Month: July 2014

The 17th of March 1988 – New York, New York

(fuck convention)

Marcelle,

Let me establish one thing, and let me establish this one thing right now.

I am not normal, and I am neither normal in pretense nor in fact.

The distinction is important because many of us, even those who claim not to be – especially those who claim not to be – are normal in fact. They are built for the system as much as it is built for them, and they accept the notions of love and happiness and pain and death without question.

Then, of course, there are the lucky few who carry the curse of weirdness, who fight it and fight it hard, who cover it up and try to fit in. They don’t belong, but they are well-indoctrinated. They don’t accept the world as it exists around them, but they force themselves to believe it.

I find myself thinking of clothing. Some people wear jeans and t-shirts, and they blend in with the crowd. Other people wear sharply-cut Italian suits, or they wear tank tops with Picasso paintings glued across the front, and they are praised for their style and taste. Then there are those, the ones the rest call the weird people and the fringe people and the different people, they wear pink feather boas to the opera and thick woolen coats on hot days.

But it is all covering up. It is all clothing, and, regardless of what you believe, the flair makes no difference.

Because there is an alien who walks among us, an alien who shows us what is and what is to be, an alien wearing nothing.

She is alien, alien in that her body is the exact same and her mind is the exact same as everyone else’s, but she refuses to use it in any way that resembles the others. For, we ask ourselves and then we realize, what defines an oddity other than finding unfamiliarity in the familiar and the unexpected in expectation. Of course, it is hard to handle – both in pretense and in fact.

And what is the point of all of this except to insist to you that I insist on being entirely alone?

So we find ourselves back at the start, where there is nothing. It is quite like the end, except that at the start there is still hope to find something, in spite of all the nothing and the nothing that surrounds us.

Goodbye Marcelle,

Lucinda

The 22nd of October 1872 – Binghamton, New York

(found with edges smudged with dirt)

Hello Ronald,

The intent of this letter can be stated plainly, and so it will be with plain intent that I state it here.

I would like to apologize for my behavior over the past several weeks and months and, in fact, decades.

I do feel as though as if I have been rather and quite erratic and moody and irrational, and I understand the concern that you and others might harbor as observers of such oscillations in my temperament.

So, even though an Amazonian flow of admissions of my own failure would fail to fill the world with a satisfactory amount of my regret, I will continue to say that I am sorry.

Essentially, it boils down to this: I feel, unfortunately for an unknown reason, as if I have not been myself lately. What is worse is that, if given the opportunity, I would revise my previous sentiment to state that I feel as if I have not been myself ever, at all.

In fact, I have settled into a position – a surprisingly comfortable position, I might add – that the experience or the feeling or the comportment of my being towards anything that at all resembles a state of “being myself” has solidified itself in my mind as an impossibility, a goal that must be cast aside and replaced by something that is actually achievable.

There is this horrible realization that I have, gnawing away at the back of my mind, that I have spent this whole time digging. Now I’m at the bottom of a quite deep hole, and I worry that any movement on my part will only send me deeper into the ground. I don’t move at all any more, all due to the notion that any and all effort, even that which is directed towards salvation, will only send me closer to hell and dirt and darkness.

So what am I to do? And what would you suggest for me?

At this point, I would say that having any secure identity would be suitable, although it must be ensured that I could own the damned thing fully and completely.

In fact, however, I would almost prefer that you just come by with a shovel and begin to fill in my hole with the dirt I have sent out of it. Then I can decide whether or not it is worth climbing out or just staying down here with the dust.

Forever,

Blithe

The 17th of February 1997 – Cape Cod, Massachusetts

(found on the beach where it was listening to the waves)

Roxanne –

Roxanne, please. Roxanne, just relax for a moment. It’s a more complicated issue than you’re letting it be. It isn’t just love. It isn’t just saying a word, Roxanne, and letting everything lay around it. There’s more to it than that.

In my estimation, there are four levels of love, at least when it comes to romance. There may be more than that – and there are other species of love than the romantic type, of course – but these are the ones that I’ve discovered.

There’s the first, at the bottom, but still incredibly valuable. It is – only, simply and magnificently – love.

It’s that beautiful opening of the heart between two individuals. The realization that two lowly beings can come together and, through an incomprehensible experience of emotion, become a greater whole than just the mere sum of their parts.

There’s the second, greater and more intense in its feeling. It is Love.

