Nadav Zeimer
High School Principal
Harlem, NY

Illustration by
Vania Wat

My friend,

You are dear to me. Understand that whatever I say in this letter, I say with a commitment that we maintain a healthy, loving relationship. With that in mind, I am actually writing to demand that you vacate my home and not come back.

While your certainty that we have many years ahead of us is particularly refreshing, you are simply not helpful to me in my life as a 40-something, high school principal, father, husband, family member or friend. Having you hanging around and occasionally demanding attention… yes, I do think of you that way. Oh, heck. I admit that I have some things from our past that I have not been ready to forgive. Mostly it’s just your youth. I feel bad even judging you for it so I never brought it up. I’m sorry. I will do my best to love you just the way you are. To do this I will communicate with you whenever my love turns fake.

Do you mind some advice? I know advice never makes a real difference. Except for he who gives the advice. In that case, I offer you advice for my own elucidation. I am still so selfish, so arrogant. But what the hell, here goes.

You will learn, with age, that in order to make the difference you are committed to, for selfish and un-selfish motives alike, the very extended process is much more valuable than the favorable outcome. Instead of flipping between impulses to shut down and jump the gun when the gap is severe between vision and reality, take action which may be imperfect. That will provide critical feedback to your vision, a connection to facts on the ground. Of course, do be gentle with yourself when you know not which direction you are heading. Those are not times to take any action. For the very extended process to become as such, a steady direction is required. Otherwise we spend our time doing and even more time undoing or being trapped in what has already been done. Commit to a vague direction and take action daily toward that end.

At any rate, this was not intended as a note to give advice for either of us. The point is that you move out. I look forward to you being absent from my interactions with my wife when I judge her silently, or my teachers when I evaluate them with a false sense of contribution, or my eyes when a pretty young girl walks by, or my relationship to food and exercise and financial management when I spend according to the income I plan on earning in the future.

I have grown. I have studied. I have built some things. Some extraordinary things. I must dedicate evaporating time to tend to my home both in brick and flesh. I am satisfied and at peace, mostly. I have the love of an adorable daughter and the love of a stunning wife which shine like a single yellow petal of a just-blossomed flower under the first intense rays of direct summer sunlight. Your youthful energy disrupts my cultivated experience of accomplishment. Your idealism, unrealism, conjecture, justification, hope, silence, experimentation, spontaneity, jealousy, frustration, confidence in the future, impatience resonate and cause regression, turning up the soil upon which my great achievements grow. I no longer need to prepare soil to plant seeds. I have fruit to pick, ageing branches to trim in the chilly autumn air.

I recommend we correspond in letters like this one, an occasional conversation in real time, but not in person and certainly you should no longer live with me. Please take all of your clothes with you – a few articles are languishing in my closet. Take your minidisc collection from the basement, the boxes of Burning Man gear, the costumes, the motorcycle suit, all those books on business and physics and spirituality, the backup drive with all the notes you took on your Palm Pilot while camping across the country, the unfinished audio magazines backed up on hard drives, the battery of psychological test results, the library of method acting exercises, all those carousels of slide photos, the keyboard you never played, the guitar, the Djembe. My time is accounted for and these sprouts which did not bear fruit are a distraction, at best.

Thank you for understanding and for vacating my space immediately. I look forward to speaking with you after some separation.


Nadav Zeimer