To: S <firstname.lastname@example.org>
From: Min Seo Riu <email@example.com>
Subject: Something really precious
A couple weeks ago, for a linguistics paper about long-distance communication, I was reading the correspondences between Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre. There was a lot of longing and romantic history within their letters, which only served to make me feel a bit worse about my current relationship status, but I remember a fragment of a paragraph that stuck out to me the most: “A human being to talk to struck me as something really precious.”
The reason this quote came to mind right now is because I spent a lot of time talking this weekend — I thought I would never shut up! From sitting by the bluffs to screaming incomprehensible words of encouragement by the hockey rink railings, I thought I would lose my voice entirely. I wonder if it’s especially easy to talk to someone in Isla Vista, because there are about 17,000 potential conversations waiting to begin at any given moment — between my roommate, my friends, my coworkers, my neighbors or even just the insurmountable number of strangers wearing cool cowboy boots in the Arbor. The possibility of having a nice conversation feels infinite here.
It’s strange to remember that human beings have always been relatively similar across history: we talk to each other, we cheer during games and we make friends in communal spaces. Or, alternatively: we go to class, we buy the pasta salad at the Arbor and we drink iced chais.
In the history of mankind, I can’t imagine how many people there were just like us — sporadically sending letters and holding on to a friendship just like ours. In a way, it makes me feel a lot less silly to remember that everything I have done — every flat joke I’ve made, every embarrassing scenario I was in, every minute I spent waiting for a certain person to text first — has already been done an infinite amount of times before I was even born. Isn’t that a little comforting? Especially that last part, about the text and the certain person I’m waiting for, because I know for a fact that there are probably 30 girls on my block alone that are sharing my misery right now. Maybe even 30 girls in my apartment complex alone!
Even then, with the hundreds of thousands of years of history behind me, I’d like to think that the things I’m writing to you — and will continue to write to you for an indeterminable amount of time — are all completely unique and special to us. But I can’t, in good faith, actually believe that because I’m sure some teenagers in 33 B.C. probably beat us to the punch. How annoying is that! To lose a race before you’ve even been born! Or maybe it’s a little sweet that there have always been friends who have loved each other ever since those weird fish evolved to have legs. Maybe, even, those weird fish with limbs loved each other too! But they probably didn’t have the dexterity to write it out in an elaborate email . . .
Anyway, I’ll continue to write to you regardless and tell you the things I’m thinking about from week to week, because I guess it doesn’t matter even a smidgen whether or not the things I’m saying are original or even very well written at all. I’m just glad to have someone to talk to — it’s something really precious to me, too.
If only Simone de Beauvoir hadn’t beaten me to that line in 1939! I bet you’d have been really impressed with me then!
Your friend forever and ever and ever and ever,