Most of the many letters I write every week end up in someone’s mailbox, and then that someone will say to me, “I got your letter.” And I’ll say, “Oh, that’s swell.”

Sometimes those letters go nowhere. Sometimes they come back to me.

In February I wrote to a friend in Baltimore. After several weeks, I asked if she had received my letter, and she said she hadn’t. I figured it was lost to the void, never to return.

But it did return. It went all the way from Austin to Baltimore and then back to Austin. It is sitting on my desk, inches from my coffee cup, written with neat handwriting in black ink on lavender paper. After reading it over again, I’m glad she didn’t get it. She probably would have been freaked out.

I don’t mind freaking out the rest of the world, and I hate to think that words ever go unread, so here it is:

Dear S.,

I hope it was nice to open that envelope and discover that I have written this letter on lavender paper. I don’t care what anyone says: lavender is a great color. Purple is, after all, the color of kings. I’m not sure why it is commonly associated with adolescent girls. They don’t own it! It is everyone’s color. I am taking it back—someone has to.

Even though Austin has relatively mild weather, I’ve still felt the cold and darkness recently. I guess wanting to avoid feeling like this was hoping for too much. The sun is already on its way out, and it’s not even 6 p.m. By the time I get home from work, it will be completely dark outside. No sunlight for me today, I’m afraid. Still, I guess it’s hard to complain when it’s probably twice as cold and miserable where you are, in the doom metropolis of Baltimore—in the dead city.

I have, for a long time, wanted us to be close friends. I think I’ve published that exact sentence on the internet many times before, actually. So I hope it’s OK that I’m going to write to you as though we were close friends. Friends confide, I think, yes? You may confide in me, anyway. . . .

So: I am miserable, so fed up with this thing, that I almost feel nothing at all. That sounds laughable coming from me, I’m sure! I have almost made sadness a commodity with my dumb overwrought writing. That’s why I’ve almost completely stopped publishing work on the internet: I feel like a parody of myself when I try to be honest. That being said, please believe me! It has been a long while since I have shifted from the stagnant, reliable warmth of day-to-day melancholy to the frigid waters of existential dread. A long while!

Now I struggle to find meaning in anything I do. I cannot. Everything feels cardboard and weird and meaningless. I cannot go on any longer pretending to care about my job or my car or my things. I want to feel things again—want to go to places and make friends and be productive. But I’m having the hardest time even remembering to eat dinner or go to sleep before 3 a.m. I mostly ride around my neighborhood on my bicycle and try to envision dreams of the future. Sometimes I just want to hear other human voices, or see the light of the moon. My roommate and I are just too different, and my girlfriend goes to sleep early. I don’t think I really even have friends anymore. I’m mostly alone. The other night my father called and told me that my older sister almost died. I haven’t seen her in seven years. People may think it’s all a show, but I really do have a hard time with everything. I try so hard to change that, but I think I’ve failed.

I have felt, my whole life, that I am an alien having a temporary human experience. Not literally, of course (I don’t think). But I never shook the credo of so many American teenagers: No one understands me. At work, in public, during dinner with friends, holidays with my family—I have to censor myself, act happier than I am, and “play along” because my mind works so much differently than the people I surround myself with. I have to keep it all a big secret. Who wants to be around someone who can’t find meaning in anything—who is perpetually despondent? What kind of woman wants a partner like that? I feel diseased and weird.

In reality, I just want a few things that I am seemingly denied: for people to be nice to me, to feel as little pain as possible, and to be left alone sometimes. I think the word “peace” will suffice as a blanket term for my wishes for happiness. I am not (too) out of whack and delusional. I’m just a harmless, overly sensitive, overly analytical, moody sad-dude who dreams of a world that isn’t so tremendously worthless. It’s all a bunch of dumb chaos. And I feel as though my “kind” are unwelcome on Earth. (Jesus, listen to me! I sound like a dope.)

For the past three days, I have watched Donnie Darko (the director’s cut!). There is this scene where Donnie’s dad explains that most of the world is full of frauds. He calls them “bullshitters.” And man, isn’t that true: “Whatever happens to you, be honest—tell the truth, even if they look at you funny. They will. [. . .] Almost all of these people are full of shit. They’re all part of this great big conspiracy of bullshit. And they’re scared of people like you, because those bullshitters know that you’re smarter than all of them. You know what you say to people like that? ‘Fuck you.'”

Look: I have written something called “It Ends Badly”—and it’s about life and death and time travel and money and sex and all that. I’m not sure what my aim is—I guess to put ideas out into the universe. It is written from the first-person perspective of an old man who may or may not be me (I actually haven’t decided yet). I’m not sure where I’m going to put it, but if you want to better understand the dystopian future I envision, that would be a cozy read. (Note: I am not a conspiracy theorist. I am concerned I may come off that way!)

So: Hey! How are you? Are you still moving to California? I think June is when I’m going there. Come visit me in San Francisco, if that’s what you feel like doing. I will see you in LA at some point, I’m sure. . . .

Be well. Don’t despair. I love you.