I recently, as a 47-year-old man, took MDMA for the first time. After a life in which my substance use was largely limited to pot and the occasional Ativan, the experience opened up a new channel in my brain through which a river of glowing empathy streamed, one that prompted me to sit down and write letters to an array of influences that have passed through my life.
Manager at Blockbuster Video
You’re a beautiful man, Vladimir. I probably didn’t see it at the time I worked for you, but I see it now. You took pride in Blockbuster’s video displays, and you wanted to instill a sense of pride in us, too. You were our loving, generous captain, and all you wanted was to bring more light into the world and get us to remember to sell popcorn or candy with every rental, and wear our name tags. That wasn’t too much to ask. No, it was a beautiful, honest and sincere thing to ask—something from the heart.
I don’t know where you are now, but I hope you’re prospering and that somehow, on a current of love and compassion, this message in a bottle finds its way to you. I am also very, very sorry to have been the one who put the shaving cream in your lunch thermos once a month for a year. It was a small, hurtful thing to do, an attempt to compensate for my insecurity about being 30—the oldest clerk at “The Block” by 10 years—and I only did it because I wanted to curry favour with the kids who worked there. Every awful thing I did to you, I did because I hated myself. I love you and would give anything to touch your face right now and feel the blue-red contours of your mysterious scar.
I really want you to know that I love you. I can’t tell you just how much I’ve enjoyed watching you play tennis over the years. You’re a gorgeous, natural athlete, the complete opposite of me! I always wished that I had your grace and dreamed of just stepping into your perfect body and becoming you. Oh Alistair, that’s how beautiful you were, and the only reason I slept with your wife was because I wanted to be you. I am so sorry about that, and all the hurt I caused, but the truth is that it was all because of the love I felt for you, not her. I hope one day you can find it in your heart to forgive me and we can be friends again. You are radiance, the scent of pumpkin light.
You are really bringing it. Francis, you’re taking being the pope up to a completely new level. You’re a wave of light and love and texture, a ribbon of beauty and acceptance unfurling into the world, and whoa. Whoa. I am feeling very hot right now. This is weird. I am parched and having trouble swallowing. Tingly. I don’t like this at all. Oh, hold on, it’s passing, like a music sunrise moving right through my perfect body. All is love, Your Holiness, all is soft love, and you are awesome. I hope that they name a new mammal after you. You deserve it.
Waitress at Chez Lucien
You might not remember me, but I just had to write to let you know how beautiful you are and how much you illuminated each one of the nights I spent drinking alone at the table in the far corner by the bathrooms. I drank rye and ginger and wore a Batman T-shirt most times. Remember? At any rate, it doesn’t matter, what matters is that you know that your beauty touches so many people, and that part of you, part of your gorgeous cinnamon hair and slightly parted lips, part of your true, luminous, sexy soul, has become a part of me. I thank you and honour you for that.
Are you on Facebook?
I have to admit that, at the time, I thought I hated you. I saw you as a malevolent invasion of my body, but now I understand that you just needed a host organism in which to live, that you wanted somebody to spend time with, not devour. Cancer, I can see now how hard it must be for you, to be hated by billions, when really all you’re trying to do is survive. I love you cancer, as you changed me and made me a better person, and although I cannot invite you back into my life, I just needed to write to tell you that I respect and honour you. You’re an amazing disease.
We’ve certainly had our differences, particularly over what constitutes “late rent,” but I am writing to let you know that I think you have a beautiful soul. I can see now that you’re just trying to protect yourself, that you have little in this world to comfort you but money. I understand, Angela, I understand, and I’m going to work harder to try to get you the rent money on “time,” as that is what brings you comfort and security. And your blue eyes, which I had always thought were snaky and mean, are actually glittering poems. When you glare at me, demanding your comfort money, I can see two pictures of myself in them, in these reflecting blue-wet horizons, and in this way I see that we are connected. Angela, we are all one, and I want to have sex with you.