Expat Christmas Letter – Curtis Eggleston

You know how at evenings like or on Christmas Eves people dine together? I used to always be a child and invite everyone I’d ever met the night before Christmas way more of like a party than a meal. No one ever denied a single invitation and years later I left everyone I knew because at the dinner table I got annoyed at the way some people bit their forks, you know that shinny sound, even if we were eating soup or nothing at all, playing cards, if someone spilled, made a stupid move, comment, or got caught cheating, I always felt like me to blame, I was the one who’d frisbeed invitations after all, and kids are pretty damn petty, especially when it comes to themselves. One day I woke up and left them all and nothing’s permanent, I promise if there’s one thing I can’t stand up beside it’s that dramatic supposition of eternal.

I don’t know why I chose it here to be the place to leave to, I guess I saw a movie called Blame it on Rio when I was eleven and there was a place like dreamland and an old man too lucky to accept a kiss from a beautiful woman and I knew if I’d been him I wouldn’t care about age difference or feeling undeserving, I’d kiss the girl and follow her long hair deep and past and under and into well into the ocean.

Tonight I am, whether I resemble myself, I don’t know how I was supposed to be fated to appear when I woke up years ago at six am on the flight into a city too big for gratitude to exist. When there is that much, there can only be a craving for more and I felt at home before touching down, before having stamped a passport, felt my greed nodded at by morning gloss on a city of twenty million compressed through an ovular window.

If I could change now I would. I would go back five minutes over and over until I found the crucial five to change it all. I say that, but then again maybe I wouldn’t do any minutes differently, that’s I am who I am and was and will be, you can’t mold what’s unseeable, and I left my family of who every single one of them looks just like us at the dinner table, landed as an embryo of 22 years old, cocky as all of you, skinnier than I was hungry, eyes deeper than believable and agreeable like innocent charisma.

Nobody really wants to know what happened, they just want it told like they would like to tell it if it were their own own to spill, but fuck you, I’ll tell the truth instead. The truth is if you’re reading this you can excuse the fuck you because I never have or will meet you besides through, and others, this. But otherwise I may know you personally and well and I may love you deeply and have loved you deeply and well and if so then that fuck you’s transmitted with a smile and sad eyes for past times on beaches under planets aligned sometimes every so often.

Once I knew a man who committed suicide. He was decades my elder and a friend and a mentor and we had lunch one day and two beers of 600ml each and he asked about suicide and I said what I thought was the contrarian or tough or maybe true thing I thought at the time, that the idea that killing yourself was selfish was selfish for everyone on our side, not the heavenly. Later on a beach in Malibu Mars was in some rare position barking reds down at the tides that night and I remember exactly who I was with and she said something that reminded me of him and I cried and cried and remember thinking at some point I should be quitting at it, when I was aware the tears impressed her.

I was telling people all about me when I was in what was my first novel, a roman á clef Hemingway scoff copy that should never be published and that none of you could ever be capable of writing something near, and you all know it too, when even when it’s trash, what is your God Damn Own is what is holy. You can call paradox, the Hemingway bit and the simultaneous ownership and you’ll be talking to yourself. I was telling people I was gonna be an adventurer, a vagabond, a hypercreative zen piece of shit whose spilled aphorisms left local bar strangers like mantises to the power of my secret middle name. I told girls I had crushes on that I was moving on to marry a model from the final continent unclaimed. I told my professors I would be the greatest novelist in the spherisphere, and I told them that I knew I would be better than anyone my age or younger, truly humbly because under no circumstance would I publish anything, not until at least eighteen months after I knew I’d cried harder than I would ever cry in our meaningless, everything life.

So far, this piece has limited purpose, and no coherency. Or this is about how consecution adds to what is me. This is a Christmas letter, and maybe by the end of all of this I can find out what is worthy to be thankful for, for having felt, or seen.

I thank the loneliest hours. If there is one thing I’m sure of besides I’ll never know you it’s that if you’re somewhere reading Expat Press on Christmas Eve you’ll relate. The best reading experience anyone ever had took place on a Saturday, in a locked Jewish cemetery. The fencing wasn’t sharp enough, razor wire guards are honestly bullshit, metal if still just isn’t that intimidating and anything spiraled guarantees a lack of completion. With no other silence anywhere, they had to climb into a cemetery and lean on a granite mausoleum that cost more than all the money their family had spent in their whole lives combined, they read two novels cover to cover, you know exactly which two, thought they were the best books ever, knew that they could do better, and decided that morning through afternoon to twilight that starting tomorrow, their religion would be literature too.

I’m thankful I’ve met someone for whom I would trade every book. I assume along the line I would find some undiscovered novelty leaned against a brick walled alley whose basis was cobblestone, hand rolled remnants of corn wrapped cigarettes, veteran movements of stray- local cats and sung lyrics of lives echo-blown. I would pick it up, learn the language in which it was written, remember the parts that struck me with perfection or damage and leave it for that aforementioned someone to find somewhere again, whenever and for when.

I know for certain, everything I need is what I want is will be bled through me in time. I know the secret, gratitude is victory, solely moments slaked like air enshrine.

And I will remain careless with presumptuousness because when I look up the threads of sight to sky are taut and shifts in wind, temperature, and light tune resonances to my liking.

I waited four years before I seriously shared my writing. My first piece was published in Expat, titled Prayer Tones. That was in December 2020. And since, I’ve read damn near all of your pieces, to see which of if any of you literary sluts’ prosody talents strike envy. I admire every one of you, even if some only slightly, and steal every trick y’all didn’t quite manage to bury.

Shouts out every member of the Expat family. For any worth in Hollow Nacelle, seen by Manuel Marrero. For every poignant, gorgeous, disgusting letter y’all’ve deemed fit for the internet. In one way and another, we all sit together, dining in on beside and through each other. Merry Christmas. Kiss your iteration of God. We’ve made terrible mistakes, and yet we remain, and we remain never alone.