It is all that love is, but more important, maybe even more desperate. While love exults, Love heals. It cools and satiates the mind and the heart. It unlocks the intuition and instills an indescribable sense of understanding in the mind.

There’s the third, a volcanic eruption of expression. It is LOVE.

LOVE is the same as Love and very much similar to love, except that it demands a lot more noise. Whispered expressions into ticklish ears is sufficient, but – more often than not – LOVE is shouted about from rooftops and mountainsides. It is screamed out through poems being recited by once-lonely souls standing on chairs and tables. The exhortations of LOVE shake roofs and rafters. They scare birds out of trees and snow down from the mountains. This experience, the experience of LOVE, leaves many more than just one or two people trembling from exhaustion, glee and fright.

Then there is the fourth. I am not yet sure if it has a name.

It is a feeling found only in fleeting moments, times of peace and clarity when the mind calms and the heart relaxes almost to the point where it stops beating. Every breath, every exhale becomes a release of tension and anxiety, the kind that’s held in the gut for longer than we realize, for long enough that it becomes a part of us.

If you pressed me, Roxanne, to name this feeling, I would at first refuse. But then I would tell you that this fourth level of love can be understood as the desire to accompany that special someone to the beach and sit on the shore and watch the sun set below the water. That’s this feeling. It’s me, there next to you, and with only the waves talking.

That’s how I’d describe it.

So I’m dreaming of the beach,

Harold

The 18th of March 1993 – San Francisco, California

(found at the top of a big, shiny statue)

Dear Yedlin,

Please stop emulating my behavior so strictly.

Perhaps I am as exceptional as you give me credit. Perhaps there’s no need for me to start that sentence with the word “perhaps.”

But no matter how exceptional I am, I would advise you to please stop following my example because the life I’ve led is not nearly anywhere close to what it’s all cracked up to be.

There’s something magnificent about seeing the world, seeing one’s own and only life, as a story to be written, a flowing narrative into which various details can be plugged and all kinds of themes and connections can be made. It’s all the more magnificent when you cast yourself as the protagonist and make yourself the hero.

Where it all falls short, all this mythologizing of the mundane, is in how much pressure it creates.

Nothing is simple, Yedlin. Nothing is ever simple.

Everyone I meet can be characterized by their position on the continuum between good and evil. I’ve got arch-enemies and henchman harassing me. I’ve got loads and loads of allies, all of them of various degrees of deceitfulness and treachery of course.

And the important people, poor souls, they get cast in roles they aren’t even prepared for. The Love Interest, The Best Friend, The Source of Wisdom And Advice, The One Who Set My World Ablaze. Every day and every minute is part of some kind of plot – main, B or C – the exposition, the conflict, the rising action and the denouement. They’re all there as long as you look for them, and you can trust me that I look for them.

I’ve started to squeeze for them, Yedlin. I, with my exceptional life and accomplishment and mystery, squeeze and squeeze until blood drips from my stone, until the stone finally crumbles into dust.

And of course, there’s the possibility that things might all go wrong. Unlike in the movies, the heroes of life don’t always get the girl or win the million or get the last laugh. Sometimes the good guys – even some of the best guys – can fall flat on their faces. At that point, if it ever comes, well Yedlin, there just isn’t much to do.

You don’t know what it’s like, Yedlin. I’m not sure that you will ever want to.

But at least nothing’s boring. That’s the guarantee. Nothing’ll ever be boring.

Good luck in school,

Auntie Lynn

The 17th of July 2008 – Galveston, Texas

(found in a place, to which you never expected to return)

Dear Trudy,

Oh, what was I thinking? What could I ever have been thinking? Why did I choose to torture myself, both by staying in this place so long ago and by returning to it now? What did I expect to find inside this charcoal brick of my shame? A diamond? A second chance? Was it anything other than regret?

I went back to a place where I was once, where I was for a while. It’s another place where I was, probably exactly like all the other places where I was, where memories haunt the shadows and wait for me to pass them by before they jump out and shout to scare me.

It wasn’t a home, this place where I was, but it was a house. It was some sort of a shelter that gave me a place to cower and wretch while whatever storm I was suffering from continued to cause me suffering. It wasn’t where I belonged, nor was it where I ever felt belonging, but it was a place where such a feeling was possible. I have to give it credit for that, for the possibility.

