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IMAGINARY LETTER No. 8 (“Leap Day”)
This is how I handle these epileptic fits. I have locked myself in my office so that I can “fall on” your letter.
Your anxiety about my haunting you stabs my heart. I would never hurt you in any way. I didn’t just “simply write you directly” because I could not find you! I was sure that someone as intelligent and as gregarious as you would be found through deeds or opinions (no Facebook? So you remain ahead of me to this day).
“Between the Letters” was about you, make no mistake. I repeat that your 17-year old incarnation had volumes to say that resonated, as I knew it would, with male and female readers, but especially women. I assure you that your casual “adolescent ramblings” smite sparks of truth to this moment. For God’s sake, the numbers of “views” for that posting are second only to my Index, and closing fast since I reposted a link. LOL, I am still second to you in intellectual illumination and interest. What could “I” be between those letters except a geek, OK, say “dreamer”?
Ask your lawyer friends if the US Post Office, a department of the US Government, doesn’t recognize me as the owner of those letters (LOL, remember the movie “Miracle on 42nd Street”?)
Forgiveness is in order: those stories are the best of what remains of me, love ‘em or leave ‘em, and I would forgo gladly every other moment of my life except the extraordinary time I spent with you. You must laugh, but everyone soon annoys me and I really am a typical guy when it comes to tolerating the oblique talk of women. But I always could listen to you endlessly. I have never met anyone like that since.
I feared being thought a stalker. That would align with all the disappointments. I thought by being humorous / goofy / light handed / deferential / cautious (chose one?) I wouldn’t kill the gossamer creature inside me that I return to more and more.
That shows how lost in time I am, right?
I could not find you anywhere in cyberspace except at your high school website. I could not “enter” there but I was able to leave sad little messages.
I even sought your old fiancé. By the way, I got even with him in one story in particular “I Have Never Been”, but I was just jealous.
Finally, only recently, it dawned upon me that you discussed your older sister at great length and she was the thread that lead me to you. She took me to the funerals of your parents, and I am so sorry, K, you have to know, I really liked them the one time we met.
Anyway, in the obituary I deduced your current situation. Please ask you husband to forgive me as I honestly tried to approach him through LinkedIn. I would not have responded to me, either!
My letter caused you a “myriad of emotions”? I have wondered when your prophesy would be fulfilled:
Promise me you’ll never stop writing – please Allen.
Some day we’ll be together again.
We’ll probably be embarrassed and not know what to say at first.
But everything is so worth the effort.
..and fearing that the truth in this world would crush the pearl in my oyster.
Your initial trepidation and remorse about my (supposedly final) attempt to connect with you is causing me aftershocks of sadness. Were you truly angry? Did you actually think I would mock you, or for God’s sake, exploit you??
You said good-bye with respectful affection once before. Did you really expect me not to write back? I am certainly not hiding anything. I understand how odd this is and I wish I could assure your husband that this is just a chemical imbalance in me (“perhaps a bit of undigested potato”, LOL). You are at the very least a Muse.
I have thought about this moment for so long I am not sure how to assimilate it just yet. Thank you for caring enough to write back.
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IMAGINARY LETTER No. 7 (“Perish”, the thought)
When did I begin staring backwards all the time? When did anguish and cynicism tip the balance over hope and potential? 17 years old? 47? 57?
When did my young uncle Buddy die and make my mother cry? That day I crossed the flood-damaged bridge to elementary school. They wouldn’t let cars on it but I walked on it anyway, staring down through the breeches in the structure down into the chasm. I know that void; I know why they call it a broken heart.
How can I turn my gaze around again?
When did my mom’s cat Kismet (Fate) die? I remember someone thought maybe she was kicked.
When, when did all the rest of them die? I don’t want to forget any of them. One day I will be forgotten.
Is oblivion the peace to come? They suffered, they died, but then this world forgot them. Is it crazy for the dead to mourn the dead?
I remember as a child sitting alone late at night in the big cushioned chair watching the bright Christmas tree. I remember the cozy happiness.
I need a daddy God, a mommy God to comfort me.
If the universe is pointless then it is more precious that they all exist in my love, my sorrow.
Can this be self pity?
Should I be grateful?
I will never know.
How do I squeeze the most out of every moment? At this moment it is the silent hour between dark and light.
Is it enough to live? Remembering, remembering, and writing are the same attempt to hold the river passing. I am the river. We hold each other tightly.
Do I choose sorrow? Is it wrong to forget? Who says that it is wrong? God or no God, what can I control? My mouth, my hands, my feet.
“Chose why you are sorry, Define your loss as you pass. It only matters to you. The Sun must die to keep you warm. Stars died to create your substance.”
Why? Why does “Why?” matter?
“You should be living, living forward. Dying is living forward.”
Turn, turn, turn, I go. Should I turn to stone?
What does the world want from me? Death, I know. Sorrow is an attempt at resurrection.
Where does it all end?
Alan Grody, yours
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IMAGINARY LETTER No. 6
I haven’t written an imaginary letter to you in a long time.
I wonder why?
I remember that years ago, when I was writing to you for real, I sometimes would go weeks without writing. I regret that. I was trying to avoid your absence by hum-drumming.
After all these years I am emotionally drained over you. But just now, tonight, as I was driving home, when I realized I hadn’t written an imaginary letter to you since a time I could not recall, I felt void, sorrowful that you weren’t filling my mind.
I should have been relieved but for better or for worse I do not want to get over you.
How sad is that? Pretty sad. Yes. Sadness that is pretty.
I echo, echo, echo that my love for you is the only thing I’ve known with certainty my entire life.
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I hope you made it home safely and that everything is fine.
Our plane landed about 1:30 AM, Chicago time.
We had almost an hour’s wait tho’ because something was wrong with the electricity and then we had to wait our turn to use the runway.
Eventually we made it tho’ and everyone’s parents were there.
Mom started to cry and everyone was talking at once and hugging everyone else.
Paul’s mom gave Mrs. Johnson the gold bracelet from our parents.
I didn’t get to bed until almost 6:00AM, but I woke up at 9:10 and was wide awake.
So I unpacked, ironed, washed clothes, read all the papers from the last week and a half, all the correspondence from my sisters and brother since I left, washed my hair, and generally tried to get used to the idea of being home.
I had to force myself to sleep about 12:30, but then I slept until 8 PM.
Diane called and so she came over for awhile.
My mommy had a chocolate and whipped cream cake for me with “Welcome Home, Kathy” written on it and pink roses.
Mmmm – it is sooo good.
My first meal, besides breakfast, was a nice fat, juicy hamburger with real mustard on it.
My stomach just didn’t know what to do – it just gurgled with joy.
Speaking of food and such, I gained 5 lbs on the trip.
I was expecting a lot more and it was somewhat of a relief to find out that was all.
How much did you actually lose?
Murphy, my goldfish died about a week ago.
This was a few days after my nieces and nephew were staying her for a few days, so I think they may have accidentally put something into his water or overfed him.
Can you believe this, I went to bed 12:30 last night and work up about 6 AM on my own this morning.
I lay in bed and tried to go back to sleep but couldn’t.
So I’m up and fed and it’s only 7:30.
I’m still on French time somewhat I imagine, but when I was in Paris I slept whenever I was tired.
Maybe I’m just going crazy.
On the flight to Chicago we slept about an hour.
We flew American and they have earphones with which you can tune in classical or popular music. Paul listened to popular, while Tom chose classical and I switched back and forth.
It was really nice tho’.
Saying good-bye to the kids in my own group was weird.
You just don’t live with a girl for over 5 weeks without getting attached.
The same goes for eating, laughing, crying, being together, seeing and doing things together with the boys.
It seemed sad to all go our separate ways after so long and so much
The same goes for almost everyone I had contact with.
I feel as if in some small way, each of the people I know and learned to understand to a degree, has a part of me, and I of them.
I miss everyone and fell kinda disjointed at the thought of those people being in California, Southampton, or wherever they might be, so far away.
I’m enclosing a short sketch of my emotion upon landing in N.Y., which I tried to write down in the plane to Chicago*.
It was fitting that the scene of our arrival and separate departures was dark and rainy, don’t you think?
It was probably also a good thing that we were all hurried about so; we had less time to show our emotion and dwell on the thought of parting.
I cried though – on the flight to N.Y., while we were landing, and while sitting in the plane waiting to take off for Chicago.
I miss you, Skip; I miss Vera and Jane and Kathy and Bob, Patty, Gale, and Mrs. Obler – I miss all of you and everything.
Say hi to everyone for me please and tell them I miss them and to write if they can.
The picnic Mom planned is next Sunday. Tomorrow my sister and her family are coming over and she and her children will stay a few days.
That’ll be nice; I miss those little stinkers and I love to tell everyone about everything.
When I went through immigration the man asked me what I liked most about my trip.
Being asked point blank like that, I was caught off guard, but after little thought I replied that I liked the people best.
And that’s the truth.
Sorry about this paper, but it’s the best I could find and I didn’t want to wake Mom to ask her for stationery.
Incidentally, the stamp on this envelope came off a letter which I received in Southampton.
It failed to be cancelled so Paul and I peeled it off during a lecture.
The first package I sent home arrived the same day I did.
It was wrapped rather insecurely so I was really relieved to know it had come.
The footstool should come in a week or so if it travels at the same rate.
Well, guess I’ll let you go back to whatever you were doing before.
Hope you are well and happy.
Write whenever you have time.
Be good and take care.
*It took a long while to land – we must have started descending 100 miles off.
All the lights were turned off and all was nearly silent except for the steady, contented noise of the motors.
Then some kids sang – softly and slightly out of unison so that it was just possible to identify what they were singing.
But it struck me that that was the most beautiful singing I’d ever heard.
These kids, these young people were singing songs that told of things and asked questions which their developing minds had just begun to think about and understand.
The one basic concept which all of them seemed to cling to and which served as a sort of universal code was love.
The theme of everything they did was love.
I thought of a thousand things I’d done with these people and I was saddened by the knowledge that there could be only memories of them now – but, more importantly, I was overwhelmed with joy at the thought that there are so many good people, so many interesting personalities, so many creative minds.
I remember on girl telling another as they embraced at their parting, “You’re good, Stephanie, so good.”
They’re all good, so good.
[On outside of envelope] P.S. My other package came today and I don’t think anything broke. It was so nice to have it arrive from good old Southampton. I remember lugging it to the GPO with Jane. Incidentally, it’s “grody” (g-r-o-d-y).
I finished my first homework assignment a short while ago.
School started today; my classes are as follows: home management, physics (double period for lab on Thursdays and Fridays), drama – speech (semester courses), contemporary American history – economics, lunch, English, double period of band, and art.
That’s classes from 7:20 AM – 2:47PM.
(September 7, 1967)
Sorry ‘bout that, but I couldn’t concentrate so I went to bed.
I got all of my pictures back today.
It was really exciting to see them.
They recalled so many happy times and experiences.
You’re so right: it does all seem like a beautiful fantasy.
Oh, I miss everyone so much!
When I saw Paul and Danny yesterday I started to cry, and then Tom, Edward, Paul, and I had lunch together and it was almost like old times (our lunchroom lacks something compared to the dining hall in Southampton, tho’).
I was so glad to receive your letter.
I’ve read it over and over and have never failed to be moved by it.
You expressed so many emotions I couldn’t put to words.
Your letter was you – beautiful and I love its beauty just as I love yours.
Allen, you’re such a good person!
I hope you will always be that way.
I mean I want you to develop and change and improve your mind, but your personality is so warm and human and sincere – I hope you will always be so.
I really am interested in any output of your creative little mind, i.e. songs, poetry, essays, anything!
Please send me copies of all your writing, unless of course you’d rather not for some reason.
I can’t send you the words to Today, mainly because I haven’t got them.
If ever I should run into them (sounds like something stupid I’d do, doesn’t it – running into lyrics!).
I’ll send you a copy.
That must have been awful at the airport with nobody there.
The only thing that saved me from a serious fit of depression after leaving everyone was the excitement, confusion and such of coming home to everyone.
I was very interested in your analysis of the pseudo-society in your school.
I’m pretty fed up with my school.
To be perfectly honest, I come from what is known as a culturally deprived (or depraved) neighborhood and attend a school which is grossly overcrowded, understaffed, and has inadequate facilities.
Right where I live is okay, but most of the kids at Farragut come from poorer homes.
You can joke about “Mobile Unit High” and so can I usually, but seriously, it’s damn depressing to go to school there every day.
I’ve learned something from Farragut and this neighborhood of insolent punks and old, narrow-minded, nosey people; I’ve learned what it’s like to be a minority (Farragut’s about 97% Negro).
I’ve learned that Negroes are very human.
I’ve learned what it must be like to live in a slum environment.
I’ve learned what it’s like to be the object of prejudice, from white and colored both, and a hundred other things I probably don’t even realize, because I’m so accustomed to them.
But now I’m sick of it all – maybe it’s wrong of me to want to escape, but the atmosphere at school sometimes gets to be a bit much.
I don’t want to paint too dark a picture, but it’s just that so many kids don’t give a damn for education or anything worthwhile and have such shallow sets of values.
My mind is rebelling against school in general, tho’.
I hate to have to budget my time.
Say, if you could come here this January, that’d be “peachie!”
Oh, please try hard to persuade your daddy to bring you!
I’d love to see you again and we could have a lot of fun seeing old Chicago – in the winter yet!
With luck we’ll have tons of snow and stuff to have a ball in.
Please be a good boy so you can come!
You can use your TWA Student rate card, can’t you?
Paul bought the Doors album with “Light My Fire”.
I love it!
I especially like “Crystal Ship” – it says something about “when insane we meet again” – I hope that’s not the way it’ll be with us.
Tell ya what, if you feel your mind slipping or drifting away, you quick write all you problems and thoughts down and send it to me and I’ll do the same.
I want to be your friend, Allen.
I started writing a composition about you for my English class.
It’s one of those silly 1st of the semester assignments to write of an interesting person you know.
We have to write it in class (I’ll finish it tomorrow) so I can’t really do a good job; I just put it down as it comes to me.
Anyway, I hope you’re honored and all – but then you are interesting.
I wish I could see your pictures – I’d love to have you see mine, you’re in about 5.
Everyone keeps asking me how I met “Wally Cox” there – I can’t understand why!
In your letter, I especially liked the part where you said the people “didn’t try to prove anything, but were just themselves…their own beautiful selves”.
That includes you, Allen and I admire you for wanting to try to change the bad things you see about your school.
I have to go to my lesson tonight, but that’s okay.
I’ve really enjoyed playing my flute lately.
Today I earned my braid for my uniform by playing 6 major scales, ascending and descending, in one octave in 4 seconds each, and 6 chromatic scales, ascending and descending, in one octave in 6 seconds each – all from memory and in front of a whole music class as well as my director Mr. Abernathy, of course.
I’m glad I got that out of the way – one less thing to worry about!
Did you know I’m Vice-President of the band as well as section leader of the flutes?
That puts me on the executive committee which makes the rules for the band.
I wonder how popular I’ll be after we start enforcing the rules.
Tomorrow I’m going to read “Our Auto Trip” for my speech class.
We’re to pretend the class is a kindergarten class and read them a story with all sorts of emotion and expression in our voices.
I practiced it and I feel like a fool – I just know I’ll either crack-up or clam-up.
Please write soon and take care.
Vaya con dios. I miss you!
I have so much to say, I hope I can express myself to you.
I want always to do that, to express myself to you.
Oh dear Allen, I just read your letter and once again wish with all my heart that it were not all over.
I’m so proud of you!
I don’t know whether I told you how much I admire you, but I really do.
You’re so sincere in your hopes and motives that I don’t see how anyone could help wanting to know you and be your friend.
Ya know Allen, you’re pretty inspirational yourself – whenever I was with you, I felt good – like I was worthwhile and had something intelligent and important to say, like I was pretty and a lady, like I was sweet and nice.
You made me feel like you knew me and liked me, really like me for what I really am.
You made me feel like you cared and were genuinely interested in me as a person.
You made (and make) me happy Allen.
Sure it hurts to be so far away, but you see, I know you, and Vera and everybody and that knowledge makes me happy.
When I read your letters I feel nothing is impossible – everything seems so much brighter.
Don’t ever feel you have to apologize to me for any of your emotions or for expressing yourself freely.
Nothing you say is corny because you mean everything you say.
As far as seeing each other again, like I said, it hurts, but it doesn’t really matter…the moon’s always there, and so are you, and so am I.
Besides, never say never!
I think I knew how you felt in Paris – I guess girls can sense such things. Sometimes it’s hard to say things, but I think I understand, and did then, so don’t regret anything.
Regret is such a waste of time; I’d like to say I regret nothing in my life, but unfortunately, I’ve made some big mistakes I can’t forget or pass off, but I try not to dwell on them.
Maybe I just don’t have much of a conscience or I’m just rationalizing – I’m like that.
You betya I’d still like to see your poem or whatever!
If you feel it, it’s you – a part of you that can be sent in the mail for me to have.
Last Saturday evening I was at Diane’s (she’s me closest girlfriend); she left for her freshman year at college last Sunday.
On the way there I suddenly became very melancholy and decided to just walk along the dark, lonely streets.
But I wasn’t alone – Vera, Jane, Paul, Gary, Tom, Daniel, you, and everybody else was there – with me, as you always will be – in my mind.
I sang – I sang “Polly Von” with Paul and “Monday Morning” and “It Was a Very Good Year”.
And I sang for you Allen – “Today”, “Cruel War”, “500 Miles”.
It was weird because I was happy, yet sad – I felt a yearning for a sweet and beautiful thing I’d had once.
Old Billy Shakespeare knew what he was saying when he wrote “Parting is such sweet sorrow…”
Mrs. Johnson has a display up of our trip already.
My diploma, a bunch of pictures, my English flag shopping bag, my tomb rubbings of shields, my matchbox series double-decker bus.
I had my mother lengthen the white jumper I had in Southampton – I decided it was just a little too short.
It’s just above my knee now.
Since my return I’ve gotten back on my reading kick.
I’ve read “First Love” by Turgenev, “Daughters of the Vicar” by D. H. Lawrence, “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” by James Joyce, “The Stranger” by Camus, “Valley of the Dolls” by Susann, and am now reading “Catch-22”.
The first 2 are novelettes, the 3rd was crazy, the 4th was different, the 5th very engrossing and interesting. “Catch-22” looks to be good, though I’ve barely gotten into it so I can’t really say.
Good luck with Trig – I had it last year and hated it.
I really tried, but just always felt lost.
Somehow I managed a B though.
I imagine French is interesting now!
The humanities course does sound terrifically interesting.
I’ve seen only 3 operas myself, but if you know the story and are familiar with the music, they’re pretty good, depending on the particular production.
I loved “La Traviata”.
How cum no English class?
Say, today’s my daddy’s birthday and Sunday’s my Mommy’s.
I must have really painted a dreary picture of Farragut.
It’s not really that bad, but I’d be interested to see what you reaction to it would be.
I think that also the fact that Diane is gone now and 2 of my friends, Kathy and Norma Kaspar have transferred has something to do with it.
I just don’t feel like I belong.
My only real friend, I mean someone to talk to during the day is Joyce and she’s a bit out of it sometimes.
She has some real problems and can be quite aggravating at times.
It’d really be bad without her tho’ – Joyce is really a good person and very intelligent and sensitive.
My problems at school, like most of my problems elsewhere, are of my own making so don’t get a bad impression of Farragut.
I’ll probably miss it terribly when I’m graduated.
(Please excuse the different color, but I ran out of pink!)
The worst part of Farragut is the Principal.
It’s a well known fact that Mr. Caroll is primarily concerned with public image.
You see, what he really wants to achieve is getting more white kids attracted to Farragut – so everything’s gotta look and sound nice.
He really doesn’t care about the students as individuals.
I learned this the hard way with a rather unpleasant occurrence last year.
I was stupid enough to state a personal grievance to him and ended up being ridiculed by him.
I talked to Mrs. Johnson about him and she’s got him pretty well pegged too.
I’m on the prom committee for this year’s prom, (June 1968).
I guess by now you’re tired of reading, but I hope you’re interested in something I said.
Knowing you you probably were.
Yes, Alice, you’re like that, you’re nice and that’s why I like you.
By the way, did you know you’ve got a darned good vocabulary?
Any more I’m going to get a dictionary before I settle down to read your letters.
I admit I’m also stupid, but I really never heard of “discursive” before.
Keep it up tho’ – your letters will be doubly profitable that way.
Once again it’s time to sign off.
Please don’t hesitate to write unless you really don’t have the time.
I do really look forward to your letters.
Say hello to everyone for me please, including Mrs. Obler.
Take care and be good!
P.S. Enclosed is a little article I noticed in the paper a few days ago.
P.P.S. Hope I haven’t been repeating things I’ve said before.
Geez this thing is a mess, even the envelope.
I’m sorry, please excuse this slop!
London has the Thames, Paris the Seine, and Chicago has the Chicago River.
This is the north end of Downtown Chicago at nite.
I guess every city has its own charm and I love Chicago at nite – near the lake and downtown.
I’m sending my pictures to my brother in Cal. with instructions to send them to you.
Please show them around and try to return them by Oct. 21st.
Hope you like them!
Just one month ago we were touring Paris.
That was the nite you stopped to tie your shoe lace and became mysteriously separated from the rest of your group.
I was going to discard my brush with the broken handle, but I just can’t bring myself to do it.
Do you still have the handle?
I called Cynthia Friday nite.
Chester was there so I talked to him too.
I’m talking the 1st semester of college English 101 at Crane College.
The classes are Monday and Wednesday, 3:30 – 4:45 PM.
The course will be worth 3 hrs college credit.
Because of my late schedule, I had to drop a class so now I have only 4 majors.
I was glad to drop speech – drama as I can’t stand the teacher and she wasn’t even in class half the time.
I have new glasses.
Diane got new frames and she gave me her old ones so I have black glasses now.
I also had one of my contac lenses replaced (it was badly scratched) so they feel much better now.
I never used to wear them because they were uncomfortable.
I just finished “Catch-22”.
I strongly recommend it; it’s different and has a very emotional ending.
How can I read so much you ask?
You see, I’m known for running thru the halls to class so that I might have a few minutes to read before the period begins.
I read during my lunch period and am never without a book in school.
You’d be surprised how much time is lost here and there thru-out the day.
(As you’ve no doubt noticed, I’m an advocate of phonetic spelling).
