The sound of fading footsteps reminds me of the language of loss. It’s kind of like when you play hide-and-seek and the seeker walks right past your spot – you know it’s their loss when you can no longer hear their footsteps. Or, on a deeper level, it reminded me how you never know when it’s going to be the last time someone walks away from you. When I lose a relationship (whatever kind, however fleeting or meaningful), I always find myself wondering about the little moments and the last steps we took away from one another. There’s a certain poignancy in trying to remember those last, lost moments.
To combat this language of loss, one of my favorite things to do with people is collect little scraps of their handwriting. Whether it’s letters they wrote to me, random things they jotted down, or sometime when they wrote my name, I’ll often keep it. It’s kind of like building a strange sort of body for them from their written word; it reminds me of them even when their physical bodies aren’t present. But how well does it actually represent them? It’s important to consider that it reminds me of the construct of them that I have in my mind, and even then, it’s just a collection of fragmented, minuscule parts of them. I think it’s better than nothing when it comes to representing and remembering, but a body – having the person there with you blissfully in the moment – is always an infinitely better representation. Maybe words do have limits, especially when their quantity is limited.