Sign Up for Our Bi-Weekly Email

Expand your perspective with thought-provoking insights, quotes, and videos hand-picked by our editors—along with the occasional update about the world of EnlightenNext.

Privacy statement

Your email address is kept confidential, and will never be published, sold or given away without your explicit consent. Thank you for joining our mailing list!


a 21st century love story

part III

“Brooklyn native Ella Paris and Bay Area surfer Evan McAllister's intimate email chronicle, “A 21st Century Love Story,” is nothing less than a vision of metaphysical nonpareil, in which heaven and hell, and dynamic and passive forces, are powerfully juxtaposed. The second installment held us rapt, as Ella's father lost his battle with cancer, while Evan made his final desperate attempts to explain to her that life is but a dream. Ending with a supremely cathartic phone conversation in which Ella confronted Evan with his avoidance of emotional intimacy—revealing the private passions of an entire generation—readers were left breathless and aching for more.”

The San Mateo Register

From: “Ella Paris” []
To: “Evan McAllister” []
Date: Tue, 02 Mar 2004 23:48:02 (EST)
Subject: E+E

Evan, this is it. We can't afford to keep messing around. It's been a week since we spoke. Seven long days, and your silence is louder than words. In fact, it's deafening. It's as if you're a small toddler who merely covers his eyes with his fingers and thinks everyone else can't see him. I've probably done wrong, thinking if I pushed a little you'd fall right into love with me. My phone call, my plan, foiled by the cold shoulder. I can see a parallel universe when I look to the left, one where we are just good friends, laughing, exchanging books, growing up, growing separate but always having fond memories, and it looks pretty nice. But if you could stand in my shoes you'd see that's just not possible, not unless you wanted to choke on love trying to stifle it. I'm shaking like a leaf writing this, overcome I suppose by the thought you'll eventually be seeing these words. Oh, by the way--and I've always wanted to say this--by the time you read this I'll be gone. Funny enough, this past week has revealed the irrelevance of love at the same time that it proved how much I really love you. I can see that no matter how bad it is, no matter how deadly quiet, I've managed. I live on. Even perhaps, emerging fully intact, with the amazing ability to move forward. So that's what I'm doing. Although I have a return ticket three months from now I don't actually plan on using it. I see my travels as an authentic beginning, a rebirth if you like, and the end is so far in the distance I can't tell what it will look like, or when it will be. I'm sorry that it all fell apart like this. I feel largely responsible.

all of my heart, Ella Paris

From: “Evan McAllister” []
To: “Ella Paris” []
Date: Wed, 03 Mar 2004 11:38:27 (PST)
Subject: Re: E+E

okay, i'm kind of in shock at the moment, which i guess was your intent. "seven long days" of silence leads to you calling me a toddler, pouring your heart out to me, professing your love, and leaving (where??)--all at once? did you think to ASK me why i haven't contacted you since we spoke last week? no? well, later that day my sister mackenzie came home from school crying and told my mom she was pregnant. and not only that, but that she is thinking of having an abortion. as you know, my mom is as christian as they come, so you can just guess what her reaction to all this has been. SO...i've had a lot of shit to deal with here on the homefront, and i'm sorry i didn't let you know what's up. okay? i'm sorry if this comes across as mean or angry, but i'm just a little upset by your letter.

ella, if you really do feel this way about me, which totally blows my mind, because you've never said anything like that before, why didn't you ever say so? i can't figure you out! why didn't you say any of this when we were on the phone last week? you were twisting me in knots, wanting me to break up with courtney, then telling me that i had to figure out why i should... i don't know. i mean, it makes sense now that you've just been straight with me and said it. i guess i was just being dense and oblivious as usual. but now what? you love me?? but you've gone away traveling? wow. how do you think that makes someone feel? we're old enough to be able to relate to each other rationally, right?

wherever you've gone, you must have email access somehow, so please write back or call me. i've been planning to break up with courtney when i see her tomorrow, which should make you happy. believe it or not, she's even more confusing than you! dude, i can't deal with all this right now.


From: “Ella Paris” []
To: “Evan McAllister” []
Date: Thu, 11 Mar 2004 12:02:08 (EST)
Subject: india

I'm sitting in a smoky internet cafe with the roar of people and honking cars all around me. I've only been in New Delhi for a week, and already everything is changed and different, no, different is an understatement. I could feel it the moment I walked down the airplane steps onto the tarmac, and this alien air hit my skin, I've never smelled or inhaled anything like it before. For the past seven days I've been mentally discombobulated trying to navigate the crowded streets, I'm terrified by the fact that I'm on my own, and for much of the time jet lag has coated everything in a detached fuzziness, yet I'm managing to fall fast in love with the relentless barrage of color, of smell, of sound, with the ferocious reality of life here. I don't know if I'm making much sense but I'm writing fast for fear this computer will crash on me as it already has, twice. (Maybe it's related to the open sewer located a couple of feet away from the cafe's only electrical socket. Just a guess.)

Let me just say that looking at your email from this side of the world is an interesting experience indeed and I'm sorry I didn't tell you that I was coming here. I really didn't think you cared since you never called me after everything that happened. I was sure we had come to the end of the plot, and now I see that actually my penchant for melodrama and grand proclamations clouded the reality of the situation.

Jesus! I wish you could see how Big everything is here, larger than Life, or at least any life I've ever known...In a couple of days I'm going to UNICEF headquarters to get my field assignment. I've been waiting my whole life for an adventure, a really perilous one--with danger and high stakes and everything, but this is more than I could have imagined from the comforts and confines of Brooklyn. I mean I've always said I wanted to know who Ella Paris really is, but now the possibility seems so real, like it could happen at any moment. I know you know what I'm talking about...that's why we're friends and all. I'm going to walk back to my hotel before it gets too late. Tell Mackenzie I'm thinking of her, and I hope you are doing ok. Ella

p.s. Here is God's recipe for creating the air in India, he IM'd it to me.

1 part sweetness of spice and marigolds
1 part parched dirt
1 part essence of human rankness

1. infuse ingredients relentlessly with heat
2. pour into cocktail mixer
3. shake for 5,000 years.

[ continue ]


Subscribe to What Is Enlightenment? magazine today and get 40% off the cover price.

Subscribe Give a gift Renew

This article is from
Our War vs Peace Issue