You can’t imagine how much I appreciate your drawing in your letters.
It was very well done, and it was you, Allen.
Oh, by the way – could you send me the words of “Today”*.
I’d love to know all of them.
Today while the blossoms still cling to the vine
I’ll taste your strawberries; I’ll drink your sweet wine
A million tomorrows shall all pass away
Ere I forget all the joy that is mine today.
I’ll be a dandy and I’ll be a rover
You’ll know who I am by the song that I sing
I’ll feast at your table, I’ll sleep in your clover
Who cares what the morrow shall bring?
Today while the blossoms still cling to the vine
I’ll taste your strawberries, I’ll drink your sweet wine
I can’t be contented with yesterday’s glory
I can’t live on promises winter to spring (winter to spring)
Today is my moment and now is my story
I’ll laugh and I’ll cry and I’ll sing
Today while the blossoms still cling to the vine
I’ll taste your strawberries, I’ll drink your sweet wine
A million tomorrows shall all pass away
Ere I forget all the joy that is mine today
Diane is at college now and I miss her, not so much because she’s gone, as because I see this as the first step apart.
As we become mature women, we’ll make new friends, have new interest, and we’ll change.
I know we’ll always be friends, but without that adolescent intimacy.
Say, that sounds great about “The Byrds”.
I’ve always like them, they are good musicians and great performers, unlike so many singing groups now.
I hope Dave is okay – if he remembers me say hi to him for me and that I hope he’s alright now.
Yea, me too – I’ll have to take the SAT and CEEB tests probably.
U of I. requires only the ACT which I’ve already taken, but I’m going to apply for a bunch of scholarships which might require some other test score.
Incidentally, I’ll have you know out of a grade scale of B – D, I got a B on the paper I wrote on you.
Pleeeeeeease send me the song, etc. you write.
I’m really very interested.
There’s no need to be modest or shy.
The only tangible product of my emotions concerning the trip is a thing I started to write for our school magazine.
Mrs. Johnson asked me to do “Europe in Retrospect”, so I tried to say something about Europe.
But every time I get going, I keep talking about the people and have to force myself to say something about the places.
I talk a lot about the way I felt on Maiden Castle and stuff, but have trouble expressing myself in a way that others could understand and appreciate.
Well, I’m gonna go now – practice my flute.
I’ve been enjoying playing lately.
Oh yes, I have a few thots for you to ponder.
Why are there races?
“Love is the pain of too much tenderness”
I think that quote is beautiful and so meaningful.
I don’t know who said it.
Is evil resulting from good and honest intentions a sin?
[crossed-out] “Hell is the suffering of being unable to love.”
No, I’m not trying to drive you crazy, just give you something to think about .
Wondering is healthy.
“Fathers and teachers, I ponder ‘What is hell?’.
I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love.
“We know the sound of two hands clapping, but what is the sound of one hand clapping?” – Zen.
“To those who think, life is a comedy; to those who feel, life is a tragedy.”
“We murder to dissect.” – Wordsworth.
Is a kind of loneliness
That makes your eyes watery
It’s an emptiness
That can’t be filled
By familiar things,
It’s when thinking of him
Hurts as much as
Trying to forget him.
A part of you
A poem I wrote.
It’s not very good, but it’s dedicated to all the wonderful people I met.
It’s for you – and everyone.
[on the backside of the envelope]
I finally got some yogurt – it was strawberry and blueberry tho’.
Would you rather I call you Skip? You always sign your name Skip, but I more often think of you as Allen.
I’m so terribly happy!
I’m not sure why, but I love everybody.
I imagine it’s kinda the way you felt the last nite in Paris when you felt so much joyous emotion.
Everything’s good, even the weather, tho’ it’s actually cold and rainy and has been.
I guess our summer is over, but I don’t care, it doesn’t’ make any difference.
Last night I went for a walk.
It was cold (in the 50’s or 40’s) and rain began to blow against my face as the wind whipped my hair around.
But I was lovin’ it.
It was strangely refreshing to slowly walk down the gloomy, bleak streets alone while people hurried out of the cold rain.
My body was cold and damp, but I enjoyed it and somehow derived a satisfaction out of it.
Not in a sadistic or self-torture kind of a way, just that I felt very alive and attuned to the world.
I feel very much that way now.
It’s funny, but when I’m in school I keep wanting time to pass and I actually divide the week into so many periods a day and so many evenings, tasks, etc. – but this week I’ve been happy and the week flew by.
But it didn’t make any difference.
I wanted to grasp my life, even the days of my life seem precious and I’m foolish to ever wish them away.
Oh well, you get the picture I hope.
Even more tho’, I hope you’ve been happy as I am.
I appreciate much the song you wrote.
I tried to play it on my flute, which is a little difficult without knowing the value of the notes and the rhythm; however, it honestly sounds great.
Not the usually kind of melody, it is sort of a folk blended with something else.
The words are what really count, they’re saying what you think and feel.
I know you do think and feel with intelligence, awareness, and sensitivity – this is exemplified by your song Allen.
It’s you, and so I much love it and I do.
Thanks much Allen.
YOU’LL BE GONE
Don’t want to face it
It’s just not right
We’ll be together
For the last time
Don’t want to sleep, I want to
Hear your tender song
Am D G Am G D
‘Cause I know that when I wake you’ll be gone.
We drink the last minutes
…Time goes by
There seems no sense in it
But let me know why
It’s only the best things that can’t
Last for very long
Am D G C G
And I know that when I wake you’ll be gone.
Oh, what can I do?
Why should this be?
To lose the one thing that
Means the world to me?
The night grows cold and lonely
Can she sense the way I feel?
Words don’t seem to come and
It all seems so unreal
Our eyes pour our hearts out
And we both know that it’s wrong, oh
Am D G Am G D
God, I know that when I wake you’ll be gone.
Yes, tonight will pass away
Like it never did exist
And all my hopes and dreams will have
Vanished into mist, oh,
Girl I love you so much
I’m scared I can’t go on
Am D Bm
‘Cause I know that when I wake you’ll be gone
Am D G Am Bm C G Am G
Oh, I know that when I wake you’ll be gone
I love the French you write on your letters, but could you also translate a few for me.
They may lose their mystery and charm, but knowing what they say is yet another link to the person you are.
Thanks too for the words to “Today”.
I’m glad you liked the poems and quotes I sent you.
Enclosed this time is a picture of Chicago at dawn.
I believe it is Lake Shore Drive (near the lake, naturally), a very beautiful area of my city.
I read a condensed version of “To Sir With Love” this week.
It seemed like a diary of a teacher, not a professionally written book.
This is understandable since it is a teacher’s diary.
I want to see the movie tho’.
I saw “Up the Down Staircase”.
If you want some insight into “Mobile Unit High”, see this movie.
Luckily Farragut isn’t quite that bad, but some of the situations, characters and facilities are easily recognizable.
Ex. The nurse, counselor, deal with the window, lunch at 10:15 or 2:30.
The environment is very similar, tho’ somehow warmer and/or friendlier at Farr.
I really enjoyed the movie and know you would.
It’s really very good.
I also saw “The Taming of the Shrew”.
It was entertaining and had very authentic costumes.
A performance of “The Fiddler on the Roof” was given Wed. afternoon for high school students so I went.
It was free and we had chartered buses so it was a good deal.
It was very good, with a good theme and really good comedy.
The dances were fun too!
Diane’s supposed to come home next week-end – she’s been gone a month.
She sounds very happy and as tho’ she’s enjoying the environment of studying, etc.
It means a lot to her to do good at college and I’m so happy she’s succeeding in such high spirits!
I never thought she symbolized anything to me.
Maybe just a part of me – like thru her I can observe my own development as an individual.
I bought the Peter, Paul, and Mary album “In the Wind”.
I just love it and them!
Wish I had more money so I could buy all of their stuff.
I’m reading the “Odyssey” for my English class now.
It’s kinda fun with all those crazy gods and stuff.
I’m glad your ear will be okay.
Such things are not to be dealt with lightly.
In case you haven’t already heard, I sent my pictures to my brother in Cal. With directions to send them to you.
Please show them to Vera and anyone else who might be interested, but try to keep the pics with their negative and in the same envelope.
If anyone wants any copies, feel free to use the negative or tell me which ones and I can have them made.
This English course at Crane College looks to be very interesting.
The prof hates English teachers and has some very sensible, reasonable, liberal ideas.
I like him.
That’s it for now.
Gee, it really makes me feel good to think of you and everybody, and I really am happy to hear from you.
I hope my letters have somewhat the same effect.
[on outside of envelope] Do you know I’m left handed? Oh, yeah. You do.
How come you haven’t written for so long.
I would have yelled sooner, but I’ve been sorta busy.
Maybe you’ve been busy too tho’.
I forgive you.
It’s cold here!
Burrrr – must be in the 30’s or low 40’s.
I wear my coat with the lining, winter gloves, and a corduroy scarf with a sweater and wool clothes on and I’m still cold.
This is ridiculous – I know cold weather, but this is a crazy fall.
Last Tuesday I sat on our porch in shorts and barefoot, today I freeze!
If this keeps up it’ll be a long winter!
Thursday our band (me and Tom included) are in a Columbus Day Parade downtown.
Saturday’s our homecoming and of course we’ll do stuff on the field at half-time.
I know we’ll all die in about a month of consumption or pneumonia.
I saw “To Sir With Love”.
It was pretty good; I loved seeing the familiar street signs and double-decker buses, and hearing that beautiful accent and speech patterns.
I’m reading “Desiree” now.
It’s about a girl in Napoleon’s France.
It’s very good.
Do write soon!
As long as I have some time, I’ll write a little more.
The book is a fictionalized novel about a girl to whom Napoleon was really engaged to before Josephine.
It gives a pretty good idea of the times and is interestingly written for a girl.
You probably wouldn’t like it tho’.
I read the “Odyssey” for my English class.
It was okay and those crazy gods made it interesting, but confusing.
I also read “The Pastures of Heaven” by John Steinbeck last week.
It’s a collection of stories about people who all supposedly live in this valley.
They are interesting sketches and of course well written.
Steinbeck’s characters are always strong and realistic, really believable.
It was so good to see Diane this last week-end.
Just hearing her voice seemed a comfort and made me feel warm and cozy inside.
She’s really a great person.
You know, I’ve never known someone who disliked her.
Oh well – must go now.
Hope all is well with you.
Try to return the pictures by October 21st.
I just got back from our Homecoming game.
We lost 21 – 19, but it was a close game.
The weather was bright and warm, a perfect early autumn day.
The weather has been going from one extreme to another, but today it settled on a compromise of fair skies and warm breezes.
(Sounds like a weather forecast?)
Many of the old crowd – the “in crowd” of band members and a few others of my freshman year were there.
It was good to see some of them.
None-the-less, I can’t seem to shake this feeling of depression, or dread of something I know nothing about.
Just one of those things I guess.
I saw Daniel at the game and Paul at school before we left.
Incidentally, the band’s half-time performance was a success.
We messed up a little on the spiral, but the dance routine went well and everyone really liked it.
I was supposed to represent the band on the music department float, but we need all the players we can get, so I marched and played.
I got a corsage and a ribbon saying “Miss Band”, but didn’t get a chance to wear either.
That’s okay tho’; I’d rather march with my band for my last football game.
The parade Thursday was okay, but too long.
We were 1st and had to wait around so long before actually marching.
The weather was cool, but not cold.
I guess I won’t die of pneumonia after all.
Thanks so much for the napkin.
I really appreciate it and can’t begin to tell you how much it means to me.
Hey, “Wuthering Heights” is on TV Friday, Oct. 20th on the late show.
I don’t know what channel, but I’m sure you’d like it.
I relate very strongly to the story.
I’m going over to Joyce’s tonite.
I’ve become much closer to her than I ever was before.
I’m glad; she’s a good person who cares, and hurts (Freudian slip – I meant to say “feels”).
Unfortunately, she, like everyone else, has problems.
Hers are more obvious than most tho’.
I received my application for the University of Illinois this week.
I’m really looking forward to college and the kind of life I hope I will have there.
I’m pinning so many hopes and expectations on college that I’ll probably be sorely disappointed; I hope I won’t be disillusioned tho’.
College also scares me – it’s the start of a new way of life, a new phase of my life and it means that my childhood and other phases of my life are over.
There’s no turning back; it’s a start and an end.
Sometimes when I get to thinking, I wonder what’s going to become of me, where I’m headed and where I’ll go.
All I really want is happiness and love.
You see how selfish I am – I think only of myself.
If I could also do something good for someone else along the way, fine, but I’m searching for something for me.
I haven’t sunk to the level of a “what’s in it for me” attitude, but I often wonder what I’m in it for.
Enough of my contemplations!
Joke of the week: A GI in Viet Nam receives a letter from his wife – “I just had a baby. Now do you believe in E.S.P.?”
Do take care and be happy.
“Whenever you see someone without a smile, give him one of yours.”
Say hi to Vera, Jane, Dave, Bob, Pat, Julie, and everyone else.
Vera told me once that you have a groovy mother.
Tell her hello for me too.
[on outside of envelope, damaged] My brother lives in Los Gatos; about 50 mi. south of San Francisco.
…English class is reading “Antigone” now; it’s the ……Oedipus stories.
Resulting in the following motto: Vice is nice, but incest is best!
I received your letter today and the book Wednesday.
Thanks a lot – I managed to start it, but Heaven knows when I’ll be able to really read it. I’ve got quite a lot of reading assigned.
As I wrote Vera yesterday, Paul N. will be in Cal. in a few weeks.
He’s going to pick up an elderly grandmother and bring her home.
He’s going to try to see some of you, but he’ll be there only a few days.
Hey! – I got an A on content and A- on form for my 1st theme for my college English course.
I can’t believe it – Mr. Evans must be very lenient.
Speaking of college, I sent my application to the University of Illinois this week.
The notification date is Dec. 6.
We lost our Homecoming game Sat. 21 – 19.
It was an exciting game tho’ and the weather was beautiful.
Wait a minute – I already told you all this!
I finished “Desiree”.
Now I have to read “The Ambassador” for school.
I think you’d like it.
Here are a few quotes: “When we are silent we are one. When we speak we are two”.
That’s actually Zen philosophy, but the book is a combination of religion and politics.
The other is: “To wish is not enough. One must set oneself in the attitude of seeking for an answer”
Wednesday was Joyce’s birthday.
I went to her house and had tacos for dinner.
I’ve become pretty close to her and hope our friendship will continue.
I really like her.
About everyone thinks she’s really strange and can’t get along with her.
Last year I felt sorry for her and tried to help her.
I’ve stopped trying and now we’re friends.
I guess trying to help or change someone creates a barrier.
Anyway it’s great to rediscover a person and create a new and meaningful relationship.
I read your song out loud.
No one was home but me and I read it as I felt it and it’s poetry, Allen.
I’d love to hear it put to music, but I like it the way it is.
I really value you songs – they’re so much you.
I memorized all the words to “Today”.
I wish so much I could sing it for you.
I do sometimes – it may sound silly, but sometimes when I’m alone and singing I think of you and sort of imagine you there or something.
Like on the way home from my lesson; it’s cool and dark and quiet – I sing because it seems right that I should sing.
I sang “Today” for you last night.
I guess just about every time I ever sing “Today” anymore it’ll be for you.
I so associate that song with you now.
Tonight “Wuthering heights”.
I’m looking forward to relishing it.
Tomorrow my family is going to Champaign (campus of U. of I.) to see my sister Millie and her husband.
From there we’re going to my aunts and will stay there Sunday (Sat. night too).
So there goes my whole week-end.
Take care and be good.
Don’t worry about the pictures.
Send them whenever you wish, there’s no hurry.
[envelope only “Do Not Bend”, maybe pictures only]
[on outside of envelope] “To wish is not enough. One must set oneself in the attitude of seeking for an answer”
[Halloween card: “It’s Halloweeeeeeeeeen! HOW’S YOUR HEX LIFE?” – Love, Kathy]
[on backside of card]:
I happened to be playing with my lip today (hmmm, strange, very strange indeed!), and I thought of you.
How are your chances of coming here this winter or during the summer?
Naturally you’d be welcome to stay at my house – we have an extra bedroom, downstairs!
Don’t let the goblins getcha!
[on backside of envelope]:
Zeus is Dead
Euclid is a square
Open at your own risk!
Rasputin is an unkempt slob
Attila the Hun has bad breath
Little Orphan Annie is a junkie
The Marquis de Sade really knows how to hurt a guy
Oedipus is a mama’s boy
Hannibal’s elephants are messing up the Alps
[included in envelope, but not clear if this was originally there]:
Ode to the Sky – A Reflection of Myself
Sometime at night, look at the sky
Watch the hidden stars
As they reappear
Through the mist of clouds
The sky doesn’t change, only people
We move and travel through life,
Untouched by the sky
But the sky goes on
In its infinite constancy,
Unaffected by our disconcern
When I watch the sky I see me
The sky hears my thoughts
And feels my dreams
In its gentle aspects I see
Reflections of my eternal soul
And my esoteric world.
The clouds are as my moods,
Changing, yet ever the same
The stars are my hopes and dreams,
Sometimes obscured by artificial light
Though always there
As the ancient moon is ever new,
So are my awakenings and ideas,
Nourished by a heritage of thoughts
The night sky is an ebon enclosure
That follows you
As you yourself cannot escape life
I’m sorry I haven’t written for a whole week, but I’ve been terribly busy and about always on the go.
I did take time to read “Siddhartha” Friday night (mainly because I was in bed with a bad cold, which is unusual for me).
I really enjoyed and found a lot of truth in it.
There is much to relate with and ponder over.
I want to read it over during a different period of my life – I think my attitudes, etc. greatly influenced my perspective of the book and it will be interesting to mark changes in me.
Much of the philosophies and ideas expressed in “Siddhartha” are my own and I at least agree with them.
It’s somewhat frustrating to read such because I think I should be able to do the same, but I’m so limited by [letter torn]…- maybe someday…
However, it’s also very satisfying to read someone else’s expression of ideas I agree with and be able to experience them.
I saw “A Man for All Seasons” Sun.
I really enjoyed it.
Paul Scoffield was great (I think he’s cute too)!
I enjoy stories about men of principle (principal?).
The weather here has been quite cold – in the 30’s and lower at night.
Last week it rained and rained and rained!
Eleven or 12 days in a row it rained.
Say, I really loved your illustrations in your last letter.
They were so cute and so typical of your personality!
Do you know you’re very creative and imaginative – you are you know.
Enclosed is some stuff you might enjoy.
I think my brother is crazy of somethin’.
I’m not surprised you haven’t received the pics, aggravated but not surprised.
I used some black and white film, hence the black and white picture – I was broke!
Grades come out before long and I’m a little anxious over mine.
Not that I’m gonna fail, but I may get a couple C’s.
I’ve never gotten anything below a B- and I don’t think I should.
If I can’t pull B’s in high school, what am I gonna do at college.
That brings up a whole bunch of anxieties – I’m beginning to have a lot of real doubts about myself and I’ve acquired a sense of inadequacy.
Not only academically, or even socially, but I think I’ve become quite unstable emotionally.
I know it’s become a status thing to be “going crazy”, but I’m serious Allen when I say I’m emotionally unstable.
I don’t know where it will lead and that’s why it scares me so.
While I’m home I can cling to the familiar and to my friends and mother, but what happens when I’m away at school and the pressures are much greater than they are now?
This has been developing gradually for a while I guess, but in the last month or so I’ve really been out of it – to the point where it’s affecting my relations with people and colors my attitudes.
For the first time in my life, I sort of don’t trust myself.
I mean I don’t have the faith, the assurance I always had.
Not in things like plans for my future, but just in being a person I’m unsure of myself.
I don’t mean like who, what, or why am I either.
Sorry, I didn’t mean to get off into anything like that.
I must sound awfully depressing.
Take good care of yourself and be good.
Write soon, only a note if you have no time.
Let me know you’re alive and well.
I do care – much.
[on outside of envelope]
P.S. Jane wrote me last week.
Dear Allan, (that’s a novel opening for you huh?)
Hello Sveedie – I miss you.
Seriously, it gives me a sad empty feeling to think we’ll probably never see one another again.
If we do, it will probably be years from now and we’ll both be so changed.
The “youthful enthusiasm” we shared will be missing.
The brief meeting of two spirits, alive and free, may be romantic in a tragic (sp?) way and it may be good subject matter for a poet, but it’s not so great to experience.
I find myself thinking things like “Allan would appreciate that” or “Vera would really dig that” or “I’d sure love to show them this, do that with them, or go there with them”.
I’d so love for you to be able to come to our Fall Festival Dec. 8, or even the Spring Festival, or Christmas and New Years, or my graduation, or anything!
We’d have a ball in the snow here around Christmas and you could discover the delight of walking in a cold, clear, winter’s night when ice borders the trees and snow comforts the ground.
You hear only the crunch of hard packed snow under you step.
You could know what it’s like to go ice skating or romping in the snow and get so cold and damp you’re unaware of your body until to enter the warmth of a cozy home and feel the pain of life returning.
You’d know what it’s like to appreciate hot chocolate!
You’d love the lakefront.
Grant Park on a summer’s night – with a warm lazy breeze caressing you from the lake.
God lives somewhere near the lake; I can always talk to him there, especially at nite.
Oh Allan, I don’t ever want to grow up!
Why were you so depressed?
I was upset to think you weren’t happy.
Your happiness, and well being mean a lot to me and I’d like to contribute to them if I could.
I hope you’ve found help somewhere and are out of any bad moods now.
Please tell me the things that bother and upset you as well as the things that excite and inspire you.
Don’t believe the little stigma about writing depressing letters.
I do care and want to help or even just listen.
(November 17, 1967)
Oh Allen, you wonderful person.
You are everything good in the world.
I received your letter of the 15th.
Things like that, or at least that particular letter about blew my mind.
All the purity of thought, emotion, and concern – all the virtue, goodness, and love it expressed is almost too much for me to conceive of.
I’m not just being flattering when I tell you you are so good and noble – I mean it.
You are so sweet Allen and so humble – humility has always meant a lot to me and I greatly admire it in people, perhaps because I don’t possess it to a sufficient degree.
You care about life and people with a sincere concern and interest, yet you never become discouraged or disillusioned with them.
When things are ugly, you look to yourself for fault or error.
You have unassuming strength of character and ethics and an open mind.
I could never tell you all that you are to me.
Such feelings can only be fully expressed through a relationship – the union of two people thru whatever means is suitable for them.
