Monday, October 5, 2009

A crowded inbox, and nothing to read

I open up a new email. As I begin to compose it, suddenly my fingers won't go anymore. My stories, about to trip out of my head and onto the screen, suddenly pause with my breath.

I think about my inbox that is perenially full. Emails from the financial aid office, emails from the dean of students, emails over the student listserve asking for rides here and there, emails about classes that are cancelled, emails about homework assignments posted online, emails from various job search engines, emails about job fairs, emails from linked in about people I may know.

I start my email: Hi all! I know it's been a while since my last update, but let me make up for it now with one of my epics!

I pause. Ctrl A. Delete. Discard email. I could blather on about myself for a few paragraphs. Recounting the stupid incidents that make life funny and fun. Tell them about how classes are, the people here. Tell them I eat baguettes like that's my goal in life. I could tell them my ankle is much better now. How living with D is going. How life is so quintessentially and stereotypically Parisian some days when I pick up a baguette from the boulangerie after a class has been cancelled yet again and step in some dog poo on my way home to call the internet company about why my connection still isn't working. And then what?

I could wait.

I could wait for a response. One or two of them are usually pretty good about responses. It takes a day or two, but they'll get back to me. I'm glad about your ankle, glad things are going well with D, glad you're having fun, oh yea, drat that dog poo! Hugs, bye.

And then I wonder if it isn't better to get no response at all? At least then I don't find myself searching for a hint of life in the emails. At least when there isn't any response at all, I don't try to read between the lines to figure out what is happening in that friend's day to day. She used an exclamation mark - could that mean she's happy? She commented on everything except the baguette - does that mean she's been eating out a lot? Cooking at home? I'm sure if she'd baked some bread she'd have mentioned it.

And then a couple of weeks go by, and again I start: Hi! Sorry I'm such an awful so-and-so at writing emails! But just in brief, this is what has been happening with me...BLAH BLAH are you all? I miss you guys, hope everything is well.

And then I wait. And I get one or two responses. And a vast all-consuming silence.

I flip through pictures on facebook. Oh I guess he got a new apartment, look, he had a housewarming party. Oh wow, that haircut looks super cute on her. He's missing from a bunch of pictures, must be studying for the GMAT. I wonder if that's the cute new neighbor? Hm, when did she go to California?

I get whiney and grumpy and I munch on a few grapes. I say "screw them" and discard my latest draft. I contemplate rolling up into a ball and moaning in a corner. I float about in yogic calm, letting my whines and grumps fly away.

And I check my inbox one more time. Even if it's just a response, and nothing more, something at least to show me that an ocean doesn't drown out friendships that used to be a 24/7 live wire of communication.

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