Dear friend whom I haven’t talked to for a whole year and who calls me every December to put your mind at peace with your “Let’s keep in touch” principle.
After babbling about how Christmas went and how your kids were all too spoiled, you will – as usual – ask me the inevitable question “What’s new?”. To be honest, I always wonder why you even bother asking since you know my answer is always that one:
“Not much.” Because it’s a more convenient answer than simply squeezing my brain cells sorting out what’s worth being said from boring normal stuff you don’t care about.
“Not much.” Because you’re not really expecting me to sum up the last 12 months of my life in just a few sentences.
“Not much.” Because frankly, you don’t want to hear me complain about my work or my family or the weather or you calling me once a year. This is the kind of shit I usually post on my Facebook page and you’re not even on my friends list.
“Not much.” Because the big things that actually occur are sometimes not as important as the little ones that would appear anecdotal to you, like this film I watched the other night and that moved me to tears.
“Not much.” Because I can hear your kids shouting behind you. They still don’t let you have a real conversation on the phone and you always end up saying you’ll try to call me again soon when they’re not home, when all you have to do – really! – is ask them the shut the fuck up. But I don’t mind you not doing so, though.
“Not much.” Because, you know, there would me so much to say that you should rather come to my place, bring a sleeping bag and listen to me for hours before you get a mere idea of what happened since the last time I said “Not much”.
“Not much.” Because your initial question was purely rhetorical anyway.
2012 is coming to an end and I’m waiting for your call more impatiently than ever before. See, this year, I made the decision not to answer it. It will be a “Stop pretending we still care” missed call in reaction to a useless tradition; something that is neither pleasant nor unpleasant but that apparently you think must be accomplished. Your “What’s new?” and my “Not much” will no longer collide smoothly as they used to in the past. You and I both know we’re not close enough to talk about what really matters, like all the sadness we had to overcome or the happyness we were lucky to get this year – and the years before when we never talked for more than 5 minutes straight.
And most importantly, I made the decision not to endure the irony of returning you the question.
We used to be good friends years ago and then we took our own way. Don’t take it bad but I feel like these annual phone calls have done nothing but tarnish what we had. And I realize I’m as guilty as you are: answering your calls every single year was as stupid as making them.
You know, one of my resolutions for 2013 is stop holding on to old memories that I share with people who’re no longer in my life. I’ll keep you in my heart, alongside many other people who crossed my path at some point and impacted me in one way or another.
Wait, you know what? I offer you a deal: don’t call me next year. And the year after. Call me in, let’s say, 30 years, when your kids have grown up and left the house; when you’re retired and have time to chat; when you have lived long enough to make the distinction between simple courtesy, curiosity, kindness and true caring.
Then I’ll sure be happy to hear your voice, know how you’re doing and what kind of a person you’ve become. And when you finally ask me what happened after all these years, I won’t resort to any phony way to shorten the conversation and will answer what, in the end, I’ve always wanted to answer every time you called me in the past :
“So very much.”