I admire and respect you as much as I ever have anyone.
You have a way with you, a pleasantness that makes me be happy when around you, or as is the case now, when I think of you (which is often, consciously and subconsciously).
You bring out only the good and beautiful – you always made me feel intelligent, sensitive, feminine, pretty, creative and it made me want to please you and live up to your opinion, beliefs and expectation.
There’s so much I want to say but paper is cumbersome and I can’t express it in words anyway.
The only way I could at all express myself would be to laugh, to smile, to sing, to cry, to pray.
And believe me I’ve done all of these and more after reading your letters.
I hope I may never disappoint you in any way.
Someday I’ll tell you so many things – and we’ll sing together again.
By now I ‘spect you have Paul’s address.
I hope you understand him somewhat because I could never begin to explain or describe him.
I’d love for you two to meet and I know he’d like to meet you, hence the communication.
I always like for my favorite people to know each other and share life as they feel, see, and experience it.
Paul is a good person and he means a lot to me – our relationship is basically beautiful – Lately we’ve been having more problems than usually, but it’s mostly due to changes and mental hang-ups of mine.
Paul is sure he’s in love with me.
But he’s also my friend – I rely on him for much strength, guidance, advice, encouragement and his influence on me is probably immeasurable.
He’s given me all he has to give – the greatest gift a person has to give, but I can’t accept it with a return of my love.
I mean I love and respect him, but I’m not in love with him.
Do you remember when we made a wish the nite in Paris when we talked on my balcony?
My wish was that I would someday love Paul.
I’m not sure anymore – but then I’m not sure of so much that used to be settled with me.
Anyway, please don’t feel inadequate compared to him.
I respect you and your ideas as much as I do him.
I know how you feel – he’s often upset because of my inhibitions toward creative endeavors.
I never want to show him any of my writing or play my flute for him.
I always feel it’s not good enough.
He tells me I judge myself too harshly in this respect, and I’m telling you the same.
He was afraid his stuff wasn’t good enough to give you either.
The idea that you cared more that he wanted to see your work, to know you, than you did that you may be embarrassed by its faults means a lot to him.
You’d never guess it, but he has an inferiority complex and I know he’d really appreciate your writing to him and sending him stuff.
While you’re at it, send me some of you writings – like for instance your essay about the moon.
As you might remember, I’ve got this thing with the moon.
Just a little thing to throw in and completely confuse you; in many ways I identified with Catherine in “Wuthering Heights” and thought of Paul as Heathcliff.
This is an overly dramatic and exaggerated presentation and some of it has no relation, as I shouldn’t even have mentioned it.
It could give you some insight, but more than likely, it’ll succeed in confusing you and / or giving you misconceptions, so don’t take anything you make of it too seriously.
Well here’s how my grades went, Home Management B, Physics B, Art A+, Contemp. Amer. His. A, English B, Band A.
I’m glad my 1 A was in his., I think that class is about the best, it’s more on a college level.
I’ve never gotten anything but A’s in English for the final grade tho’ and a B this time could upset me.
My grade point average on the basis of 3 yrs. Grades is 4.333 which makes me Valedictorian.
Tom is 2nd with a 4.209 (I think) and he could beat me yet.
I sorta wish he would, boys should be 1st, class pres., and such.
Enclosed is an article that appeared in the Daily news 2 weeks ago.
Remember I mentioned being interviewed?
In case you don’t recognize the fink, refer to the end of this letter for an identification.
My silly brother hasn’t mailed the pics yet so he’s going to send them here for Thanksgiving.
I promise I’ll send them to you eventually.
Hey, you better be all better now.
I don’t want you to go get sick on me!
A clarinet player in band lent me his recorder this week-end.
It’s a C or soprano recorder, but fingers differently from my flute.
It’s kinda fun – I’d love to learn to play it.
Funny that you should mention “Steppenwolf”.
I asked Mr. Evans, my college Eng. Teacher, if he ever read “Siddhartha”.
He said he did and thought it was good, but liked “Steppenwolf” even more and thought it said more and was less obvious.
So now I must read it with such excellent recommendation.
I’m afraid I can’t help you with “Portrait”.
I got very little out of it because I did “zip through” it or at least didn’t give it full concentration.
I heard “Hello, Good-by”, but only twice and I didn’t get a chance to concentrate on it.
I love your “romantic observation” and plan to give it an honorary place on my bulletin board.
I wore my red knit dress today.
I remember you liked it.
I finished “Sister Carrie” and “My Antonia” this week. They were both good, but neither outstanding.
(November 18, 1967)
I sorta dread ending this.
I feel a particularly strong link with you thru this letter.
Do you know how highly I regard you – I wonder.
This morning I was telling my mom about a dream I had involving you and I ended up singing your praises.
Whenever I talk to anyone about you I end up praising you.
I get excited whenever I really concentrate on your being, because it seems so wonderful to know and see to our extent the development and all that good stuff of your terrific person.
I see the dignity and beauty of all men’s and mankind’s struggling and discoveries in your process.
I see the miracle of life and love in your being and it’s about too much sometimes.
I really get excited and moved and I’m happy.
Sometimes it’s like I have a personal link with everything past, present and yet to come, but it’s a secret.
The secret is that everything is contained in life itself and life is people and that’s you.
You represent life to me and thru you I obtain strength, awareness, encouragement, and an optimistic attitude.
I have some idea of what it’s all about and I know it’s worthwhile and beautiful.
I ‘spose this is getting pretty sentimental and stuff, but I don’t care.
You see, I know you’ll accept it as you have accepted me and I’m more grateful for it than you’ll ever know.
I trying to learn something about reincarnation.
The concept interests and fascinates me as does E.S.P.
I think I’m pretty ignorant of both so I want to educate myself somewhat so I’ll have some basis for a judgment and the formation of beliefs.
My friend Joyce is very interested and has more of an understanding of such and has given me a book “Many Mansions” to read as sort of an introduction to all of this.
I just read 2 chapters, but they were interesting.
Following are 2 excerpts (sp?) from it on marriage and woman’s destiny.
I have always felt this way, but as per usual, could not express it.
I also started “another Country” by James Baldwin.
It’s pretty strong, but I think Baldwin has a lot to say.
I’d love for you to meet my mom.
I love her more than anyone on earth and I admire her as a good and noble person aside from being my mother.
I think you’d like her.
On Sun., Nov. 20th the band is marching in the State St. Christmas parade.
I hope it isn’t as cold as it has been or yours truly will freeze!
Happy, happy Thanksgiving, Allen.
There is so much to be thankful for.
Take care of yourself and don’t work too hard.
(drawing of a flower)
While wondering why you haven’t answered my last letter, it entered my mind that maybe you didn’t intend to, probably because of Paul.
I hope so much that this is not the case.
Please don’t discontinue our relationship.
You’ve become very dear to me, not in a romantic way, but in a truer deeper sense.
What does anything matter if 2 people have discovered each other as friends?
Not to say that Paul and our relationship don’t matter; besides our romantic attachment, there is a much deeper communication of 2 people.
But I don’t see how this would have such a drastic influence on you and us.
If it all was somewhat of a shock or something, I understand, but Paul by no means shuts out you – he wouldn’t want to even if he could.
Allan, I am a free and somewhat independent person, except that I have a hang-up on people.
I love people.
But even more I love persons, and you are a person.
Just because I have a close relationship with another male doesn’t exclude you.
If in any way I or any of this has caused you to be hurt, I’m very sorry.
I didn’t mean to lead you on or hide anything from you – you knew Paul existed when we were in Southampton (remember all the letters?).
Paul’s not trying to discourage you either.
He’s also very involved with “persons” and is interested in establishing a communication with a person who thinks and feels.
From my comments and mentions of you, he wanted to know you, just for yourself, not for any reason involving me.
Please, please answer this letter and tell me what you’re thinking and feeling.
I feel awful thinking I may have alienated or hurt or disillusioned you. Somehow I always end up doing something to cause harm or hurt to the people I really care about.
Allan, I’m still Kathy – maybe you are beginning to know and understand a little more of me, but I hope you don’t find me changed now.
Your approval of me and your acceptance of me means an awful lot to me.
Please believe me when I tell you you mean very much to me.
I guess there’s nothing more I can say without being redundant.
Please do write to me and explain how you feel – I care very much.
(drawing of a rose)
“Gather ye rosebuds
While ye may –
All time’s a’flyin’;
And this same flower
That smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying>’
The enclosed picture proves Chicago can be beautiful.
Mmmmm – “Rhapsody in Blue” is playing.
Gershwin is terrific.
He appeals to something inside – like I’m really diggin’ it.
Your last letter deserves some kind of fantastic reply, but I really don’t know how to say what I want.
Sometimes – no all of the time – when I write to you I feel guilty for saying things that could be interpreted as flirtations, etc.
When I say how great I think you are and how I wish I could see you, or even sign “Love” at the end, I feel as if I’m trampling on peoples’ feelings.
I think sometimes that I should use some restraint, but I hate to contain my emotions and feelings.
It seems I do that a lot and I feel false when I do, but otherwise I hurt people.
(Talk about a born bungler!)
Do you know that when I receive a letter from you I save it for last to read, and I get all excited and anxious and giddy.
You always make me laugh and frequently cry.
I usually have to stop reading for a while to collect myself.
I guess in some cases I’m not very good at containing my emotions and that’s why any pressure in that direction is troublesome and difficult to me.
The exception to this rule is my inhibitions tho’.
They are many and varied and most of them illogical, but they have definite effects and influences on my actions and personality.
They’re not worth going into tho’ and I don’t understand my anyway.
Diane came home Friday and she came with my mom to pick me up from work.
She, Joyce, and I came to my house and we had a great discussion and then Diane and I talked even after Joyce left.
(Joyce is great and we both love her, but Diane and I have been so close for so long that we are almost as one.
We have remarkably similar thought patterns and reactions sometimes, such as making the same comment simultaneously [which happened Friday night already].
I can really communicate with Diane.
She is the warmest person I’ve ever met, but she’s not false or sticky sweet.
I love Diane!).
Anyway, our discussion started with Diane’s doubts and need – sort of a cry for help – and went from there.
It’s such an awful feeling to not be able to really do anything for someone you care about.
Even if I had the answer, it’s like Siddhartha, she’d have to find out for herself – to live her answer through the experience of life and her personal search.
I know exactly how she felt – she wanted someone to tell her what to do to change her state of mind, her state of being.
She knew all we could do was to encourage her and offer a little wisdom of our own quest, but all that would mean is that we care and were trying.
But maybe that’s all she really expected and wanted; maybe that’s the answer – to care and try.
Didn’t someone once say something like we must have the strength to change what we can and the courage to accept what we can’t?
I think that says a lot.
Maybe the real truth and meaning is the search for our purpose and the acceptance of the search, the pain, the sorrow.
We were talking of suffering.
Without being sadistic, I somewhat enjoy suffering, or at least the satisfaction of suffering.
I can’t really explain it because I don’t really understand it, or at least am not aware of all that’s involved.
It is very involved, too.
It’s partially an ideosyncracy (sp?) of mine, but I think it’s part of a human need or emotion too.
Thinking and talking about this, I was suddenly struck by almost a revelation that that must have been the way Christ felt.
How pitifully yet gloriously beautiful it must have been for him to find his meaning in the joy of suffering for others and by merely sacrificing his physical self.
I’d always sorta believed that he didn’t mind dying, the pain, but I could never really understand or conceive of it before.
But for a second I know how Christ felt on the cross.
The little bit of God that’s in each of us became me.
Oh, Allan, that’s why I know there’s a God, tho’ I can’t see or explain or understand Him – I know.
That’s how each of us must know if we are to believe.
Again, it’s like Siddhartha, faith in God cannot be learned, it must be experienced.
That’s the dignity and nobility of being human, you are a part of Him and vice versa.
Animals, tho’ I love them and respect them greatly for being His creation and part of Nature’s glorious scheme, are not aware of his existence, have no conception of past or future or infinity, or the wholeness and oneness of life.
They are aware only of their own existence and that which affects it.
Unfortunately some people are like that, they are so involved in the material and the present, they are blind to the completeness and scope of life.
And yet they are of God.
Will I ever understand or know?
Probably not, but in a way that would be death.
Anyone who truly understands and knows is dead for he is no longer growing and learning, merely functioning according to what is in his mind.
Again he is like the animal, unaware of the world or life.
So like I said before, maybe the meaning is the seeking, the not knowing, the wondering – and that is part of the suffering.
I hope some of this makes sense to you.
But I haven’t commented on your letter.
What has made you question your ambitions in Marine Biology?
I don’t know much about it, but as a biology and a science it is important and useful.
It doesn’t serve man in any direct and exact way, but that doesn’t mean its virtues are any fewer than psychology.
I’m not trying to talk you out of psychology – I think it’s a great and interesting field, but I just wouldn’t want you to get into something primarily because of a feeling that you should serve mankind.
If you want to and / or feel a need to directly serve them and you really think psychology is the way for you, then I would encourage you.
Just don’t do anything because you think you should.
Such values are arbitrary and subject to change and I* wouldn’t want you to “sacrifice” yourself, unless you really want to, for you, in which case that would be your joy.
Whatever’s your bag, find it and get in, not head first so that you will be buried and unable to see, but heart first so that it’ll really be you.
I do believe that it’s the heart, the intangible hear (maybe that’s the soul) that makes us human.
I’d have to see you suffocate or be blinded by life.
Life is very dangerous – it can be fatal.
You know I know very little about your family and home life.
I know it’s hard to say many things in a letter, but please do try to communicate the important things.
I know how you feel about the forced competition that’s inflicted on you.
Society places a high value on a winner and for a winner there must be a battle, a conflict – and defeat.
And then they wonder why there are wars and why cooperation has to be taught.
In my college English course we recently read and discussed an essay concerning such entitled “The Fears that Scar Our Society”.
It stressed the fact the resulting alienation of man from man causes warped relationships among people and with themselves.
Man has been indoctrinated to the point where he accepts violence and conflict as the only means of obtaining success.
‘Tis a sad state.
Allan you never have really told me what’s primarily been bothering you.
It’s been obvious that you’ve been more depressed and upset than usual, but you haven’t said why.
Please tell me.
What do you mean by “things meant so much more the way they were before”?
When was before and how were things then?
I could assume you mean this summer, but I don’t like to assume things – they frequently form the basis for misunderstandings.
One more slight comment on your occupation: What’s more important to you personally is all that’s important in the decision.
As far as serving man goes, you are a part of society and man and you will be helping man by serving yourself.
If everyone could and did do what was right for him without infringing on the rights of others, there would be less of a need for psychologists.
I realize that is a very theoretical statement and life isn’t that black and white, but it has some truth.
I love the drawing you sent, though it’s very flattering.
You must have a miraculous memory to capture details like that.
I would [like] to have additional writings and drawing, tho’ you say they’re worth little.
Not that I don’t trust your judgment, just that you frequently tend to downgrade yourself.
If you have the time, please send me copies.
I’m not sure that I understand your poem, but I like it – much.
Though the words speak of horrors, the poem says hope.
I’m probably reading into it what I wish, but that’s the beauty of literature – the personal appeal and interpretation create the work.
You expressed a thought, an inspiration, and I created, conceived, interpreted a meaning.
Your poem, to me, is life, I don’t understand all of it or particular expressions, but so is life a mystery with seemingly paradoxical circumstances and phenomena.
It is a struggle, a suffering, a death, but an awareness pervades all.
I do hope the AWAKE at the end was intentionally larger than the other words.
I like your poem.
Glad to hear about your job – it sounds “glamorous” compared to mine!
Our Festival last week went okay I guess.
The orchestra was awful as I knew it would be, but I enjoyed playing “Yesterday”.
The band did pretty well, by no means perfect, but only 1 glaring mistake which wasn’t really glaring.
And the piccolo was in tune! (That’s me – first and sol flute and piccolo – gee that sound better ‘n it’s worth!).
The trouble with being left handed, one problem anyway, is that the ink gets on your hand and you smear it across the page.
I really am sorry.
I better sign off now before I have to use volume numbers.
Have a wonderful Christmas and enjoy your vacation.
In case you don’t recognize it the picture I sent you is near the Notre Dame Cathedral in Rouen, France – remember where Joan of Arc was burned.
Say, what’s you weather like there now?
It hasn’t snowed in Chicago but one day and that was before Thanksgiving.
It’s snow all around but not here.
We were supposed to get some today, but it just rained – bah, I want a “white Christmas”.
Oh well, hope yours is happy anyway.
I’ll be thinking about you.
I got a card and short letter from Tony in Eng.
[on outside of envelope]:
I have have never stopped thinking about you. When I was with you my life had a clear purpose: I was supposed to make you happy. I pray you are happy, now, wherever you are. You are a shining moment in my life. Like a bright star in my night sky.
16. January 4, 1968
I received your letter and poem today.
The poem was so lovely – I sincerely think it is better than many I’ve seen published by professionals.
It’s the best I’ve seen of your work yet.
I really mean all this, Allan; it is beautiful, with all the sensitivity and wisdom of a beautiful and creative nature.
Enclosed are some pictures recently taken and a clipping from the “Scroll”, our school newspaper – it’s a picture of me and a fellow flautist [handwritten word blurred by over-write; then printed above: flautist (flute player)] turning up before the Fall Festival.
It was a candid shot.
We are having our pictures taken next week.
I’m scheduled for Monday.
I have no idea when I’ll get them, but I’ll be sure to send you one (or a hundred).
Yeah, well, the S. F. fog or something made Paul N. sick so he didn’t make it to Fullerton.
His sister’s supposed to send you and Vera your presents from me.
I hope you get them okay.
Oh, yeah, how about a pic of you, and how about sending me your pics from the trip too.
I will send you mine soon.
What happened to your finger?
You said something about its being broken on your Christmas card, and now a splinter.
I’m glad the call made you happy and surprised you.
It was so good to hear your voice again – it brought back with vividness a certain intangible aspect of the trip – a mood or attitude or feeling.
Paul was here Wed. and when I reminded him he was supposed to call you he said he couldn’t afford it. Oh, well.
Paul will be leaving, probably for either Oregon or Florida, about the beginning of March.
He has no idea how long he’ll be away, but 6 mo. seems to be the usual time until they get a long leave.
We’ve never been separated for that long before.
8 wks. was the longest.
I can’t imagine such a situation and I’d really rather not.
I should prepare myself, but I get so upset and depressed when I think of it that it’s not worth it.
If he can take it tho’, I guess I can.
After another year of school, there’s no telling where he’ll go.
They can submit preferences, but they’re commonly called “dream sheets”.
Christmas was a happy time.
(Unfortunately, now I’m subject to post-holiday depression).
I think someone’s trying to tell me something; I got 5 different colognes and a bath oil as gifts.
I also received a yellow sweater, “Magical Mystery Tour”, “Peter, Paul, and Mary”, “Album” by Peter, Paul and Mary and “John Gary at Carnegie Hall” (he may be square, but he’s got a good voice and I really like him).
[Actually, I like many kinds of music; Paul and I really dig Gershwin – I got him “An American In Paris” and “Rhapsody In Blue” for his birthday.]
Other gifts were a new wallet, gloves and 2 books of poetry, “Listen to the Warm” by Rod McKuen.
He writes very simple, but beautifully sensitive poems (your poem reminded me of him – very similar form and style).
I love his poems – if you ever get the chance, listen to the record “The Sea” or read some of his stuff.
I’m prejudice toward him tho’ because of the record – it’s truly beautiful.
The other book is the poetry from “Dr. Zhivago”.
Christmas morning revealed a snow covered world, doubly appreciated for its novelty as well as beauty.
It has only recently become very cold, but the snow has remained.
Right now it’s a biting – 2oF.
Paul’s birthday was yesterday – he was (is) 19. Everyone’s surprised when they learn his age; he looks and seems older and he graduated from H. S. at the age of 16.
I’ve started “An American Tragedy” by T. Dreiser; it’s pretty good.
We’re going to read “The Plague” by A. Camus for my English class.
I saw “Gone With The Wind” last Thursday.
I’ve read the book and this was my second time seeing the movie.
It’s corny in parts, but I live it.
At the end I was so moved I couldn’t talk.
I bought the record from the soundtrack.
I also bought “A Song Will Rise” by (who else?) P, P&M.
The teachers are threatening to strike on Tues., but they’ll probably settle the dispute by then – they always do.
Take good care of yourself and be good (in other words, be yourself!)
You know I’m really glad I know you.
My mom asked me if I really want to stay a few weeks in Fullerton this summer.
That means she’s at least considering it.
I think we’ll probably go to California one way or the other this summer.
Tomorrow I’m taking the SAT.
I really dread those kinds of tests, especially the math part.
Wednesday we had the first part of our final in my college Eng. Class.
The rest will be Monday and then I’m finished with that.
My mother will be very glad (the school’s in a bad neighborhood and it’s dark when I get out).
U. of I. notified me that I can’t get any credit for the classes I had at U. of Southampton this summer.
I didn’t expect to, but now it’ll be on my record at least.
I may have mentioned that I’m reading “The Plague” for English.
They aren’t clearly evident from the book, but his philosophies are exciting.
Ms Johnson is taking our class for this book and her teaching is so interesting.
She gave us an autobiography of Camus and an outline of his ideas.
He really seems fascinating.
We’re having an objective test on it Mon. and an essay test on Tues. or Wed.
She’s a hard teacher; I’m scared of the essay test.
My father is in the hospital with what the doctors think is emphysema and a bronchial infection. He’s been off work on and off for 2 weeks, having trouble breathing.
Wed. he collapsed at work and was taken to the hospital.
He’ll probably be there a week.
He’s always been a heavy smoker and he quit just a week ago – a little too late.
We’re all just thankful that it isn’t something worse.
Paul and I went tobogganing Sunday.
It was my first time and I really love it.
But it was so [underlined 4 times] cold that I couldn’t really enjoy it.
We were there about 1 ½ hours and went down only 3 times because the lines were so long.
I had an opportunity to talk to Paul N. for a while and we got on the subject of Paul M. and me.
It really bothers and upsets me to know the opinion Paul N. has of Paul M.
Paul M. usually gives a bad impression to people; I’m not sure why.
Partly because he’s very careful who he lets inside him.
He really loves people, but because he is so sensitive he appears the opposite – an “I don’t care” attitude, but it’s merely a defense mechanism.
Anyway, as Paul N. has this bad opinion of Paul M – like he’s all for himself or something.
