The End Game & The Beginning

[Late May,  I am moving toward the exit from my marital home.  Carol is waiting, not very patiently.  This closes the arc of this story,and so it will end this blog.]

Tuesday night


Just came back from seeing “On Golden Pond,” filled with  thoughts–you playing Katherine Hepburn to my Henry Fonda [reflecting our age difference] Seems like a much better alternative to the retirement home and the search for a revolver.  I was moved by the depths of the relationships among all the characters, thought the plot was little too predictable and pat.  But back to Henry and Kate, or Carol & Steve several decades hence, they exhibited a closeness and a sympathy, even in their rickety old age, that I think we might be beginning to achieve….

I guess you can see where my head is–right in Sackett St. projecting us into a movie, waiting for the opportunity to see such things  together, talk about them, and more importantly, live our own lives.

Domestic scene continues amazingly rational.  We had a rather full discussion of possible financial arrangements.  She will be talking to a lawyer soon, perhaps tomorrow, wants a resolution.  She feels uncomfortable with me in the house, and I agreed that I would like to get out as soon as possible, but that I wanted to be close to an agreement before leaving.  Also talked about maintaining the family structure after the separation.  She wants me to visit in the house to give the girls more contact with father [a naive suggestion that did not work out]….She mentioned possible reconciliation, and I said it was very unlikely.  She doesn’t want to shut door entirely, and etc.  Hope all this continues and forms basis for her choosing legal separation.   I’m concerned about what might happen once the lawyers get hold of it.

Significantly, she rushed off to a counselor this evening for herself.  Said I should pay–always the money business–but I said I couldn’t and wouldn’t.  But her action is a major step forward.  Previously, she would have turned her anxiety and hostility toward me.

I want to talk to you tomorrow morning. It will be very pleasant to hear your voice first thing the morning and remember what it is like to have you next to me as the day begins.



[Haven’t found a letter from Carol that responds directly to this one, so instead will offer another from me, which leads directly to one of hers at a dramatic moment.  The first part of my letter is an extended discussion of going on a field trip to Philadelphia with Tracy’s class.  Will skip over that part and pick up where I am recovering from that rather exhausting experience.]

Saturday noon

I feel something like a human being again although not a happy one.  I just tried calling you a couple of times and didn’t find you home.  I’m glad that you’re out, and trust you are enjoying yourself, but I miss you and needed to talk to you.  The situation, as we say, sucks.

It is raining again and I was looking through an upstairs window at my now uncovered swimming pool, watching the splash of fresh water ripple the surface of the pool’s algae tinted green, remembering sucking in fetid water off the cover when I started to siphon it off, and thinking I should do something with all this water, fresh, light green, and miasmic (like Poe’s tarn), and also remembering the beginning of a poem yesterday on the bus, a poem about early morning travelers, but I’m not sure I can get my head into those things now.

I experience a constant edge of discontent that makes concentration difficult. It is a temporary thing, I know, but still disturbing.  I can chase it away by writing to you, or even working on the novel, but poetry is perhaps too raw for me at this moment.

Well, I’m going to call you tonight.  In the meantime, I will look at an apartment–the one on Nesconset Highway–seems a vacancy for the summer is possible.

If I knew where you were right now I’d be there.


[As it turns out, that apartment would not be available until September.  Fortunately, a friend put me in touch with a couple who were camp counselors and were looking for a house sitter for the summer.  Their house was near the campus where I worked, so I happily agreed.  I still had to make my exit from my marital home, and that turned out to be a little complicated because of a timing issue, which had me leaving but staying with a colleague for a few days.  Carol’s letter begins as she waits to hear from me on the day I left.]

Monday eve.


A new Cabernet-Sauvignen to wet the throat.  Muenster cheese, smoked oysters, & Ritz, cigarette less than a hand’s width away, a jazz drum solo on 89.? FM.  The body strengthened, toned, sauna-ed & showered–but where are you?  I wanted to talk to you so much more today, but the office isn’t private & I didn’t feel like having two other sets of ears tuned in.  But I want to talk to you!!  I think I’ll just keep my fingers crossed & hope you’re on your way to Mike’s house or here.  But all this doesn’t describe the anxiety for you, the fear of your inertia, the need, the want on my part, the overwhelming desire to help, and to sit helpless, waiting for a phone call that may or may not come tonight.  I think that if you let the inertia get you, I’ll have a good, hot, rageful crying jag…& let Olf grow younger again.  Shit! How can you not do it?…I’ve gained nerve & lost my balance & reason.  I think I’ll go & write my philosophy paper.  A dose of reasoning & structuring thoughts should bring me back to my senses….Will write later when either the wine cures me or the academics–

[This letter ends abruptly and is not signed.  I do not know if it was sent since I don’t seem to have an envelope with the appropriate postmark  In any event, I had run into a bit of a problem, which required me to stop first at another friend’s house before winding up at Mike’s . I don’t recall being there more than a couple of days before taking up my summer’s residence at my house sitting gig to which Carol came before she left for her planned travels, which took her to visit Jan and Karl, close friends, whom she had known in Minneapolis, but who were now in Arkansas.  Once there, and very predictably, she wrote me a very long letter, which I won’t present except for a couple of meaningful pieces.   The rest is full of interesting, but not particularly relevant detail, about the Ozarks and her friends.]

Sunday morning


Been sitting  this morning–wrote an Arkansas Poem–waiting for the New York City energy  to down a little.  It’s either wait for the energy to simmer down or wait for something to happen that’s upbeat, but waiting for something to happen is like waiting for eternity and I haven’t got that long….

Day 2 has passed into an Arkansas night–crickets & cicadas singing–a hot heavy, sultry summer’s night settling down.

Today I’ve had a strong case of SL deprivation.  I survived to catch a 6 in. rainbow trout that nobody would eat because it tasted too fishy.  But the river is southern & beautiful–slow, winding, a low dense jungle on its banks….

I miss you & wish you were here to see this and share it.  I think you’d like Jan & Karl–they have a sense of humor like we do,,,,

Evening of Day 3

[Resuming after several pages about the Ozarks}

All’s quiet on the Arkansas front & returning to this letter is giving me a case of deprivation that mellow mandolin music [played by Karl] can’t cure.  If I recall, there’s only one cure anyway–& it doesn’t take remembering to know that.

Strawberry-peach daiquiris & blue-ribbon trout cooking…

‘Til then–

.. .More for the moment

[After describing the visit of a little girl to the campsite, the letter continues}

The light’s making it hard to write, so I’ll wait ’til tomorrow & then try to send this out–You may get it in about 2 months from this sleepy little place.

Well, it’s getting late & I still keep coming back to this letter to you.  I just wanted to tell you that I feel good here, I feel good about you & good about us.  And that’s the  thought that I need to go…and end this letter for the night.

Morning #4

[In this section, Carol describes that a motivation for her to take this trip was to talk to Jan, who had also ended a long relationship as she got together with Karl, a parallel Carol saw in her own situation with me.  I’ll skip over Jan’s story about finding long sought happiness with Karl, and pick up with Carol’s response to hearing it.]

And so I’m pleased & encouraged for my own personal reasons.  There’s more here, of course, that’s not anywhere near similar to me, or you and me, of course that has to be true w/anyone else, & I need to be careful not to interpret things for my own benefit simply because I want affirmation, for us.  As is always true, external affirmation has its limits.  I know that at the base line you & I are strong & sound, even as we grope through some of this.  If I know that the inside is sound, although the outside is sometimes confusing, then I can handle the next step in this walk through the jungle of personal history.  Traverse City is just around the corner [her annual visit home]….

I’ll write again.  Take care of yourself.


The few letters I’ve not yet transcribed were sent after I was in my apartment and we were seeing each other regularly, either by my visiting in Brooklyn, or her spending the weekend with me in my apartment when the kids were not staying with me.  This, then, is a good place to close down this blog.  But in doing so, I’ll offer one last remnant of Carol’s restless pen, with which she continued to clarify and record her thoughts until dementia took that ability away from her.  I found this last in a slim journal from January, 1986, after we had been living together in a rented house for three years.  In that journal,  fittingly titled for her “a woman’s notebook,” here is what she wrote:

We have agreed to get married!!

Steve, it is right. I  hope I never disappoint you.

She most assuredly never did.

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The Road to be Taken

[We  had reached a turning point.  It was no longer a question of whether we would find a way to be together but rather the when and the how.  Carol’s last letter invited/demanded that I come to live with her in Brooklyn.  I had to respond to that.  But both our lives also continued to go along with our day to day concerns, hers being finishing a semester and planning her summer, and mine, in a similar way, finishing up my semester.  My letter begins juggling both: dealing with a disappointment at my administrative job and responding to her ]

Tuesday noon


I’m sitting here seething, a good honest distracting rage.  Have read your letter once, and want to react, but it’ll have to wait for a different head.

I just got off the phone with the Dean and as soon as the receiver hit the buttons I muttered between clenched teeth, fuck you, you asshole.  First time in 16 years my reaction has been so immediate.  Usually internalize the anger.  Next time I don’t think I’ll wait for the receiver to hit the buttons.  It’s stomp on eggs time.

What is the context of all this? Simply, they killed the summer skills program for under prepared students  Reason–no reason, just bullshit, palpable, inane, odoriferous bullshit.  It gets worse….[letter goes on with details that I won’t repeat here but pick up on the other side of the rant]

Direct anger has its purpose, and I am done with for the while.

Will write more in that other head when I get a chance.

Tuesday evening

Not sure what kind of head I am in now. I am awash in emotional currents, waiting for the clear, hard precipitate to settle and the rest to be flushed away.

