[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.
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.
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.
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.