If he only knew how unselfish, generous, and considerate Paul M. really is, but I couldn’t convince him.
He thinks he’s taking me for a ride.
He can’t be convinced of Paul’s sincerity.
He thinks I’m naturally trusting and that I believe what I want to and I’m being taken.
It really hurt me to have such a beautiful and meaningful thing as our relationship degraded so, and especially by Paul N.
I really like Paul N., but he’s immature in some ways, and he can’t conceive of or understand love.
I mean true love, the [underlined] love of one’s life and being not just a fascination.
Nobody can I suppose, until they experience it, and then they probably can’t explain it or understand it.
It’s like believing in God – it’s illogical, but more real and truthful, and beautiful than anything else.
I don’t profess to know what love is; I haven’t even experienced it, but I’ve been in contact with it and I know that in it lies the dignity of Man – the meaning, the purpose, for those who find it.
But what of those who don’t?
I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me there are half-realities and semi-truths as I experience life only on a mundane level – not very much or very fully.
You can’t imagine the joy of making one who loves you happy – to be blessed with the ability to make the world beautiful for one to whom you owe so much and for whom you have such tender emotions.
But it’s equally as difficult to conceive of the utter frustration and despair of not being able to return that love – to merely sustain that love with a temporary happiness lacking security and the satisfying knowledge that eternally you are loved.
In addition to these, there is the responsibility of love.
Being loved means being accepted despite faults and shortcomings.
But they do exist and they hurt the one who loves with an exceptional cruelty.
It means having the power of influencing one to extremes; the power of granting happiness and contentment or condemning one to misery, frustration, or unhappiness.
I seem to have an uncanny talent for twisting even the good to bad – to make the most beautiful thing in my life a grotesque ugliness.
I’m sorry. I guess it shows I’m depressed and slightly upset.
I’m like that frequently.
I shouldn’t bother you with it, but I usually can’t hide my emotions when I should and I can’t express them when I want to and should.
I really seem to manage to botch everything up and hurt me and everyone who wastes their time on knowing and caring about me at all.
I’ve got quite a few hang-ups, Allan, you’d be surprised.
Now you’ll probably ask me like what.
I don’t know if I can explain because I either don’t know or don’t understand.
I’m sorry Allan.
I’m sorry about that last letter.
I get like that sometimes.
Your reply (as are all your letters) was a terrific morale builder.
As I’ve said before, it makes me happy to know you and any communication is a joy.
By the way, what is meant by “Kama’s daughter”?
Oh, Allan, today is a beautiful springish day.
I can hear the birds singing in the trees outside my window and the sunlight is streaming into my room.
The air is warm, with an occasional mild breeze that slightly chills.
The sound of children’s voices at play mingles with the other noises of life and activity.
It is a day for being alive.
Everything seems a source of gladness and everything seems in harmony with itself and the rest of the world.
It’s as tho’ God is complimenting Nature, and she in turn blushing smilingly.
Today is a day of peace and contentment.
See – I go from one extreme to another.
I feel like dancing around, that is, swirling and turning and tripping along to no particular pattern, but in time with life’s rhythms.
Days like today tend to make me remember the past and wonder about the future.
But neither matter as much as now, so I’ll try to concentrate on life today and absorb its beauty.
Just now I realized that when I think of life as “Life”, I think of a past era, such as childhood or the future, such as adulthood, old-age, etc.
But life is now, much more than it is yesterday or tomorrow.
I’m trying to change my attitude and philosophy concerning my life and this is one of the changes I want to seek and reap happiness each day from whatever that day has to offer me and whatever I can get out of it.
I can’t help but thank you for being so wonderful!
I saw “Camelot” yesterday.
I really enjoyed it and got all emotionally involved (I always do when I really enjoy something, because I relate to everything).
It is a good movie, especially if you’re a sentimental romanticist.
I felt so sorry for King Arthur (‘course I really go for Richard Harris anyway!).
I also had a chance to see G. B. Shaw’s “Caesar and Cleopatra” this week.
I love Shaw and found the play typical of him.
It was a pretty good production of it, too.
I am the Betty Crocker Homemaker of Tomorrow from Farragut.
You may remember I took a test in the beginning of Dec.; it received the highest score from my school.
Now my test will be judged for the state winner.
I received a charm in a heart shape with a fireside on it as an award.
I was very pleased to win this; it affirms my femininity to a degree to myself.
My father’s home from the hospital now; he came back Fri. morning.
I don’t think the doctors ever decided what it was, but he’s much better now.
The phone bill finally came; it’s $10.
I feel crumby about you paying any of it.
Did you ever get my Christmas present?
Paul’s sister was supposed to mail it to Jane from S. F.
I hope you enjoy these pictures.
If you want any of them, put a little mark on the back and I’ll have them made for you.
There’s no hurry in returning them; show them to Vera and Jane and anybody else you can.
You can return the other few I sent you with these.
I’m enclosing a few others so you can see Paul.
Guess that’s it for now.
Say, is Pat Brown in college?
Take care Allan.
Please excuse the box!
Hello Wonderful Person – you started your last letter with your reason for writing, you were thinking of me.
Well similarly I’m thinking of you and decided to tell you so.
There’s no school today so I’ve been wasting my time on this ‘n that all day.
I’m baking bread and cookies, washed my hair, went to school to bring a project to my art teacher, and went to Diane’s.
She got home last night for semester break.
Her sister Barbara is finished with school now – she has a B. A. in elementary education.
My sister Millie and her husband are coming today to stay until Sunday.
Her birthday is January 31st – she’ll be 21.
But wait, let me introduce you to Millie, or vice versa rather.
Millie, by way of explanation, has always had an important influence on me from my very early childhood.
She was always my big sister, one to strive to please and emulate.
Her acceptance and approval meant a great deal to me and was actually I think a strong motivating force in me.
As a child, she was outgoing and congenial, with an adult-like personality of her own.
I was (believe it or not) a reticent little girl who followed Millie and tried to take part in all of her activities.
We had our disagreements and arguments as is normal, but generally were close.
When we moved to Chicago (Millie age 10 and me 6) she developed into an academic champion.
She worked hard and produced outstanding results.
About this time she became a shy, rather retiring type.
The awkward stage did not lessen her physical attractiveness, but it caused her to withdraw into her own world, created by the imagination of a young romantic girl.
She read avidly of the glorious old South, revolutionary days, noble pioneer women, Napoleon’s gay era and a number of other such gilded and star-studded surroundings.
Through this interest in history, she captivated my whole family, most assuredly including me.
We took vacation to historical sites such as Gettysburg, Williamsburg, Richmond, Jamestown, Yorktown, Washington D. C.
Earlier she was on an Indian kick and we went out West to Wyoming, Montana, and South Dakota.
All this time I was observing, almost in awe, the development of my idol.
She possessed everything I wanted – intelligence, education, sensitivity, creativity, attractiveness, charm, femininity and I think most of all, a distinct personality and identity.
She knew who she was, what she liked and didn’t like, what she wanted.
About this time she went to live with my other sister Mary Lou in Aurora so that she could go to East Aurora H. S. and receive a quality education rather than attend an inner-city school such as Farragut which could offer her little.
She was a sophomore there (she went to Farragut for a year) and for the next 3 years came home on week-ends only and for the summers.
Then it was college, with an indefinite future.
She feared disillusionment at not finding someone to love her for her femininity and personal virtues.
She didn’t want a career, but rather a love and a family.
Luckily for her, she met him. Terry was an English major with a great desire to teach.
He wanted a woman – one who wanted a home and children and would devote herself to these.
So after 3 years, the perfect match and true and pure relationship was climaxed by their union on June 24th 1967.
When Millie first left, I found I had lost my guide, my pattern of living and thoughts.
I was now alone in this respect, left to find myself within me.
I began wondering how much of me was me.
Did I like pink and history, antiques because she did?
Was I a romantic because she was?
Did I really have my personality of my own at all?
This can be quite a frightening realization for one to make.
Friends and relatives who knew us both were generally of the opinion that I was “easy-going” and so, likeable, while Mille was regarded as unrealistic, but either you like her or you don’t or you have a definite opinion concerning various aspects of her personality.
I started really feeling like a nondescript blob.
So I started taking inventory of myself – who am I, what do I think, what do I want.
I have become extremely sensitive where Millie is concerned.
Any comparison of us upsets me.
I am striving to be completely independent of her, but I am now in the position of a conflict.
I want to assert my personality, yet I still want to please her.
And still I am unsure of what I am really like.
I think many of my traits are honestly my own, but are a result of exposure to certain things through her.
An effect of all this is that I doubt myself, especially in the things I’ve always envied of her – her femininity, her intelligence, her personality.
This situation has been enhanced by her concern with herself and her own interests.
This is normal, resulting in her concern for school and her love, but this is in a way an indirect rejection of me.
She isn’t very interested in my affairs and I know it, so I don’t bother her with them.
Gradually we have grown very far apart.
I have a very strong self-preservation instinct, so I have developed a number of attitude and “acts” as part of my defense mechanism.
I have certain acts for certain people, largely based on what I think they expect of me.
With Millie it’s a comical cynic with ideals of my own.
This gets back to what I mentioned before about showing emotions – I’m afraid to.
I’m afraid of being hurt or misunderstood.
Neither is that bad I guess; pain is a sign of life and Emerson says all great men have been misunderstood, but I can’t help it.
I hope I don’t sound self-pitying.
I don’t mean to. It’s just that if you are to know me, you must know my relationship with Millie.
I really regret the loss of Millie as a sister – she is a wonderful person.
Sometimes I’m very bitter toward her, usually when she’s hurt me, but that’s wrong I know and try not to.
One of the newest things with me is that I’m less human than she because she can show her emotion so much more freely.
That’s a result of conditioning on my part to an extent, or so I tell myself (it’s easier than admitting you’re cold).
The real irony of all this is that Millie is completely oblivious of all this.
She has no idea of the effect she’s had on me and the things that go on in my weak and sometimes sick little mind.
Part of what made this summer so grand is that I felt I was really me.
No one knew me and didn’t expect anything.
I was free to be me – so I didn’t think about it and just was.
I think I found part of myself this summer.
And I found you, a goodness in the world which adds a dignity to my life.
I’m quite serious Allan, my friends mean a great deal to me.
I feel compelled to tell you of me, what I know of me, in hopes that you will see “me” and smile.
As in “David and Lisa” – “Look at me, what do you see?”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
J. D. Salinger
Interestingly enough, Mrs. Johnson has a somewhat similar effect on me as does Millie – probably for different reasons.
I hope this doesn’t’ sound like a sad or depressed letter.
I just wanted to tell you of Kathy.
How pretty the snow is,
Here, from my window,
But isn’t it cold?
I want it to fall
On my hair
On my face,
But perhaps it will
And make me cold
“Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind”
“To be great is to be misunderstood”
– R. W. Emerson
“All that we say is the far-off remembering of the intuition.”
A knowing smile
The quiet strength of a secret
And the constancy of the earth
An everlasting awareness
And of the meaning and purpose of all things
Comfort, sympathy, tenderness,
The dignity and nobility
The essence of Man;
The warmth of Love.
The beginning, the end, a means;
An utterance forgotten.
The expression of infinity.
“A woman’s happiness is her poetry”.
Why haven’t you written in so long?
I hope you’re alright.
I’m really getting worried – if you’re just busy, please write a quick note so I know you’re okay.
By the way, what’s this with your hand – did you really break it?
I hope it’s okay.
Did ya get my pictures?
I sent them a week or 2 ago.
Since Paul’s quit smoking I’ve been trying to stop biting my nails.
I did once before, but I bit or broke them off when my uncle died last year.
I hope I can really break the habit so I don’t even want to do it any more.
Gee, I really can’t get it off my mind that something may not be right with you.
No matter what the reason, don’t hesitate to tell me.
We got our grades this week.
I was disappointed not to have made Top Hatters.
That’s an honorary organization for students who have made straight A’s.
My grades were: home management – A-, physics – A-, art – A+, contemporary American History – A, English – B+, band A.
I got an A in my English 101 course – that’s worth 3 hrs. credit.
I received the proofs from my senior pictures.
I don’t really like any of them and they don’t look like me.
My mom likes one, I another, and Paul 2 others, so I’m having trouble deciding.
I may have them taken over.
You better give me one of your pictures.
Our music department has joined the Modern Music Masters (Fri – M), an International Music Organization.
I have been elected secretary and Tom is sergeant-at-arms.
We are to be initiated Wed. at a very impressive ceremony in school.
The future members have to audition, meet specific requirements, and take a written test to become an apprentice. After about a 2 week trial period, they become lifetime members.
It’s actually an honorary and social organization to encourage everybody’s interest in music and stimulate our musical development.
It’s kinda cool – like a sorority or fraternity kinda.
Last week I saw “Valley of the Dolls”.
It was pretty junkie but I wanted to see it ‘cause I read the book.
The book was better.
I finally finished “An American Tragedy”.
It was good – very well written.
We read “An Enemy of the People” in school.
I’ve never encountered Ibsen before, but I think he must have been a good guy.
He indicates foresight and originality.
I hope one of my letters hasn’t upset you. Your mental and physical well being is important to me and I’d especially hate to know I’d done something to affect you negatively.
I’ve been thinking about what I want to do after college, hence what I want to study in college.
I’m becoming increasingly interested in this child development program at the U. of I.
I like kids and think childhood is one of the greatest stages of life – I respect kids.
People tell me I have no patience, but I think that’s because I get aggravated when people act stupidly or do something I think they should know better that to do.
When I don’t expect something, I don’t lose patience readily.
This may still create a problem because I’ll probably still have certain standards I’ll expect to be met.
In my last 2 years I’d like to take my electives along the psychology line and then if I ever decided to get an M.A. I go for psychology.
I’d like to work with kids.
I like people, but social work doesn’t seem me and I like children but don’t want to teach.
This may be just the answer.
I could work a community center, be a school psychologist, or probably a lot of other things.
I could always run a nursery school too.
This would also come in handy with the family I hope to have someday.
Psychology has always seemed like a fascinating and important subject.
I’ve never really thought of my getting an M.A. before.
It seems funny when I’ve always pictured me struggling through four years of college.
Paul has transferred from communications technician to electronics technician.
There really isn’t much difference; the only immediate changes are that he’ll probably be in Great Lakes until June or July (so he’ll be here for graduation and the prom) and there’s about an 85% chance of him being put on a ship.
The day is waning. My room is textured with the contrasts of golden rays and half hidden shadows.
It is a tender time; a soft, serene atmosphere permeated with melancholy and a suppressed excitement.
It makes me think.
Not about great philosophies, but about love, and life, and myself.
It makes me remember, and wish, and regret and hope.
I think feminine thoughts, I wonder.
With no particular reason, just that I am so emotionally alive, I cry.
Can you understand that?
Maybe, maybe not.
I feel very feminine, female, girlish.
Not in a physical way, but in a – I guess spiritual sense is the closest I can come.
Being a girl is very gratifying to me.
I’d probably be just as glad if I were a boy, but I think being a woman (thought I’m not yet) is beautiful.
I’m so glad that I can be a mother, can give birth to my child, can have life inside me.
It’s all so wonderful and beautiful.
If there is such a thing as reincarnation, I hope you may come back as a woman and know the joys I do.
And I hope I may come back as a man so I can experience life with a man’s strong, yet quiet sensitivity.
I greatly respect man.
I’m afraid so many, girls too, are so corrupted.
Somehow they’ve lost the qualities of each sex.
It is the exception instead of the rule now who are those whom I call a man and a woman.
The essential nature of these two are so pure and so beautiful that I am fairly overcome with love for God and the majesty of his creation.
Only God could make something as near perfect and beautiful as man and woman.
The mood is warm and soft and quiet.
I wish I could somehow communicate my feelings now to you.
I’ll close now, with peace and all the love I know.
Dear Allen…life is good.
[drawings of six different flowers and leaves]
“It doesn’t matter what you believe, as long as you’re sincere”
[On four corners of the backside of the envelope: Happiness, Friendship, Peace, Love]
I was mucho happy to receive your letter today.
I was beginning to think you’d perished or I’d imagined you all along (except I have your letters).
Anyway – thanks much for writing.
I don’t think you look like a banker in your picture.
I like it except that I’m not used to seeing you so serious and in a suit.
My memories of you are alive – you laughing, talking, gesturing, frowning.
That’s the trouble with pictures; they can’t capture the real person because your personality is so much of your appearance.
But I do like it and thank you for the picture.
I can’t wait to get mine.
They better be well touched up.
Thanks too for the $.
It will help toward senior dues.
Finally birthdays are over for a while and now I can concentrate on school fees.
Your job sounds (ahem!) interesting?
I found out what Kama means – or rather who he is, but I still am not sure of your meaning.
I read “Up the Down Staircase” last week and liked it.
It’s fast, easy reading and very enjoyable as well as thought provoking.
I’ve been selected as “Outstanding Teenager” from Farragut.
I’m supposed to get a certificate and have a chance at winning a scholarship.
The enclosed article appeared in this month’s Scroll.
It’s an awful picture, but you get the idea.
I’m glad you have my pictures.
I was beginning to fear they were lost.
Show them around and let me know if you want any.
How about you sending me yours?
Paul’s sister must be like my brother – she still hasn’t mailed you and Vera your Christmas presents (What happens to Midwesterners when they move on the West Coast?)
Your letter was sweet and flattering (like you).
I’m glad you feel what I was trying to express.
Sometimes I get so angry with females who compete with and try to be equal to men.
Each person should examine what he is – 1st and foremost a human and 2nd ly a man or woman.
I have a great respect for man too.
I believe in the sensitive nobility of man just as I do in the gentle strength of woman, but both seem to be rather romantic notions.
They seem to be the exception rather than the rule.
But it is in each of us – too deep to be recognized or suppressed because of circumstances.
Why should any woman want the same rights of man when she couldn’t successfully compete with a man in his own realm?
However it is happening because man is afraid to be what he is.
Rather than being an inferior imitation of man, woman should be what she is – the most beautiful gift to a woman is her womanhood.
Men and women are equal, but they are not the same.
Some things men excel in and some are woman’s domain.
This also depends on the individual but people should do and be what they are.
The individual should look for fulfillment in his own role in life.
That is not to say one should limit oneself.
There’s a matter of approach.
An example where I’ve found it successful is in band.
Being the vice-president, I’m expected to discipline the kids and exert some authority along with the other officers.
When Larry (the pres) yells at them to do something or even tries psychology, it usually doesn’t work on a few.
But when I asked a boy to help me quiet his section, he smiled and actually did help me.
The next day I wanted him to take his hat off in school so I asked him whether he respected me and the other girls in the room.
When I explained that removing his hat was a reflection of his respect for the femininity of females, it flattered his masculinity and he did it willingly.
I hope I don’t sound bragging, but I’m just proud that I’m a girl and I know there’s a lot of satisfaction to be obtained from being what you are.
Unfortunately girls often don’t look or act very feminine and therefore don’t elicit much chivalry or masculinity and that works the other way too.
If people could only see themselves.
I’m guilty of this too.
Very often I feel very unfeminine.
Being around the masculinity I know is inherent in man makes me happy because it makes me aware of what I am.
I enjoy communicating with you because you are one of the truly manly males I know.
I appreciate you and what you are.
Please don’t ever become discouraged or even be ashamed of your sensitivity.
This is indirectly related: Someone once said that bravery is when someone could walk into a yard with a mad dog and not be afraid. Courage is the ability to walk into a yard with a mad dog when you are afraid.
Poorly expressed from memory, but I hope you get the gist.
Sorry I got carried away again.
It good to hear from you again – really good.
How do I answer a letter in which you have put so much of you?
Just as your letter was a series of emotions stimulated by thoughts and experiences, so was my reading it an experience.
I could never hope to express my reply, my reactions.
What to say…
I usually give such things thought before doing anything, but now I’m just writing with no idea of what I plan to say.
I don’t want to be vague.
I’ve been told that’s cruel, and more than anything else, I don’t want to hurt you.
Your letter was deeply moving, a monument to the beauty of your being so to speak.
“Monday Morning” is playing now; remember that was one of my songs – Paul N. taught it to me.
My goal or purpose in life is to make or help others see and know the beauty of the world, of life, of themselves.
I would like for everyone I come in contact with to be a little fuller, to be able to find meaning in things for having known me.
But I don’t want this beauty or meaning to directly reflect back on me.
I don’t want to be a necessary condition to this – it’s all negative then.
I have nothing to give anyone; I just hope I can help people recognize the beauty in themselves and life.
So that they will always have this and be fuller for it.
I would like to help people think, to see beyond the surface.
All I can do is draw forth what is, always has been, and always will be within them.
And with or without me, the strength of their own beauty and goodness will make them happy.
But if I’m part of this happiness it becomes a pseudo-strength.
What happens when I fail them?
I don’t want people to remember Kathy; just to smile at the moon, to like people, to watch the sky.
The trouble is I sometimes have trouble finding happiness and meaning in my life myself.
Allan I’m so scared of my future, but my life now is no longer satisfying.
I guess my feelings are natural, but they’re frightening nonetheless.
If only life were all like last summer.
I don’t feel as if it was a lazy, wasted summer like so many others, and yet there was time for doing things.
There was time for making friends and talking.
There was time to sing and learn, to think and feel.
“500 Miles” is on now.
I can remember singing it while dressing to go to dinner in Southampton and while cutting across the park on the way back to the hostel from the train station.
Right now I feel I’ve been away from home too long and I miss you very much.
I’ll probably never return to Southampton, but the happiness and peace it gave me will never leave me.
But I will see you again, and will laugh and sing and talk.
I think you expressed the disillusionment and misguidance of the hippie movement when you said the kids will grow up in a world where love is not free, just cheap.
You see Allan, you are so very alive.
You, Jane, Vera – you’re all so alive.
That’s why I was attracted to you – and you weren’t afraid to show people you are alive.
You see and think and feel and do and say.
Please see “The Graduate” if you haven’t already.
It’s a great experience and I know you’d love it.
It makes you see, and laugh, and think, and feel.
You said you love me.
I’m unsure of how to interpret that or what to say in reply.
I wish that any emotion that passes between us could be a source of joy to both, but this can not be.
People are such that there is no perfection.
Allan, writing to you along with my memories of the times we spent together means very much to me, but we’ve both got to face and accept the fact that last summer will never happen again.
I’m looking forward to coming to California this summer, but I’ll be disappointed if I expect a repeat of last summer.