Some of it is job related–not only the shit described above, but the general end of the semester stuff, papers to grade, students with problems, early planning for next semester…., the business which provides the occasion for pleasure this weekend, not insignificantly that, that last phrase is what it is.[Apparently something that would enable us to spend time together]

Some of it is trivial, like smoking a Russian cigarette now so as not to exhaust my Marlboros before the morning.

Part, no doubt, is checking into one garden apartment–$455/month for 1 bedroom with two months security and one month in advance–more that I could muster in one lump sum, now.  And then I drove by the place in Hauppauge [perhaps mentioned in a telephone call]–couldn’t see the inside but grounds were depressing–ill-kept and neglected.  Complex next door looked more inviting–will have to check it out.

OK, nerves settling down.  They always do when I write to you.  To your letter.

One of the things I love about you is your honesty and the intensity of your feelings, both more and more apparent.

We will have a long talk about your invitation, a good bone-true talk, I trust.  For now, though I will record my feeling that you are a step ahead of me.  Much as the thought of listening to night noises over Sackett St. with you appeals to me, and it does, powerfully, I think I have to stake out my own place.  I do not know how you would feel in a reversed situation.  I sure as hell would be asking you to join me wherever I happened to be.  But my feeling, now, is that I must find a stasis for my psyche, a place where my emotions can coalesce, a place that is mine, psychologically as well as physically.  Of course, there are all kinds of practical problems, and they, too, must be considered.  The process must work itself out.

Have much more to say on this subject, and will, either when I continue this letter and/or I see you.  I hope you will understand.  No, I know you will understand.

In no particular context, a line from Shakespeare’s Troilus & Cressida on the tube last night: “This is the monstrosity in love…that the will is infinite and execution confin’d, that the desire is boundless and the act a slave to limit.”

Amen, Willie, amen.  But I’ll do my damnedest to close the space between limits and needs.  Maybe some space need remain, or at least reappear after being closed, but I can  think of no better way to expend energy.

Thursday late afternoon

In my office, after a reception for newly promoted faculty  to which I arrived late and from which I left early.  Choice to write to you or grade papers–obviously no contest.

As tomorrow grows closer, my anticipation increases in geometric progression each passing minute.  I do not know in what state I’ll be in about 18 hrs.  The clearing wind is rattling the Venetian blinds and dispersing the oppressive humidity of the day, and I  feel like floating my weary body on that cool breeze and relaxing among  deep breaths of fresh air.

I can feel you now in my arms, and brush away a stray wisp of hair that intrudes between our lips.  Your warmth encircles and encloses.  I want to go to sleep now and wake tomorrow in your arms.


[Carol’s letter jumps around a bit, so I am editing it for focus]



The afternoon wore down to its last bones.  A gin & tonic image has been impressing itself on me since 1:30 today.  I wanted to save it, and have, until I could relax & write to you.  Sifting through old New Yorkers was the afternoon activity, trying to lessen the overload in the “private reading room,” clipping a few of the best poems, an occasional joke & the covers for some future unknown use–all while sitting through a decently bad rendition of a once-good “Big Sleep”….

The writing comes slow this weekend–crawls out in fragments & too quick words w/a lack of substance–sporadic.  Rusty, I think, from a few months of disuse or misuse, or maybe I’ve abused my poor creativity intolerably by forcing it into verbal, usually rational, arguments w/Steve.  I’ll have to indulge it in creativity food–poetic smoked oysters of the mind.

Been reading Bruno Bettelheim on the misinterpretation of Freud….[will skip over this, which  goes on for a bit and pick up where the letter resumes musing about our situation]

A quiet weekend for sure after you left Saturday.  Hasn’t been too quiet yet, but I may be stark raving mad by Monday from neglecting connection to the rest of humanity  Although some of it demands neglecting or ignoring  The Sackett St. kids for instance, are bouncing a ratty-looking basketball off the hood of a car at the moment to the tune of some defiantly un-jazzy, unclassical music booming from a BFR [Big Fucking Radio?]

The storm lights flicked on over Sackett St. last night for a few long minutes w/a phone call from Steve  There must be no one else up at the lake yet–he sounded like he hadn’t talked to anyone in a  good week.  Talked for the first 15 minutes solid of tales of the Ausable River & plans to go to Montreal w/sister.  I think he must be doing all right even though he was nervous talking to me, but that seems normal. I’ve put him through an emotional wringer–I’m surprised he talks to me at all.  The hostility was low, I think, because of the isolation up there until the summer-dwellers arrive.  A neighbor or two, a ride in the boat up to the Narrows, a drink at a friend’s house, & we shall see.  The storm lights came on only once but strongly w/declarations of love, I remaining silent through it all, which infuriated him.  I felt cold, as if he were freezing me w/it all.  It infuriates me when he lowers himself to pleading & then gets angry that he’s done it.  Although I remember yesterday pleading w/you for assurance during a short loss of faith & then feeling ridiculous that I’d done it.  Well.  Sigh.  The human soul knows no bounds to its limitations, does it?


A pleasant surprise–a phone call from one, Steve Lewis, just to talk.  My evening picked up again–I have a tendency to get too laid back when I’m by myself for any length of time–could alternate between reading & writing for days on end & come out of it at the end never knowing if the Falkland Islands still exist or if the kids blew up Sackett St.  It’s good to know one’s own thoughts are so interesting, but enough is enough.  Tomorrow I’ll take the bicycle to  the Promenade & read around other people (!)  Just can’t seem to help it–the reclusiveness feels so good right now.  Except for you &  few other people, my present tendency would make me a hermit–or a hermitess for a while.  I always get saved though–we shall see when Karen [friend] comes in.

I think I’m rambling here–it feels so good to talk to you, even if it ‘s one-sided.  The recipient makes all the difference, so maybe the pen will go on for a little while & ramble just a touch more & then back to the New Yorker covers–the first act of spring cleaning.  The second act is to organize the winter’s letters–everybody’s get kept, stored by date & alphabetically by name [ I have not discovered this trove].  Yours, however, I haven’ t decided what to do w/ yet.  They’re still filling up the “inspiration” file–& I refer back to them enough I don’t want to file them yet.  So that takes care of that part of the cleaning easily–yours will remain in the “inspiration” file along w/ a few choice letters from my sister &  the various poems & other poetic paraphernalia in there.  The third & last act-act 3 of spring cleaning is to clear the desk of the semester’s junk–half of which is junk.  And that’s it–equivalent to the traditional moving of furniture & sweeping& cleaning of floors & rug beating of spring cleaning….

One more thought before the paper runs out: I do play a recorder, but…I can only play Gregorian chants & once in a fit of wine-induced amusement, I played “The Wicked Witch Is Dead” for a highly intoxicated crowd of 10.  Sensuous? Only the wine.


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Decisions Reached

[Carol’s letter starts on Sunday night and it is again lengthy, 5 plus closely written sides. I think I will transcribe almost all of it while skipping over secondary details concerning her academic situation. The reference to Saturday morning suggests we spent the night together, perhaps in Brooklyn.  I do not remember what would have been a noteworthy event.  Certain other  points in her letter emerge.  She assumes that concerns about my possible legal basis for divorce is what  keeps me in my marriage, but that is not correct.  It was leaving my kids, along with uncertainty as to how to put my life together, plus, I suppose, some inertia,  that formed the  impediment to immediate action. Also, her patience is wearing thin, as was mine, and she makes a rather startling offer/demand, a bit of both. She also seems to have made peace with herself concerning ending her relationship with housemate.  She closes with the simple statement that she loves me.  Again in hindsight, it is a little starling to realize that we, so clearly now very much in love, did not say that word very often, if at all.  Much to unpack in this letter.]

Sunday night


It’s 10:00 Sunday & Brooklyn aches & groans w/ the last throes of the weekend. I’m in the bedroom watching the leaves on the tree outside the window be entirely unaffected by the activity of Sackett St.  Sackett St., I’m sure you remember, doesn’t sleep except between the hours of 3& 5 AM & that’s pushing it.

I’m led to wonder if you’ll sleep tonight or do battle.  It was the look on your face  when we parted  Saturday that made me think just now of someone who’s capable of donning helmet & mail & wielding a weapon, but also someone who never wanted to.  It was your eyes–a strange mixture of emotions.  The thought of a kidnapping was even more powerful after you left to the point of making up wicked little schemes in my mind as I was driving to Marsha’s [friend] house.  I was, of course, dressed appropriately & entirely in black, needing only a black kerchief for my face, a woman guerilla fighter w/ a repeating rifle for a companion, a little Browning automatic for myself, & a wild glint in my eye to pull off the abduction.  But it would hardly be abduction, if you went willingly, right?

On a more profound & less terrorist level, seeing you Saturday [do not remember this specific event]   was, among many hugs & deep kisses, disturbing at some level, maybe a deeper level than I had realized.  I think I try to keep opinionated thoughts on your marriage to myself or separate from our relationship–for what noble reason, I’m not  sure.  Anyway, seeing you Sat. I have one strong one that I can’t keep still on; it may surprise you: you should pack your suitcase on Friday instead of your overnight bag & plan on not going back.  Brooklyn awaits you.  I’ve thought about it for a long time, you know, trying to decide, sometimes a little agonizingly I’ll tell you the thought process sometime; but the final resolution came as true & good as any good resolution should: w/out doubt; w/out uncertainty.  Screw the abandonment charge–I need you, & you shouldn’t stay there any longer.  Maybe New York laws are not so archaic anymore & abandonment wouldn’t hold up in a court.  You already went back once because you thought it was the best thing to do–a plus for sure.  Actually, I don’t particularly care what the law says, at this point.  Your legal reason for staying is no longer a justifiable one to me.  If there’s any doubt in your mind as to my earnestness or certainty or sincerity or anything else, get rid of it.  I want you here.  You should be here.  I know you’ll do what you think best for yourself, anyway, staying there or going, but I’ll never feel bad for having offered, even pleaded a little.  Having sacrificed the principle of “Private Lives: No Interfering,” I feel much better.  I care, damn it, and you’d better know it.  So I’ll just leave it like this:  the offer stands, whenever you want to take me up on it.


