The 14th of June 1977 – Salem, Massachusetts

(found under a pile of the petals from a cherry blossom tree)

Dear Harold,

It’s a decision, isn’t it? Isn’t it always just a decision? What to do with memory, I mean.

It all can get jumbled together. It all can just never make perfect sense. And of course it never ends well. It just never ends well, if it ends.

So what do you do? With the memories, I mean. Because can they ever be anything but painful? Because can they ever be anything but reminders of how things used to be happy?

So you can cry about them. But it’s a decision, isn’t it? So you can decide to smile. It’s always worth it to decide to smile.

I went to the grocery store the other day. There’s one down the street from my home. I guess you may have been there before. I went to the grocery store and bought all kinds of food. Peanut butter and tortilla chips and white bread.

My chest feels so inflated, so warm. My heart is a hot-air balloon, thinking of you. I’m floating away.

Oh, how long has it been? And are you doing well? And how’s the weather? Oh, how long has it been?

I’m becoming a normal person, I fear. One of those shells, perhaps. I’ve started to breathe deeply. I’ve started to talk to people and enjoy their conversations. And now I’m going weekly to the grocery store to buy gallon containers of milk and bunches of bright yellow bananas.

It was inevitable, I guess. I’ve decided to start smiling, even if it isn’t true. Soon I will buy frozen dinners and watch Cronkite at six o’clock. Soon I will pin back my hair and wear rubber gloves while scrubbing out my upstairs toilet. See, I’ve decided to start smiling. I decided.

How are you? And how long has it been?

-Betsy

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