Through our memories’ weaknesses, illusions have been built up.
Let’s not become blind to or afraid of the truth.
Look around you at the beauty and put the past out of your mind.
As if seeing it for the first time, evaluate it objectively and don’t compare it with anything you’ve known.
Accept your world and its people with no restrictions – not because it reminds you of something, but because it is beautiful in itself.
Living in the past or a world constructed in your mind is a false security and will never lead to happiness.
I too sometimes think “Allan would like this”, but wouldn’t it be better if we could see beyond to why you’d like it or why I’d enjoy something to that we may be able to appreciate the virtues of whatever it is and so we may ourselves enjoy it for itself.
Only in this way can we really grow.
“Cruel War” is on now.
You’ve gotta be one of the best people in the world.
Recently sweet Diane sent me a book of poems about friendship.
This is one of my favorites from it.
It expresses what I was trying to say before:
To Make This Life Worth While
May every soul that touches mine –
Be it the slightest contact –
Get therefrom some good;
Some little grace; one kindly thought;
One aspiration yet unfelt;
One bit of courage
For the darkening sky;
One gleam of faith
To brave the thickened ills of life;
One glimpse of brighter skies
Beyond the gathering mists –
To make this life worth while
– George Elliot
I am so lucky to be blessed with so many good friends.
[On back of envelope:]
I got my SAT scores.
They were 544 in math and 690 in verbal.
My counselor tells me they’re good.
If you get this by Sat., think of me Sat.
I’m playing in the city-wide ensemble contest.
Our number is a baroquish flute quartet “Aria and Minuet” by Scarlatti.
I won a certificate of merit in a city art contest for a silk screen print on cloth.
I’ve been named Outstanding Teenager from Farragut.
I got a certificate and chance for a scholarship.
[sideways on back of envelope: It’s snowing!]
What’s happening, I don’t understand; I wonder why.
It is painful to even think of.
I want to believe in people and I do have faith in them, but I feel lost in a horrible, strangely unrealistic nightmare.
When will people learn to forgive, to have the foresight to ignore the immediate so as to achieve their ultimate goal?
All the good, and any progress made by Martin Luther King may well have been undone yesterday.
Loving the man is respecting his principles.
How can they mourn for him while their hearts are filled with hate and revengeful violence?
They’re not revenging him; they’re revenging themselves.
This has given them an opportunity to give vent to all their anger and bitterness.
Oh, Allan, it’s so sad, so wrong, so perverted.
I’m scared – not for me, but for people
Hate is growing like a disease among people – it’s becoming a part of our way of life.
I feel so helpless, and guilty, and sad.
What can I say – Allan it’s horrible.
Just a few blocks from here is the Negro neighborhood of the West Side.
The West Side is about the most notorious for Negro disturbances.
Due to circumstances I won’t go into, I had occasion to drive thru the colored section last night.
I looked around and saw little children running down the dreary streets with their arms full of stolen goods, groups of angry young men glaring threateningly at police, firemen, passing cars.
I saw a confused anarchy that my mind rejected as unreal.
I wasn’t afraid for my physical being, I was afraid of the hate in their eyes.
What will that hate do to them, to me, to my children and their’s – to mankind.
I can’t condemn them.
Condemnation, retaliation, judgment of others is what causes violence.
Why can’t people accept on another?
When people react on emotion, why must it and in violence?
Isn’t a quiet tear, the touch of someone’s compassionate hand, the sound of a silent, sincere prayer a nobler and more innocent emotion with which to pay tribute to Mr. King?
I’m sorry I ask so many questions – I just don’t understand.
Diane and Zoe are over now. I’ll be back.
My friends have just left.
I spent most of the day with them and it was really good.
I guess I subconsciously miss Diane more than I’m aware of when she’s at school.
She’s in a folk singing group now.
I don’t know whether I should go to school Monday.
Friday we were dismissed because a riot started.
They started tearing up the auditorium and tried to set fire to it.
Mr. Caroll (our principal) was booed off the stage while trying to tell them to go to class.
You wouldn’t believe the inhumanness and lack of feeling of than man.
He has absolutely no compassion or sympathy for people.
His handling of the situation was the cause of the violence in school.
Luckily, no one was hurt and I didn’t see any damage, but I didn’t stop to look when I left.
It was really weird – we were having a woodwind rehearsal in the morning (the city-wide band competition was to be held today but has been cancelled) and Mr. Abernathy was delivering a eulogy to Mr. King when suddenly a distant roar could be heard.
It was just like the birds coming in the movie “The Birds”.
Being on the 4th floor, not many bothered to come up the steps, but small groups could be heard running through the halls outside the bandroom.
We locked the doors and just sat.
Several non-band members had sought and received refuge in the bandroom so there were about 80+ people in there – such an unreal atmosphere.
I had heard that someone was after Zoe in particular so I was worried about her, but fortunately she came to the bandroom.
We all wanted to stay and practice after everyone had left the building, but the school authorities wouldn’t let us.
I can’t go into detail (don’t care to really) but take my word for it that it was all a big blunder on the part of our principle.
Now with the loss of all authority, administrative or from the student body, I wonder what’s going to happen in school.
I hate to run, but if it means possible physical danger I guess it’d be foolish to go.
I don’t know – I don’t know what to think or do.
Buses are being wrecked and the passengers attacked.
Last nite when riding on the expressway coming home, the whole West Side looked like a red glow, with smoke hovering overhead.
It’s pitiful – like pictures I’ve seen of cities ravaged by war.
This is a war I guess.
It’s so sick.
I don’t want to talk about it anymore – or think about it – or hear about it.
But it’s all around; I can’t help thinking about it.
I’m sorry this must be a very depressing letter.
Ya know, even the phone service was messed up.
It took about 20 minutes before the dial tone would come on at times.
Today and tomorrow’s a 7 o’clock curfew for everyone under 21.
Paul’s stuck on the base indefinitely.
Even officers can’t leave.
I received your letter today.
I admire your nobility in befriending the boy, regardless of what others think.
Try not to be angry with those less considerate – they just don’t stop to think that they’re hurting him and probably use him as a whipping boy – like put somebody down so you can keep your image high (like the Southerner’s attitude toward the Negroes).
It’s a sick state of mind, but basically the result of weakness and the need for self preservation; not malevolence.
Try to forgive them and understand their weaknesses.
I know it’s a lot easier for me to say that here than for you being involved, but try.
That’s all anyone can do.
Allan, please don’t be bitter – discouragement leads to determination and ultimate strength, but bitterness results in deterioration and death.
I couldn’t bear to see you become embittered toward life and people.
I don’t think you will because your own goodness, awareness, and appreciation and reverence for life would save you from spiritual death, but maybe you could use a little encouragement.
Vera sent me “Forever Changing” by Love.
I’ve never heard of them but I assume Love is the name of the group.
I like it; they remind me of the Doors somewhat.
Grades are supposed to come out Tues.
I know I’ve got A’s in everything but econ. – I dunno about it.
If I make straight A’s I’ll make Top Hatters.
There are only about 6 Top Hatters in the school and this is my last chance for it.
Tom and I, along with 12 other kids made National Honor Society.
I love “Petrouchka” by Stravinsky and “Capriccio Italian” by Tchaikovsky.
They’re different from one another, but both stirring.
I read “Fathers and Sons” and “Tess of the D’Urbervilles” recently – they were both pretty good buy not terrific.
I read the “Method of Zen” by Herringel.
It was very interesting and I was delighted and surprised to find many of its principles and attitudes are amazingly similar to mine.
Congratulations on getting your car.
Are you serious about not driving?
I’m glad you finally got your Christmas present.
Hope you don’t already have the record.
When I think of Martin Luther King, I think of “The Quest” – and particularly the part that says: “And the world will be better for this, that one man, torn and covered with scars, still strove with his last ounce of courage, to reach the unreachable star”.
But will the world be better for this?
While he was bleeding – all his life it made the world better, but now that he’s being “laid to his rest”, his cause has become perverted, his dream tainted.
If he could return to see what’s happening now, he would be so saddened and if he knew he was the indirect cause, he would be so deeply [“heart” crossed-out] hurt.
Allan what’s happening to the country?
I love the United States, but I’m so afraid for her.
Somehow if there is a Heaven, I picture President Kennedy and Dr. King crying together.
I miss you.
It seems our communication has been off – I guess we’ve both been busy.
Just now as I thought of you while writing your name, I remembered you.
I think of you and what you are.
I’m wearing my white turtleneck sweater and listening to Peter, Paul, and Mary and I feel particularly close to you.
I remember your warmth and wonderful, friendly nature.
It’s a dreary, rainy day – the evening is settling in now – but I was reminded of another rainy day in a faraway place.
I remember two people running and laughing in the rain.
I remember a cold church where they spent his birthday – kneeling, but not in prayer, tho’ in a kind of worship to God – kneeling in friendship and happiness and mutual contentment: a love that unites humanity.
Just now I’m rather depressed and melancholy.
I seek security and contentment in you as a friend.
I wish you were here so that we could sing together or talk about all this is – and you’d make me laugh.
You’re good; you were and are good to and for me.
This is a hard letter to write – I have so much to say and yet nothing to say.
Don’t even try to make any sense out of it.
I’m reaching out – right now you seem the closest.
But why do I use you without rewarding you in return?
I expect patience, understanding, security from others and yet I do not give those.
Mainly because I don’t have them.
I want others to be what I am not and then I envy them.
I want to be as the rose – unidentified by time, age, place.
Roses have no reason for being; they are nourished for a flash of beautiful existence.
They bring joy and beauty and ask only for water, sunshine, and soil – God’s earth.
To be free I must learn obedience and discipline.
Emerson says “Trust thyself”.
Yes, trust the God in yourself, but what of the man; the Steppenwolf lurks there.
How do we distinguish between good and evil?
We must be condemned in order to be saved – we must live in order to die.
I would to learn how to die; isn’t our whole lives a gradual death process?
God made man, and God is good.
Death is a departure from this world into something of which few are sure – but it must be good because it’s part of God’s scheme.
If others are sure of the after-death state, why aren’t I?
Isn’t there but one truth and shouldn’t I accept their knowledge, as I have none of my own?
It’s not the world I fear anymore, it’s me, yet I believe I’m God’s child.
Do I fear God then?
No, God is good and it’s the me in God that frightens me.
Why do I cry, God help me; isn’t it I who was put here to carry out His work; to help Him.
He gave me form and I have abused that form
To whom do I run?
Do I seek strength and guidance from within or without?
April 24, 1968
I received you letter today.
I’m really awfully sorry to have upset you.
I assure you I’m fine, physically at least.
My father forbade me to go to school that Monday, but most of the white kids went and nothing happened.
I’m touched that you were so concerned.
I don’t think you will, but I hope you don’t blame the Negroes in general.
Many of my Negro friends were concerned for my welfare and one boy even called me up to see if I made it home okay.
When he became aware of trouble he went to my locker to find me but he knew I was safe in the bandroom.
He was going to walk me home, but we stayed in the bandroom until everyone else had left school.
I’m writing to a Negro boy who was recently drafted.
He graduated 2 yrs. ago but used to call me occasionally.
He’s such a sweet, gentle person and I hate to think of him suffering because he’s Negro.
Actually, most of the kids and teachers I’ve talked to or heard talking think the violence was a stupid tragedy.
Thank you so much for “Demian”.
It’ll be a while before I get a chance to read it but from what I knew of it from the introduction to “Steppenwolf”, I was very interested.
I read “The Hobbit” last week.
It was a cute story – I really enjoyed it.
I’m reading “The Ox-Bow Incident” now.
Actually I just started it.
Vera sent me an album by Love.
I’d never hear of them, but I like them.
Thanks also for the “Love is Blue”.
I played it the other day and I really like it.
I’m doing a term paper for economics on a thrilling topic.
Would you believe “The Economic Theory of the New Deal”?!
I went to the doctor yesterday for my physical for school and everything’s okay.
Enclosed you’ll find a picture of me.
It’s one of the few pictures I approve of, except it looks a lot better than I do!
Hope you like it.
When do you graduate?
June 20th is our graduation, June 14th the prom, and May 9th the National Honor Society induction.
We got our senior beanies last week.
For seniors there are only 6 more weeks of school.
I can’t imagine being out of school, Farragut, and high school in 6 weeks.
I remember being a timid freshman not too long ago.
It seems yesterday I dreaded Mondays and thought I’d never get in the groove of school again.
I’ll be glad to end it all in a way; but then again I’ll be sad.
Well, guess that’s all.
Sorry to have frightened you.
Be good and take care.
[proceeding to write on the backside of all previous six pages]
Map of Westside Chicago [cutout and glued to the letter]
My house approximately [lines and circles drawn in ink on the map]
For English we have to write our philosophy of life, using examples and comparisons from and of philosophers we’ve studied and any modern philosopher with whom we identify.
I chose Emerson – I really groove him.
What did you mean by your P.S.?
“Learning without thought is labor lost.
Thought without learning is intellectual death”
“Poetry…is a sacred incarnation of a smile”
“Work is love made visible”
– Kahlil Gibran
“Fathers and teachers,
I ponder ‘What is hell?’
I maintain that it is the
Suffering of being unable to love”
“To those who think,
Life is a comedy;
To those who feel,
Life is a tragedy”
“Love is the pain of too much tenderness”.
“Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind”.
“To be great is to be misunderstood”.
“I must be myself.
I cannot break myself any longer for you, or you.
If you can love me for what I am, we shall be the happier.
If you cannot, I will still seek to deserve that you should”
“We must go alone”.
“We are students of words: we are shut up in schools and colleges, and recitation rooms, for ten of fifteen years, and come out at last with a bag of wind, a memory of words, and we do not know anything”.
“The force of character is cumulative”.
“…a true man belongs to no other time or place, but is the centre of things”.
“But man postpones or remembers; he does not live in the present, but with reverted eye laments the past, or, heedless of the riches that surround him, stands on tiptoe to foresee the future.
He cannot be happy and strong until he too lives with nature in the present, above time”
“…all that we say is the far-off remembering of the intuition”.
“Discontent is the want of self-reliance: it is infirmity of will”.
“Prayer is the contemplation of the facts of life from the highest point of view.
It is the soliloquy of a beholding and jubilant soul.
It is the spirit of God pronouncing his works good.
But prayer as a means to effect a private end is meanness and theft.
It supposes dualism and not unity in nature and consciousness”.
“Insist on yourself; never imitate”.
“They lot or portion of life is seeking after thee; therefore be at rest from seeking after it!”
“Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.
Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles”
“Philosophy is the account which the human mind gives to itself of the constitution of the world”
“Men contemplate distinctions, because they are stupefied with ignorance”.
“…the nature of the Great Spirit is single, though its forms be manifold, arising from the consequences of acts”.
“We murder to dissect”.
“We know the sound of two hand clapping.
But what is the sound of hone hand clapping?”
“To wish is not enough. One must set oneself in the attitude of seeking for an answer”.
“When we are silent we are one.
When we speak we are two”.
“A woman’s happiness is her poetry”.
“Man’s love is of man’s life a thing apart.
‘Tis a woman’s whole existence”.
– Lord Byron
Thank you so much for being there and accepting me and caring.
I won’t go into why I don’t deserve you because you’ll be upset by it.
I just really appreciate you person.
You are very good to me – you’re good period!
I’m not going to apologize for my last letter.
By way of explanation I’ll say that many things were happening concerning people and their relationship to one another (myself included) that week or so.
Diane sort of underwent a religious conversion, accepting the beliefs of her childhood which she had thoughtfully rejected.
This gave rise to a number of discussions concerning religion, and beliefs in general which created circumstances and feelings which were unhappy.
No one rejected anyone because of their beliefs, but a spiritual alienation occurred which shook my security and caused a questioning and self-analysis.
Simultaneously Zoe and I discovered many things about ourselves and each other and sought the beauty and comfort of friendship (which we have between us now).
Also Paul reached out to Zoe, recognizing her problems.
All seems well now.
In searching for some answers, Zoe and attended church a few weeks ago near our homes.
The following week we went to Paul’s mom’s church.
I went again, with Paul, last Sunday.
I want to believe – I accept God, and Jesus as his son, but the Bible is of man.
Interpretation has something to do with it, but regardless, some of the basic doctrines of most Christian religions that come from the Bible I cannot believe.
Oh well, what are your religious beliefs and views?
It’s no fault of yours Allan, that you can’t understand me.
I very often don’t understand myself either.
My last letter was not at all thought out.
It was a hodge-podge of thoughts and feelings.
Allen we are all the Steppenwolf, all Demian’s God – each of us is all things, good and evil.
I fear the evil and do not know the good.
Sometimes I see the two in conflict within me.
I doubt my strength, my will to do good.
Maybe I just can’t accept the destruction of a world in order to be born as Sinclair’s bird, but I’m so incongruous.
Emerson tells me to trust myself – would ask him which one of my selves.
The strongest is not always the best; the easiest is not always the right.
I have a terrific desire to live; it’s almost an animal instinct of self-preservation and I don’t trust this.
I question my values, but even more I question my motives.
Maybe I know what’s right (if there is such a thing), but do I do it?
Oh Allan, I won’t be sad if I can help it.
I want happiness, but if I do damage to others in my happiness, then it’s no good and I’ve blasphemed myself.
By now you must have gotten the impression I’ve read “Demian”.
Actually I’m about half finished with it.
The beginning was kinda dull, but he gets into it before too long.
Hesse must have had a marvelous mind.
I really would like to have known him.
I’ve also read “The Ox-Bow Incident” and “The Graduate” since last I wrote.
Both are good, but you should see the movie of the latter before reading it.
I won a $750 scholarship from B’nai B’rith Youth Organization.
There were 5 awards: 1st (Youth of the Year) for $1,000, 2nd (mine) $750, and 3 honorable mentions worth $500 each.
The 5 finalists were interviewed personally by about 15 judges and then the winners were announced at a formal dinner-dance on my birthday.
We each received a plaque and had lots of pictures taken with all sorts of people (including the governor).
It was really exciting and the other kids were really nice.
One of the girls looked a lot like Vera except she had black hair.
Her personality is very similar to – ‘course I was immediately attracted to her.
I saw “Far From the Madding Crowd”.
It’s a pretty good movie and it was filmed in Dorset.
The scenery is beautiful and very beautiful.
I got free tickets for “Golden Boy” so Zoe and I went last night.
The play is great and the music and choreography really good.
I really enjoyed it and Sammy Davis, Jr. is terrific.
After the show we go backstage after everyone left and got some autographs.
Sammy Davis was in the audience with about 40 people and singing [sic] autographs and answering questions.
We got his signature too and it was really groovy – for about half an hour he just sat out in the audience and talked, mostly about racial matter.
He’s a great performer and a very intelligent individual.
The Spring Festival is this Friday.
Saturday are my placement tests for school next year.
Jane has invited me to stay with her in Holland this summer.
All I’d have to pay is the flight ($600) and any spending money I needed.
It’s a great opportunity, but my dad’s against it.
Mom wants me to go if I want, but I’d feel bad about it knowing Dad’s so against it.
Besides I’d feel guilty myself spending the money.
I probably won’t go.
It’d be nice tho’.
Friday night Paul and I saw The Doors.
I groove their music, but am disillusioned with them as people.
Jim Morrison was pretty suggestive and as much as told the audience to undress him.
So about the whole main floor audience tried to rush on the stage.
After the concert was over, they threw and kick the folding chairs down, for no apparent reason.
Tony May (remember Tony, the boy I dated in England?) sent me a birthday card about the time I sent him my picture.
He’s terribly sweet.
I received another letter from him today.
He said he’s going to come to Canada this summer and work there.
He’s going to try to make it to Chicago.
That’d be really great if he could come here.
I’d love to see him again and introduce him to my parents and show him my part of the U.S.
Well now, I think I’m finished.
I miss you Skip.
Should I get my ears pierced?
It was great talking to you again.
I wish I could be there so whenever you felt depressed we could talk and not have it cost a fortune.
I hope I may have lifted your spirits a little.
I don’t expect I did tho’, some things just are and no one can make them better.
Each of us has to suffer a little by ourselves.
Generally I have the feeling that I do or will let down the people who think a lot of me.
I’m afraid of disappointing and disillusioning people.
I especially had this feeling while talking to you.
I felt it wasn’t all that you’d expected.
I hope I won’t disappoint you when I’m there next month.
I hope I may never let you down.
Forgive me if I do.
I also think I talk too much!
I recorded one of the things I’ve been feeling and thinking.
I’m glad I did – it’s a bad idea to get out of the practice of expressing yourself on paper.
I applied for a job at Metropolitan Life Insurance Company yesterday.
I passed the aptitude and typing tests (me type!?) and now just have to get my recommendations.
The thing is, I had to tell her I’m not going to school next year.
I didn’t really say I wasn’t, but I was pretty vague and generally gave the impression I wasn’t.
I feel guilty about it, but I know I’d never get a job just for the summer, especially if I’d start late because of our trip to Cal.
I’ll feel like a real goon when I quit and they’ll know I lied.
Oh well, maybe I won’t even get the job.
I have to take another placement test for school – reading.
Somehow I missed the last one and so I’ll have to take it on the day I register, which means it’ll have to be hand graded.
Leave it to me!
Paul had his orders confirmed.
It’s New Jersey next for sure.
I’m going to really be lonely without him.
He’s so much me that I don’t know how much is me and how much him, or who I am.
From whence does my strength come?
I shall soon see.
Really, let me pay half of the phone bill – it’s only right.
Lately I’ve been feeling very alive.
I don’t know how I can explain it, but everywhere I look, I see life in the form of children playing.
Yesterday from a bus window I saw 2 little boys, about 3 or 4 yrs. old running down the street holding hands.
I love to see children playing and happy, but his was particularly beautiful because one was colored and the other white.
I thought, leave it to the kids.
No matter how much evil man creates the good of God, inherent in man, cannot be destroyed.
It will live on in children, mothers, and all people who care.
And there are a lot of them.
We must not let our vision be obscured by the others – People Are Good!
I won’t give up my faith in people.
I’m sure I will again scream that I hate people, that no one cares, but that will be an irrational emotional reaction, not a belief.
May God forgive us all for our irrational emotional reactionary outbursts!
Anyway, getting back to being alive – I’m also very aware of myself.
The smell of flesh, warm alive – it’s a soothing fragrance, the aroma of life.
Even this feel of perspiration reminds me that I am alive.
My body is performing a function as a reaction to my environment.
