I started a list of things I would like to discuss with you if we ever speak again.
- The Dark Web. This is a thing? A place for people to demand illegal, terrible things that don’t belong to them like someone else’s kidneys and child pornography? Why hasn’t somebody – the government, vigilante hackers – stepped in to shut it down? And how does it work? Is it a structured hierarchy with an org chart and gatekeepers, or a free-wheeling Craig’s List market, rife with randomly capitalized letters and terrible grammar? More importantly, can I find you in it? And if I do, can it translate the words I said to the meaning I intended?
- Infinite monkey theorem: if you have an infinite number of monkeys typing randomized sequences of letters, they would eventually create the text of Hamlet in its entirety. The proofs tell us we would need a ridiculous number of universes and an unfathomable amount of time (three hundred and sixty thousand plus orders of magnitude from the Big Bang to the end of the universe) to achieve a shot at Hamlet. This seems like a stupid thing to quantify. In this theoretical exercise, you have an infinite amount of time, infinite supply of typing monkeys. Isn’t that the whole point of infinity? The absence of limits?
- My mother was born in the Year of the Monkey. According to every guide, description, and magazine column I have read on this, Monkeys and Tigers do not get along. This could be a coincidence or it could explain a lot about my relationship with her. Yet my mother loved you, a Tiger not of her own blood, biologically alien to her. We have been told two Tigers cannot coexist without fighting. For a long time I thought our friendship debunked this. We rode the bus to high school together, Febrezed the cigarette stench from our clothes, went to prom ironically and slow-danced the final song without making eye contact, co-created an epic playlist to help you assimilate in the midwest, e-mailed through two years of graduate school—you from your tundra in Wisconsin, me tucked in an overheated fifth-floor Upper West Side walk-up. We were close enough to draw blood from each other on a daily basis, but we didn’t. Our friendship lived in defiance of zodiac predestination for a decade and now, now we cannot be in the same room. I would rip you to shreds and you know it.
- In middle school, my best friend taught me about the pink elephant theory by tricking me into thinking about a pink elephant. It’s an annoying way of saying that among the many things you cannot control are your own thoughts. When high school started, my best friend’s family moved, forever swallowed by the suburban beast that is Long Island. Before cell phones tethered us together and force fed us information like a relentless placenta, this kind of distance was the kiss of death for friendships. I think you should know that when we met, I was still tender from my first significant loss—friendship death by geography. It was a slow, trickling death, like bleeding out internally from an ulcer. Back then, I didn’t know that people generally don’t die of ulcers.
Perhaps we will speak about this one day.
If we don’t, then do me one favor. I hope you invent a method for selective auto mind-control. An invention that allows us to choose which of our memories to frame and hang in the hallways of our minds, and which ones to drop in the trash icon, say “yes” to deleting forever. How difficult can it be? We do it all the time, often by accident. After everything, it’s the least you could do, to help me find a way to unclench my jaw, to pry my teeth from your flesh.
Lu Han is a Chinese-American writer based in New York, NY. Lu highlights the undervoiced and displaced through fiction and nonfiction. Her work is published or forthcoming in The Margins, The Jarnal, Overachiever Magazine, Inheritance Magazine, and elsewhere. Find more at www.helloluhan.com