Saturday, March 20, 2010

Dear Fill in the Blank

March 21, 2010

Dear _________:

We haven't communicated in quite a while, my dear. I continue to miss you though I try to keep it at bay and humbly move on.

I sometimes wonder why I bother to write you anymore. Not sure if you even read what I send or whether this account is active. I know why you had to close a door but its haunting to think I'm writing to thin air at this point.

I suppose sometimes it makes me feel good to reach out and send you a song or an idea or a thought. It's ultimately a gift to me to give to you. (Though I much prefer to believe you are out there, reading what I write and loving me from afar.)

I've deleted most of your songs and put them away for safekeeping. It just hurts a bit when they come through my speakers suddenly and enter my room. You wouldn't believe how many songs we've exchanged over the years! Some tunes have slipped through the cracks and they play on anyway, as if to say, "You can't get rid of me entirely, Beth."

Today I'm sending you a potentially corny song. Luckily I've never felt self-conscious sending you the sappiest of tunes. You could always handle it, which I've always loved about you. I wouldn't feel brave enough to share them with hardly anyone else!

So there's a story behind this song:

Last week, I had the most magical evening with a few close friends on the mainland. We gathered for an impromptu dinner at a local Mexican restaurant. We experienced the most perfect synergy. We talked about so many strange and wondrous things, laughing and sharing intimate thoughts. I left feeling quite high from the whole experience.

As you know, my social life here is pretty dim so when I have a good night, it burns like a flame in my mind. I had a good evening! It felt so nice that it almost hurt. I want more of my limited time on this planet to feel like that evening. Special. Magical. Connected. The way I've felt with you many times before.

Driving back to the island that night, I popped one of my cassette tapes into the player. Remember, I have an old truck. No fancy audio system like you probably have! Plain, old cassettes. I enjoy stumbling across little cassette treasures at yard sales or second hand stores. For a quarter each, it's a heck of a deal, right? And you're forced to choose from a limited selection. I like that too. Too much choice and access today.

Anyway, I stuck in a tape of early Dan Fogelberg. I know, he's a bit easy listening. But this was one of his earliest recordings, pre-ballads. He was only 18! His voice was so high and sweet and his tunes simple yet rich. He died just a few years ago from prostate cancer at the age of 56. After doing some research (because I can be a geek like that), I found out that after he wrote this particular song, he knew he wanted to be a songwriter and never looked back.

As I listened to the tape and drove over the bridge, I looked out at the lights lining it. As a child, when my family would drive over to spend the summer at the Jersey shore, I'd stick my head out of the window and say, "Light, light, light, light, light..." trying as fast as I could to keep up with every one we flew by. If one was out, I'd stop for a millisecond, then continue again: "Light, light, light_____light, light."

I did this for years and years. It was my little ritual to mark my arrival back on the island, to a house I loved. Tonight was no different. "Light, light, light, light..." I said as I drove back home, feeling content and full.

Then this song came on. I'm not sure why, but suddenly I found myself pulling over to a side street next to the bay and began sobbing so hard. A perfect emotional storm had formed inside of me. It wasn't really the content of the song - it's about a peaceful morning. And it wasn't the evening, which was lovely. It was more than that.

I'm leaving this island this year, looks like. I'll walk away from the only house I've ever considered home. The family politics surrounding it have just been too much since my mom died. I'll never be able to reclaim this place, the way it used to be, you know? So I will take a sum of money and say a hard goodbye.

Sometimes I feel for the house. She remembers times past. I pat her old, worn walls and say, "I know. I'm sorry. I'll miss you too." We sigh a lot lately, realizing what lies ahead.

As you know, our family hasn't seen many happy times. When I was six and my dad died, it seemed to create an permanent rift in our family. We were wounded and lost, with a depressed and overwhelmed mother at the helm.

But this shore house provided us all with temporary relief. My mother seemed content here and we could all relax for a bit. We were like all of the other "whole" families, at least for a season.

"And maybe there are seasons.
And maybe, they change.
And maybe, to love is not so strange."

Those were the lyrics that played. All of my childhood memories flooded me, like water in a fast-sinking boat.

The "light, light, light" times when we laughed more easily and the days drifted on as if forever. Lightning bugs and shooting stars and fireworks and wave leaping. Reading books quietly in the evening and sleeping so soundly. A brief glimpse of family and home.

In my truck, sitting in the dark, I realized the irrevocable passing of time, the hollow and frightening realization that certain stages and people are gone, never to return. I cried for the expanse of my past, growing bigger with each passing year. And maybe I cried a little for you, as you slowly become part of it too.