It’s 4 AM & Sackett St. has just decided to go to sleep.  I think my anxiety-ridden body no longer desires sleep.  I can no longer sleep easily in the same bed as Steve….

It’s started to rain outside (certainly not inside, although sometimes I think it does).  It’s soothing.  My body is feverish from tension.  Friday, the fever was a wrecking one & of course my cough is worse even now than it was then.  When the fever’s exceptionally high & the muscles in my back twitch w/electrical currents, I try to imagine a cool place–a deep woods that I walk in on the farm, a familiar place, where the sunlight comes only in spots & the shade & coolness & quietness bring a quiet, instinctive sanity that’s like no other & if I’m on horseback in my imagining, then even the horse moves quietly, stopping of his own accord to listen to subtle sounds–rustlings, stirrings, a fox eyeing us w/mild disapproval.  There’s more, of course, but I’m afraid of boring you–a little bit more, then, & the fantasy will be done.  If we move on in imagining, following a track we used to follow in reality, the forest ends in the new planting fields, and horse & rider, the natural exuberance strained too long, leap as one for the field in a wild, mad dash to some ungauged future geographical point, dodging trees & limbs & branches & ladders somebody left out in the orchard & then walking back, finally, the cooling off period.

I’m surprised that this child-like imagining stays w/me in the city.  It was never there in Minneapolis [where she lived for a while] & there was certainly a need for simplification then.  Of course, I was a basket case there eventually–never allowed myself an occasional escape, not even in my imagination–only, finally, the real need to leave.  New York was definitely calling.

Do I sound like I’m using subversive ways to get you to leave home?  You’re right, I am.  I wasn’t even consciously aware of it til just now, but all for the better then.  Good!  Leave home.

I’ve come to a really excellent thought on the end of Steve’s & my relationship. I thought I’d share w/you–I think it’s a major step through my guilt.  You & I have never really discussed my guilt–except once long before I knew what it really was & how strong.  Suffice it to say that it’s my strongest & most persistent enemy–it can make me emotionally withdrawn & destroy my self-image, to name just  two of its delightful little capers.  The thought I had was that the relationship has reached its natural conclusion.  The other stuff–the hostility, discontent, emotional upheaval is all side effects.  Came out of a conversation w/Steve where he had said he was worried that he is a teacher, by personality, that the women he’s been w/for any length of time, they’ve been insecure, at first, unsure of themselves, carrying around a narrow vision of the word & themselves in it.  And what he does is give them the skills to discover a better world view, pushes them into school & fights w/them  to discover themselves.  Then, of course, they grow up & leave him, no longer needing a teacher/lover.  There’s a return of course for him–I’ve given him or taught him about his emotions & the artistic, creative side of himself.  There’s a conflict  though–what I’ve had to offer him, he’ll need forever.  What’s he’s had to offer me is done.  He still needs a teacher.  I no longer do.  Not that I’m complete & will stop learning from other people, but I need an equal–someone like you.  I need to share & the sharing will be a learning.  Steve can’t break his vision of me–that I still need to learn a few basic skills of the world–that I’m an insecure blithering mass of nerves forever & ever.  His vision has crystallized & I’ve outgrown it.  The relationship has reached its natural conclusions; one of us has moved on.  Oh God , I’ve reached/am reaching adulthood at the age of 29.  It seems late, or maybe it’s early, or maybe it’s just right–who knows.

In perspective, I don’t think I should have met you when I was 19.  I wouldn’t have wanted you to know me then.  Despite the external circumstances, the time was perfect; you came along right at the appropriate moment.  This sounds like it has potential for another letter or another 6 pages.  Eternal conversations w/you.

I’ll leave off so you can read at least this much Tuesday & I can take a shower & begin the long  goodbye to the Classics Texts class.

It’s 8AM Monday.  I’ll try to call you this afternoon before you see the counselor–I need to tell you that I love you.


[I will share my response in my next post. For now, I invite you to read Brooklyn, a poem I wrote, perhaps after my first experience waking up with Carol in her apartment on that Saturday she mentions.]


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Mother’s Day Weekend

[Our letters describing this weekend crossed.  From this vantage point so many years later, I find it interesting to note similarities and differences in our situations.  Both home fronts are approaching termination points but the emotional atmosphere in each is wildly different.  Of course, her situation is less complicated, no kids, no house, no fixed career path yet, and so forth. And perhaps there is a cultural divide: Midwestern conflict aversion vs. NY in your face conflict.

Friday night


A time of subtle irritation since I left you, beginning with seeing my wife’s car in the driveway when I got home–too tired to shop–and I denied necessary time for transition.  Minor tension, but a pervasive weariness, which carried through a Brazilian film we saw–a nice piece of fluff, though we skirmished briefly in post comments.  Film had a gypsy flavor–about a traveling carnival–which appealed to her.  She talked about the feeling of freedom projected by the film, to which I say, to myself, Amen and again Amen….Bickered a little more about necessity to walk babysitter home–she lives next door–and then exhaustion carried her without much further complaint to sleep and left me here with some nice guitar work coming from the radio, and time to think of you before my own sleep, a much better transition than the one I lost.

Plans tomorrow call for one of us–me–to be home while skylights are installed and then other-her-to accompany kids to orthodontist. I like that plan.  We’ll see if holds against predictable (I find myself using that word a lot lately) and resentment (that one too).  Then tomorrow night, she to the auction and I to a movie while kids stay home with Kerri babysitting for Tracy, or maybe vice verse.   Might try to catch “Cat People.”  Sunday offers dinner out–substitute for flowers–no problem with the card.  She snipped a coupon for Gulliver’s. Cannot resist organizing, structuring–need for the security of fixed lines in spite of Gypsy fantasies.

Big band, now, edged with a sharp tenor sax, all of it a little too harsh for my current mood, so will switch off the sound and switch on the inner projector, and flash images of a beach and reconstruct soft touches and lips brushing together.  And tell Olf, scratching at the window, to go fuck himself, if he knows how.

Saturday noon

Sitting in the orthodontist’s office. That deal didn’t hold either, but much more, much more than just that.

Transition anticipated last night turned out to be dip into venom bath–full treatment–beginning with expressed desire for intimacy, moving after rejection, to charges of my being gay–seriously made–I, in control at that point, enjoying the irony, talking about wanting to make it with Bruce–then the wimpies, hours of wimpies, hovering, clinging, attempted escape to spare bedroom, some fairly significant physical confrontation, a last gasp promise to accept neutrality, exhausted sleep finally  Pick up in morning with sullen hostility, wimpies shelved, promises contradicted, reneged, over to go out to take care of her needs, head games about dental forms, refusing to sign–no problem–I forged her name as I have done before when signature was missing because of carelessness rather than politics–company doesn’t care, really & in fact, receptionist  here suggested it the first time.

Prediction for rest of weekend–cloudy and chance of sullen gray and red hostility.

Problem was she enjoyed herself last night at movie, but could not, would not, settle for that.  I can understand, I suppose, but do not fully (maybe not partially) sympathize.  Wanted more,  much more, than I am prepared to give.  Admitted to long-term hostility and anger–tell me about it, I said–anger and rage so deep that it is ineradicable, can only be covered over, but will erupt again, and perhaps in some bizarre context, but erupt it will.

Probably a good idea to give that anger a very fixed and well-defined target.  We are very close to doing that.

I can hardly wait for the next day and a half–meant to be grimly ironic, but there is some comfort in knowing you have hit bottom, and there to await a fresh current which promises to arrive soon and sweep you off the rocks.

Saturday night

A mellow evening after a night and day of agony.  Last night hostility, or anxiety, not sure which, erupted.  Immediate cause was inability to go out–nobody’s fault–guy installing skylights (there is a symbol here that I will have to work on, in the skylights I mean) finished too late, plus the threat of rain, which made Adventureland–a last minute switch in plans–unattractive for me (for whom it was unattractive anyway) and kids.  Thus, no auction, no movie, no Adventureland, just a quiet evening at home, awaiting the breaking point in building tension, and break it did.  More heavy conversation about love, or the lack thereof, some acceptance but also grim hope that holding on long enough is itself a kind of cure.

Then, today, Mother’s Day, and a visit from my father-in-law, who tried to lighten the gloom and succeeded in thickening it.  Emotional good-bye, preceded by heart to heart with him.  He acknowledges problems, said how he had considered leaving his wife, and how my wife has some of the same endearing traits. Then, a forced, teary embrace–she and he–throwing us literally together as he left.

Out to dinner and the unanticipated mellowing, making the night tolerable.  Strong signs of reason and restraint, for now, but surely temporary.

I treasure the respite as I savor the new current, but the respite also brings C.D.

I do not want, and will not, go to sleep right away.  I will enjoy the quiet, the occasional car on the highway, sense of purposeful motion, and luxuriate in the opportunity to indulge myself in thoughts of you which, without too much effort, become almost tangible.


[Carol’s response, again quite extensive, devoted to detailing the calmer, but equally fraught, dissolution of her relationship.]



I’m sitting here in the midst of the Sunday Times, the phone, an ashtray (recently emptied of overflowing butts), the last letter you gave me, 2 candles & the telephone directory.  Mother’s day calls prompted the phone business & trying to get in  touch w/Jan in Utah to make arrangements for flying out there in late July,….

