Saudade

That day was maybe our last good day I remember, it was tainted by a lot. Now I look back I realise how dark it was too.

We spent the day in town, we went for breakfast, or rather I did and you watched me eat and drank a coffee in silence. We searched for comics, I found a graphic novel I loved and read it on the street while you searched for a new gem to add to your record collection. He bumped into me as you came out of the store and you hid. I guess you knew if people saw you, they might start asking me questions and I might not be fooled by your lies anymore.

I found my first factoid that day. The thing that separates big cat species from small ones is not their size but that big cats can’t purr. It made me sad and I shared that with you.

Since you have been gone I sit up all night looking for more, I’ve learnt a lot about the world. I think you would be amazed to learn that humans have stripes but we can’t see them, cats can though. I don’t think you would be surprised to learn that elephants mourn or that dolphins have names. You always had more affinity for animals than you did people. I share them with other people, I guess I’m looking for your reaction when I do.

I wondered today whether my search for facts is really my search to find something concrete in this world. The only other thing I know is true, is suffering. There’s a theory, I once tried to explain to you, that we are more likely than not living in a simulation. The idea being that if humans had developed the technology to create simulated worlds to see the effects of changes in chance, in history or in biology or really in anything at all, then we would absolutely do it, regardless of the consequences, and we would likely do it an endless number of times. Because of this we have a greater chance of living in one of those simulations than the original reality.

The thing is by creating those simulations we would just create more suffering, but looking at the world we live in today it’s hard to imagine that our species cares if we do or not. That suffering, simulated or not, is definitely real.

I suffer endlessly now, I met him and he brings me joy for small periods of time but even underneath that you linger. He’ll be gone soon and I suspect it will feel like losing you all over again. Everything I do is so attached to you it’s hard to tell where my real experiences start and end.

I have been teaching english to asylum seekers in my quest to heal. It made me think about all the times I would be reading and look up to ask you the meaning of a word. You would always know it, like a walking dictionary. I loved to hear your explanations. I’ve been improving my vocabulary to be more like you. I learnt the word saudade. A state of deep melancholic longing for someone or something that you love and is absent. I bet you knew that already. You hid your longing for your mother so well but it plagued you for a decade. Your ashes lie with hers in the ground now. I know you don’t know, but it gives me some peace to know you are reunited with her.

There is a new war, you will never know about it, but even that makes me long for you. I remember when you obsessed over the Cold War for a while, you knew so much about Russia that you would tell me now. I think about the podcasts we both listened to, especially the one with Renée DiResta. I have to explain that to everyone I discuss it with, we experienced so many of the same things our conversation would be easier and more nuanced. I think about how frustrated you were when people compared Trump to Hitler, you hated that people banded that about. You knew he wasn’t smart enough or really even despicable enough to be comparable. I wonder if you would see the parallels now with Poland or if you would also think it was overplayed? I hate that I don’t know the answer. I’m sure you would have been watching closely, you used to believe we lived in a boring generation that nothing happened in. You revelled in excitement no matter how catastrophic. You were disappointed the day after the bombing in our city that everything felt the same.

Nothing feels the same now.

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