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On Futures Once Written

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The past drifts away in just a few days.

Paolo Bruno

I'm exhausted. It's ten p.m. on Sunday, days before midnight turning over a new calendar to 2014. I have a coffee to the right, lines of code trickling down the face of my phone. I don't know code. Odd. There's a television show on ahead of me. I can't hear it. A music video has been on loop for the past week to the left. My life is metronomic. As I lean back in my chair, I place my feet onto the bookcase next to my desk, settled upon the shelf destined for texts on languages with which I was once tasked. "Learn this one; you may need it." "Okay." The Dutch for orange juice is sinaasappelsap. Still my favorite. I hate orange juice. The shelf above it is a melange of interests. Buddhism, Rilke, Schwinger, Turin, Dostoevsky, Quebec, Gogol, Noun, Noun, Noun. Poking out of a small book I'd swiped off a bedside table in a Quebec hotel room are two different white papers. Until now, I didn't know what they were; I didn't even know they were there. I have a penchant for losing papers and receipts inside the many books I call home. They're two sealed envelopes. On the front of both is a name. I don't know what they say. I know what they say. They're at least two years old by now. I wrote them when she was in the hospital. I wrote her every night. Sometimes email, sometimes a letter. I wrote her so she'd have something to read the next day as she waged on. These are two which were left behind, unopened.


It's now midnight. I've been staring, listening, thinking. I'm onto grapefruit juice now. I love grapefruit juice. I'm procrastinating. I don't know whether to open them.


I've been tasked with closing out one time frame while opening up another, this vessel of unfettered time that is 2014 and beyond. When I began rambling above, it was just that - rambling. A sort of non-exercise to force anything at all to come out - and it is genuine. Something of a diluted stream of consciousness which has become a sole method. I sit to write from start to finish, all the way through, actually editing roughly once in ten. Sincerest apologies. Occasionally, however, I nestle in my chair with nothing to start. And so I talk nonsense until a light dances through a crack somewhere, often misleadingly so. I guess I found a crack.


But I've been exhausted of words as well as plain exhausted. We can rehash rumors and matches and fixtures, but it's been done, will be done. Not tonight. There's something larger at play here, and there has been for several months, since the summer. It feels like the beginning - the beginning of the end of something we once knew, something we once loved. A struggle to leave one identity in the past while forging a new one with new faces. I suppose we look not to a new Roma, but a new Roma looks back on us.


In a few days, you'll read the papers, see the sites, choke down the social media expulsions, and you will continue to witness the now well-worn pattern. A grizzled old smokestack will lust after men and boys of talent, occasionally finding it, and a player will arrive toting a refundable return ticket. Maybe it's that guy from up there with the other guys. You know. Or maybe it's someone else. Maybe it'll be a loan, or maybe not, but it won't be one way, and that's quite alright. This is a sport of freshness, after all, and not everyone needs settle down in one place for long. No one should be faulted for suckling like a leach at the ambition of the young and virile as they pass through town. It will be, in a word, business. Solely business. The business of making money, of acquiring assets, of expanding the brand such that a self-sustaining loop is formed. It is and will be clinical. There is no room for heartache here. There will be no derby contracts.


In the summer previous the arrival of Rudi, they brought back a smidgen of nostalgia. A nod to romance. Someone whose steads could outrun chariots and win the hearts of the masses while he looked on with eyes of steel and lungs of ash. The grizzled smokestack went back to his own routine of prepubescents and risk/reward. They settled on comfort. They failed. They charted a course anew. They lavished on a giant Dutchman. They spent without thrift. They changed. They went French. They went established yet unestablished. They went with someone who found comfort in discomfort and in him, they found their future.


There's a platitude about a new dawn here. Or maybe something darker. Perhaps a Haruki Murakami quote. He's accessible. Let's pick one, shall we. Something. Hmm...I guess this:


"And once the storm is over, you won't remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won't even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won't be the same person who walked in. That's what this storm's all about."


If the previous campaign was the storm, then May 26th was the rogue wave which turned the ship. It was the cataclysmic force of nature which destroyed all we once knew. The years of fleeting hope and occasional realization married to eternal heartache brought to a thundering crescendo. The tears of Ten begetting ten in a row. It was the bastard means to the necessary end. But the point is neither the new dawn nor the storm. It's the identity washed clean by those who survived it.


Everything has changed. Some names have remained, sure. They still have Him, and they still have the Future Him, but everything is different. There are no longer voodoos or superstitions which need be heeded. There are no longer four-letter words. Go ahead - hope. Hope til your heart's content. In Rudi they found someone to steer them out of the storm, but he's no savior. He won't last. There will be no 20 year gold watch here. Someone else will be here in a few years, and then another. But what he's done is wash them clean. Brought a new identity through his own method. Because no matter what, this all exists. This potential is real. He changed them. Altered a mental construct so rigid one would swear it was stitched into the shirt itself. A future once written; a future we no longer know. Their recent falls weren't mentality, but technical, or based upon a lack of personnel. Amendable. Fixable. Hope. Neither Italian nor Gregorian, all of time has been called on all we once knew. In a few days, it's left behind for good. It is the end. It is the beginning.


I've decided not to open them. But I know precisely what lies within the envelope without being able to offer the actual words: they were the future; our future. I wrote her stories. Stories of our upcoming marriage, family, and life; the vignettes of hope she could use to continue fighting on. They are a future written, yet one which will go unknown. With equal lament and relief, a future best left on paper, sealed and tucked away, lost in the pages of a travel guide.


There is no metaphor here; it's right there in black and white, red and yellow.


To unopened letters.