An Almost Love

by Mathangi Krishnamurthy

Xp92VHfSweet lanky Ethan, have I told you that I love your surfer boy hair? But then there is also that serious academic slouch, and your easy, dimpled smile. I know this might seem a little sudden. I know you are wondering what this is about. But, listen. I thought about this for a few weeks, and I think I'm onto something. My friends think so too. And they usually tell me that I'm imagining things. Not this time around. They told me to wait a few hours before saying something. Listen, I think we have a connection. I know I should be shy, and slow and guarded about this stuff, but my heart skips a beat and a quarter every time it thinks about bumping into you.

So, are you bumping into me tonight? What I mean is, did you get my email? About Joy James' talk on the racialization that constitutes practices of incarceration in the US? I think you'll find it interesting. It's anthropology and critical theory I know, but it's also a philosophical question, you know. We could sit together, and then we could talk about it. Like we talked on the bus last week, when I bumped into you. It's a wonder how much can be implied in a five minute conversation. You dug your elbow into my arm and said something funny. I think you were making fun of me, but I couldn't quite tell; I haven't quite gotten the hang of your accent yet. So I laughed that big laugh of mine meant to indicate that I am a fun girl, and that I get exactly what you mean, but really, I didn't hear a word. Anyway, like I said, we could talk about it.

I'm curious to hear what you think philosophically, of the race versus culture debate. I mean, race to me is such a specifically American conversation. Not that it is not universal, but its enunciation in the US context is so historically specific. And I wonder how you deal with this in a discipline like philosophy. I'm guessing you like to think about these things too. I mean, we are in grad school for a reason, I presume. Anyway, I'm guessing you will discover that you feel the connection too, because let's face it, no smoke without fire, yes? The bus driver, Laura, told me so, as well.

But also, I am no naïve teenager. The connections I feel are real. They mean. I haven't felt anything like this in a while. I guess it's not all that strange. This country is such an alienating one. So full of dating rules, and gender hierarchies, and silly normative sequences of events. Who writes first? When does one text back? How does one continually hold back? I don't do that, correction, can't do that. This lack of affect gets to me. I think you know what I mean. Anyway, this is why I think we know what this is about. Both foreigners here, and both figuring out this academic nonsense. You know I almost graduated in philosophy?

So, what do you think? I'm thinking that we could meet once a week until I have to go off to India for fieldwork. But that's two years away. So we still have a lot of time. Should we consider moving in for a short while? Of course, we can come to that later. Fieldwork will only be a year long. I imagine we'll miss each other, but Wollongong isn't that far away and you'd only be, what, six hours ahead? I do hope we'll write regularly, but then I know how it gets on vacation. There is always Skype though. Thank God for technology. I know the epistolary romance is a thing, but I really do not have that much patience. You might have to take over that part of the deal. Home will be good though. I imagine your family will colonize your time. Just like mine. And once we get back, we can write out our research together, and figure out life.

I'm excited about being with another academic, and an academic who is not an anthropologist! Anthropologists are annoying. And they have no certainty about anything. And can be neurotic. I imagine I will discover the particular foibles of philosophers over time, but ah well, better an unknown devil? So yes, we'll come back and we'll figure this thing out, yes, you and me? It's going to be difficult, what with all the cultural differences. But we are both worldly. And cosmopolitan. And I imagine our families will be alright, as long as we are happy. We'll have to figure out where to live, but all in good time.

I'm thinking ahead. I know. And being all “woman from Venus” like. I know. So okay, I'll stop. I'll stop thinking about the beautiful dissertations we'll write, borrowing from the best of both disciplines. And the tenure-track jobs we'll find on the coast. And the weekend salons we'll host; wine, discourse, chatter, and fabulousness. And the transnational houses we'll have; by the beach, in the mountains, and in the city. Okay, then. I have a paper to write. And dinner to cook. And laundry to load. And exams to grade. I'll stop. But hey, think about it. Like, for real.

Barthes says that the lover is given a script that she has no choice but to inhabit. To hell with Barthes. Žižek says that love is a violence we commit upon the world. To hell with Žižek.

Neruda tells me that love is so short, and forgetting so long.