The Wandering Scientist

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A wandering letter

Written: April 11, 2011

About: Portland, just now

As some may know, I collect a rather special sort of graffiti. I collect the sort that consists of messages left in public. Notes, abstract ideas, thoughts, conversations, words of love and wonder left on the public surfaces. You can see of these here. There is something rather magical about discourse that is once so anonymously private and so loudly public.

So whenever I walk around, especially if I’m just wandering about with not much to do – and I think we’ve established that I am fairly given to wandering about with not much to do – I scan the sidewalks and the walls for more such messages.

Tonight, walking around downtown Portland, I found not just a stray word or sentence, but a whole letter. I found a whole page filled with a heartbreaking monologue of one lover to another, a girl writing to a guy, feeling in pieces over how the two of them were slipping apart. In large letters, the word DRAFT was scrawled across. Yet, a magazine clipping (“Remember: be more thoughtful,” a short article on the importance of minding the little things in a relationship) was carefully taped to the page. The letter was dated two days prior. It was sitting on the ground, abandoned, next to a trash can.

While both people were identified in the letter, I’ll withhold their names. Though I’d still like to quote from the letter. I can’t help but think how often I’ve asked these same questions of myself before.

Yet we are not connecting – “different worlds,” I don’t know, keep us apart? Wheels and all – we are in a different time from so long ago. Does that balance we are so close to hitting between the past and present slip away the closer we get? What bridges are we not crossing?

Well now I’m here by unfortunate circumstances in Portland, Oregon, without much myself! What would I need to do to be myself with you?

 

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