So this was the soundtrack to my bayside breakdown. The first few minutes are a little much but it evolves into a sweet tune, I think.

Maybe I won't send you any more letters or songs. While it can make feel happy to share things with you, I can equally feel foolish and even more alone, which I can ill afford. It's simply a waste of words if you're not even reading this.

Well, we shall see where I fall or stand emotionally. I still have about 200 songs to send to you. ('s true!) I guess it's more like 200 songs to send to myself.

You know, sometimes, I'm filled with disbelief, wondering how you could so easily close a door on me, making sure I had no power to open it. A bit of a dick move on your part. And sometimes, I realize we are best parted, in our current states. I understand. We had to be. And most of the time, I just simply miss you and have trouble letting you go, I admit embarrassingly.

Well, thank you for being my lover and friend from afar. And for being my muse. To think, you could be my muse, an artist of your fine caliber. How lucky am I? What a real, live fairy tale, one I sorely needed and deserved. For us, it has been hearts and flowers. Well, it's been hearts at least...I could have stood for some flowers.

But maybe there are seasons. And maybe they change. And maybe, to love is not so strange.

To the Morning - Dan Fogelberg


Anonymous said...

Why don't you just call him and ask him why he disappeared? And while you are at it ask him just how many others he "loved" as well. You are a naive woman if you believe that you were exclusive or that he truly loved you. What kind of man who loves you would just vanish from your life without notice or the opportunity for you to at least accept that it was over? He loves himself. And he is a DICK!

DIfficult life situation? A beautiful wife, two wonderful children, multiple homes, a dream job ..Yes, sounds difficult to me. He used his mild level of fame to entertain his inner beast and when he would feel guilty about it he would throw in some innocent congeniality to balance it all out. Like he did not have an agenda!

Self flagellation? I don't feel guilty one bit. I'm neither married nor in a relationship. This is indignation!

You are holding on because of the way he made you feel. Because he gave you hope. And I understand that. You think he will come back. He won't.

Someone else will make you feel that way again one day Beth. Someone real and honest.


Anonymous said...

i will assume that it was you who left those comments on my blog since you didn’t bother responding to my email. or it’s an angry wife or jilted lover hacking into your stuff…but i’m laying my money on you.

not only did it scare me to receive hostile, anonymous comments, it really hurt my feelings. as i pointed out, i’m moving forward the best i can – i didn’t need a shove. hating you doesn’t help me move forward, if that was your intent.

perhaps you wanted to rip off your mask and show me the “real” you. demystify me by angrily professing that i clearly wasn’t the only one, that you had some “agenda” and that you don’t plan on returning. which deeply hurt.

we all have our dark sides, andy. yours is no surprise to me. as for the “agenda” that you mentioned, what was yours? so you could have phone sex with me? that seems kind of small fries. so how were you really working me over? did you not think i too might have an agenda? don’t we all, to some extent?

i don’t think i’ll get any answers from you, which pisses me off because some answers are the least you could give me…the very least. you have no right to totally disregard me. but if i could have the respect i deserve, i’d want to know whether you had particular feelings for me, ones that exceeded some drug-fueled, partner-juggling bipolar high.

i believe you did. but i don’t know. perhaps i was one of many others you felt the same way toward? did you get me mixed up with other people? was it that bad?

in my heart, i can’t imagine you genuinely connecting to others as you did to me. (i am me, afterall.) to me, you seemed lonely and hungry for authentic connection with someone. but i would like to know the truth, just so i can process it. i’d rather look coldly at the truth than hide from any lies now.

when you told me you had trouble maintaining long-lasting relationships, why? do you just bore of people after a while? or do you fear they will see the real you and no longer like you? or was even that a lie? (i’m guessing you don’t even remember saying that to me.)

i know you're mad at yourself. and mad at the stuck place you're in. i get it. all the ivory towers in the world can’t change how you feel.

and i know you feel guilty when you read some of the stuff i write. you feel like you're interfering with my life and handled things poorly. you feel badly for lying to me. i get that too. i can't tell you that you didn't or shouldn't. but not to a point of such self-punishment. this cycle needs to stop. it’s time.

there's a place to sit with things you've done without hurting yourself and i wish you’d find it. partially for selfish reasons; then perhaps you could apologize in a way that makes me feel better.

and you're not hogging up some big space in my life. some space, yes. perhaps what we had just serves as an escape. like one of those snowdomes that you shake and stare at occasionally. it reminds me of good, romantic things and the kind of connection i seek. i feel like you needlessly slammed my snowthing to the ground.

i do have a life. you haven’t ruined anything. i date, have sex, surf, live, laugh, cook, celebrate my beauty, creativity and health. i have friends…good friends. i find glimpses of joy and soul quietude. my life is not easy right now and i still battle depression and grief on a daily basis. it’s punishing and debilitating at times. but i’m still a lucky girl on many levels and i make room for gratitude and love too.

