I got the question, "How are you?" from an old friend who I haven't corresponded with in quite a while.
When I went to reply, I paused. A long pause. The thought was, how much do I write?
Do I spill everything on this person? (A person who I never really spilled anything on before.) Do I just say I'm "meh" and leave it at that? If I aim for the middle, which side should I favor more?
Eventually, I wrote. I kept it light. Sure, I said I'm terrified of my immediate future, but even that was kept more jokey than serious.
What's a person supposed to do? A letter out of no where (I was reminded of this fun thing we did years ago, wasn't that a blast?) isn't the proper place to throw hardcore feelings and painful thoughts. The "How are you?" is more an I-hope-you're-doing-pretty-well,-but-if-your-not-I'd-rather-you-pretended-because,-really,-I-just-wanted-to-say-a-quick-hello-and-remember-a-bit-of-fun-and-it's-polite-to-also-ask-how-your-doing-at-the-same-time, isn't it?
Or maybe it's not. Maybe it's just me trying to work out my frustration on how fucking vague that question is. "How are you?" ranges from the toe you stubbed on the door while walking to the bathroom at 2AM to the promotion you got at work to the soggy fries you had at lunch to the exquisite, intense, painful, joyful release of an orgasm you had during sex to the mediocre TV you watched, and beyond. "How are you?" envelopes your life, but, in my experience, it never wants more than a three word response, "I'm doing fine." and that's just not really an answer.
"How are you?" has become a meaningless question and it only expects meaningless answers.
Oh, and if the friend who wrote me that letter reads this (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH! *ahem* HA!), it's not about you. I promise. It's about what I think of all of us.