I want to ask you about the time you most felt like yourself. But we don’t do that. So instead, I just say “good morning.” You reply with the same. This whole giant building is built on this trade. Because if we really stopped to talk, the whole day would be gone. We can’t talk about how afraid we both are that we’ll die and leave nothing behind—we’re afraid that this equation of thoughts, words, physical matter, experiences, equals nothing but an urn or a tombstone. You hit the world like a drop of water, then you evaporate, like you were never there. But we can’t say these things. So instead we say “Mondays, right?” or “looks like it might rain tomorrow.”

The air crackles with static from the dryness of things that will always go unsaid. Because it’s expected we all remain polite strangers, and pull our own hair out in a bathroom, alone. Ask anyone: they’re all doing fine, great! Most often, though, we’re not great, or good, just liars.

There is a dread that I feel when I am behind the wheel. It is putting that mask on. Although it exists both in the tall offices, where we are all dressed the same, and at a party, where I still haven’t heard whatever password or permission granted I am waiting for in order to say anything that exists beneath the surface. Maybe that prevents our little ships of state from being swallowed by other’s oceans. Maybe there is a quick limit on the amount of other people’s souls we can bear. Maybe that’s all true. But still, you and I, we can probably do a little better than this.