Anonymous said...

andy, for whatever it’s worth, you have always been a true gentleman to me. you can think what you want about yourself, you may have been as duplicitous as hell…but that doesn’t change your basic kindness and respect toward me. you made me feel relaxed and special. you made me laugh so much and so freely. you creatively supported me. you romanced me in a way that was fine and sweet. you did a lot of right stuff by me. (i hope i did the same for you too...i really do.) just remember that when you’re beating yourself up. to counterbalance the meaner voices.

but the way you dropped out sucked. it hurt and made me feel stupid for sharing things with you. and if you did leave those comments, that was just plain mean and cowardly. and i think you know that.

i guess i should have heeded the warning signs, like your fear of giving me your phone number (like i would ever abuse it? don’t you see, andy? it would be hard for me to feel bold or confident enough to ever call. that’s part of my problem.) you could have taken that one small chance with me. not so i could have your fucking number, just so you could have given it away.

and i remember telling you about how i caught some guy looking in my window and how weird that was. you sexualized it and made a joke of it. i remember thinking, man, this guy doesn’t really care about you much if he’s not even concerned about your basic safety.

you also got mad at me on the phone once because i started crying. you said i couldn’t “compartmentalize.” no, i guess i couldn’t. nor should you want to. sorry for being a messy human.

why didn't you ever post my comments on your myspace page? you didn't anyone to see that we had any interaction? my comments were nice and well thoughtout and I’m not your secret.

and one time i told you about a girl friend of mine and you wanted to know what she looked like or something scammy like that…but the funny part is, i kinda knew that wasn’t really you. it just seemed like some high you were on. the real you seemed intently focused on me. or so i thought.

i do hope your marriage works out. i know you want it to. your kids must be amazing and i wish i would have asked more about them, but i was often too intimidated.

and i wish we could have met. it would have made our connection more grounded and less imaginary friendish. i think it would have helped you as well, if i may be so bold. there’s a real, live person you’ve been communicating with for years now, on and off, not the online pawn you’re making me out to be.

part of me really hoped that if we met, we wouldn’t be attracted to each other, so we could proceed as friends. and sure, another part of me wished we were wildly attracted to one another, so we could have real people sex…at least one day, when you weren’t married. sue me for hoping that. it doesn’t really seem like that big of a deal to me. i wonder why it does to you.

Anonymous said...

you may think these are all silly attempts on my part. think what you may. i guess in the face of dishonesty, i try to be that much more truthful. plus, because of your lack of responsiveness, i’m left to writing out my feelings as a way of purging them. it’s not the same as you genuinely listening and caring about my feelings and giving input and kindness. but it’s what i have.

in the movies, the person who did something wrong does something dramatic and beautiful to heal the other’s hurt feelings. but life is rarely like that. know that i hope for that. i hope you can get past your loop enough to do something for me. but i doubt you will permit that to happen.

perhaps you just don’t care enough about me to bother. that’s my fear. then please put down those books on religion and spirituality. i insist. you have no right to them. you can’t learn about god and be cruel, dismissive and compassionless toward others at a whim. that’s pure, unbridled hypocrisy. then you’re just using god like you’re using people. stop going to church and go out and be human. and kind. which i know, underneath it all, you are.

if you did leave those comments, you sounded conflicted and fractured, trying to convince yourself of so many things. that concerns me. you don’t sound well at all and i thought you were doing better for whatever reason.

yeah, whatever…your mental health. so typically female of me. like you give a flying shit about mine, right? maybe i need to stop giving away free advice and focus on my own side of the fence. maybe this is my way of doing so.

i guess this must have been confusing for you, stumbling across someone you may have genuinely liked. in the future, troll for women who are shallower and less intelligent. or pay for sex, like any other self-respecting unhappily married man.

in short, you owe me an apology and an explanation. you can disappear forever and it won’t change that fact. you can’t run from that. I’m a REAL person, someone who was your friend and I do NOT accept mental illness as an excuse for cruel behavior. that’s a cop-out and bullshit.

and you own me an elton john dvd, which you also promised me. (i know you don’t remember.)

okay, i’m done venting. thanks for not reading this. (though sometimes suspect you are. every word.)

- J