They haunt me. I can’t see them, but their spectral presence persists. A number floats in reminder, a blip on the radar: One. Two. Three. Four. Numbered as the stars. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty.
Emails that I’ve marked as unread. Emails that I should have taken action on. Emails that I should have responded to. Friendships that I’ve left to rust. Not out of lack of care, but out of too much: they all wait until I have the fullness of time to respond. Which. Never. Comes.
And yet, they lay waiting. Like a sick and abandoned dog. Like an impregnated fling. Like all broken promises.
In September of 2009, I slogged through Pitchfork’s Top 500 Tracks of the 2000s, making note of all the songs that I enjoyed that were either new to or surprised me. Thinking that I’d go back to listen again, I sent an email to myself. And marked it unread.
Also in September of 2009, my friend Anastasia from our study abroad days in Leeds and I warmed up our dormant correspondence after I thought of her after falling for Leeds’ Wild Beasts. A totally worthy correspondence, since she’s whip-smart and whip-funny and even after not having seen her in something like eight years, I can still hear the cadence of her jokes and laugh. And because she introduced me to John Lennon’s matchless Plastic Ono Band. And because she lives in Oakland, and I’m going to cash in my friendship with Californian friends for couch crashing and bar guidance someday soon.
After trading meaningless pleasantries (like where we were living, status of significant others, attempts to fool the other to visit their respective cities, and what we were doing with our lives), we got down to brass tacks: music. She recommended King Khan. And I excitedly told her how only days before I had obsessively on-repeat-listened to their “Welfare Bread” after I found it on Pitchfork’s list. And that they were playing in Philly and that I’d go. She responded. I marked it as unread.
I never went to that show. Both emails went unread. Almost a year lapsed. And today, after trying to figure out why I thought that I had liked Woods’ Songs of Shame (I don’t), I remembered Pitchfork’s list. And “Welfare Bread.” And Anastasia’s email. So I queued up my selections from the top 500 on MOG. And I wrote this post. And marked both emails read. How’s your couch, Anastasia?