[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 ]
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.
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.