Steve is off to see his new girlfriend today & take her to a baseball game.  No jealousy on my part for a baseball game. I have discovered a new hidden resentment, though–Something odd about someone else taking over my old job of making him happy–odd enough because I don’t want the job, but still the feeling persists here & there, old archaic traditional roles still in my head producing possessiveness of a  strange sort.  A lot of satisfaction & relief that he no longer clings–still persists in his belief that this relationship can exist on a sexual level. SIGH. It can’t.

Think I’ll come out, however temporarily, of a long spell of Olfish-like despair broken only intermittently by brief moments w/you.  The negativity can really get a grip.  The frustration of not having more time w/you is ever-present & I lash out in negative letters to you describing in intimate detail what it’s like, that I don’t know how much longer I can stand it & then tuck them away for future reference–so I can look back some day & say, Jesus, how’d we ever get through, all that horseshit?  Determination, persistence, patience or love, a growing tenderness, and a bottle of Scotch?

In 2 weeks my life will change w/a marked difference.  I’m reaching the end of my rope & know it.  I know I should be dealing with the home front battles to a greater degree here & now, and I do but only to a certain extent, because I really only want this to be over & Steve to be  gone happily trout fishing in the Adirondacks w/ or w/out the new love of his life, SO I CAN BREATHE AGAIN.  It’s just the peace & quiet–you need just a little peace in your life; I need just a little breathing room.  I need a lot as a matter of fact , I need to squeeze your bones thoroughly & fully & distinctly each one….

The ashtray’s filling up again–I’ll have to do something about it–like empty it….

I still love Steve but not in the way that two people living, supposedly intimately together should, not as a lover, not as a partner.  7 years got him a soft place in my heart, the same place w/my ex-husband, despite all the shit, but that’s all.  The range & extent of it I’m not, may never be entirely sure of, but it’s not sexual.  For all the things  that I’m unsure of I am not unsure of that one–it’s as solid as the bone in my body, not even offering a tremor of uncertainty.  Sad, I think, but not much.  It’s only sad that he doesn’t understand–prefers to think I have rejected him totally a clean split, divorced in his entirety.  Not so, but not what he wants.  Too bad.  In this ridiculous, but crucial game of war & ending relationship, to me, I come first, not him.  So generous in battle, aren’t I?

Such wonderful self-serving egotism. I love it.  I know what I want, I want my freedom and I want you.  and I have every intention of having both, in case you’re wondering.

You said–I am a central core to you.  I think you are to me but the language is different,  the meaning the same.  Steve said Friday night that the reason he’s having an affair (one of the reasons, however large or minute) is that he can no longer touch my soul.  He’s right, he can’t.  It’s not open to him.  It’s open to you–you’re the one who can soothe a ruffled soul, quiet the turbulence, & dispel the frustration, by making love to me.

I wish things were purer, you know?  Just sweetness, no horseshit.  So much sweetness, anyway, that maybe it’ll eventually knock the shit right into the corner where it belongs….

I think I could really go for a hot fudge sundae right now.  You’re stimulating my appetite simply (hardly simply) by being on the other end of this letter–(complexedly, crucially, totally).

I’m drawn back persistently to think & remember, lingeringly, of the tenderness of Wed. night, still, forever, marked memory, indelibly printed on the finest senses of the soul, published, distributed to the rest of the mind & body (to be measured, if necessary, against the far inferior, commercial, paperback horseshit).  And Friday, too, drawn in by the pleasure of watching your face, your eyes, your smile.–And I thought w/astonishment, maybe because I’d never thought of it before, that I can very possibly make this man happy–even in my withdrawn, nervous state, which eventually subsided on Friday–Is it true?


A rare & pleasant Sunday afternoon–rare because it was pleasant.  Peaceful, quiet, relaxed, soothing even.  Menial chores, done, not as a distraction from frustration or the claws of Olf, but because they needed to be done….House mate still gone.  Wonderful Public radio on, pen in hand, paper recording thoughts to you & of you, tea and cigarettes–I could almost be happy.  Except there’s no bearded face to pull close to mine & stroke the hair in the direction that it grows, no eyes to kiss, no one to rub my back right under the right shoulder blade where it gets sore.  Any greater measure of happiness requires a certain person’s presence.

Whenever I start thinking about you this way, very sensually, you become so tangible, so close, at this moment,  that I can’t believe you’re not in the kitchen fixing yourself a drink & will walk out into the living room any second & sit down beside me w/a contented sigh.  It’s so powerful it’s almost eerie; but if it’s eerie, it’s a very welcome eerie. (Touch me.) (I know you’re here.)….

My liberation day has been moved back to Thursday, May 20.  So I’m free on the 21st or the 22nd, whichever you want, to go w/you. [Don’t recall what arrangements this is referencing.  Dates are a Friday & Saturday.  Apparently, we did get together, as subsequent letters indicate.] And I definitely want to go w/you.  Now.  For a long time.  A long bone-hugging time.

I did Steve’s numerology.  He came out needing peace & quiet in two areas, so I told him he was living w/ the wrong woman. (Don’t you know he’s living w/the wrong woman…)

Of other information, I’m not sure if this will be outstanding or shocking news to you or not, I assume not too. I told him who you are.  He was amused & I was grim.   When he became grim, I became amused at his grimness.  You became a real entity then.

He said, “You’re serious, then aren’t you?”  And I barely restraining my delight, responded politely while inwardly shouting “Yes! Now you got it!” and visualized myself leaping out into the middle of the floor & dancing for pure joy.  The positive effects: we set some ground rules that released us both from lying or having to lie, about our whereabouts.  There will be a simple, “I want the car,” “I want to go today,” no explanation needed–just understood.  I think he doesn’t feel quite so rejected seeing this woman, whose name is Amy, now The only problem will come if we both want the car on the same day.  The resentment will fly then–but it’s my car.

No hot fudge sundae in the offering.  I have the strangest (& it is strange for me) feeling to be w/you & your kids somewhere eating ice cream!)  A thought worth musing over for insight as to what’s happening to me….

This is what I wrote to you a long time ago & never sent, but send now.  It seems appropriate to my mood.

If I ever thought you were even considering giving me up for the return of home front domesticity (anything else is even more inconceivable), you’d find an angry mass of nerves in bodily shape outside your office door one particularly bright & sunny morning w/a wicked brilliance storming out of eyes demanding, w/no uncertainty to know what the hell you thought you were doing giving me up for 17 years of something marital you’ve never called bliss.  The bones, Steve, never forget them.  They have never known how to lie….

Late night: grilled cheese & milk… sleep, & dreams that won’t lock the jaw shut–dreams that, since you’re so close, should open every erotic door in the subconscious.


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Do You Snore?

[In thinking about how important writing her thoughts down was for Carol, I am reminded that she appended a quote, attributed to English novelist E.M. Foster, to her email signature: “How do I know what I think until I see what I say.”  She clearly, perhaps more than most of us, needed to write her thoughts down to clarify them, as evidenced by the length of her letters as well as the mountain of words on all sorts of paper she left.  In this letter, continued from the last post, she also expresses her need to talk, as well as write, about her thoughts.  By the end of the letter, having seen what she has said, she seems to have come to  a resolution, which she expresses in a delightfully puckish manner as though, for a moment, to step back from the seriousness of her decision for both of us.

Her letter continues with a   long recapitulation of a conversation she had with a woman friend who was a student of housemate Steve. ]

Spent 4 much needed hours today w/an unlikely friend & supporter–a woman whose intellectual prowess deserves & demands admiration & respect, who can also be equally intimidating to people w/a less than good opinion of their own intellectual powers.  We share, have always shared, a mutual respect & liking for each other, but circumstances–she, a grad student w/Steve–never allowed a more intimate communication.  But today we talked out of necessity.  No one will talk w/me about you–always it’s in terms of me & then Steve & me.  Awful.  I was beginning to wonder how I could understand my feelings for you , &  my thoughts if I couldn’t talk to one other person about you (you being first to talk to).  She was perfect–or as close as a human being could be about all this.  I felt instinctively & I generally  do it w/only my sister–that I could speak openly-no holds barred-not a complaining, whining thing (which thought gives me the shivers–may I be laid in my final resting place first…) but direct statements.  And I felt relief, long, long, long overdue relief. It seems sort of crazy, but the relief is having someone else accept the idea that you’re an important part of my life. I can accept it, but there’s only so much I can do by myself & then at some point (long overdue) I need to hear someone say, simply from listening to me talk, “Well, yes, Carol, of course; it’s obvious.  It’s in your voice, your eyes, you smile more, you carry yourself better, lighter….:Yes, yes, yes. More, I was insatiable; I wanted to hear so much more of the same.  And I made her miss an app’t.  Greedy, so wonderfully, fully greedy, and she loved it–understood, has a similar situation, loved watching me glow.  I felt like my soul was getting it’s much deserved stroking.

Even later

How late? 2 or 3, maybe 4AM….

A friend calls @1:30 from Minneapolis–a crazed, neurotic, energetic, spontaneous friend–a close one–who’ll be here in June for a week.  A friend I can speak to easily about you–Can I meet him she asks.  And in her neurotic way: Can I be spontaneous?  She would be, I think….I tell her of my insatiable need for you in all ways.  She doesn’t know, for herself, has only met one person that she felt this way about, repressed it & channeled it to a platonic friendship because she was close to his wife & didn’t want to risk the friendship of both….”But I know you,” she says, “I can imagine the energy.  Also imagined I must repress some of that energy because of the situation, some because I’m unsure of the outcome of all this, some because I’m unwilling to be vulnerable to some degree.  She said all this & I barely said a word; listening to a woman who’d never been in the situation fully, who’d only known me for years & years, her perceptions sharp, accurate, never needing to ask if what she said was true.  Knew intuitively–like a total trust of her intuition about me.

