A few days ago, I didn’t speak for a full twenty four hours. I communicated all day long, but there was really no occasion to speak to anyone. I sent out thirty three texts (I counted), and fourteen emails. But I didn’t speak to even one person. There was no need. Text has replaced speech in practically every interaction. We don’t need to speak to communicate, just as we don’t need to meet to be together. Our
When I was seventeen and she was twenty, I didn’t speak to R for almost a year. Sibling rivalry, carried to an extreme, is dangerous, as Abel would certify. I hated R for something that was never remembered thereafter. She was a nuisance, an embarrassment, a hideous competitor for my parents’ affection, and a detestable role model. Her transgressions, many and varied, irritated me at every stage, and their culmination was the year of boycott. The silence served no purpose except to reinforce her presence in my life, a malign shadow that stalked me through everything. And then she left us for a year, and the shadow was gone, leaving the sun to beat down upon my head. She returned, and when I received her at the railway station, I hugged her and the silence was forgotten, demolished by the force of shared love.
The coffee I had as a child bore no resemblance to the one I saw on screen in Westerns, where sturdy men in Stetsons and brown clothes poured out a brown slush from a ‘billy’ into tin mugs and sipped the mug with almost orgasmic pleasure. How could coffee be so brown? When did those men add the sugar? Did that brew really afford them such extreme pleasure? If so, I wanted it too. I wanted that pleasure, and if the way to get it was to drink something that seemed halfway between rat piss and rubber tree sap, then I would do that. I wanted to acquire the sense of power and control that one sip of coffee bestowed on that cowboy. I was a child, and fantasizing about the world was as much a part of my body as my blood.