Garrett (garote) wrote,

An interesting letter

To be perfectly honest, I can't remember if I ever sent this letter, and I'm fairly sure that I didn't. Now, almost ten years later, and with much greater perspective, I fully realize what I only suspected back then: When someone says, "Don't contact me; wait for me to contact you," what they really mean, and without a shred of doubt, is "I do not, and will not ever, want to see you again."

Even if they preface the statement with "I love you," there is no doubt. The statement basically invalidates the preface. Someone who loves you would never ask you to be silent, and you'd best face that and pick up the pieces without them.

Dear Carolyn

I've written three letters to you now, and thrown away each one, because I wasn't really happy with what any of them said. I feel that if I am going to violate our rule yet again, I'd better know exactly what I want to communicate, and why.

The first thing I have to tell you may alarm you. I don't want it to be taken at immediate face value because, by itself, it can imply things. It can imply things about my mental state, or my attitude, or my position. I don't want you to jump to any conclusions when this message has barely begun. It's taken me a lot of thought, and three discarded letters, to figure out a good way to present this. I still don't know if I'm right. But here I go anyway.

The disturbing thing I have to tell you, is this. Every single day, since the beginning of this new year, I have thought of you. Sometimes only in passing when I see something, or behave in a certain way, that reminds me of you. Sometimes I've brooded on the past, during my long drives between work and my room in Carlsbad, thinking of the conversations we had. But every day, at least once a day.

The questions that leap to mind are, 'why?', and more specifically, 'why now, after this much time?'. I know you're wise, and have already figured out before the end of this sentence that if I am thinking like this, I am not dating anyone. I haven't been since last December. And before then, it's been a whirlwind of strange situations, multiple moves, and culture shock. That generally answers the question of 'Why now', but probably not the question of 'Why'.

Well, I've been wondering at that question for months now, obviously. You and I both know that sometimes brooding over something is detrimental, instead of beneficial. You and I also know that often the source of the brooding is something so obvious, and simple, that our minds leap right over it in a quest to build some more elaborate, more interesting, deeper meaning.

After enough thinking, I've been able to catch myself, and spot the simple, obvious reasons why you're on my mind.

Reason 1: You have been an intimate companion in the past, and I am lacking one right now, so naturally I'm thinking of past times, specifically the better times.

My dating experiences in the last year have reminded me that not all people favor thorough, intimate, and respectful conversation. Some people prefer to yell, or hide things for manipulative reasons, or talk down to and patronize the people they're with. Some people just aren't smart enough to keep up with themselves. Or they don't know the words or language to use when they need to step carefully.

Fact is, I've had a shitty time. Here's a little back-story, to elaborate. The first time I wanted to write you a letter was on my birthday, in a desperate explosion of grief at how alone I felt after my last breakup. I wanted to reach out to someone and have them understand where I was, see that I was suffering, and comfort me. I drafted a letter describing that night, how I'd sat in my new car and cried with the phone next to me, but it sounded so pitiful, and so terrible, and so imposing, that I changed my mind. I was no longer supposed to rely on, or have access to you, so that we could both re-establish ourselves. My letter felt like sabotage. So I never put it in the PO box.

Besides, what kind of meaningful dialogue could have come from it? You would read it, and feel sad or angry or both, but terrible either way. You would have to draft a reply, if you decided to reply at all, explaining that even though you cared for my predicament, you couldn't possibly respond in the way I apparently expected without inviting emotional strife upon yourself.

I let that desire pass without sending a letter. I'm not writing to inspire pity. But with that separated out, the urge to communicate something to you was revealed. Something. I couldn't clearly understand what it was, yet, but there was something I wanted to say.

So I thought about that, driving to and from work, and on road trips to see my old friends in Sacramento, and at night when I jogged around the soccer field here in Carlsbad. I realized that my extreme business with work, and my introspective artsy-fartsy mood, was preventing me from meeting new people. And so, I was thinking of past people, and so, Reason number 1.

But still, it seemed to come up a lot. Even when I wasn't really thinking of anything, I would suddenly remember you. And that's because of Reason number 2. Quite another obvious reason, of course.

Reason 2: I absorbed a lot of your customs and nuances, and when I employ them, I sometimes think of you. You know, all the little things that we pick up from people we know. Like I'll be talking to my sister, and one of those catch-phrase curse word sequences will come out. Or I'll pet a cat, and start talking to it the same way I heard you do. People always respond positively to the nuances that I've appropriated from you, but I'm sure you understand even better than I, the dark side of keeping nuances. The dark side is, that every now and then, you will miss the person you got the behavior from. So you can be feeling bright and happy, and it bubbles out into a catchphrase, and like a sudden slap, your mood is turned on it's head.

