since the moment you left, I thought about writing you. It just took me three months to actually start this letter. I hope that you really met up with Mathieu and that everything worked out the way you planned it. I am admittedly still too paranoid to contact you electronically. That’s why I’ve addressed my letter to this little café. I hope you still remember what we talked about the morning we split up, so that one day you’ll be able to pick up my letter.
I really feel the urge to explain myself to you because everything has happened so fast and we never got the time. We have known each other for a long time and I hope that one day you will be able to forgive me for dragging you into this. I know that this isn’t what you had planned for your life, especially after studying again and at last starting the career that you have always wanted.
I know that I can never again be the person I was before. I know that I cannot come back from this. But I also have to admit that part of me always wanted the kind of life which now at last I am able to live. I could imagine and I sincerely hope that it is the same for you. We even talked about it when we met the guy from New Zealand who was traveling the world and in-between working for a few months. We were talking about how nice it would be to live a life without all these obligations, just doing what we wanted to do and being who we wanted to be-without all these normal day-to-day expectations and all this safety/security stuff getting into the way-which is the reason for working from 9 to 5 your whole life long.
People always tend to believe that they would never cross certain boundaries like killing someone, because it just wouldn’t be possible. You would have to be born plain bad or wrong and no halfway kind or normal person could ever cross this line even if they wanted to. For a long time now I have suspected that life doesn’t work that way. If you once realize how easy it is to transgress any boundaries, to make one more step, to just close your eyes, breathe in, ignore the inner voices who tell you “You can’t do this” and you just let your body take over and do the rest. To come out at the other end thinking “This wasn’t me. I would never do these kinds of things.” The idea of being able to cross the line is terrifying because the unthinkable moves within the realm of the possible.
When the unthinkable moves within the realm of the possible you can get scared of what you might perhaps be able to do if you are careless and close the eyes for one second too long and just let your body take over one too many times. What you might do if the boundaries become too fluid and transparent. You might not be able to come back from it this time.
I think this might be the only way for me to explain what actually happened that night and why I reacted the way I did. Something in my mind must have clicked-as if a switch was pulled. In one moment we were still driving in this wonderful landscape, everything totally relaxed and laid back, driving through this kind of rainforest and these crazy clouds of butterflies. The next moment everything changed when we met those people and all that insane, mind-boggling shit happened.
From the moment when I first laid my eyes on that guy at the gas station, I had this strange feeling, this sense of foreboding. Perhaps nothing would have happened if it hadn’t been for that wide landscape, and this sudden feeling of freedom our little road trip inspired inside of me. I have felt caged and locked in for quite a long time now. With all these daily routines and seemingly never ending obligations, my life seemed to be stuck in a kind of mental gridlock which I couldn’t break. Sometimes a certain landscape can resonate in your mind so that little things seem to change and possibilities seem to open up. Driving through northern Argentina I felt totally free and ready for anything. It was like being able to really breathe in fresh air for the first time after being in closed room for way too long.
Ok, I know I’ve already written quite a long letter without explaining the main point: What actually happened that night before I called you to help me cover up the whole mess. You know that sometimes I tend to drink too much and every once in a while I also do something stupid because once I’ve had a few drinks too many I can somehow miss the point where I should really have stopped. It has happened before that I’ve had a bit of a blackout and that I didn’t exactly remember what had happened but never in a way that my mind went totally blank.
When we met this group of people and went celebrating New Year’s Eve with them perhaps I already enjoyed myself a bit too much and already had too much to drink. I got really excited when I saw that the guy from the gas station was at the same bar. If I am honest I think that he was the reason I didn’t want to leave with you, even if it was already late and I knew that we had to get up in the morning to drive back to Salta. It didn’t happen a lot in the last decade(s) that I met someone to whom I felt attracted like this.
When you were gone, I overcame my shyness and started talking to him. Immediately I had the feeling that we really hit it off. We were talking rather intensely about our lives and what we really wanted out of life, and I told him how trapped I felt in Austria. Somehow he started telling me about this important spiritual experience he had when taking magic mushrooms and that this was the moment that he really started to know what he wanted to do with his life. Probably, if it would have been someone else somewhere else, and if I hadn’t liked him so much, I would have thought this to be a lot of bullshit. But when we were sitting next to each other, slightly touching, I felt totally infatuated and ready to believe anything. He told me that he still had some self-grown mushrooms at home and I really liked the idea of spending more time with him and even going on a spiritual journey together. I have to admit I didn’t much think about our car drive anymore.
