He's a man I know for decades, yet I don't really know him. He probably knows me a bit better, but not terribly well either. Our relationship is a thin shell of knowledge with love inside. I wish the shell was thicker.
What I know of him comes from others or from deductions based on his behaviour - but he has revealed nothing to me directly. I know his outward character, the persona that the public sees : humorous, gentle, careful, generous, obliging, likeable, clever. The inner workings remain a mystery. He's getting old now, and I wonder if he feels the chill of the void. He has suffered a number of health scares which turned out to be minor. But if they caused him to worry, and I think they did, he never told me. He will retire next year, but I have never heard him say how he feels. Does he look forward to being freed from the shackles of work? Or does he dread the potential boredom? What are his plans?
I speak to him often, but it never gets personal. I sometimes feel like I'm talking to a stranger. We always talk about other people, never about ourselves. The weather is more often a subject than life itself. A recent defeat or an unexpected joy never feature. We are both fully aware of this close distance, this peculiar state of something that is almost. After interacting on this basis for so many years, it's as if an impenetrable and invisible barrier has grown up between us. I imagine us walking along, guided by the barrier. It has become a kind of stability in our relationship. We fear that if it were shattered, everything else would fall apart. So I feel that, if I suddenly poured out my heart, there'd be a wrenching silence, as if I had just revealed some terrible secret.
I want to find a way to rewind the fibres of our lives. To knit them together properly, to make them connect. This year I promise to start by slowly untying the knots. First, nothing direct. An oblique question maybe? Or a nugget of self-knowledge. A wonder if. Disarm. Open up. Enter the dreamfield. Start again.