[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.]
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.]