Hello my nephew. It’s me, your Uncle Nobody. You probably don’t remember me. We haven’t seen each other in years. I’m one of those guys who just disappears. Rarely even leave a trace. Nothing you did. It's all my fault. You were just a child. Life sweeps you away. I mean, it swept me away. You don’t even have to call me Uncle. Think of me as a distant cousin, if that’s more comfortable. Think of me as a ghost. A middle aged failure with a scuffed suitcase. An old cuckoo clock you barely remember from your grandmother’s house. I stopped ticking. I gotta be honest, I don’t remember when your birthday is. I hope it isn’t today. I didn’t bring any gifts. I wouldn't know what to bring. Look at you. All grown up. Married. About to be. Probably have kids soon. You may even be an uncle yourself by now. How would I know? You don’t have time for this. I apologize for the intrusion. I always think of myself as the shadowy figure lingering under a streetlamp in a trench coat and fedora. As the sort who eats alone in diners at odd hours. Who spends holidays looking through old pictures of estranged friends and lovers. It doesn’t matter. You might not think of me at all. Which is fair.
But I wanted to tell you something now that you've matured. I remember this one time when you were a baby and your mom asked me to pick you up at the daycare and get you to a doctor’s appointment. Well I was running late. She called me in a panic, said the nurse was blowing up her phone and I had to get my shit together pretty quick. I finished my drink. Paid for half a dozen cocktails. I was a bum. But I hustled. I got there. You were sitting in a big highchair in a long line of highchairs up against the far wall. The place was small and musty, low ceilinged and grimy. Toys were scattered everywhere. Carpet all yellowed and worn. All the attendants looked sullen and disengaged. Like they all needed a smoke. And all the babies in the highchairs were screaming and thrashing about and making this god awful din. I almost just left. But then I saw you sitting toward the end, the only kiddo not crying. I mean you didn’t have the happiest expression on your chubby face but you were fine. You were always like that, so sweet and kind hearted. You took it easy on us. As soon as you saw me across the room, though, your deep brown eyes widened and your little arms shot out like you were reaching for the ledge of a cliff someone had just pushed you off. When I picked you up, you wrapped those little arms so tight around my neck. Like a little python. I’ve never been hugged like that since. Maybe I just don’t let anyone hug me like that anymore. Or maybe nobody ever really wanted to. Half my problem I think is not knowing whether it’s one or the other. It made me so happy for some reason. My life sucked then. To be honest it isn’t super ideal now. But then? Didn’t know what the hell I was doing. Where I was going. It isn’t any better now but at least I know it. I know the score. I know where I’m heading— straight to nowhere.
Did you know you can be so happy you start crying? There should be a different word for that feeling. It’s the best thing ever. Not quite happy. Melancholic is too harsh. Joy too religious. Not even bittersweet. It was all just very nice and good. And honest. I don’t know. I’m no linguist. Anyway, I’m sorry to interrupt your special day. I drove all the way here just to tell you this. Seems silly now. So many years ago. I don’t know what seized me to get in the car yesterday. Sometimes I still feel your little arms wrapped around my neck. It gives me that feeling all over again. I wanted you to know that, is all. That you made me feel like that. Even as a baby you were doling out gifts. I guess I’ll see you around. Tell your mother that your Uncle Nobody says hello. Or maybe don’t mention it at all. I don’t want to cause any more drama. Now go be somebody. Go love somebody. Love that pretty girl with all your heart. Don’t be like your Uncle Nobody.