I began to wonder, naturally, at some point, could I ever begin to do for these people all that they have done for me, & I think that I must have already in the past, or they wouldn’t offer or be there, so sharp, so willing for me….

Sunday afternoon

The day is sunny & every fiber of my being strains against what small measure of control I can muster up to prevent my hand for reaching for the keys  to the car, to swing out on the BQE [Brooklyn Queens Expressway heading out to Long Island] & head east to the May Fair at Suffolk & find you.  Even writing this, this restraint slips a little more, but there’s no other release, nothing.  Should I place an Olf call, should I call your office, but you’re not there.  This has to be the worst–worse than frustration, worse than irritation, worse  than combat zone, worse than death–the worst possible thing.  I think that if you called me right now & wanted to see me, I wouldn’t hesitate–not a word to Steve, not a glimmer of guilt, just relief, overwhelming release.

I think I’m not getting anywhere.  I’ll have to dance to release some of this energy; go to the store 6 blocks down for cigarettes; take a walk to the Promenade [elevated walkway, not far from Sackett Street, with a view over the East River and Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan]; anything, anything–but first hide the car keys because the compulsion to go is too powerful & car keys in hand my feet would not go to the store or the Promenade.

Later in the afternoon

Better. Sunbathing on the roof, a good measure of classical music–strong & vibrant tones–&  the strength of this restless irritation eases–

Take care,


Sunday evening


Night’s in w/the moon a sliver of light, I’m suntanned & healthy from lying on the roof all day & jazz just came in over the radio–a time to write to you.

A temporary lull has settled over the ap’t., a too-seeming calm–the sunny weather, I suppose is responsible although I have to take some of the credit.

Thoughts that have been trailing themselves for a couple of years resolve themselves into decisions of action, giving clarity to myself.  The summer is planned w/ the added necessity of finishing a couple of incompletes–to keep intellect stimulated until fall.  The end of July brings Colorado [to visit friends] & Michigan, & September brings the transition from this place to another, by far to be the most difficult. You’re interwoven through all by thought & emotion even though your situation remains unknown, temporarily unseeable.  I just hope that time in her continuum & fate in its unravelings will bring us closer together again.  This has a fairly dramatic sound to it, but then it’s sort of dramatic times, isn’t it?

My housemate is leaping  around the house exclaiming that he feels the changes in his bones (!?)  I don’t think he’s aware that that’s where wisdom originates; I think he’s referring to what looks like an incoming thunderstorm, but the reference to domestic wars through symbolism is almost too much to take by myself.  But being the partner that has generally always kept things to herself, I feel it’s my duty to remain silent to him on the weather elements posing as domestic symbols.  The philosophical question of the day: if the storm’s due in from the west (the Midwest, no doubt) will there be more lightning than thunder or vice versa.

I catch myself wondering if the combat zone was reasonably quiet for you this weekend.  Can’t say I could ever hear the sounds of gunfire over Brooklyn, but that’s because Brooklyn has its own ethnic version of WWIII, as you probably know–

It seems that we’ve gone from spinning images of mutual feelings & individual situations to a middle ground of hesitantly expressed, more serious feelings and waiting–waiting, I think, for nothing specific from each other at this point, even though we’ve both hedged at specifics, waiting for time to turn & the webs to spin  themselves in or out, at which point we can take up the thread again.

Part of me–a major part–says that I need to clarify what I’m doing w/ my life before I go about intensifying anything, and another part says I’d toss my pen over the end of this couch if I could be w/ you right now.  Both are true.

And issues–realizations of what it means to be involved w/ you–I didn’t want to press you, over the phone the other day; it wasn’t my intention.  It was that anticipated, but still sudden loss of contact w/ you–your return home–that set the emotions shivering unsureness of all that had passed, of something present. Token received to dispel the confusion.  In all due rational thought, issues & realizations are considerations & I’ll mull quietly.  It’s a good mulling–

One last thought before the light goes off & my usual strong dreams invade reality–

Do you snore?




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As Spring Arrives

[It is early May.  We are both back in our increasingly untenable situations, each being dealt with in different ways as best we could at the time.]

Friday night


An unanticipated opportunity to write to you.  Party preparation preoccupation deflected the cutting edge of tension and led to early bedtime, thus giving me these moments.

Suffered an almost instant attack of CD after leaving you, and it is spreading into my marrow, even as I write. “Parting,” quoth the bard, “is such sweet sorrow.”  Bullshit say I, the only poet–alive or dead–in Ft. Salonga, bullshit.  Sweet yes, I suppose, those last moments, the last hug, but sorrow doesn’t really catch it, and sweet in memory mixed with the present need adds up to something far more intense than Willie’s slick phrase.

As a distraction from which I turn to the front page of the Times and skim headlines that document continuing lunacy: Ronnie getting stubborn and demanding more spending cuts, economic analysts fearing for the continued decline of the feeble patient, England and Argentina sparring with each other over a pile of rocks, getting serious enough to actually escalate to  an armed confrontation.  Two pictures on the front page–an Argentinian soldier, looking grim  and three elephants at the Bronx Zoo looking very much at ease.  The elephants, two females and a baby, have my respect–they seem to be enjoying the weather, to have a proper perspective on things.  The soldier, on the other hand, with arms clasped over his weapon, and eyes set, appears unnatural and arrogantly ridiculous.

I’ll go to bed, now, and sweeten my slide into sleep by conjuring images of a park bench on a sunny afternoon….

Sunday night

The weekend was miserable–misery in all its colors and moods–sullen, hostile, desperate, stupid etc.

I went into a spasm of rage at our  swimming pool today. I was beginning the yearly torture of opening it up, draining the murky shit off  the cover, hooking up the filter, and I was tense because the day had been bad, and in fact I started working on the pool to do something useful, something that would let me get out some energy in a positive way.  So, of course, everything went wrong–I dropped a connecting piece into the water where I couldn’t get it without taking the damn cover off, and it still has four inches of water crawling with all  forms of obnoxious life  to be disposed of first.  I wanted a stick of dynamite then to blow the whole thing away.  I settled down finally, and managed to make some progress, but the rage was very real and the pool was only a cause, a moment’s opportunity.

Saturday night we played the charade of the happy couple, after an afternoon during which we discussed lawyers again.  Today, we all went to May Arts [an annual festival at Suffolk College, one I was largely responsible for developing] sullenly, with no enthusiasm or interest, and left after an uncomfortable hour.  Then came the pool episode, followed by a  couple of hours of quiet, but finally teary conversation.  I am drained again.  She’s mostly convinced of  the inevitability of things, but will not accept and dissolves during moments of realization into a pitiful vulnerability. I told her I didn’t love her anymore, and she beats her breast in agony of self-accusal and hatred.  Justifies her life and her concerns, talks of her mother’s death [a few years before] and on and on.  I do not want to be moved, but I am not stone.  I know these are not, any of them, reasons to stay married, and I will not accept them as such.

I move the situation ahead–counseling is still the only available lever to pull, and I will yank it this week.  Coming back was, perhaps, a mistake, but maybe not.  The game will have to be played out, and I will feel much better once I draw the next card–forgive the poor metaphor.

Forgive me also this letter.  It’s been a literal hell of a weekend, one made all the more intolerable for the day which began it.

Remember my stubbornness–I bend but do not break, and you are the core of my will now.

I have been waiting all day to write to you, and thus the frantic energy of the above [including a cigarette smudge].  I am calmer now.  You do  that for me.  I think I will sleep pleasantly tonight, even with the welcome pain of CD.


Monday morning

I was going to mail this this morning but didn’t have a stamp.

At my desk now, and I’ve just read your”abuse” letter and smiled broadly at the sketch.

I’m feeling good because of the letter–strange as that might sound, but it confirms some of my own thoughts, and too, because this morning early brought a potent, difficult, symbolic act of rejection from me.  The woman who didn’t want to be disturbed at 5am by my writing, woke me up at about that time to make love.  I remember half screaming “Shit, no”…and then having unlidded the venom, watched it spill harmlessly because the venom was the cause of it all.  And then even a little almost rational conversation as the why’s and wherefore’s.  And I begin to see an end to this mess, an end which will still be an agony, but an end nonetheless….

In all of this, you are, as I said, the catalyst, the good agent causing to happen a little sooner that which had to be.


[Carol’s turn, in a letter that crossed in the mail with mine above since both reference the May Arts Festival, which I unhappily attended and she almost did.  Picking up on my formulation of CD for Carol Deprivation, she begins with SLD, the L necessary to distinguish me from housemate.   This letter, even by Carol’s generous standards is voluminous, eight full sides of her neat hand, to be precise, but also so  good  that I will only lightly edit it for length . Her exploration of her own feelings are so rich and honest they deserves to be read.  My solution is to present what I can in this post and continue it in the next toward its end that offers a a wonderfully apt, puckish question, that somehow makes sense.]

Saturday A.M.


SLD mounts, winds through the veins, seeps into the muscle, heading toward the core.  It arrives.  Frustration deepens like a black cloud & produces FOG (frustration or gratification syndrome–a difficult thing demanding immediate gratification or eternal frustration.

I leave you w/a smile on my face making me walk funny down the street–halfway through FOG w/a kiss (–if you don’t understand, but I’m sure you must, I’ll tell you).  Give myself til Sackett St. to enjoy, then re-arrange thoughts & face for an appropriate appearance at the ap’t. door.  Silence.  Still life of an ap’t. not on canvas simmering w/discontent.  A seemingly distinct advantage that’s no advantage.  Throw myself in a chair in a morbid stupor & proceed to feel worse for the transition time it offers.

