i try not to think about you at any length. we drove past your house last week, and it filled me with an ineffable sadness.

I find the older I grow, the things I wish for become more impossible, the problems I think about more intractable. Contrary to the wisdom of growing old, the pains that afflict my heart, more unbearable. Why does it happen this way? Shouldn’t we be used to almost anything now? Any suffering, any depravity, any hardship. Deaths, natural disasters, holocausts, war- is there really anything that we have not yet seen or read about?

Yet I grow as Benjamin Button. Jaded from young, but only as a natural protection against things of more gravitas, things you don’t want to think about. Like this. I remember a christmas party I held at my apartment 2 years ago. We were discussing which christmas movie to watch (I had compiled a list) and everybody wanted to watch Home Alone 1,2, and 3; but only the beginning and the end, where Macaulay Culkin tricks all the bad guys and escapes to his parents to have a heartwarming, happy-ending, charlie-brown type christmas.

We are all Benjamin Buttons, and this is the way the system has taught us to deal with our pain. Mute it! Pretend it is not there! Dear me, Charlotte got left behind at the fair to die. But that is the natural order of things. Yes, Friedrich got shot. Well, what can you do about it anyway? Doodle gets killed in the storm and is found dead next to the red nightshade bush. At least his name sounds good on a tombstone.

As if there is no law of conservation of grief.

I can shut you out, but I won’t shut you out today. There will be no more of this.

Strangely enough, I don’t remember anything very special happening on this day. I don’t remember celebrating, and on a good year we’d even remember to get you a present. On a bad year, we’d get one months later, when we remembered. And then all the years became bad years- I don’t get you anything anymore. Not now, not later.

I could burn you things, a mercedes, an entire house, an ipad, in that entirely outlandish way. It’s so bizarre what the Chinese think is a good idea to burn to the dead. I mean, you’re dead, aren’t you? What would you do with a car? Let’s take a spin to the Styx, have a little romp along the shore. Let me show you the latest apps on my paper ipad, printed on cheap, combustible paper by some second rate Apple pirate.

What I mourn most of all are the books you will never read. Books that are helping me piece my life together, helping me widen my visual and philosophical periphery. Books that help me grapple with this feeling, when everything else fails.

In the dark of the night, I shall burn you a book.

Happy Birthday.

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