The rhythm of life…
I love “The Look of Love”.
Well I’ll see ya soon.
Be good and Live!
Be happy and take care.
[on outside flap of envelope:]
There’s so much more I want to say but I guess it’s best to wait ‘til I see you.
Dear Allan, do you remember the night in Paris when we sat and watched the night sky and spoke of life?
Remember I made a wish on the first star I saw?
That wish has come true Allan.
I wished to fall in love with Paul.
Everything’s so different and yet I feel I’ve always been and always will be – that I’ve loved him from the beginning of time.
It’s so strange, the way it happened.
Please forgive me and share my happiness.
I don’t want anything to change in our relationship; please don’t feel inhibited or uncomfortable about writing to me now.
Anyway, I arrived in S.F. on Thursday and left for “home” on Saturday.
I was really miserable – the verge of tears for 2 days and finally I couldn’t help it.
I cried all over and couldn’t stop so my father let me go home.
I think what made me especially unhappy was that it was frustrating to be away just as Paul is on leave before going away.
I thought it’d be better leaving him with the diversion of vacation, but it wasn’t.
Somehow I think I’ll be able to accept our separation better when it is inevitable, no alternative, and when he leaves me.
I really wanted to see you Allan; I’m sorry, but I really couldn’t stand it.
Please don’t be angry – I hope you’re not too disappointed or upset.
Please be happy for and with me.
We still will see one another sometime, until then do write to me.
I sent you a package with your and Jane’s graduation gifts.
I just received a letter from her today so I know now that she’s left.
If possible, get her address from Vera when she gets it or from me when I get it.
Tell me how much it costs and I’ll pay you.
Your names are written on the ribbons.
I hope you like yours.
Zoe gave me that book for my birthday and it has become one of my most precious possessions.
I relate to Gibran and “Sand and Foam” is about his most beautiful and meaningful to me.
I refer to it often – it is life expressed simply and truthfully.
Keep it always.
Could you please return my pictures from last summer?
I miss them and am anxious to see proof that I actually was there.
I’d still like to see yours too if it wouldn’t be too much trouble to send them.
Graduation went okay and I gave my speech without dying.
The prom was wonderful.
I’ll send you pictures of them when I get the others back.
I got my ears pierced about 2 weeks ago.
I really enjoy looking at earrings and buying them, but I’m broke and in debt $55.
Enclosed are copies of a poem I wrote in March (I don’t know why I’m sending it to you now, especially since it’s pretty bad) and my speech.
Really Allan, so much good has happened to me lately.
Love brings out the best in people.
Really, my parents have been great; I think my father and I will get along better now.
We haven’t been able to communicate in years and now we have some sort of understanding I think.
Good night Allan.
I miss you but I’m happy.
I wish I could give you and everyone part of my happiness.
I wish you knew Paul.
Take care Allan and please write.
Please don’t be angry with me.
I’m sorry for anything I’ve done to hurt or disillusion you.
I don’t really know what to say to you because I don’t know what you’re thinking or how you feel.
I wish you could share my happiness.
I love Paul.
That says everything to and for me.
I still can’t answer the questions of life.
I still wonder about things, but I’ve found a source.
My source is Paul and my love for him and his love for me.
I can never explain how I feel, I don’t understand it myself.
I just know that we’re in love and that’s all we really need.
But I am a part of everyone.
I still feel a kinship with man.
You are important to me and I want to continue our relationship.
I want to give of myself – I am so full of everything that is good.
I dreamt last night that you came to Chicago but you wouldn’t talk to me.
It was awful – I felt so bad.
I don’t feel guilty really.
How could I when this seems so good and right to me?
Please write Allan.
Even if you are angry.
Write and tell me that.
Mom and Dad said they saw you and you were very friendly and helpful.
Thank you so much for writing and for accepting me.
It may seem silly to you that I feared a negative reaction, but believe me I’ve been getting enough of them.
My brother thinks I’m crazy; I’m just an immature little girl according to him.
My father varies between the extremes so I don’t show much of how I feel and ignore most comments.
My mom is a dear.
She wants me to be sure, and wants what’s best for me, i.e. what will make me happy.
Things are pretty much a mess.
He’s gone now ‘til about the beginning of Sept. when he plans to try coming back for a week-end.
After that it’s 4 months until his Xmas leave.
What does our immediate future hold?
Not much for us but separation – school and Navy, ug!
But it doesn’t really matter, sometimes I can say that and sometimes can’t.
It’s best that we can’t get married now anyway.
I know I’m not prepared for marriage yet, not fully.
But time will pass and what was meant to be will happen.
I’m in a good mood now, can you tell?
Really Allan, you can’t imagine how relieved I was to receive you letter.
You mean a lot to me and I was afraid something had damaged our relationship.
I wish I could have seen you.
But, no one can have his cake and eat it too.
That’s something I’m beginning to learn and I’ll continue to become familiar with it.
Usually it’s called sacrifice.
The older I get (and more mature I hope) the more I realize what life requires and some of the attitudes on must adopt in order to survive and find happiness.
Sacrifice itself can be a source of satisfaction (I don’t mean in a masochistic way).
It’s all a matter of values and an understanding of the demands placed upon a person in order to achieve his goals.
It’s sorta like childbirth.
In order to have a beautiful baby, the gift of life, the mother must suffer pain and be prepared to care for her child, giving him her time, patience, affection, energy, interest, money, and intelligence.
If she realizes this, the pain does not seem so great and the tasks are not overwhelming.
But she must realize all that’s involved, she must understand and be prepared for the bad in return for the good.
It’s like that with everything in life.
Nothing is all good.*
We, as adult people must be prepared to make decisions involving sacrifice and be willing to accept the results of our decisions.
This, I think, is maturity
[footnote starting at the bottom of the page, and curling up the right side of the page]
*except maybe God – but the human conception of God usually involves negative aspects.
Boy, how’d I get on that?
Oh, it’s good to talk to you again Allan!
I’m working evenings (6 – 9) at A&P near my home and on Saturdays.
For the next 2 weeks I’ll be working somewhere on the North Side stamping fliers and stuffing envelopes 5 days a week from 8:30 – 4:30 (sounds exciting doesn’t it!).
I start there tomorrow and I’ve been working at A&P a week.
Classes start Sept. 16th for me so I imagine I’ll go down there about the 11th or 12th.
I’ve got French 101 (ooo la la!), biology 1010, English 1010 (intro. to poetry), rhetoric 108 (search for identity), and basic movement (they gonna teach us to walk?!).
My 2nd semester remains the same except no rhet.
Instead I’ll have intro. to psychology.
P.E. will be different too and my English course will be either intro. to drama or the novel, I haven’t decided yet.
As of now I’m planning to be an English teacher (drat the grammar!).
I’m in L.A.R. (Lincoln Avenue Residence).
311-D L.A.R., Urbana, Ill. will be my address.
My roommate is Denotra Smith, a sort of shy colored girl, a math major.
I met her downtown for lunch one day.
L.A.R. is the dorm my sister was in and to my mind the prettiest down there.
I’m so glad I got it.
I’ve read 2 books on our summer reading list, “Death At An Early Age” by Jonathan Kozol and “Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me” by Richard Fariña.
The latter was crazy.
I’m reading “If Morning Ever Comes” now and I read “Of Human Bondage” by S. Maugham at the beginning of the summer.
It is great, except for the beginning which is a real drag.
Zoe gave me “The Broken Wings” by Kahlil Gibran just ‘cuz she’s sweet.
It’s a beautiful book about his lost love.
It left me crying, but it didn’t leave me really.
I also re-read “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
Mrs. Johnson let me read hers when I was a sophomore, but I bought mine now and read it again.
I’m so glad you liked “Sand and Foam”.
I think it’s beautiful and it contains so much truth.
Well Allan, I’d better set my hair and go to bed.
Thank you so much, I’m so happy to have you for a friend!
My parents asked me to tell you they think you’re a really good person and to thank you for your assistance; it was very helpful to them.
[along the right edge of the last page:]
I got my ears pierced about 6 weeks ago.
[pink stationery closed with purple sealing wax]
Tomorrow is your birthday.
I remember being in charge of closing the hostel at 10:30 am Aug. 16, 1967.
But why do we frequently revert to memories and thoughts of yesterday when we speak?
I miss you.
It’d be nice to listen to this record together.
It’s Simon and Garfunkel’s “Sounds of Silence” album.
“Kathy’s Song” is on it and it’s beautiful.
I’d like to identify with it, but it’s too beautiful.
I’m in a strange mood.
Since yesterday I’ve run a gauntlet of emotions.
I’m disturbed now (no, I’m not perpetually blissful).
I can’t detect the exact nature of my unrest.
Around me I see a lovely world, in me I see many things which I can’t seem to sort out.
I am happy, yet not contented.
School terrifies me.
I want so badly to go, to do well, to learn, to think and try to understand, to grasp new knowledge and grope for ideas of my own.
I want to experience life, the world, people, but mostly myself.
I ask, “Have I given too much or too little, or is it just that what I gave was so fouled?”
I love people.
So many are so beautiful.
I’ve written to and received a few really good communications from Jane recently.
I am awed at the dignity of her being a human, a complex creature who is alive and thinking.
She expresses herself and feels.
People amaze me!
Last week I talked to a boy for the first time.
I’ve known him from school for a few years, but I never really talked to him.
I cried with joy when he said he too felt [“that” crossed-out] perhaps for only once, but that we had touched.
My sister and I have been distant for about 8 years.
I wrote her and told her I love her; that I want to know her and be her sister.
She replied warmly and explained how she’s felt.
I feel that we have more of a basis for understanding now and am really excited over the prospect of re-establishing communication.
Why am I telling you all this?
That’s what’s been happening in my life.
I want to share my experiences in life with those with whom I am close.
Life is persistent – persistent and dynamic.
It ignores your hang-ups as it rushes you thru the corridors of time.
I think, or rather I feel, that we are each a part of the force called life.
Rather than having life or God in us, we are a part of life and in God.
We have self will and control our “fate” to a very large degree, but each of us is a transient spirit.
Like the silken, threadlike strands of a spider’s web, we are woven and interwoven forming infinite numbers of patterns and intricacies.
The latticework of life is indeed a marvelous and beautiful thing.
But life is on two levels – there is life as the continuous, infinite string of humanity, and life as the tiny, flickering existence of an individual.
There is no reason for life, no goal.
There is only life itself and the individual who seeks and finds beauty, happiness, satisfaction, peace.
These are a part of each of our lives, but we must recognize them and cling lovingly to them.
I acknowledge you Allen.
[printed on the cover of a birthday card:]
Whole year is filled
[printed on the inside of the same card:]
A Birthday means a brand-new year,
A brand-new chance to start
Fulfilling all the hopes and plans
On which you’ve set your heart…
A brand-new chance to have some fun,
To make some dreams come true,
And here’s hoping that this birthday
Means exactly that for you!
Love & best wishes,
Hope your birthday is as happy as your whole life should be.
I’ll always remember spending Aug. 16, 1967 in St. Cross Church doing tomb rubbings with you.
Be good and take care!
How the hell are ya! (to put it bluntly)
Come on, you can’t be that busy!
Last night was the anniversary of our conversation “under Paris skies”.
Damned if I’m not that same old person, with perhaps a little more insight into myself and a few more experiences, but I could and probably did say, believe, and feel the same things last night as I did a year ago.
How wonderful it would have been to share “me” with you again and to be able to “see” you, more clearly in the darkness of night than in the glaring sunlight that sometimes obscures the individual.
This individual would sincerely like to hear from yourself.
Tell me, what do you think when you gaze at a star filled sky, and how do you feel when the wind rushes past you, caressing your body as it journeys from nowhere to everywhere?
Are you happy, do you weep with the wonderment and pain of life and beauty?
But these are personal things that sometimes cannot be expressed, nor are they necessarily willed to another.
I’ve found that paradoxically, the more sensitive and consequently the more emotional people often cannot “display” emotion.
The tender identity of these individuals recoils from exposure.
The unpredictable elements of any environment prevent a sensitive personality from growing and flourishing.
Those who openly cry or show excitement, anxiety, even love are frequently those who fear not rejection because they are unaware of it, in short, unfeeling toward it and others’ reactions.
But those who feel must protect themselves or their identity, their joy and knowledge of life will die.
So we bury our emotion to save ourselves – or theirs – and communication ceases and thus there is no understanding.
To some, life is such a deeply personal experience that it cannot be shared.
I’ve been unsuccessfully trying to get a copy of “The Little Prince” for you.
If you see it anywhere, do get it.
It’s a lovely book that says it all, and with a smile.
You’ll love it.
I read a book by Emerson and once again was astounded by his clear thinking confidence in man and himself.
Another great book is “The Voice of the Master” by Kahlil Gibran.
That man was so poetically expressive and so philosophically wise that it’s almost unbelievable!
I read “Peyton Place” for the heck of it and found it quite interesting; it’s very cleverly written and makes enjoyable reading.
Today I started “A Streetcar Named Desire” by T. Williams.
Next on my list is “The Source”.
Hope I can get it read before school starts.
Aren’t “Love” great!
I have just the one album Vera sent me and I adore it.
“Strange Days” album by the Doors is a groove too.
Whatja think of Leonard Cohen?
I listened to one of his albums and I like it.
He’s unusual and good, but he doesn’t really “turn me on”.
Yesterday Diane’s sister Barbara returned from Europe.
She spent the summer in Switzerland and visited Italy with a group of people in their 20’s.
I slept over there and really enjoyed talking to her (her family is in California on vacation now).
We compared our experiences abroad, but mostly talked about our personal hang-ups.
I’ve gotten to the point where I think I recognize most of my problems, but don’t know what to do about them.
“Father forgive us for we know that we do!”
I’m leaving Sept. 9th for school – classes start the 16th.
I’m scared to death, but extremely anxious.
I’m sorry; I don’t remember your school plans.
What are you taking and where are you going and where’s that?
I hope college is not a frustrating experience for either of us.
Even if it means failure, I want a challenge!
Better go now.
Got ironing to do.
Please do write Allan.
It would be sad for our communication to stop.
My address at school will be:
[on back flap of envelope:]
I just received notification that I won an Illinois State Teachers’ Scholarship.
It pays full tuition and some feels and is renewable each year!
Isn’t that great?
Dear, sweet, silly Allan,
What can I say to communicate my thots and emotions?
How do you spell a smile and write a glow from within?
The only way I know is to say I love you.
I love the beauty of your being, the tenderness of your emotions, the joy of your living, the excitement of your thoughts – the warmth that is you.
I cherish your personage.
I say all this freely and I rejoice in your friendship.
Knowing you and knowing of you has given me so much – happiness, longing, stimulation, beauty, peace.
Today for the thousandth time I wept with the joy you give me.
How much more empty my life would be were it not for you.
You are a part of me, of my life as is all that I love.
I am a part all I have known and all I’ve known is a part of me.
I get the impression that you feel you are next to nothing to me or in my life.
That’s untrue Allan, so untrue.
Sometimes I’m afraid to say those things because they may hurt.
But I want to be free with you.
You are so alive – you are humanity, the beautiful.
But primarily you are not a symbol to me of anything – you’re just you.
And that’s wonderful!
I guess I do have more confidence in many ways, but there are still so many doubts, so many feelings of inadequacy, so many failings.
As far as those phrases I used go, that’s just me, in a good mood.
I guess I haven’t used them before in letters to you because I thought maybe they were colloquialisms or wasn’t in that type of good mood.
I wish so much that you were going to U. of I.
I want someone with whom I can communicate – not be afraid to remove my mask to, to expose myself to without fear of rejection or blind indifference.
I love our relationship and college could be so much easier and more “fun” if you were there.
I[t] would be good to share things with you.
What’s this nonsense about not writing to me again!?
I love people and have no intention of closing myself to them.
Especially when I have so much more to give.
I never want our relationship to end and I see absolutely no reason for it to.
I related very strongly with Dibs [In Search of Self].
I also am overcome with the magnitude of being.
I actually tell myself “I am Kathy, a girl – I am.
I am living my life.
This is Kathy’s life, no one else’s, just mine
That is my mother – she is (I can see her) and she is my mother so I must be.
I am her daughter.
Mother has a daughter and that is me.
I am my mother’s daughter – Kathy”.
I wonder if my mind will ever stop thinking like that.
This week I read “A Streetcar Named Desire” by Tennessee Williams and “The Great God Brown” by Eugene O’Neil.
Both are great, but especially the latter.
O’Neil certainly has (had?) insight and foresight.
It was published in the 20’s and seems modern and even far out now.
Some of the lines are fantastic – they seek you out and penetrate to your soul!
The whole play seems to wear the knowing smile of a silent prognosticator but bears the signs of suffering and sorrow.
You’d love it!
I understand exactly what you meant by the “hunger” you felt when you experienced beauty.
The joy of beauty contains a sorrow, a bitterness, a pain that acutens your sense of being.
The perfection of beauty is its flaw, for it can but dwell within the heart of its lovers.
The heart of a lover aches with the imprisonment of its freedom.
It overflows and perhaps for a lucky few, fills the earth, or another heart – touches life, and yet it remains in the heart causing a bittersweet agony.
An uncertain yearning, a searching, a longing for fulfillment, for the perfection that can never be recreated.
We seek expression in words, in colors, in sighs, in form, in sound, in all that we know, but never attain the heights to which our hearts and minds once did soar.
But isn’t our fulfillment, our awakening, and our hunger our satisfaction?
We live and feel and every now and again we catch a glimpse of beauty, of perfection, of love and we are left with an impression – the impression of God.
I too want….
My letters always get to sound like sermons or essays.
I hope I don’t bore you too much.
[encircled for emphasis:]
This is the exquisite Pain of too much tenderness” – the agonizing ecstasy of beauty.
August 29, 1968
Here it is tomorrow already and I’m sittin’ here groovin’ to Herbie Mann.
He does some pretty exciting things, especially when I know what is involved in playing a flute – or any instrument!
Well, Ho Hum Humphrey got it.
He’s as worse as Nixon.
The things that have been going on here are disgraceful
Old Dogface Daily kept his convention uptight alright.
The cops were beatin’ up newsmen, using tear gas when uncalled for, and really being unnecessarily brutal.
I mean it’s really sickening.
Greatest City in the World — crap!
Not the way it’s run.
It’s beautiful, but oh so corrupt in so many ways.
I read your “story” (can’t think of an appropriate classification) yesterday and again just now.
It’s interesting and has a lot to say.
Upon first reading it I was, naturally, confused.
I assume you intended this so that the reader begins to wonder not only who is sane and insane in the story, but in society and how do we judge, etc.
You do bring up many good points to consider and stimulate the reader to do some wondering on his own.
But it’s still not clear in my mind as to who is sane and who is insane, or rather who are the patients and who are the doctors.
[Transcriber’s Note: as I recall, the story was about a doctor and a mental patient, who themselves turn out to be two mentally ill persons under observation – ASH]
It also introduces the idea of identity and illusion.
Just who in the hell are we anyway, really – aren’t we all really patients, seeking to be healed, yet don’t we each administer our own lives and to an extent the lives of others?
Who do we are, who do others think we are, and who are we really!
And finally, which of those identities is the truth.
This is what you referred to as reality.
What is real, what is physically so or our conception of it.
That’s like – can a word be defined by a dictionary or does its true meaning lie in its use and your knowledge of it.
If you really want to be abstract, the whole world exists solely in our minds.
The world exists because I am aware of it, but when I die, the world will also cease – for me and what is real to me is that I have died and there is no life, no world.
If a tree falls in a forest and hundred miles from any living being, does it make a sound, or does sound depend on ears to receive it (that brings up an interesting consideration of how many other communications are being sent out but are not being received and therefore do not exist.
But it is our weakness).
I’ve gotten pretty well off the track, but that’s my train of thoughts stimulated by your “Triad”.
It’s good with both intellectual and human tones.
The judge of such as any art is the reaction to it.
“Triad” is thought provoking and that says a lot – to get someone to think is quite a feat.
Well I should go now.
I’ve enjoyed talking to you.
Paul come in tomorrow for the long weekend.
I’m leaving Sept. 9th for school.
Classes start the 16th.
Again my address is:
URH L.A.R. 311-D
Take care Allan.
Good luck in school and – life!
Sorry this is so messy!
I shouldn’t start this now.
I probably won’t finish it and I’m in an incoherent mood (that’s not unusual lately).
My desk is cluttered with books, pens, assignments to be done, flowers and stationery.
It makes it hard to write (there’s a symbolic meaning that’s supposed to be hidden in that statement).
Il fait froid et du vent aujourd’huis.
That’s how I feel inside too.
Like a newspaper blowing about randomly on a chaotic journey.
It’s my own instability that is responsible, not the wind.
I must learn to ride the wind to the tree tops and along the cold, grey sidewalks.
But I’m not unhappy and the sky is always blue and beautiful.
Mid-terms are this week and I’m damn scared.
I’ll be so glad when they’re over, even if I do bomb them.
But if I do I’ll be upset too.
My confidence has been (to use a vulgar expression which I hope won’t shock or offend you) shot in the ass.
Everyone’s pretty messed up in their own way tho’, so maybe the world is ass-backward.
I’ll be back
Sorry I left so abruptly.
I just remembered I had to read a 1 act mime for rhet. today.
It’s by Samuel Beckett.
I read “Endgame” by the same.
It’s a good play with a lot to say.
I read “Winesburg Ohio” in my spare time (ha, ha).
It was pretty good with good character portrayals.
Time is passing rather quickly.
Is that good or bad? – both I expect.
I love “All Along the Watchtower”.
Have you seen “2001: A Space Odyssey”?
It’s interesting and the music is great.
“Rachael, Rachael” is an excellent movie – you must see it.
Homecoming was this week-end.
We lost our game to Ohio State 31 – 24, but it was a great game.
Gotta go now.
She’s got to be kidding – my rhet. teacher must spend 36 hrs a day thinking of things for us to do!
I think I’ll drop college!
I don’t know if it was good or bad with Jane.
It just was.
I love Jane but sometimes I feel we’re trying to communicate on different levels.
I’m in the mist [sic] of a 4 way argument.
The pressure must be getting to us – we’re all so bitchy.
I gotta go study French.
I wanted to send you a poem, but it’ll have to wait.
Thanks for your letter.
[on backside of envelope:]
“Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear:
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air”.
“That which we are, we are:”
“I am part of all that I have met”.