Thoughts make the transition from you to Housemate.  It is not a pretty transformation, scowl-producing at its best.  Lights out.  TV on to numb.  This must be worse than death. Strange poetry wanders through, descriptive of life here:

In the aftermath, the residue
retains its position on the bottom
of the bottle of musky colored wine–
minuscule stones & pieces of grit
like those crunched between teeth
from uncleaned shellfish.
They grate against the glass like gravel
and shift, lingeringly through the wine
by a finger tapping slowly, rhythmically,
relentlessly against the outer glass walls.
Inside, wine turns to vinegar & time passes.

Housemate comes, wants to talk.  We’ll talk.  Olf sits heavily on my head & shoulders.  I respond lethargically. He is quietly persistent (both Housemate & Olf): “What are your expectations of me?” (I want him to go away).  “Do you respect me?” (an unfortunate occurrence), and on–until I’ve had enough, until I can’t tolerate the tomorrows & how-can-we-make-it work’s & how-do-you-feel-about-me’s, until I can’t tolerate Olf, the SLD, the frustration building like more & more gunpowder being packed into a cannon, which already has its fuse lit & the final question comes, a loaded one: “Why did you have an affair?” (question disguised for how can we make this relationship work”).  It starts quietly–a quiet rap of light machine gun fire in an open field–I needed this.  I needed  that, I still do, it’s not here…but the cannon’s fuse reached its mark & the frustration of SLD, the frustration of too much tolerance, the frustration of final, total discontent explodes in a scream that echoes through the open windows: where were you when I needed you?!  Ominous silence pervades; I think that even the clock on the tower miles away in Prospect Park must have stopped for a moment.  He will cry; I will forgive him for a few things, but not, it’s futile.  The thread is picked up again, we will discuss this.  This is good information, it will help us.  No.

3 weeks will pass very slowly–very slowly[I think a reference to housemate going upstate to join his family]


Re-reading this I wonder what you must think as I ease into talking more openly of my situation here–not an easy thing since I’m hesitant to confront it straight & directly all the time & my comprehension often follows the willingness to evade some feelings, particularly guilt-producing one.  It seems easy on one hand because the moment right after I confront a feeling–like, for example, I really don’t want to be here at all w /Steve–the guilt gives way–is forced to.  I’m not sure it makes it less–just shoves it aside. Maybe it does make it less.  The more he knows, the better he feels & the worse he feels, I feel mostly better.  Wondering what you think–I’m never quite sure what impressions come across to you–, curiosity for the most part, some possibly reasonably worry for the other part.

Letter moves on at this point to a long recapitulation of a conversation she had with a woman friend, who was also a grad student of housemate Steve.  Will pick it up in the next post.

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Upstream or Down

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Note to My Subscribers

It has recently come to my attention that between the end of this blog’s original run, and my revival of it last October  under a new name, WordPress stopped sending out email notices  for each new post.  Because of your previous interest, I have resubscribed you so that you should now receive notice.  Of course, you are free to unsubscribe yourself.

If you would like to catch up, all the new posts are available in the archives. You can find the first here:  It explains my intent in restarting the blog with our pen and ink correspondence forty years ago before we lived together.  This current post is toward the end of that correspondence at a time when I had briefly separated from my marital home.


Upstream or Down

[Back home after my aborted separation.   We returned to our pattern of weekly meetings and letter writing, but now in a different, even more intense, context.  We both, without explicitly acknowledging it, recognized that our respective domestic situations are on the brink of dissolving.]

Thursday night


I know I’m going to talk to you tomorrow, but I need to feel close to you now, and I am both full of emotion and at the same time drained.

Your letter raised questions I had asked myself, but I didn’t really have time to internalize them.

There was no blowup last night, but it happened this morning–more violence.  Then a trip to the lawyer who assured me that divorced men don’t starve in NY State any more.  Before that, but after the AM violence a heart to heart with my kids.  After the lawyer, I read your letter–several times, but the the mood  in the house was sullen hostility waiting to erupt, and I did a couple of hours ago over a mightily trivial circumstance as always [that produced a physical confrontation]….I defended myself as gently as possible and stayed calm.  Mentioned the desirability of consulting lawyers–all leading to a melting into teary sadness, perhaps no longer, or at that moment, desperate, but rending nonetheless.

And so it sits, or rather crawls toward some resolution, and I think of you more and more, and the questions you raise which do not have immediate answers, but my feelings for you are a kind of answer, or at least a context and a constant in the middle of the fury.  We’re both suffering a lot of shit; perhaps we knew this would happen, but you never taste the full experience until you’re there, and we are, to be sure, there.

I dream, too, as you describe, knowing dreams rarely survive the present reality when it arrives, but maybe they shape that reality giving it, if not the imagined, at least a reasonable facsimile of the taste and colors of the idea–and for me that imagined taste is sweet and the colors warm.  More than that I can’t say.

I want to talk to you tomorrow.

Saturday night-late

Half watching the French Connection, my reason for pushing into  the early hours of the morning, but the true reason a severe case of Carol deprivation, all the more intense for the writhing of the web today.  Symptoms: a compelling need to be with you, if only in this form; tightly drawn lips relaxing into a smile as I write; tension that eases as the words begin to come; an exhaustion begging for rest but needing to be delayed just for a little.

I do not want to bore you with details.  Enough to say that things continue rocky, my wife willing a state of “normalcy,” which I steadfastly, but at cost, resist.  Life does go on around here, after a fashion, but always tense.  Needs to be pushed on, and counseling is the only available prod, though now she sees it as more “Stephen” counseling than marriage counseling.  The  twists and turns of this thing have become entirely unpredictable and somewhat nerve-wracking.

I feel the muscles in my legs relaxing–a sure sign that Carol deprivation has begun to relent for the moment–not gone to be sure–there’s only one cure for that–one fix to stop the tremors.

Well, we have jumped the clock and I must get some rest….and so I’ll leave Popeye chasing the Frog from NY to Marseille, and off to a sleep better for having written a letter to you.

Sunday night

I have just read over the above, and I pity your poor eyes.  I will try to write more legibly.

I wonder if Carol Deprivation (CD from now on) could result in a rash.  I feel my skin begin to itch in several places.  If a rash does break out, at least I know where to find the best salve.

I think you can see how at least one part of my psyche is functioning.  For the rest, it endures as best it can.

I have just finished going over about a hundred page proofs [of a textbook, coauthored with a reading professor], and have the last hundred still to do in the next couple of days.  Beneath this pad sits a pile of compositions awaiting my discerning, though presently somewhat bloodshot eye.  The work provides necessary relief and sense of accomplishment or order.

I feel more than usually fragmented–swamped with work, and of course  the continuing problem which has its own particularly lunatic dichotomies.  I am used to the pull of work responsibilities, but this other, though certainly not novel, is, of course, extraordinarily intense.  Today, we bought a microwave, something my wife has wanted for some time, and we did some spring clean-up outside; and later this week skylights will be installed, and we will hire somebody to do more work on the property; and prepare for a party this weekend–all signs of continuity and continuance.  But all is undermined by a sense of impending dissolution, all is conducted with simmering tension amid the mostly unspoken, but sometimes grimly articulated pronouncements of an ending.  Rationally, these things should go on. No sense digging a hole and pulling the lid over; no point retreating into bunkers of inactivity; the house and property still must be attended to, and social  arrangements should not be canceled for a possibility, no matter how that possibility might mock the arrangements.

So much for the rational.  Emotionally, though useful in some way, I  suppose, these contradictory signs and feelings produce constant light and/or heavy headedness like rowing like hell in one direction while the boat perversely floats the other, and not knowing which way is upstream or down.

In all of this, CD is almost  tolerable affliction.  At least, it is sharply focused and entirely unambiguous.  Almost tolerable, that is.

But not quite.

Not at all.


[Carol’s response including a reference to how she dealt with ending her first, troubled marriage, and concluding with a pictorial representation indicating her view concerning my upstream/downstream analogy.

Tuesday evening


I skipped class this evening for the sheer joy of being outside before a rainstorm.  Antique clothing shops turned up futile this time [she dressed as a flapper for our wedding] & I’ve come back to the ap’t  to eat a dinner (quietly by myself–joy in itself) of tuna fish, Ritz crackers & cheese & wine.  It’s so fulfilling to sit here & write to you & eat a simple dinner as if this was all I ever needed (almost) (not quite).

A passing snap at your situation–one of probably a very few you’ll ever hear from me (unless I lose my mind) (which is altogether possible these changing days, but limited–still- to temporariness).

The range of emotions, the abuse both mental & physical that you’ve been telling me you’re receiving is, or more than likely, grounds for divorce in this state.  Bear with me, this is not a suggestion if you’re thinking such  thoughts (you know I’d never do that)–my concern w/that thought is not the legal end, it’s you.  I know you’re doing what you think best, but how long will you take abuse–setting aside your own priorities, happiness (for lack of a better word)….it’s like setting yourself up for a twisting of your emotions that’ll eventually wring you dry & leave only dust particles.  Will it make you happy if your wife finds a comfortable resolution even though it take years  & there’s  little left of you?  I can see making love to a stubborn little dust particle, but I don’t relish the thought.,,,

So I’ll  tell you the underlying story.  I did what you’re doing–the same way,  the same thought: that it’s the best way.  The pattern’s the same although  the particulars vary.  It’s not necessarily similar between your wife and my ex-husband–it’s the similarity of the pattern between you and me–too similar for comfortable sideline watching; maybe that’s one reason for writing.   It’s not the physical abuse,  the hysteria per se–it’s the range, the extremes, the weeping & crying & then the other that’s the true abuse.  I waited five years to file for divorce so I wouldn’t slam him w/ an abuse charge.  How many years does it take for you to know that you don’t have to live like you’re living?  Your attitude, her lack of resolution, the abuse, the anger  (that has to be there somewhere)–it twists the guts until you no longer know if you’re facing up or downstream.  Sound familiar?  You’ve mentioned twice in a week that you don’t know which way the current is running……  Let me end this with a better line: how long will you try to steer the boat upstream when it wants to go down & you want to be on a different river?


