Dearest Rachel –
As the only child of an only child, without brother or sister, and only relatively distant cousins in your life, I tend to fancy whatever attention you have directed toward this tiny crumb of dirt floating like a mote of dust in the vast emptiness of space is focused on myself, Daniel, the immediate family, and the circle of friends that you so graciously cultivated to leave me in the care of. The cares and concerns of those distant from us, while you may have had a heart for (and may yet, for that matter, for all I know), were always a somewhat remote thing, difficult to understand since you and I rarely did or could participate in, and even less so now, given your present and eternal remove.
So for me to tell you about the goings-on of this world, or even this country, seems an irrelevant waste of time and space, merely serving to lock these letters within a particular era rather than rendering them timeless, unlike subjects like grief and loss and longing would be. And yet, we probably have to admit that we are the products of our times and the events happening within them. A century ago, the War to End All Wars (talk about wishful thinking, with that moniker!) absolutely demolished the prevailing thought of mankind being on an ever-improving climb towards civilization. We realized we were not, in and of ourselves, getting better and better in this, the best of all possible worlds; in fact, with increased technology and innovation, it seemed that we were only finding new ways to destroy ourselves and others. And yet, at this same time, we were declaring God (who after all, was said to be omnibenevolent, and would not let such awfulness happen if He were) to be dead, and that we had killed him; even as we discovered we were every bit as savage as the Neanderthals we supposedly overwhelmed and replaced, we were setting ourselves up as an alternate deity… and of course, the alienation and nihilism that came of all that, combined with the search for others to blame for it, ultimately led to the definitive disproof of WWI’s original name. And the art created – written, visual, and auditory – reflected this zeitgeist.
So it must ever be, even with these letters to you. They are colored by the events leading up to them, even to the perhaps excessive exuberance of finally getting out from under what seemed like a never-ending curfew and being just that tiny bit too reckless on a snowy hill barely 850 days ago. Of course, there are other things that have come of it as well; as news comes out about what was said and done, and whether it was true or not, even at the time, has brought many to the realization that ‘experts’ may, at best, not know what they’re talking about, and at worst, might very well be outright lying to the public they’re ostensibly trying to ‘protect,’ for reasons unknown (but one can likely assume pecuniary to be chief among them). In the same vein, it appears that those allegedly at the helm of government were put there through, let us say, less than legitimate means, be that through deliberately suppressing information that might have affected how enough of the masses would have chosen their would-be leaders, to outright chicanery that, while hardly unknown throughout history (believe me, I’ve lived in Cook County all my life, as have three and four previous generations; “vote early and vote often” has been a running joke throughout them), reached a scale heretofore unmatched. These sorts of discoveries, coming as they do far too late to have an impact on what has already come to pass (and we all know that, even with these discoveries, no one will face any consequences for what has been done, apart from those who already lost to these crooks), indelibly taint our beliefs and opinions toward those above us – and this jadedness will come out even in the most anodyne forms of self-expression.
Thus, as much as I try to keep the events of the day out of my letters to you, it’s really difficult to avoid it. I know I ought to – after all, as horrible as the current administration has been, the worst thing that’s happened to me throughout it all has absolutely nothing to do with whoever was running the country, nor will it be helped by ‘kicking the bums out,’ and replacing them with someone new – but as I find myself often starting my day with a scan through my news feed, it’s more than I can do. And it’s hard to ignore the fact that, only seven months since the last midterms, election season for next November is already in high gear, as the second of the two behemoths to challenge the doddering old man behind which whoever is really running the country is hiding (why would they do that? If they’re convinced of the righteousness of their cause and methods, shouldn’t they be out and proud about it? Those in charge keep insisting that they are “on the right side of history”; why skulk around in the shadows like they do, then?) has thrown his hat into the ring.
I honestly don’t know at the moment which of these kaiju to support: King Kong or Godzilla. All I know is that, despite the collateral damage these two are going to make as they come to blows with each other, either one would be an improvement over what we have now – and to extend the metaphor, even the kaiju would fight on the side of humanity when the chips were down and Earth was threatened. The trouble is, there’s a lot of damage that could be done with their stomping around attacking each other in the meantime – and there’s a lot of time for them to do all that stomping before they get the change to “fight the real enemy,” as Sinead O’Connor once put it. If us little people aren’t careful, we could get stepped on long before we see that day.
I’m going to try to keep my head down, but in the meantime, honey, keep an eye on me, and wish me luck. I’m going to need it.