[a Thanksgiving Day greeting card: a cartoon turkey looks with apprehension at a scruffy, glaring Pilgrim who holds an axe; open the card to find a gigantic turkey behind the Pilgrim, himself with a giant axe, eyeing the Pilgrim with the same threatening glare]
I really hope you have a nice holiday.
I am going to be glad to leave this place!
Ten weeks in this environment is too much!
I have so much to do and it’s mostly interesting.
I’m going [sic] a term-paper on Camus, on whom I really groove.
For reht. I’m reading “The Invisible Man” which is really good.
I’m going to write a theme on the grotesqueness in it.
My grades were okay – 3.8 average.
I hope for at least a 4.0 for the final.
But sometimes I don’t care.
This week I didn’t care.
I watched TV, went to a poetry reading, made the coffee houses, and had some intellectual conversations.
Paul came down yesterday.
I’d be crazy by now if it weren’t for him.
I really should read now.
Really be happy I hope, if not, let depression run its course and then smile the inevitable joy of life.
So much to say, yet so unsure of how to say it.
I must write to you.
I want to write to you.
Your last letter was very upsetting.
For some time I’ve hidden from the possibility that our relationship was anything but friendship and respectful affection.
Now I must face the fact that I’ve hurt you; unintentionally my letters have been perhaps scraps, threads of me thrown out to torment, being too weak to suffice.
Maybe I’m not real, or at least maybe I’m not clearly me.
Allan, my memory of you is also faded, but I want you for a friend because you are the crazy, incoherent, beautiful, sensitive person who writes to me.
I do not cling to you out of empty sentimentality, but real respect and just plain liking you.
I like you again, am reminded by your letters.
Perhaps though, my letters are inadequate.
I am confusing and conflicting, with pretensions, fears, limitations, and I hope, my own goodness.
Allan, I love Paul.
We want to marry as soon as possible, which will probably be the summer of ’70 or ’71.
He is not the only thing in my life, but he is the most important.
You are my friend.
I want to remain your friend, but not at your expense.
If you chose not to continue any correspondence I will comply with your wishes.
If, however, you can accept me as only a friend, I’d be glad to know you.
If it is that my friendship is lacking, please tell me.
I’m not trying to absolve myself from any blame; I did make mistakes and will in the future.
Honestly, I won’t be hurt or think badly of you if you decide not to write.
I’m not trying to be noble or a martyr.
I have two things to ask of you.
First that you write me to tell me your decision, and secondly, that you not become embittered.
I too search for my raison d’être and many mornings I wonder why I am.
The answers never come, but beauty obscures the question.
[on backside of envelope:]
“There are more things to admire in men than to despise”
[a hand-drawn floral arabesque surrounding the phrase “Welcome to March!”]
Yesterday brought your letter; your letter brought happiness.
I’m glad you are still enjoying the world and appreciating your life.
Letters are really shitty because they so limit the extent of sharing.
They reduce emotion to explanation and relations to definitions.
Occasionally the vibrations are in phase.
Even in an ideal situation tho’, the circumstances are rarely ideal.
Your letters are usually a groove on their own merit, plus I like to get letters from you.
The enclosure in your last letter is very moving.
I love it.
It is sweet and innocent and simple, but so full, so wise.
I too anticipate such raptures and the knowledge of love seems almost too perfect, with its imperfections, to conceive of.
I know what you mean, or rather feel because I’ve been there too.
I know what it is to think of such beauty.
May we both know and feel and remember the thrilling, peaceful reverence of now, to find it renewed, never to be completely fulfilled, in our minds.
For you Allan, is to love.
Last night I saw the movie “Ulysses” (by Joyce).
Wow, do I like it.
It was well done, but shown thru as an even greater work of art, touching humanity.
I feel I’m unready to read the book but I want to.
So I will.
I’m probably unready for so much, but I guess I have to go ahead anyway.
I’ll read it again perhaps and see more.
Perhaps I’ll never read it again.
Tonight I’m going to see “A Lion in Winter” with my sister Millie and her husband Terry.
I want also to talk to them about getting an apartment here next year and about transferring to Old Dominion College in Norfolk, Virginia.
I mean I will transfer in my junior year, but I’m not sure on certain policies and procedures.
Terry knows I’m glad they live so close.
They have been a real help.
I can talk to them, not confide really, but talk and it’s good.
They have helped a lot with specific problems and advice and just been kind of good for my confidence.
I’m reading “Native Son” now.
It’s pretty good.
I want to read “Soul on Ice” by (I forgot his name now).
One of the girls I hope to room with next semester is Pat.
I think I told you about her before.
I love her beautiful person, yet I hesitate to live with her.
“Your confidence divides us; my fear confuses me”.
The opening of a poem I wrote to her.
I basically am insecure which makes me, to varying degrees, sensitive, paranoiac, introverted, shy, and afraid of people.
That may or may not seem likely to you.
Some people are very aware of it, others oblivious.
My nature appears to fluctuate sometimes.
I think I was pretty open with you tho’.
Anyway, she is confident, knows where she is for the most part.
This makes me lose my sense of me, small and unstable as it is.
I’m afraid I’d float away and be replaced by parts of everyone else or go into cold storage until a later date.
We talked all this over last night and cried over the irony our characters, which, each dear to the other, prevent a smooth functioning of both alongside.
We are two species from the same ancestor.
We flourish in our own niches, but doom each other by trying to mate.
It’s sad to think that I, being me, hurt my friendship which in turn hurts my friend.
We both look to ourselves for the flaw.
Shit, friendship, love, justice always involve such conflicts.
It is so hard to understand and I remain bewildered – but not unhappy.
I am not depressed or even upset.
Don’t misinterpret me, please.
I’m just talking, from my heart with a little thought thrown in.
It complicates things, but isn’t it wonderful that people can talk from the heart, that their emotions can overcome their logic and direct their feelings.
Like Pat said, she understands, but it hurt.
I proudly showed Pat what you sent me.
She smiled, from within.
It is appreciated.
She wants a copy.
May I try to make her one?
I’m not really smoking anymore.
I do once in a while, but am really losing my desire to smoke.
The nervous desire to do something remains tho’.
Religion – race.
Jesus and blacks.
That’s been going thru me.
A personal friend has been talking to me of God and of accepting Jesus in my heart.
There too I need to understand – even to know (I’m unbelievably ignorant, especially in religion – why all I know is that Mary was Christ’s father!)*
[*footnote: Now you wonder whether or not I’m serious. I am.]
I’m at the point of not believing because I have no faith and having no faith because I don’t believe.
I must accept Christ to be a Christian and I must be a Christian to accept Christ
I believe Christ was the son of God.
Beyond that I’m unsure.
I don’t know how to bridge the gap and I’m not sure I want to because I’m not sure that’s it.
Round and round and round.
The blacks on campus have organized and sent 41 demands to the administration.
SDS has become, temporarily, Students Against Racism.
I picketed a building on campus Monday.
Everyone has to do something.
There no longer is a neutral.
“If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem”.
I’ve been going thru a personal white renaissance; achieving a white awareness.
It’s hard; it’s all so hard.
I am not unhappy.
Life is full.
Oh Allan…what can I say?
I really am like awestruck or something.
I’m so very touched – to give to me your first oil painting.
I can’t help feeling unworthy to receive so much of your creativity.
But I accept them – proudly, gratefully, humbly.
I feel I can never create as you are.
But that is a source of joy.
I’m glad you are you and you do the beautiful things you do.
To see you feel, try, express is a happy thing.
Your medium for living is Allan: a supple, sometimes soft, sometimes forceful material.
It lasts forever, yet changes, expands, modifies while it retains its essential characteristics of beauty, honesty, understanding, and love.
With it, you can do anything; the possibilities are infinite.
You’ve really inspired me, in a very human way, as when one hand touches another.
I am directed, driven, encouraged toward life.
You’ve made me really feel, as in a revelation, to want to be, to know the happiness and beauty that is untainted.
So little is untainted.
I can’t be calm – the beauty of you, your friendship as part of the world and any life is exciting and I want to cry.
I miss you very much right now – probably more than I have since we first got “home” after our phantasy [sic].
I feel so inadequate to my purpose now.
It’s not the picture itself, or the drawings, or the poems and stories; it’s what they represent, and even beyond that, what you represent.
Many of the good things – the soft, quiet glow of beauty that ignites the joyful flame of peace inside.
Thank you Allan.
Really, thank you.
March 3, 1969
The break just seems too abrupt so I’m writing a “letter” now.
I wanted to tell you to read Ferlinghetti if you never have.
“A Coney Island of the Mind” is very good.
Also read “Steppenwolf” by Hesse if you haven’t.
“A Lion in Winter” was very good.
The acting was excellent and the settings authentic.
Some of the countryside scenes were so beautifully familiar.
Send me Jane’s address if you have it.
I’ve had a letter lying here for a month for her with no address.
I plan on sending you all my paintings (that I have here) and letting you take your pick (except for 2 you’re stuck with cuz I did them thinking I’d give them to you) – I didn’t do them specifically for you (that would have greatly inhibited me!).
Friends are so precious.
I wish we didn’t have to be apart.
I miss everyone.
Each of us has to go his own way, but it’s sad.
I quietly rebel inside when I think that I’ll never again play dolls with Diane or Indians with Millie or my cousins.
And can I never again be that anxious girl of 12 or 13 who slept at Diane’s and whispered in bed until 3 AM?
I remember the cut-outs, and the laughter and the games, the way we looked up to our older sisters and brothers.
High-school, band, so remote; coming home to an empty house or Mom cooking.
Even the sunlight poured down differently then.
The smells are still distinct.
And England…the roses, the fog, getting up in the morning and being cold, talking late at night, talking, talking, learning and saying – feeling.
Oh how I felt – everything, and free.
Liberty without insecurity – it was unnatural; it had to end.
But it was buses and walking and talking and laughing, you, Tom, Paul, Cynthia, Mrs. Johnson, Tony, Vera, Jane.
All my life has been so, so full and now it’s leaving – and coming.
I know that; I know not what but it too will be good.
It’s the change, the change and death of a beautiful feeling to the beginning of another.
You’ve been there, you’re part of it, you probably know.
A strange feeling this.
Oh for time to pass and days to remain, and happiness to go on.
You stay there in California.
You stay and I’ll see you again.
I’m going to live in California.
The feeling goes on; the letter is incomplete.
How to end…
[an Easter card, the cover of which is bright yellow, with a stylized canary amongst daises]
Hope you have
a Happy Easter
and a gay, delightful spring,
followed by a year
with the best of everything!
[“the best of everything” underlined]
“Fighting for peace
Fucking for chastity”
By now L. A. and surrounding territory should be alongside San Francisco.
Hope Nostradamus is wrong.
Seriously though, I do fear for you; California is in for a big earthquake or something soon.
What can I say – take care?
Here’s your pictures.
Ignore the backs (“which is the back?”); they are random attempts at something new.
The one with the darker colors is entitled “Pipes”.
They are some of the best ones I’ve done, believe it or not.
I did do them specifically for you.
Would you, as a literate individual, buy a book of letters written by 2 unknown college freshmen?
I’m considering trying to get Zoe’s and my letters to each other after some editing, published.
It’s one of those things you think about, but never do.
I realize this would be a business thing involving money and backing.
I have someone who offered to put up the initial cost for publishing and he knows about publicity, etc.
Be honest and give me your opinion!
I don’t think our letters are any more creative than many, but nobody does it.
Milos Stehlik [sp?], a boy I knew my first 2 yrs. at Farragut, before he left school and disappeared, has come back.
A few weeks ago he called me after 3 years of no communication.
He’s an exceedingly intelligent person and well read.
He’s in business for a hunting club now.
Actually he has his own interests in the advertising angle and he’s the one who’s offered to help us get published (he may change his mind when he reads a few samples!).
He says it’d be an investment for him and he wouldn’t be doing it just as a favor or anything.
But he’d stand to lose a lot and not I.
I feel sort of like I’d be exploiting our friendship and I’d feel just awful if he lost his money.
I finished “The Source” and read “Dangling Man” by Saul Bellows.
The latter is very good.
I also read “Giacomo Joyce” by James Joyce.
It’s a very short journal thing, but very poetic and very beautiful.
I’ve started “The Naked Ape”, but may skip it until after “Herzog”.
Thursday I saw Julian Bond with Zoe and Mrs. Johnson.
Had a good talk with Jerrilou (Mrs. Johnson).
I’m back at school now, but I was home this past week for spring vacation.
It was great, but passed too quickly
[Transcriber’s Note: “passed too quickly” as did this letter. It seems like there should be more, especially since there is no farewell – ASH]
The sun is blowing my hair, even through the window.
Shadows decorate the page – the pen, my hand, hair, a piece of notebook paper – they will not be there when you read the lines; they are only of the moment, a common beauty, obscured by its generosity.
Another gift – you give me things you do.
They are the things of you and of now, they will be forever, never changing as you will, as the world does, as I will, as life must.
I want to say thank you, thank you the way I feel it.
I want to explain how I regard these gifts.
People change as times proceeds; this is both good and bad (or neither), but we are many people throughout our lifetime.
There is the little boy you once were who must have run along the seashore, squinting into the sun – where is the child I used to be, enacting fantasies with the abandon of tranquil contentment?
Somewhere, they exist – forever, they exist and always will along with the awkward adolescents and joyous youths in some cosmos of truth or something.
I can’t really understand the idea or feeling myself.
Whatever we do is an indication of our existence, overall and momentary.
Through the picture, I have a part of you when you made it, when you conceived of doing it.
It’s a sort of afterlife, an infinity of momentary feeling – what was once, is forever.
More specifically – it immediately reminded me of “Green Mansions”, although there is no boy in that.
It has a serenity, yet a sense of strength and power.
The light is streaming in distinct rays rather than drifting between leaves.
The green is refreshing, but it is heavy, dense, thick with strong vines, massive ferns, thick mosses, and perhaps harboring dangers?
The boy is young and still soft; he is peaceful and blends with his environment, but he too is armed.
There is not evil, but magnificence in this strength.
The stone puzzles me – it’s the only sign of “civilization” other than the boy, who harmonizes.
It seems to be a portion of some temple, no longer in use, as indicated by its slant.
There could be several interpretations of its significance.
It’s good Allan, and I really love it.
It’s authentic, yet not so graphic as to be distinct beyond contemplation.
I showed it to some people here and they all expressed some sort of awe and praise – I’m really proud to show it to people and to have it.
I got a letter from Jane recently.
It wasn’t very long, but it said a lot.
It was a good letter, but upsetting.
It spoke of fears, violence, conflict, struggle, faith, and thought.
Jane may get herself into social trouble, but she’ll always be okay I think.
Maybe that’s an idealistic attitude tho’ I think I’ll always be alright, you too.
Zoe I don’t know – Paul too could be broken.
I won’t let that happen tho’.
Don’t ask me to define “broken”, “okay”, and “alright”.
I don’t remember the back of “Pipes”
Is it the one with the objects, or just moving color?
I’ve been asked to fill an application for James Scholars*, but I haven’t received a reply (*it’s an honorary program enabling members to get wavers on prerequisites, special privileges, and some special courses).
I’m supposed to pre-enroll tomorrow and I put 2 special classes in my schedule.
Now if they reject me, I’ll be in a fix.
I’m anxious for summer.
I don’t know why – that won’t be so great.
I’m not sure what I’ll do for the summer.
Milos offered me a job as sort of his secretary, but I have reservations about doing that.
I’m not sure what kind of relationship he’d expect.
It’d be nice to see you sometime, but Alan, poor Yorick, I knew him well Horatio!
‘Tis true, ‘tis pity, and pity ‘tis, ‘tis true – And what’s more – Tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow / Creeps in this petty pace from day to day.
There’s a divinity that shapes our ends – and I think God’s telling me to quit now, so this will be my end, in this letter!
Explain your 1st painting if you can.
[Transcriber’s Note: As I recall, the painting featured a radiant golden mother-figure, nuzzling a child, rising from a surreal landscape and illuminating the starry sky (which I finally figured out was my vision of you, Kathy). Toward the foreground was a bottle plugged with a cold, melted unlit candle (which I finally figured out was myself). – ASH]
Hey now, guess what?
You think some night or early morning you could come to the airport to pick up two girls who’d love to see you?
I’m pretty sure I’ll come to California this summer with Zoe.
It may be fairly soon or at the end of the summer.
Won’t that be great!
My mom might be with us, but she’d stay only a few days to go to Disneyland and then go north to stay with my brother.
What are you going to be doing this summer?
I’d wanto [sic] spend alot of time with you, and Vera too.
The whole thing seems too much – I’m so excited!
So many of the people I love together.
Seeing you would be so wonderful, let alone Vera and having Zoe there too and her meeting you.
I’m excited already!
I don’t know what else to say.
I’ll call you sometime when I’m sure when we’ll come about.
Do you think we could stay at Vera’s (Zoe and me that is) for a few days or maybe with Jane?
I guess I should ask her tho’.
What is Jane going to do this summer anyway?
Oh, wow – I love people I love.
I’m home now.
I came home Sat. with Paul.
He came to school Wed. and flew back from O’Hare Sat. and I decided Sat. afternoon to come with him.
My first final is Wed. night – psych.
Don’t tell my parents, but we hitch-hiked from Urbana to Chicago.
We told them we got a ride from a friend.
I’m gonna take the train back Wed.
I tried to study psych. This morning; I’d better get to it now.
I’ll see ya – take care and be happy
Well, I still haven’t mailed this so I’ll write more.
I think it’s probably most likely that we’ll go to Cal. Late in Aug.
I saw “Romeo and Juliet” Friday and loved it!
It’s a beautiful movie and the photography, costumes, sets, music, and acting were great.
The spontaneity of the characters made them seem real.
The emotions were so unrestrained and vivid – like they should be for everyone.
I really loved it.
Thursday night James Baldwin talked at school.
He’s very articulate and very up on what’s happening.
He’s much more bitter than I expected.
It’s such a confusing, involved thing – life is.
That’s what the race thing is all about; that’s what everything’s all about – everything else.
Wow – I go around in circles with things.
I’d like to talk to you about so much.
I think I’m beginning to advocate socialism, or at least a society based on democratic principles but administered according to socialistic methods.
I don’t know.
I’m against churches and the effect of Christian philosophy.
Man is becoming so warped.
But then, I don’t know what man is supposed to be.
What are his purpose, his responsibility, his essence?
I believe in God; I believe in people and life and love; but I understand nothing, not even myself.
For my birthday Paul gave me a beautiful piegnoir set, long and white and lacy and feminine.
It’s so pretty!
I love the lamp too.
He got an antique kerosene lamp – all glass and about 2 feet tall.
He got some green bayberry scented oil to burn in it.
He also got me an incense burner, bogs of incense, “Soul on Ice” by Eldridge cleaver, and “Portnoy’s Complaint”.
Well, I’m going out soon so I’ll end here and mail this.
Take care Skip, I’ll see you soon!
I’m lying in the sunny heat of the afternoon alone near the water’s edge.
I’m supposed to be studying French for my final Saturday afternoon, but it is boring.
It would be a nice day, except there’s nothing particular to recommend it.
The ducks are cute, but they swim away.
A girl laughs from the next blanket – she is with her friend.
I wish I had something to drink.
The sweat trickling down my legs tickles like flies.
But today was a beautiful day too.
I got your picture today and I cried.
I am always looking for words to tell you how you make me feel.
When I think about you and realize that you are a real human being, I feel happy and excited, humble, thankful, powerful – as if all the force of life and beauty is known to me.
Why do people have to hate and hurt when it’s so easy to love?
Loving is not giving up part of yourself, it is growing, discovering more, feeling more, becoming more.
Sometimes I get so mixed up about what I am and what I want.
I’m afraid of hurting others and losing myself.
Sometimes I think my masochistic tendencies are repressed through indirect effects.
Like if I hurt people or make them turn against me, I’ll be justifiably guilty – so maybe I subconsciously, purposely hurt people.
I have an almost frantic need for people and for affection and security.
Sometimes I use people; sometimes I expect too much, read more into people because I want it to be there, need it to be there.
And then I justify my entanglements by saying everything was open and honest.
I expect others to be cautious, to save themselves if need be, and to direct me.
That comes under the heading – “Using People”.
That’s where my particular brand of selfishness and greed feeds on people.
But then sometimes I think maybe I’m too cautious with people and don’t give them a chance; if they don’t seem to be what I expect or want in people, I close up.
Perhaps I am merely not able to understand other people, other ways.
So I vacillate between complete trust and harsh caution.
When loneliness or something forces me one way, I am usually unsatisfied; when pride and undue concern force me back I feel I am less than real.
The whole point of this I guess is that there is no point – I don’t know what I’m about.
Sometimes, tho, like with you, it all feels good and right and the effort to be is gone and the barriers of fear and misgivings are gone and I can be.
I am usually very inhibited and unanimated, but with you I could express and interpret anything that came along inside me.
I have a feeling that’s what life should be about.
And your feedback is beautiful.
Even more than my initial expression, I need feedback, interaction.
But is all this a case of the first case?
Am I using you without regard to your needs and feelings?
Am I hurting you?
[Written at the bottom and curling up the right side of the paper:]
I’m not at all implying that you are less than what I expect.
That does not pertain to you.
Just now as I wrote the date, I remembered that the prom was on June 14 last year.
It was hot then; it’s cool again today, like fall.
It seems like every time it gets hot, a cool wave follows for a few days.
It’s 4:45 already.
I’ve been sewing all day in addition to doing the wash and ironing and a few little cleaning jobs.
Wow, my father helped me with the dishes even!
That’s like an historical event!
My sister and her husband (Millie and Terry) have been staying with us for a week and will be here yet for awhile.
They were both teacher (she 4th grad and he junior college [English]), but they’re both quitting.
They say it’s just too much work.
Anyway, they had a graduation and a wedding to go to here and he’s been having interviews.
He’s about decided to take one of the jobs so now they’ll have to look for an apartment.
I like them both (though I still have some hang-ups about Millie) and it’s nice to have them, but they’re in my bedroom and I’m stuck downstairs by myself in a small bedroom!
I made a collage out of [word crossed out and in adjacent left margin: “I wish I could spell!”] mementos of “my first year at the Big U”.
It’s mostly stuff I had stuck up on my bulletin board.
You know what song is great?
“If I Were a Carpenter”.
I love the way Bobby Darin sings it.
My grades came yesterday and I was surprised to get an A in psych.
The rest I expected, giving me a 4.53 grade point average.
