Dear Derek,

When I met you I got this feeling – as if I have always known you, as if our bodies remembered a moment our minds did not, as if they wanted to embrace one another like good-old friends – as if we have been meeting and repeating for some time. Our present continuous. The way I see it: everything is a circle. You and I are iridescent infinities, clustered and grooved, moving like circuitry or synapses or millions of clock hands – meeting and repeating, repeating and meeting. Just picture that: reiterations of infinity. What is the word for that, Derek? Is that deja-vu? Did you know there are no synonyms for deja-vu. It is the ineffable thing which no cluster of words can directly attach itself to. Do you ever wonder if we emit particles, pieces of our clusters, that linger in our wake? IS deja-vu made of this residue? Did our infinite selves cast a film or scent that I picked up that night in the Mission on Valencia?

The next day you saw me, reiterated. A second sight of a moment your mind had hatched in the past. You were in deja-vu with me. We were doing that time dance, suspended, in the van, the backseat, our cell phones, our hands, all luggage and the band’s stereo equipment filling every crevice, the other side of the window, cigarette smoke tooling up the glass, the men in the parking lot, hum of the car – running, idling. The time on the was clock 2:22 (my lucky number) and the taste of dried mango and citrus was sticky on my tongue. Your pupils expanded and sunk into the deep sky-blue pools behind them. The reiteration. I saw the giddy horror of familiarity – the one deja-vu veils itself in. I felt that too.

What tense do you think suits deja-vu? The English language has 16 different verb tenses. Sixteen! Past perfect continuous – had been reiterating? Present perfect continuous – have been reiterating? The function of tense is to define verbs, to give the subject and object a relationship with the action being done, the thing that is or has or will happen. I have had to think a lot about tense because I am teaching English to non-native English speakers and now with all this deja-vu business there is a new lens to view it through. Tense is broken down into an equation: time plus aspect. Time is the moment of reference – past, present, future. The aspect is either simple, perfect, continuous or perfect continuous. The definition of aspect is, “a specific way in which something can be considered.” Therefore, can’t it be said that tense is the way in which we consider time? But what if something has happened, is happening, will be happening, has been happening all at the same time, like deja-vu? Tense and deja-vu are tricksters. They muck around. Do you understand the pretense of what I’m getting at? Language creates our reality. We are our own point of reference, and deja-vu exists within the aspect – how we consider things. How we consider ourselves. How we consider time and…what else can I say? This ineffable thing. How should I consider you and the car and us meeting and that feeling without my ego keeping me in the center of it all?

The future perfect continuous is: a verb that will occur, has been occurring and will continue to occur until a future point in time when it becomes the present. The tense is, through this lens, an affectation of what we would like to see, what we project. (This is pretense, is it not?) The best possible result. This is perfect for you, Derek and deja-vu. For you, I will use the future perfect continuous tense. Isn’t this something like time travel?  You and I have pasts and they are perfect in their stasis. We have a present and a future and it is continuous.

By the time you read this letter it will have become a physical artifact to make our coincidental-everything connect – the time between our infinities having looped. A gap, our gap. I have been writing to deja-vu for a few years, but never sent the letter, could not send it. I attempted to allocate language and nothing was specific enough. Nothing was sharp. Ineffable. Now I know that the words I wrote for deja-vu are better suited for you. These sentences about coincidence are yours to read. They can synchronize my examination of the past present continuous and pretense.

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