You’ll have to excuse  the egotism of the following diagram, but I do have to find ways to amuse myself & you in the midst of all this turbulence.

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An Unplanned Step Toward Resolution

[During spring break and an unusual snowfall  that April, the center did not hold in my house.  I do not recall the specific cause.  But I just left, and wound up spending some time with  Ed, a  friend with whom I had carpooled when we were both new hires driving out to Suffolk from Brooklyn, and who had himself recently divorced and remarried. Clearly, during this period, I did not send a letter to Carol, so I will devote this post to a rather long one from her, written on the Long Island Railroad train heading back to Brooklyn.  I do not remember these circumstances, but it seems we might have had some time together either in person or by phone.  I pick up the letter after a couple of introductory paragraphs about her train ride. ]

Wed. on board


I wish I could stay w/you for a few days, wondering really, if that way I could help–or would I be a hindrance–both are probably true; but Ed & I could no doubt fix you up w/enough support to keep you smiling & warm.  But a hindrance–I’m sensitive of my position, maybe overly so, but correctly so, I think. (This train is nearly impossible to write on)–

,,,I think  our relationship has deepened for all this (no matter which path you decide on) and, on the same note, I thought afterwards I should have given you more affirmation of my feelings–but you must know how I feel about you.

(I’ve missed the transfer stop from the A train to the F–lost in the heart of Manhattan, but how fitting that I don’t know where I’m going.)

There’s so much more I want to write, so much more to say, but I don’t know–maybe the time’s not appropriate, maybe it is the eternal decision–to call or not to call, to write or not to write, how much is too much, how much is too little now (how appropriate that I’m lost)

I wonder, personally, if there’s room for a TV show called “All My Fears”–

I hope, wherever you are tomorrow (Thurs.) that’s it’s all right for you in whatever measure.

Nerves have quiet’d w/ this letter & Carroll St. is only another stop away–(such urgency, what do I want  to say?)

My thoughts are w/you & I wish my body was.


Intuition tells me you’re home–It would have taken a powerful drink of Scotch, & a full, long night’s talk between us to see that look leave your face that since you were going home.  My main hope is that Ed talked you out of it–but then I think that it’s you that has to convince you.  I do know that you weren’t at all convinced that going back was a good thing–especially when you said you wondered what your true nature is–like it had been missing or deprived for a long time.

My own web took me into wanted, uncharted territories last night.  Late in the night, knowing the alarm would ring at 7, inspired by your courage to go after what you want; the conversation allowed this: “Yes, I’m seeing someone else.  Yes it’s continuing.”  All too calm, too rational–there’s a trip wire here somewhere, but I don’t know where.  (But I do, symbolically, have my army boots on).  Summer will bring me privacy & freedom; fall gives me only a sense of my own thoughts unspoken: the lease is up in Oct.  What will I do? (a thoughtful question, a nervous one, but a fearful one).

I caught myself thinking this morning (& tried to suppress the thought, but now it’s worked it’s way over to you) (that all these rational theories are only rational theories, practical but not likeable like never leaving a relationship because of outside influence, but only because the situation inside is bad.  Well, if there’s outside influence in the first place, it means the the situation inside is bad(in varying degrees, of course) but still…) The urge to toss that law out for  the first time in my life is getting stronger & stronger.  Rationale tells me about “breathing room” & not exchanging one thing for another–what if you know?  Intuition’s strong unspoken voice tells me that my feelings for you seem almost inherent–as if you’re part of a chromosomal make-up.  I must sound like I’ve lost my mind, I know–but it’s like that, as crazy as it seems–as if the chemical bonding was all set up waiting for circumstance to walk me through the doors of Suffolk College & work my way eventually over to the Writing Center & the Humanities Dep’t drawn by an invisible magnet.

And  there’s more on practical theories (there’s always more, sure), like fairness, what’s best, what’s wise,  what’s not?  For you: should I call you, what’s good for you, can I help, be a hindrance, are we individually going in the right direction–what’s right anyway?  I trust my intuition–I don’t trust my rationale enough (wisely, I think).

And I have way too many damn question at the moment, the first of which is where are you today (my hope will go unspoken–but you know anyway).  If you’re closer than a phone call away, I’ll be ecstatic & if not, I’ll be worried & mad–however–

Well, there’s only one thing to do–go to work, my disabling responsibilities & place a phone call to Ridge [where Ed lives] (Is poetry a cure for consistently trembling nerves?)

Thursday afternoon

Too damned quiet at work.  No work–some would see it as such a relief–I think it’s a chance to write; reading’s out of the question.  Trying to get through Freud is sometimes like shoveling manure, sometimes like seeing little seedling grow up through such stenchy fertilization (or are they just the baby fungi of psilocibin mushrooms notorious for growing in cow shit & notorious for hallucinations); it’s never like sailing a sailboat on a warm night under a full moon (something I’ve always wanted to do).  So Freud is out. Thoughts are in.

I thought of one thing–even if you’re home again, it will come up next time, or sometime.  You said your domestic split didn’t happen because of me, but you weren’t sure how long you could keep that thought around (or keep things separate, as you said.)  I thought you must have thought of me as an ‘out’.  I’m not quite sure how–although I am sure you chose not to take that too far as I didn’t feel pressurized overly much.  It would be easy for me to offer you full support (even if not in a practical way) considering how I feel about you & how I think you feel about me.

But I think it would unbalance things between us–I’d feel my emotions & thoughts more than a little repressed & stridden? over by confusion  that is only natural to you at this point.  Sigh–how well the mind works even while all emotions & passions drive me to throw caution to the winds & find you wherever you are & offer you full sanctuary from the storm.  So if my silence & removal seems too silent, it’s only time–a waiting–my own storm brewing–an intellectual storm–that’s what I’ve come to after all these years–a better & a bitter challenge, but a storm–for all the emotions that range down the ragged edge of a chainsaw are not any less for a seemingly more rational approach  And nothing, no thing negates the fear that I’ll be set adrift in a sea of chaos–the chaos nothing more  than the ungrasped turnings of my own mind–

late Thursday

A call to Ridge, a short sweet talk w/Ed (Is he alright? “Yes the confusion’s to be expected,” & the intuition has been gauged wrong– (exceptional feeling to be gauged wrong on what you want to be wrong on).  But you’re not in Queens [on the way to Brooklyn] yet & you might have gone home, as you said you would–to get things or see things.

People have been smiling at me all day.  And I  thought I looked worried–what else do I look?  Crazy?  Will I become a sweet madwoman on the streets who talks gently to herself and looks around smilingly as if the rest of the world understood everything she said?  And people smile back because I have a nice face?  That was before two Margaritas at the Cactus Cafe. I can only think of what I’ll look like tonight after dinner w/ film students & a whole bunch of Guido’s homemade, potent wine.  Will the mean street of midtown 9th Ave. smile at a woman who can’t walk straight but still has a keen, worried look in her eye?  Such considerations.

Well, the 10th floor smoking lounge is lulling me into drowsiness.  My desk is idle ten floors before, the disabled ones [she worked at the desk for disabled students in the NYU Library] doing well w/out me today–another cigarette, a long slow drift for a couple of hours, the sun goes down over Manhattan–you have good signs Steve–good omens–not the least of which was a full moon last night–trivial, perhaps, in reference to everything else but there nonetheless.


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The Center Cannot Hold

[‘As the end of April approaches, tensions in both households reach unsustainable levels, and in both situations, in the words of Yeats’ “The Second Coming,”  the center would not hold much longer.  The first letter in this post is mine, describing the tension I am dealing with.]

Sunday night


Notes from the combat zone–general atmosphere gray and sullen with eruptions of red .  hostility and blue desperation.  I try to remain firm and calm, fight a holding action, cede minor concessions and occasionally return fire.

I think a lot about you.  Each acid bath now only strips away dead skin.  There is something new growing beneath that is impervious to the bite of the acid.  I feel good about this–strong and confident–it is rational and right.

This feeling survives a weekend of odd scenes, of the web strung against the old, dead skin, but unable to form the new.  Friday night in an amusement park.  Saturday in a department store viewing meticulously dressed women and wondering if they make love with the same magnificent self-obsession as they dress, deciding they probably have no surplus energy beyond their mirrors.  Saturday night with the kids watching a Disney Robin Hood, and enjoying the escape into a simpler world; Sunday at a Senior Citizen’s Center, finding unanticipated support from my father-in-law even with the sadness in his eyes, and all those frail elderly people smiling bravely, some others seemingly beyond feeling, and my note to myself to leave instructions with a trusted friend that should I ever be found resident in such a place I should be summarily shot–and all suffused in thoughts of you bouncing over the rocks on the raft while contending with very different rapids and breaking waters of your life.

I plan to start getting up early in the morning to write–first to you, then other things.  We’ll see how good my discipline is.  Meanwhile, I rest with you.

Monday morning

So much for discipline at 5am.  Much static from my wife about being awakened and little enthusiasm on my part.

Everyone has left now and the house is quiet except for workers next door doing something to a swimming pool which was begun last August and is still not completed.

A busy day ahead, and I’m off to work.

5am is an obscene hour anyway unless you are doing something obscene.


