture, but it needed, repairs and paint, I thought. We remained in the patio all the time. Just before my departure, she took me inside to take a peek inside. It was magnificent, like a Mediterranean castle with incredible woodwork, so unexpected for a house by an American shore. I noticed big holes in the walls, and it became even more evident the house needed serious repairs.

I had a great time with the lady of the house. In her thirties, in search of a God, she became religious well before her marriage. She grew up in a Catholic family, and something didn’t work in the spiritual department. This woman had studied Greek,  Latin, and was extremely well-read; I call that cultured. Her father had been an architecture professor (she whispered “emeritus”) at Princeton.

Something in the way she talked was so friendly, so subtle and so strange, so light, and so serious.

Wise Friend,

Will go back? Didn’t your aunt show those places before?

Sensitive Friend,

I would like to meet them again.

I went back to my aunt, asked her to get in the car and took her, 5 minutes away from her place, to show her the dunes, the private beaches, the ‘path of adoption’. At the time, my aunt had been living nearby for at least 15 years. She never knew about the place. She was so excited and looking forward to showing those places to her 80-year-old three other girlfriends.

I told her a story about a transient friend in California, Joy. It amazed Joy of how quickly I found outlier places despite a busy life. She used to joke “As you’ve been in Los Angeles for more than two weeks, could you give me directions to …?”

Wise Friend,

I love your passion and interconnection with people and places–and the way you really get into where you are rather than skin-graft yourself onto it for the duration.

Travelling Friend,

What if I end up living there? There were so many twists and turns in my life I settle wherever I land. How was your long, long trip?

Wise Friend,

Well, the time of recounting has come again. I travelled, I’ve seen new places or places anew, I’ve met people, I’ve worked, and I’ve lost track of my life.

Traveling Friend,

I know you don’t like when people ask you whether you’re excited before your travels. So how was it?

Wise Friend,

Funny, I get annoyed when they ask me, “Are you excited?”

I told them numerous times I plan, I book tickets, hotels, and then I forget. I don’t like to get excited, to dream before my trips. I end up loving each trip as I travelled with no expectations. Whatever will happen will happen. Whatever happened was always good.

Traveling Friend,

But why annoyed?

Wise Friend,

I said the same things so many times, for so many years. A mad desire to have friends remember what I said.

At the end of my travels, I wrote to everybody I met no man. I wanted to reduce the level of anxiety for those friends, who tend to fantasise for me when I travel.

New friends introduced me to men, I had some dates, too few, too boring, the same as in London, Sydney or LA. I think God sent me to many cities in the world and transplanted these men for me to start again and again.

I’m probably supposed to learn something, and I just don’t get it. So this is a joke of life and jokes shouldn’t be taken seriously.

Off this subject, to other things that happened to you!

Traveling Friend,

A while ago I went back to Long Beach Long Island. Initially, I planned to go to Manhattan and see some galleries, too. I stayed in Long Beach.

I could not part from the beach. The weather wasn’t great, which made it perfect as the beach was empty and Proustian. It had incredible lights, all nuances of greys, no greens, no blues. It was misty all the time, and the thickness of the mist made me want to paint. As I never done before, I let myself imagine what would I have painted, how, and captured.

I “forced” my aunt, where I stayed, 80 years old, to walk a bit with me and she could not understand my happiness. To her the weather was awful, and she was feeling guilty that I came during such weather. In time, she realised that something is screwed enough in my mind and soul and I really enjoyed the beach and ocean.

Wise Friend.

I have a highly educated friend working in garden maintenance. He asked me to join him for two weeks. I wanted to do some physical work and accepted.  We joke with quizzing customers about both us having masters, being avid readers, and somehow having become blue-collar workers.

Wow Friend,

How do you cope with the physical work?

Wise Friend,

Gosh! It is hot and hard! At the end of each day I’m tired and euphoric, intoxicated with feeling great. I love being outside, and I love hard physical work.

Wow Friend,

Shall I envy you?

Wise Friend,

Yes, please do!

We chitchat a lot. My friend mentioned that one little conversation back at home becomes an obsession for a man if he works alone and nobody distracts him. This is the risk of men doing manual work by themselves.

I attended my book club today. Mainly women. I repeated to them what he told me. You should have heard them! This is what they said:

“Women are extremely well at making an elephant out of a fly inside their heads.”

“They speak with girlfriends, and they expect full support for the ‘seriousness’ of the issue. If the friend tries to shake them up, to check their priorities, the anger would be endless.”

“She goes back home and lashes out emotionally.”

“It’s a myth that women don’t obsess.”

I was speechless. Did you know that? How clueless am I?

Wow Friend,

Somehow, yes. What’s happenning in your home?

Wise Friend,

We are human. Sometimes, we lash at the other. You don’t want to witness that. Thanks God we love each other!

Wise Friend,

When you have the time, and if I’m not indiscreet, please write about lunches to which people invite you.

Sensitive Friend,

I read your request to write about my lunches a few times. It surprised me.
Most of them are acceptable social encounters.
A fascinating and energetic guy from Boston University was at the first lunch.
Once a month he leads scholastic meetings about the social and historical events that took place close the transition to the previous millennium (sects, apocalyptic groups, and so on).

Today I’ll be there for my second time. The first time, I thought it was superficial. I learnt how such tiny groups within universities influence government “policy directly”. This is how they get approved ‘grants’. In reality, the world changes with the superficial thoughts of those who at least invest in these little discussions in contrast to those who do nothing.

Besides, that lunch, I joined another lunch more interesting and emotional. However, so much water passed under the bridge and I can’t return my thoughts to it.

Would mind letting me know what interests you?

Last week, I started asking people about their own stories. I promise to remember them and write them down. Why? I’m not so sure. I don’t write them down, and I forget them.

Wise Friend,

If it took you by surprise why did you respond with a description of such lunches? Shall I omit such questions in the future?

Let me be more explicit, about my request which surprised you. I’ve asked you because merely put (and in general) I like how you describe situations and people through a unique filter; comments about the every day. Did you suspect me of something else?

Sensitive Friend,

Your request surprised me as I remembered your reaction when I had described a lunch in the past. It had been somehow condescending.

It is not a taboo subject. I suspected nothing.

The second lunch I mentioned was unusual, and I wrote about it to two friends of mine, a long time ago.
In the future, I’ll write about lunches (I’ll censor where I need to).

Wise Friend,

Yes, Bravo!. Your reaction means you thought as I did. Meaning beyond the surface drollery, it loses itself in banality when worded effectively.