I don’t know how I could have been so stupid. I have done a lot of foolish and sometimes also dangerous things in my life, but perhaps I never really felt that there was a real possibility of something going terribly wrong. I always knew that a small misstep could have horrible consequences, but perhaps I was living such a privileged and overprotected life that I couldn’t truly believe in something bad happening to me. These things only happened to other people. I never meant to do anything wrong, everything was only ever supposed to be for fun or as a life experience. Some things I also did because I was bored or just because I could. This time there was also a bit of a curiosity as an anthropologist. After all I remembered hearing about magic mushrooms in a lecture. And trying it out in a foreign country sounded kind of nice.
As you know, the guy lived almost next to the bar, so we just had to walk over. I still remember intensely how terrible the mushrooms tasted and how small and harmless they looked. It didn’t take long before I started to feel totally strange but somehow also euphoric. We were sitting in a small courtyard with a big tree in the middle that looked absolutely majestic and vivid. After a while, we decided to play a little game of dares and that’s when the night started to go bad and was eventually spiraling totally out of control. Somehow everything became too much. I was completely losing my sense of reality and it began to turn into a really bad trip. My paranoia seemed to be contagious and soon we were both absolutely convinced that we were going to die because today was the day the world would end. I don’t remember much after this. Only that somehow we both thought that only one of us could survive, that one of us had to die in order for the world not to end, that we couldn’t both be alive at the same time. I really started to become afraid of him. I think he was actually trying to kill me, because he thought me to be the devil! The rest of the night consists only of fragments and shreds of memories, and I have no idea what was real.
The next thing I know is that when I came to I was sticky all over. That’s the first thing I remember. When I opened my eyes and saw him lying next to me at first I thought that he was only sleeping. Then I started to realize that I was covered in blood and that’s why I was feeling so sticky. I actually believed I was still hallucinating. I was so horrified… I didn’t know what else to do but to call you. I will never forget the way you looked at me when I opened the door.
I know it would have been the best to just go to the police. Then at least you would have been able to go on living your normal life, but my instinct was the same as yours. If we would just run fast enough and far enough nothing would have to change. We would be able to live like nothing had happened. Sadly and obviously this didn’t work out-and how could it? Of course nothing can ever be the same. Perhaps it would still have been possible to confess and go to the police. As Europeans maybe we would have had a chance of our government intervening or something. But then we were resting in this small touristy village-I don’t remember the name anymore-and you found the newspaper article. Once it got clear who the guy really was and that they thought he was murdered-and us leaving our fingerprints all over the place-I knew that we were never going to be able to explain this away. Probably I would rot in a South American jail for the rest of my life, in addition to being at the center of an international media scandal. I had to think about the trial of the American exchange student Amanda Knox, who had been wrongfully convicted for killing her fellow exchange student in Italy. And I wasn’t even innocent. Probably I will never know if I actually killed him, if it was an accident or if he killed himself. My memory of that night really consists only of single images and fragments, which don’t make a lot of sense and likely never will.
I wonder if I will ever see you again. I still think it was the best decision to split up and I am really happy that you were able to contact Mathieu and that he was ready to leave everything behind for you and just start anew in another country. I hope you could realize your dream of producing and selling your jewelry. There are for sure some interesting materials here for you to work with. I am convinced that it could sell really well at some tourist market. We never talked about our plans but sometimes I imagine you and Mathieu opening up a small restaurant-him loving to cook and being good at PR, I think it could definitely work out.
You won’t believe where I ended up. You remember the small farm in Villavicencia where we went on the cabalgato with the gauchos and met this Israeli guy who was working there as a volunteer for a few months? I found quite a similar place where I can stay for a while, working at the farm, helping out, feeding the animals and also looking after the horses a bit. Of course, I often miss my family and friends back in Austria. I still hope that one day I will be able to explain to them what has happened and why I never came back. Apart from that and apart from feeling guilty, I am quite carefree here.
I’ve never felt this relaxed in my whole life. I can hardly remember how I was able to sit in front of a computer from early morning till afternoon four days a week! Somehow from today’s perspective this kind of life already doesn’t make any sense anymore. Perhaps things will change when I don’t have any place to stay and don’t have any money left. In the moment I find it thrilling not to know where I will end up and what I am going to work in a few months’ time. For a long time my life seemed so static and nothing ever changed. Now everything seems to be in the flow again, life seems to be exciting once again and something to look forward to.
Actually I feel truly happy here. Sometimes I remember that I shouldn’t be able to feel this good ever again after what I did. I didn’t realize how nice life could be if you ever stopped making plans and just stopped trying to make sense out of it all. Perhaps this is the whole secret and all it takes to be content with your life: Not trying anymore and just concentrate on living.
Lots of love to you and Mathieu,