[Carol’s response is quite long, even by her standards.  In it, she deals frankly with her separating from Steve1, and then considers her relationship with me.  In the latter, for the first time in these letters, I believe, she does what neither of us had done to this point, and that is use the word “love,” which she introduces  casually as if it were a given

Tuesday, 4/20


I’ve decided to do the impossible, the improbable, the foolish & the brave to try to finish the semester w/out incompletes. [What follows is an impressive list of assignments she must complete]  Well, I know somewhere in the recesses (deep) there existed a reason to be here.  I just can’t recall what it is or whether it’s even still there.  School has become a thing that exists for itself. [Next is a rather long description of sitting through a lecture on Hamlet.  She states she would much rather be in a theater where James Earl Jones is playing Othello and then responds to my comment about being in a senior citizen’s home.] .…You’ll end up in a senior citizen’s home asking for a gun & I’ll be somewhere begging for a reckoning at the last moment (but not ’til then)….

You sounded a little frustrated in your letter by an aborted 5 o’clock am writing plan.  Did you give in & not want to?

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could share a writing space?  Other writers, I think, must not mind the click at 5am of a typewriter going.  I could be wrong.  I’m a dreamer.  That’s what I’m good at. That’s why I’m a poet.   I’d better go home or this guest lecturer will drone on into the night.


Freed.  No more classroom restraints ’til tomorrow.  A cup of hot tea.  Yusef Lateef on the stereo stretching out strange, mellow, comfortable tunes, & not another person in sight.  I’ve been waiting a number of weeks for this place, this space, alone w/ a cup of tea, at last.  So nice it almost seems perverse–the first quiet after the storm.

The web surrounds me (not now, not at this moment, but other times–here in the ap’t, it seethes, if you can imagine a web of seething & I’m sure you can.)  Desperation–a word I picked up from you–always linking it to hostility, some forms of hysteria or weeping, as you spoke of it–never connecting it w/ the idea here, in its quiet form.  This is a quiet desperation & it’s disturbing, to say the least.  He doesn’t know how he does it & I see now, today, that it’s fear that motivates the desperation.  Personally, I don’t see what’s so difficult separating from me.  He  admits he’s not happy w/me & I admit I’m a real terror to live w/ sometimes, but still…not happy w/me, not happy w/out me.  Perverse logic motivated by a desperate fear.  I turn in circles, round & round looking for a way out of that illogical logic & find suffocation, finding somewhere along the line that it’s his logic & exists outside mine.  And what is mine?  These web spinning turns around me confuse me.  Like the spinning dancer who hasn’t learned to spot-check, my equilibrium is off.  Emotions confuse even themselves–the falconer just barely hears the falconer [allusion to the Yeats poem] & I am both–Listening, finding a strength in you, finding some long lost source way back inside of myself–and still not hesitating, following the forward path because it is the only one.  Keeping to the road–well pitfalls or not.  I’ve always been a good driver.  It seems too slim & simple a metaphor between automobiles & life—there must be better.  I’ll think on it.

Time for a switch from weird & mellow Yusef to Jazz 88–Pissant station–only rarely comes in w/out fuzz.

And You–what do I do w/you?  You’re like a dream–sometimes you don’t seem real.  And sometimes you do and are.  Sometimes I wonder if I know what I’m doing–I’m involved w/ a married man.  You’ll have those responsibilities practically forever, divorced or not.  And I’m just beginning to realize where my feelings for you are leading me.  Hello, Olf.  Future arrangements, in whatever form (my attempt to keep the road open, no matter how strong the feelings) look bleakish. Olf is a good inlet for despair, a good outlet for anger so I aim a piercing glare his way.  He’s sitting on my ashtray & doesn’t need cigarette butts for sustenance.  A glare makes him bare his teeth & jump around & flail his scrawny arms.  The little monster.  I don’t know, Steve–I apologize for all this line of thought, but I’ve been avoiding it & that’s never a  good idea.  Repress it, eat it, stomp on it, but not avoid it.  Why I’m telling you my despair, I don’t know.  I’d rationally rather not but you may have already guessed it’s there.  Anyway it goes much more than it comes.  It may just be the realization setting in of what’s involved w/ our situation–& the more I know of what’s involved the better able I am to shove Olf off the ashtray onto the floor & kick his scrawny little hide out the window.  You’d think he’s break his back falling two stories, but either he’s got drones or he’s indestructible–no need to guess which.

It’s be so much easier if 1) I had your wife’s hostility (w/out the mood range), 2)my housemate was hostile, 3) I wasn’t in love w/you.  I’m almost 30 & I have these feelings?  I thought they stopped before the age of 24…..

This letter seems to be coming to a close.

Take care of yourself–


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Edging Toward a Necessary Resolution

[Moving into April, the tone in our letters loses the occasional light or humorous touch, replaced by increasing expressions of emotional need for an end to our separateness.  My letter from early in the month is filled with news, first carpenter ants, then college business, and finally a trip to Connecticut to attend a wedding of no particular interest to me  at that time.  The telling of all this, I think, was a necessary distraction from what was really on my mind, which was ending this impossible situation while going through the motions of continuance. Both letters in this post are edited for length and focus.]

.Thursday night,


Sitting here, mind numbing from exhaustion, watching a mindless cops’n’robbers show on TV, perfect addition of  0+0 =brain death, to save myself from which I turn mental radar in your direction, anticipating some days vulnerability to Olf, who comes in many guises, even this pad, which holds pages from the novel I have placed in storage, or the ants I have been combating with pesticides strong enough to fell a bull elephant on which the little bastards seem to batten and thrive…or administrative chatter about faculty parking violations sparked by some conversation about sex on campus, which roused me from my stupor to ask where among the ashes and corpses, and then to proclaim the propriety of English teachers teaching literature, or having my friend, the dean on the eastern campus, tell me I’m not a dean now because I frighten the person I would work for…and I shake my admittedly receding and curly locks and howl, and find solace, that I am not a dean, that I might finish that novel some day…that I can suffer artists marching to their own tune though I try to nudge them in the common direction for our own good, that even ants are part of the natural order, that somebody has to tilt at administrative windmills…and that finally I am writing to you and feeling better immediately.

And so an ashtray full of butts for Olf, and an empty wrapper from some mediocre cheese–he will have to wait for better garbage left over from a better day, beneath a gold web….

Saturday afternoon,

Soon to be on the road in this lousy rain riding to Connecticut to be counted among the family witnessing the nuptials of a young man whose name I do not know marry some young woman.  Prospects for good company are not quite marginal; possibility of good food and drink somewhat better….

Olf paid an unexpected–well never  entirely unexpected, so let us say sudden visit yesterday afternoon, probably arriving to  trigger Friday’s memory and turn need, for a while, into distraction….Bridgeport will call him away almost as easily as Secaucus, and then will come the Scotch, and all should be well.

Sunday night

There wasn’t enough Scotch to drain the ennui which followed a three hour ride in a blinding rain over flooded roads to arrive late, mean tempered, hoping fondly that the bride and groom would have drowned in one of the monstrous potholes that had all but swallowed the front end of my car, and then enduring the conversation of people who had recently spent many thousands of dollars refurbishing their homes but not a penny on the interiors of their minds, which were bare and comfortless, the few sticks of furniture cracked and cobwebbed….

Chance of snow tomorrow night, but only inner ice matters, and that thaw is encouraged by a far more constant and growing warmth


[For some reason, this next letter is dated.  Also for the first time, Carol names her housemate.  His name is also Steve.  I label him Steve1 in this letter to avoid confusion, which makes me, Steve 2, the new and improved version  Carol, too, is struggling with ending her relationship with Steve 1 and deals with sharing that news with her family]

Tuesday 4/13


There’s a mistiness hanging over Manhattan today–easy to see whether from the ground or here on the 10th floor smoking lounge that looks off uptown somewhere. I think I’m tired today–or weary–a temporary lull in some undefined progression.  Not the outer, external one, but some inner soul oriented one that rests for a while, drops its head & moves away from the restraining bars back into a corner–reflective, tired, wondering if it’s wrong somehow–I think sometimes that I really have no right to do what I’m doing, no right at all to choose my life as I see fit & necessary.  This is a moody letter, isn’t it?  I spoke w/ my sister last night & listened to her support which is always ready, always there, but thought afterwards–sensing a touch of irritation at the end, a peevishness–she hadn’t told me what she really thought–she herself, gut level reaction.  My mother wanted to know what was going on & sent a letter demanding to know (her intuition works better than any gypsy woman’s); I should’ve just said I was having a gallbladder operation, or a hysterectomy (how fitting), but she wouldn’t have believed it.  So I told her, w/out telling her about you–that she wouldn’t have gone for I think…as if I would lose everything by breaking up w/Steve1  Not the case, my well-being depends more on internal things.

Maybe I just feel I can’t explain to them, which might be true, & they’re too dear to me not to try.  But the agony of that trying!  I don’t think like them–my support system is not that dependent on Steve1–but oh they love him, and oh they’ll miss him & oh he’s part of the family & this & that & NONE of “Well, Carol, how do you feel about this?”  Only one person will ask me that question in a family of 12 people–my sister-in-law.  For a conservative farmer’s wife that woman has perspective.  And my father–who’ll say “Yeah, well he was a nice guy & go on planting next year’s crocuses…if he had to worry about his daughter’s involvements he wouldn’t be planting crocuses, he’d be under them.  Well, all this is intuitive speculation  learned from dealing for years w/ a family that somewhere down the line learned to lean on itself for support & interbred its emotions by the process into an unwanted, shared neuroticism.  Of which I am a part–would never choose not to be (who knows -it’d be easier you know, if I divorced them.) (But I’m too much like them in ways.)

I see breaks in the cloud cover outside & just a touch of light blue.  Writing to you does strange & wonderful things.

A  poem [ Tide] is included–it may have been written before or after the first time we made love, I can’ t recall; but it has everything to do w/you–it was just discovered in the back of my poetry notebook & at an appropriate time–nightly erotic fantasies have taken hold again as we talk w/out making love.


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