In the witching hour, outside the bedroom door, sat a fat cat with fine vocal capacity who, for reasons unknown, determined he must come inside. The girl, who was lying in her warm bed, decided, after much deliberation, to acquiesce and allow him entrance, while the cat, upon gaining admission, jumped on the bed, made exactly 14 biscuits on the fuzzy green blanket, turned around three times counter-clockwise, settled down and promptly went to sleep until the alarm woke them both at 7:30 the next morning.
I haven’t been writing much lately – and not because I have little to say. My head is still easily filled with swirling thoughts of death and dying. Silly things bring me to tears. I think you’re sick of hearing about it. I think you want to tell me “move on, get over it”. I know I’m sick of talking about it. So, I remain silent.
Last night, the television sat mute. I curled up with steaming Earl Grey and handcrafted cookies, reading until my eyes drooped closed.
I’ve joined a book club. We’re reading Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. The first few pages brought to mind ersatz Thoreau, but as I ventured a little further, I realized that Dillard isn’t copying Walden, but using the Walden experience to make it her own. Her writing is both lush and raw – describing the beautiful and the horrific.
“With” and “at” – simple prepositions to describe the significant disparity between two social relations. I really need no further words than “with” and “at” to clarify my position, but you may need them to understand. I have email relationships with two men who, for different reasons, are significant to me. The first is with someone who can never be more than a friend to me – no need to reiterate the reasons. We’ve been having an email conversation that feels as if it’s been uninterrupted (except for one long week) since the end of January. The words we write aren’t particularly beautiful and our lines are not rewritten numerous times to perfection, but there’s a natural flow and honesty in our communication that brings me pleasure and compels me to respond. He asks me questions, he listens to what I say and, when he thinks about me, he dashes off a quick note of little consequence telling me so – “How was your day?” In other words, he talks “with” me.
The second email relationship, and snail-mail as well, is with someone who claims to Love (with a capital “L”) me. He has convinced himself he “knows” me and he thinks he understands the words needed to win my heart. His missives are painstakingly labored works of beauty. His desire to convey deep feelings through these exquisite words makes the final product a shallow writing of pretty words – nothing more. Reworked to death, there is no intrinsic truth left in them. He has told me that he writes to me because “he has something he needs to say”, not to hear what I think or evoke a reaction. Although, at other times, he claims when I read his letters, they will “make me weep”. He has never brought tears to my eyes. He writes for himself and, consequently, rarely receives a response from me. He sends what he wants regardless of my entreaties that they are not things I desire to read – random articles from the New York Times with notes that say, “Thought of you” or “Thought you’d like this”. He doesn’t hear me say that I’m not interested. In a word, he talks “at” me.
And so, Mr. “At’s” emails have become a bore to me – something I read dispassionately and quickly delete in the “trash”, while I wait impatiently for a word from the other – anxious to discover what we will chat about today. For me, words of Truth will forever trump words of Beauty.
“Have you ever had a difference with a dear friend? How his letters, written in the period of love and confidence, sicken and rebuke you! What a dreary mourning it is to dwell upon those vehement protests of dead affection! What lying epitaphs they make over the corpse of love! What dark, cruel comments upon Life and Vanities! Most of us have got or written drawers full of them. They are closet-skeletons which we keep and shun.”
Vanity Fair, William Thackeray
In my post of September 18, I briefly mentioned J, my Love from year’s past. N was J’s best friend and seeing N again, along with digging through old letters to find something for him, brought to light once again these memories of tragic love that I had so conveniently tucked away. Ours was a tempestuous and impossible devotion that spanned the years from 1989 to 1998. It could hold it’s own next to Heathcliff and Catherine or Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy in its passion, drama, rancor and love. This tale of love is written in the poems and paintings he sent me, as well as my journal entries, and the letters we exchanged throughout the years – all of it kept by me.
This weekend, I decided to gather it all and write a book– not for publication and most likely not for others eyes, but so I can put it all down, once and for all, to organize, catalog and lay it to rest – before I forget. I realize my story would be dissimilar to his. I’ve completed 39 pages, mostly taken from my journals. N will play a role; he is inextricably linked to my relationship with J. I cannot publish it here – for fear the wrong person would see. It’s a book for me, a cleansing of sorts, to put into context the events that forever altered me.