I've reached the end of the letters, read them to the inevitable conclusion which ended the summer before we began high school, just over a year and a half. Not bad for puppy love. But unable to see one another but for the occasional visit monitored by parents, the denouement was inevitable. I had to read the whole arc of it. Now they are scanned into digital perpetuity.
It is embarrassing, of course, this reuniting of two lovers, one dead, the other old and infatuated.
I don't think I'll be able to bring her back.
But the letters have dredged up all sorts of memories that I have buried and almost forgotten. Last night, I woke and could not get fully back to sleep. My mind went through all the reasons I was so bad at writing her, at having friends. Once I got to college, I left all of that behind. But until then, my life was one disaster after another, it seems. My parents fought viciously. I didn't enjoy coming home. I was hospitalized three times during high school. My parents got divorced. I moved out. My father was in a head on car crash and hospitalized for two months. When he got out, I became the caretaker. My life was full of dropouts and lowlifes. Somehow, I finished high school. I found my grades in that box of papers. I don't know how they decided to let me through.
All this flooded my half-awake brain brought back to consciousness by those letters. I didn't know how to articulate any of that back then. I couldn't express my confused emotions.
I don't remember anything from my classes. What I do remember was reading. That was my escape. Life was better in books and movies than the profound ugliness of my own life. The only gem was Emily. And as much as I would like to think I was equivalent, I know that to be far from the truth.
Next in the pile of papers in that box from the attic is a novel I began just out of college about my Jack Kerouac tour around the country. I've just glimpsed at it. I've never forgiven myself for not completing it, not because it was a masterpiece, but because I've lost some of the details of that journey that were still so fresh in my mind. By that time, my life had become something desirable. Happier times.
But there are plenty of fuck ups to contend with. The narrative I have constructed around my good boy angelic nature schtick contains some serious flaws. I made a few mistakes along the way. Colorful ones, I must say, almost picaresque. But I am weary of thinking about these things. Alone for these long Covid hours, they just keep dragging me down. I have become despondent and catatonic. I can barely move. I've not taken a camera with me anywhere since I brought the boxes down. I haven't worked out or gone to see my mother for three days now. I've begun to drink too much again. But what bright future am I to think of, I query? What glorious thing can I look forward to?
I'll need to move myself out of my head and into the world. Motion is everything. If you don't move, they'll throw dirt on you. Move, man, move!
The photo is from the first day of the new century. My predictions have proved to be pretty accurate.