Dear Katie

To my readers, it is up to question whether I am actually talking to someone. Whether that was the point: whether there is another person in this story, and even if yes, whether I truly knew them well enough to deserve time and bandwidth for such a conversation.

I wondered if it was the incessant rain outside my office that gave me a final push to write this letter and post it to nowhere. That it emboldened me to call you by your name again.

We are quite distant, in space and in time. It has been years since we first spoke, and last. Yesterday was actually an anniversary for one of them. Much of the memories of us have begun washing away from my everyday conscience — yours too, more so, I presume.

Day by day, you are becoming more of a figment of my imagination than a real, feeling and thinking, person. A genius as yourself operates beyond my mental capacity, after all, and I inevitably only get to converse with a poorly sampled projection, at best. This can be dangerously unproductive and unhealthy. I ought to pull myself from this trap.

Who were we? I guess I know how to answer half of that, but only with a bad and monotonically worsening answer. I was your classmate. There’s not much to recount.

That our correspondence continued at all beyond classroom interactions to me is an immense blessing I am still awakening to; it is a present of my life in physics to have known you, however briefly and shallowly, and however childishly ungrateful I was at the time.

I wouldn’t be doing what I am doing today, were it not for the long conversations you offered me when I was lost in the woods of rejection and dreams shattered on the surface. And I hope I was of use, however minute, in your efforts of both understanding nature and inspiring change.

I wish to underscore that this brief letter is not a note of “what could have beens”, of misguided, unilateral thoughts that I managed to brew out of the chaos of lockdowns. I intend it as a personal reflection, perhaps a “thank you” note previously lost in transit.

Part of me wishfully thinks that moving on without goodbyes is a prerequisite for ever crossing paths with someone like you again, and for keeping myself on a pragmatic path of life: for sending my mind afield, though the solitary evenings deep in thought, and to leave a mark in this big and complex universe that we found ourselves in.

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