That's a hard thing to work with. But work with it I did. And I'm sure you've gone through the same thing. I'm sure many people go through the same thing. It's not really that remarkable, I suppose. And while it's a good explanation for why I would think of you, it still doesn't explain why I would want to say something to you. Why I would have such a persistent desire to break our rule.

The second time I tried to write a letter was on your birthday, and it was all about these nuances, and it was a lot more stable than the first attempt. But I looked at it and asked myself, "So what the hell is the purpose of this letter, anyway? So you're reaching out, you're saying 'hey, look, I still remember you', but what the heck for? To make things difficult? To confuse things? To start a pity party for yourself, like the last inane letter?"

No, no, no, that was a stupid letter. That letter would have been a very dumb thing to send someone around their birthday. I didn't know where you were or what you were doing, but I knew that the letter I'd written wouldn't be a positive addition to that situation, or to my own. I'm merely biding my time here in Carlsbad before I move back up north, probably to Sacramento. Southern California is not the place for me, I have too many issues with the culture down here. So I'm making money, and scouting for my next move. It's understandably a dull situation, but that's a very bad excuse to write the kind of letter I did.

And yet, I still wanted to write something. So it was down to Reason number 3, why I was thinking of you so much.

Reason number 3: Something was left unsaid.

I believe this is going to get difficult, because I only perceive one possible reaction you could have to what I'm about to say, and that is to be angry with me. But I've realized that I have to risk that anger because I can't bear to not say it. I know this sounds convoluted, but I've realized that I can't not think about you until I know that you know, or at least that I have tried to tell you, the following.

When I told you I thought it was a bad idea, and that I never wanted to be with you again, I was lying. The truth is, I didn't know what the hell I thought, but I had to pick something that would give me a clear course of action. Do you remember the day you came to visit me at work, and I was under the office tying network cables to the beams, and I said, "well, the way I see it, I have three choices. Move to LA and live with my sister and take this new job, move to Sacramento and stay with my friend Andy and go to Sacramento State, ... or marry you." It was never any clearer than that.

But this is all probably ancient history to you. That's okay. It is with me as well. A lot of life has happened since that conversation.

Since those times, I've realized several things about myself. The first thing I've realized is that I wasn't the accessible, even-headed person I thought I was. I was never as honest, or as assertive about my own feelings as I needed to be. A lot of that was out of fear that, if I revealed what I truly felt, it would cause unnecessary uproar. The truth is, that uproar is exactly what's necessary to make things authentic. And exactly what was missing from the me that you knew.

I hope you've come to a point, since then, where you no longer lament the sexual frustration, where you no longer think that it is your problem. I hope it is, in fact, no longer a problem at all. You deserve someone as authentic as you are, and if you have found that person, I am certain that sexual frustration is a non-issue. I say this with confidence because I have unraveled my half of the puzzle. Last year I dated someone who had the same authenticity problem as mine, only much more so. And I saw it from the outside. I got a first-hand tutorial in the frustration of trying to get a reaction, any reaction, any real emotional response at all, from someone who seemed determined to conceal it for various reasons. Primarily fear.

It's hard to keep hold of attraction for that person, because you begin to lose sight of what you were attracted to. It disappears behind a door, or a wall. It needs to be coaxed or called or dragged out again. It forgets about you. It would rather sit around and watch tv, or take an endless shower, or slew it's laundry all over the living room floor and leave it there for days... But ahem, I'm digressing here.

Ultimately, I've discovered that the purpose of this letter is to attempt to tell you my current feelings about you. Part of me cannot stand knowing that the last thing you heard me say was that I was certain I didn't want to be intimate with you ever again. That rebellious part of me is unrealistic, but very insistent. For all I know you could be engaged to, or married to, or even starting a family with, someone else. Someone that you get along with better than you ever got along with me. I do not know any of these things and perhaps it's better that I don't know. Nevertheless, I have realized that the best way for me to place you and this feeling comfortably in my present, such that I may allow it to slip into the past, is to write a letter that explains how my attitude and feelings have evolved, so that perhaps you will know them as they are now, and not as the frozen things they were a few years ago.

Perhaps my behavior doesn't make any sense to you, or perhaps it does. I know it's been a very long time, and perhaps this message is just an unwelcome distraction. It doesn't have to be anything bigger than that. The true small focus of this whole narrative is to deliver a simple message. In metaphor, it goes like this: "I know you're a fine architect, because I've worked with you in the past. I have a construction site and some permits, and if you're ever at a loose end, perhaps we can build something new. Even if it's just a swing-set."


What a pathetic letter.
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