I’m amazed at how quickly old habits can resurface, how familiar my feet found old steps on the treacherous, circuitous journeys I once took through the night. These are the journeys that I take now, months – or, I fear, years or decades – later.

I’m not sure what to make of it.

It hurts a little, I guess, but I’m not sure if there’s anything more to it than that.

Who am I kidding? It hurts like hell, but I’m still not sure if there’s anything more to it than that.

Trudy, I was walking away one night. I turned to look over my shoulder, and I looked back on the past, and I saw towers poking through the clouds, beacons of light in the night, and I just felt sadness. I keep looking back and I keep wondering, Trudy.

Trudy, is it ever possible to look back on the past and not revile it for its mistakes and flaws?

Trudy, is it ever possible to look back on the past and actually celebrate?

Love, please and always love,

Marus

The 11th of July 1956 – Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

(found stained and splotchy)

My Jessie,

See what you’ve done to me?

See, because now I’m really crying. Holy geez, I’m really crying. I can barely write this because I’m really crying. Holy shit, I can barely see two feet in front of my face because I’m really crying.

I don’t know how, but I’m in pain. I’m in serious, honest to god pain, and I’ve also never felt so alive. I don’t know why, but it just hit me. It hit me square in the chest – square, smack dead center in the chest. I got shot with something, something hard, something heavy, one of those realizations that you just can’t shake, one of those thoughts that you just can’t get rid of.

I could tell you all my history, and I could tell you all the stories that you’ve already heard, but, see, I’d keep you entertained. I’d keep you laughing, and I’d keep talking myself. I’d talk until the air ran out on earth as long as it kept you entertained.

The point is I just got the thought: the heavy, heart-stopping realization that’s heavier and all the more heart-stopping because it came after all the others.

Oh my Jessie! The images that flood my mind – you’d think I’m crazy, and that’s just fine with me because you’d be right. The images that flood my mind and make me seize and cry out in terror and pain and joy. The images that I hope, can only ever hope, are from futures not-so-distant, futures of you and I and us.

But then, today, came that thought. That heavy, heart-stopping thought hit me with a thud, with a thud that really did stop my heart.

Oh my Jessie! I’ve done everything – every, single, last and every thing – wrong. Or I thought I did. It depends on what you think is true. It depends on what you allow me to think is true.

Because I could tell you all my history, and I could tell you all about my loneliness and my despair, my dissatisfaction with life – my life – from the word “Go!” I could tell you that everyone I’ve ever met, I’ve only seen through a veil, a curtain, a fog – with them over there and me in isolation.

And, Jessie, I could tell you that all of that is my fault, and I know it. No man is an island, but any man can certainly get in his own boat and paddle out into the ocean and keep far away from the rest of them. So, of course, that is all my fault.

But then, Jessie, I could tell you that I wasn’t even trying. I wasn’t rowing back to shore or pulling back the veil or stepping through the fog or any of that. See, when I was talking to you, that’s all there was. I really felt nothing between us.

But I’m going to go now. I’ll leave you alone. Now I’m just going to go.

But I do love you.

Jones

The 9th of June 1988 – Los Angeles, California

(found in a place that was covered by a shadow but hadn’t been covered by a shadow previously)

Hey,

Listen, please, listen. Just hold on a second and listen.

Hey. Hey.

Do you see that? Do you see it?

I’ve got to show you something.

Hey? Hey! Hey.

Come on. I want to show you something. I’ve got to show you something. I mean, you’ve got to see this. You’ve got to – just, just, just hold on and take a look at this. I really, really want you to see this, okay? Okay?

See, I don’t know what I’ve been doing. I don’t know what you’ve been doing either, I guess. I mean, I’m not sure if I’m supposed to know what you’re doing, especially if even I don’t know what I’ve been doing. But I guess all that matters is that you know what you’re doing, or you think you know what you’re doing. But, see, I thought I knew what I was doing too. I was so sure, at least I felt so sure. And I’m scared, of course, scared both at how sure I felt then and how sure I feel now.

But what can I do about such fears?

See, because then I saw something, and I have to tell you that the whole thing changed me. Just one look, and I saw something that made me understand and forget and feel and laugh and cry and all the rest.

So, please, I’d just like to show it to you. I’d just like you to see it, to just take one look. Okay?

Okay?

Look up in the sky.

Do you see it?

The sun?

But do you really see it?

I don’t know.