My French teacher gave me a B+ on my postcard and said she tried to give me an A but couldn’t mathematically.
Those bug me, like where did I go wrong?
I finished “Soul on Ice”; it’s great!
I sent it and “A Coney Island of the Mind”, a book of poetry by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, for graduation to Vera.
Ferlinghetti’s great too.
I started “Adventures in the Skin Trade” by Dylan Thomas, but I know most of it is getting past me.
He reminds me of James Joyce.
I got a letter from Vera today.
She graduated yesterday and she said Zoe and I could stay there.
I’m starting work Monday and finishing the 3rd week of August.
So we will get there the beginning of the last week of August.
Zoe gave me “Hair” for my birthday.
I don’t know what I’ve told you about Zoe.
I don’t really think I should explain, introduce or describe her before you meet her (even if I could).
She is a beautiful person, but all beautiful people are themselves and need not be any more alike than their integrity of person.
I hope you have no impression of her.
I got your 2 letters.
I don’t know what to say; let me acknowledge them with a silent smile.
Vera sent me Jane’s address.
I should write to her soon.
She’s suppose to go to N.Y., Chicago, and then overseas this summer.
I probably won’t see her.
I meant to tell you.
Zoe said you’re very good with dark colors in you paintings, that you don’t make them murky.
She paints too.
I saw “Charlie” last week.
It’s really good.
Cliff Robertson really deserves his Emmy.
Diane went back to school and Ron, her fiancé, Thursday.
She’s going to summer school and working.
Well Allen, take care and “let the sun shine in”!
Happy Fathers’ Day!
[lamplight colored stationery, with writing in purple ink that globs and smears periodically]
I shouldn’t write now – I’m in a lousy mood.
I don’t know what to say either.
I’m like really glad your arm is so much better.
I imagine it could be frustrating to be handicapped (as well as uncomfortable).
Well, so turmoil is now the state of my life.
I really don’t know where I’m at.
I feel so unsure and yet I am determined enuf [sic] to hurt Paul and maybe destroy us both.
I don’t know what it is I want and sometimes I think it’s my masochistic tendencies driving me to deny happiness and destroy the purest, most sacred part of my life (you are being exposed to one side of me on the issue “of my life and its latest turn of events”).
I’m being cynical.
I don’t trust myself – my drives and subconscious motives.
Are you too becoming “disenchanted” with me?
I don’t blame you if you are – I am.
What really bothers me is I’m capable of ignoring all this and maintaining an apparently content, worry-free, shallow existence.
Since page one, I have changed pens (for obvious reasons) and taken a bath.
Now what was I saying – I was getting on to this feeling of impending doom.
Like I’m gonna push everyone who means anything to me, away.
Eventually my beastly nature will be seen by everyone and they will turn away – gone the faith, the support, the security, the trust.
So if I feel this way why do I continue to do the things I fear will alienate them?
The inevitable emergence of the evil me, or perhaps only a warped, sick, hung-up, maladjusted me.
So what’s the point of this letter – about the point of my whole life, I don’t know; maybe like Paul says, “if it feels good, do it”.
It doesn’t always feel good – there’s something missing either way.
It’s like choosing food or shelter.
I’ve left home in search of the cake that I want to have and try to eat too.
This isn’t getting anywhere: I think I’ll quit and write more tomorrow
July 31, 1969
Dear Allan – again,
I don’t think I’ll even read what I wrote last night until just before I mail the whole thing.
Today was a good day.
The people at work were in a nutty mood, the weather was lovely, really lovely.
It’s unusual to notice the atmosphere as pleasant on a summer’s day in Chicago.
It reminded me of hanging clothes at my aunt’s farm.
One could float today.
I dug up my father’s old Navy uniform and claimed the pants.
With a few alterations they fit and I’ve got a summer and a winter pair of bell-bottoms.
I read “The Short Rein of Pippin IV” by John Steinbeck – it’s really good.
I’m glad you like Zoe.
Your letter really touched her.
She and I haven’t been getting along.
We bug one another and communication stops.
This goes on, we don’t see each other much (mostly because I’m doing other things), antagonism builds, I feel everything I do is bugging her and that bugs me, I avoid her until the feeling passes, then she’s been neglected, then I get fed up, etc.
But “that’s the way Kathy is” and that’s the way Zoe is.
I hope none of these periods of anti-interests really injures our relationship.
I doubt it.
I love her too much to let such stupid things come between us – and I think she cares enuf [sic] too.
She and I have an unusual relationship – it’s very close, but very strained and self-conscious at times.
I saw “War and Peace” and “If” recently.
Both are very good, though the first is a bit long.
Your birthday is Aug. 16th?
And you’ll be 19?
I’m glad I decided to wait to mail this.
I still mean whatever is said in the first part – I mean, those are valid thoughts and feelings I sometimes have, but all is not lost and much remains to be gained.
[on backside of envelope:]
“You cried for night; it fell: now cry in darkness”.
– Becket “Endgame”.
Yes, I do persist in calling you Allan don’t I – with an “a” yet.
What’s wrong, Allan?
I admit my last letter was probably upsetting to you about as much as it was to me, but I really did expect a letter in return (notice I didn’t say an answer).
Things are really weird – am I loosing or gaining?
Diane came home yesterday with R[blurred] and she, he, Zoe, and I went to Lincoln Park and Old Town (where?).
We talked about ourselves and the more I said the more I felt a desperate need to set things straight, to explain within my own mind and to them.
But the more I talked, the more incongruous and contradictory everything seemed.
As I am about to reach what I strive for, I withdraw.
Example: I want to be accepted, acknowledged for what I am, approved of, yet when I am accepted, I feel more alienated than ever because I feel those people must either not know me or be fools, otherwise they could not think so highly of me – at best I deserve pity.
I cannot now feel genuinely worthwhile as a separate entity – like my parents and people would miss me if I weren’t, but otherwise I have no effect, no impression.
The world remains just as beautiful, just as much a mystery with or without me.
Please write Allen – I’m sorry I get so hung up on myself.
[on backside of envelope:]
“I met myself once – coming through a closed door”.
How are you?
I really hope everything’s okay.
Zoe said she got a letter from you recently – so did I.
You didn’t talk about much – that is you told me things, but you didn’t say a whole lot.
You usually tell me all the little things you do, but this time it sounded as though you were avoiding something.
You were self-conscious.
Maybe I’m reading all this into it, but it seemed as though something were bothering you and I’d like to think you’d feel free to tell me.
If there’s really nothing or you don’t want to go into it, tell me to forget it.
[Transcriber’s Note: I just have to stop here. Kathy: I loved you and you knew it, and when I repeated such, you would metaphorically hit me on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper – ASH]
Your birthday present is about ready.
It’ll be a few days before I can send it though.
I finally got around to writing Vera.
Jesus, I wouldn’t blame her if she’s really mad at me.
(Have you noticed how the little dots on this paper absorb ink?
I’ll probably leave for school Sept. 8 or 9.
I have to register the 19th.
Jesus is that going to be a mess – I have to completely change my courses, get them approved by my advisor, set up a new schedule, and then to get it to fit in with what’s available.
Being a James Scholar I’ll get to do this the first day and so there will be more openings, so I may have a chance.
I’m going to take 8 hrs. this semester.
By the way, my new address will be 302 L.A.R.
I’m reading “Lives of the Poets”, starting with pre-Chaucer.
I’m up to Donne now.
I read my favorites first and now I’m going chronologically.
I really like it and am learning a lot.
That stuff interests me tremendously.
I’ve been painting a little, adding pen and ink to most.
It adds a dimension and changes the effect.
I’ll send you some if I can have them back.
I’m also working on a poem – one poem all summer.
It will probably disappoint me because I want it to say a lot.
It’s the product of a weird mood and intense emotions, but it probably will not reflect it.
Zoe’s father had a heart attack Sun. night.
He’s out of immediate danger, but he’s going to have to rest for a long time.
Mrs. E[blurred] is really shook.
Aside from the changes in his activity this is bound to make changes, even if only temporarily, in the collective life as a family.
When my father was in the hospital last year I know both my mother and I did some thinking.
Sudden attacks like that make you reappraise your attitude toward the stricken person and your family as a whole.
Probably few realize that they are part of a family and all the responsibilities, dependencies, attachments that that entails.
I think Zoe has never felt very much of a “family” existed at her house and although everyone loves everyone else, it can be a realization that these people are people, apart from being you parents or whatever.
They exist independently with concerns in no way connected with you.
They don’t just make money, cook, clean, live for you.
They have lives too, just as we are concerned with ourselves and our lives, so are they individuals.
A new kind of respect and affection can and may develop.
When you observe your parents as people you can love them as such rather than just as parents.
Going back to school arouses mixed emotions.
So does leaving home.
Oddly enough, I’m going to miss work.
I really like the people I work with and have just begun to know them personally – like they’re friends about whom I care.
Everybody gets along and acts similarly at work on the surface, but each has his own problems, concerns, goals, and (this seems odd, considering we’re all from this neighborhood and general background) influences.
I love them all though and it is sad that just as I am beginning to be able to relax and let my personality express itself and interact with theirs, I will have to leave.
I guess there’s no more for right now.
I would like for you to feel my sensory message now – to see what I see, hear what I hear, smell what I smell, feel what I feel.
You’d see the view outside my bedroom door into the yard and across the alley.
Our Rose O’Sharon tree is in bloom, the trees are slightly stirring, dusk is sobering the scene.
You’d hear Peter, Paul and Mary or Donovan, the cry of a bird, the sizzling sound of the leaves, my breath, the scratch of my pen on this paper.
You’d smell outside smells, cool, refreshing earth and growth, incense, my skin.
You’d feel the bed beneath you, but inside you’d feel a myriad of emotions.
It is a peaceful, restful time of momentary satisfaction and pleasure.
There is much to harass and trouble, but there is much to please.
Zoe and I are really messed up.
She’s telling me good-bye and I’m hurt and mad and confused and guilty (at) her.
I love Zoe and miss her friendship but I can’t get that thru to her.
She told me she doesn’t believe anyone so no matter what I do or don’t do means nothing.
But if I do nothing it’s like I’m giving up when it’s so worth it, yet if I try and am continually rebuffed and rejected, I will be frustrated, angry, hurt and the break between us may be worsened or made permanent.
This “temporary” break may last weeks, months, or years and who knows how we will have changed in that time to make our relationship different?
Each thing and each person is merely a part of my life.
I’m wondering if that’s warped or good or bad or abnormal or what.
I always have a calling to something.
I enjoy so much that I can’t stand to sacrifice anything for anything else, especially if it’s merely a matter of proportion.
Is it necessary to make sacrifices to prove anything?
It seems so, but I don’t feel it so, except when everyone seems to expect it.
I leave for school in a week from today or tomorrow and classes start the following Mon.
My whole schedule has to be changed – what a drag!
This is my last week of work; Fri. at 3:00 I’m free.
Here are the pictures I promised to send you.
Let me explain a little:
1 and 2 were done in late winter, 1 is a guitar and 2 is a peace sign, 3 is from early summer, 4, 5 and 6 are from about a month ago.
4 is the lamp Paul gave me.
5 I like the shape and 2 lighter colors, 8 is ink with paint over (it looks best at a distance), 9 and 10 are from about a week ago, 10 is ink over paint (it’s a whisky bottle with candle drippings).
1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 10 are my favorites (these are, you will remember, my best in my opinion)
Soon you should be getting your birthday present.
I hope you like it; I really liked making it for you.
I decided to enclose another painting.
It’s of fire and was done with 1 and 2.
I finished “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” and read “Her” by Ferlinghetti.
The latter was like a reality–imagination dream realization.
I’m through Pope in my “Lives of the Poets” and diggin’ it!
The next letter will be from school, good ol’ Chambana!
The weather has been cool and refreshing today – reminiscent of fall, and I like it.
Take care and good luck with getting courses and teachers.
Dear, Dear Allen,
I love you.
I feel so frustrated, so unable to express my joy, so full am I of all good things – of life.
You are alive too – a person – how magnificent that is!
I too was vaguely aware of the feeling we sensed that summer; I think I may even have intellectually realized it, but it was an acknowledgement of a lack, of a potential good.
How does one learn to love?
It is so hard.
It means looking at yourself and touching others, of accepting differences and disappointments – it means expecting nothing and accepting all that is given.
I feel freer with you now.
I think I could wholly embrace you now.
Regardless of Paul and all of that, I always feared hurting you.
I knew I could promise you nothing and give you little which could relate to your life.
But now, right now, this minute I know we can give each other all that there is and the only truth, and that is the beauty of the realization of life, around you and in yourself.
How wonderful and exquisite!
I think a gradual, probably grasping movement in this direction has taken place in my life starting with the evolution of me.
When I decided to trust myself and live wholly i.e. not hiding in the easy security of a warm, familiar love offered by Paul.
Since then I’ve grown stronger and more confident that I was right.
I’ve been generally happier and more in tune to people and myself.
I’ve been almost joyous lately and now you have climaxed that.
[Transcriber’s Note: Please, Kathy: just shoot me. – ASH]
The emotion will pass, the feeling may again be a memory, but it will come again because I am alive.
And who ever said happiness is static?
It is a flashing beauty that is complete without promises.
There is so much to say!
“We who have always thought of
Would feel the emotion that almost startles
When happiness falls.”
– R. M. Rilke
Happiness is the thought, the feeling that occurs to you when you “pass by an open window as a violin is giving itself to someone”.
There is so much in the world.
I understand it, not in words, but in my heart and soul and spirit and body.
But it must be learned and understood anew each time.
We can possess nothing, except by claiming nothing.
Freedom is such beauty and truth that we continually stumble upon it in amazement and wonder that it was always there before us if we would have only let go and opened our eyes.
We cannot live without blinking, without grasping, without sleeping, but the rebirths of joy were meant to be such and will continue to delight and startle and enthrall us.
It is for us, the living to share that which is not ours and yet is ours.
Thank you Allen and thank you Paula [?, sic]
I hope you’re not writing cuz you’re busy.
If so I understand!
I’ve had so much and will have, that it seems impossible to get it done.
I resent being so rushed; it forces you into mediocre learning and cursory studies.
Zoe is transferring here in September for sure and may go to summer school here if I do.
I’m not sure yet.
I’ve decided to split my minor between humanities and classics.
There are so many great sounding courses in those and hidden under the languages, classical civilization, art, etc.
I’m going to end up taking a lot of classes I don’t need and probably won’t graduate in 4 years.
I’m afraid my parents won’t understand and/or approve.
I also want to study in England.
There’s a program here for that, giving full credit.
Next semester my courses are: Amer. lit. 256 (second half), speech 1010, medieval lit., Chaucer (a course for advanced undergrads and grad students – that scares me!), Greek and roman mythology, and volleyball.
They sound good; I just hope for once I’ll have an inspiring semester!
I was going to go to Washington on Nov. 15th, but my mother asked me not to because she was all upset over other personal problems and she didn’t want to worry over me.
I was really surprised they were going to let me go in the 1st place.
I’m a professional journalist!
Milos, a friend of mine publishes a small magazine and I wrote 2 articles for him – one on Oct. moratorium and one on Ferlinghetti.
I still want my pictures back!
Remember – the ones I sent you during the summer?
I hope you have them.
Sorry this is such a shitty letter.
Sometime I’ll get time to write a real letter.
Take care Allen and have a happy Thanksgiving – a really happy time.
Read anything by Ferlinghetti.
He’s terrific, but heavy – like life.
I was glad you wrote; I was really beginning to worry.
I didn’t know how you were, what you were doing – nothing.
Your letter seemed a little distant tho’, or am I being paranoid?
I wish I knew what to say to you.
I hate to just tell you about finals and classes and below zero weather.
Now that semester break is almost here, I can do whatever I want; but what do I want?
Well – – I want to read and understand Camus, Hesse, Bellow, Barth, Sartre.
I’d like to try writing – something.
Milos wants me to write an analysis of Camus’ thought and writing.
I’d like to try.
I read Camus’ “Notebooks I – III”.
Have to re-read “Steppenwolf”, “The Stranger”; should re-read “Her”, “Demian”, “Franny and Zoey”.
I read “Moby dick” for a class and really like it.
I also really loved “A Winter’s Tale”.
I want to read “The Trial” and “The Myth of Sisyphus”.
We read “No Exit” in French and I like it.
Another good Sartre play is “The Respectable Prostitute”.
I really like the The Moody Blues.
If you haven’t heard one of their albums, especially “Days of Future Past”.
Hedge and Donna are fantastic.
I like Beethoven’s 7th, the last 2 movements of Tchaikovsky’s 4th as well as about all Mozart wrote.
I like Segovia too.
March 27th is Mozart’s birthday.
Zoe is transferring down her in the summer and we’re going to summer school.
I want to move out of the dorm, but it’s illegal ‘til I’m 21 and they’re beginning to crack down on illegal residence.
Next semester I’m going to take a free University course in Existentialism, studying Sartre, Camus, and Kafka.
I hope it’s good.
God damn, I’m gonna end up in school for 5 or 6 years, summers included because I’m gonna take courses I want, besides those I have to.
Did you know Vera is married?
As of Nov. 28th I think.
She said she and Bill are very happy.
Last, but not least, SEND ME MY PICTURES! PLEASE.
I hope you’ve been happy.
Please write soon.
I miss you, I really do.
There’ve been times when I’ve wanted to be with you or thought it’d be nice, but it’s been a long time since I missed you.
That is to feel your absence and emotionally desire your presence.
But I wonder if I rightfully and authentically miss you.
I mean it’s so hard to carry on a long relationship merely through letters.
You must have changed a lot, but that I don’t regret.
I just wish I could see those changes for myself.
As for me, I hardly remember what it was like to be 17, how I felt and thought.
Life is so strange and wonderful; I love the way it haughtily and majestically moves along, untouched by anything, secure in its anonymous, incomprehensible identity.
It carries us along.
I think, perhaps, it was the picture of you with your picture – and the poems.
They moved me; I was really touched.
I felt a part of you, whoever you are, given to me, purposefully given to me by you.
No matter how ugly the world can seem and how pessimistic I may become, something like a person sending his poems to another person will happen.
And I will cry at the tenderness, the melancholy beauty of life, two lives, a throbbing, breathing, flowing life; existing in a real world, of abstract dreams maybe, but never to be completely possessed or consumed.
Do you know what I’m talking about?
I’m not sure myself, but don’t read the words, just feel, whatever comes into you, feel the actual existence of things.
Feel yourself, the air, the sounds of the world, the colors of living.
Feel me and a sense of the wonder of everything – a baby being born, trees budding, a cut healing, a man thinking, the system of cycles and currents that go on, with daily miracles.
It makes one laugh at oneself and look with wonder to say how can this be?
I am reminded that I am alive.
Promise me you’ll never stop writing – please Allen.
Some day we’ll be together again.
We’ll probably be embarrassed and not know what to say at first.
But everything is so worth the effort.
Do you remember?
There was so much good then.
It’s a little harder to see now, but it’s not gone.
When we looked at the moon together I was happy and at peace.
It was not a tranquil peace, but an excited peace.
It was, I think, the peace of sensing something essential.
I felt the life within me and it transcended myself, uniting with the simple truth of your life – and we were drawn to the moon.
The moon too is part of the essence of the world existing and the abstract contorting; it is simple and beautiful.
Only rarely can we see it as such though.
Mystery usually obscures things, even ourselves.
I’m rambling I know; I wonder if I should even send this.
It probably sounds like romantic sentimentality.
It’s not really memories though; they are pleasant, but unimportant.
What is important exists now.
Neither of us know very much what we’re like now, but we can feel the essential as we did then.
I’m very grateful for the poems and the pictures.
I know we are very close and I do miss you.
I would like so much to be with you now.
I feel on the verge of tears – of joy and sorrow I suspect.
In my room at school I have the green painting you sent me.
It emits a peace that soothes the day’s fever.
I have so much for which to be thankful.
You are so beautiful
[Transcriber’s Note December 21, 2010: And there are no more letters. As I transcribed this last letter, the full moon was being eclipsed behind storm clouds, wind and down-pouring rain.
Or was it me? – ASH]
Post Mortem on a Respectful Affection
It is New Year’s Eve before 2011 and I assure you that I am not drunk. I just want to reaffirm my “respectful affection” for you.
Your “published” letters have created quite a sensation. My female relatives are quoting you. My male associates are wondering why I kept you a secret all these years. My wife was sympathetic, then a little upset, and now even she quotes passages from your letters, trying to help me to understand my feelings.
I owe you an explanation. I was rummaging in my trunk for story ideas when I came across your letters. Thus did I cause my brain to burn without control again, but at least I did realize what a beautiful self-portrait those letters were. I knew that you would be an inspiration to young women; to all young questioning people.
I always have polarized feelings about you, so you will be amused to know that your letters have gotten twice the attention that my hard-work poetry manages on that blogsite. But then, I knew what I had in your letters. But I didn’t know what I had when I chose to ignore a friendship of a lifetime, forgive me, just because I was a geek who once couldn’t figure out why you were even talking to me.
It is just that I believed in Fate, in Destiny, when I met you. I hadn’t even told my parents about the option of a summer in Southampton because I assumed they couldn’t afford it. When they found out, I don’t know if that embarrassed them or if they really had the resources for such an opportunity. And then, of all the tour buses in all the streets of Southampton, why did I get on yours? There were no seats as I shuffled down the crowded aisle. And then I saw a vacant seat next to this radiant young woman who looked me in the eye and welcomed me to sit down. I swear there was a beam of light shining onto that vacant seat. Boy, was I young, stupid, and miraculously lucky.
The rest is history interruptus. You were such a special friend, and I was so young and stupid that I could only categorize it as an “unattainable love”. But I don’t remember it being any effort to be your friend, that is, any effort that was not self-inflicted. I let my assumption of Destiny confuse me: “Why would I be made to feel this way and then lose?” God help me, the gift was your friendship, not your womanhood.
Can you forgive me? Otherwise I will stand before this tombstone of our friendship, like it was the Wailing Wall, for another 43 years.
Yours with eternal respectful affection,
IMAGINARY LETTER no. 4
I burned your letters tonight. The different hued papers and inks with which you would write to me made a colorful flame.
I realize that my letters to you were disposed of long ago.
There had been a cold rain so I made the little fire on a hill under the stars. I thought I should immolate myself on that pyre
You are a flame in my mind. Since our time together I know I have spent my life with my head on backwards watching that distant flame as if you were still near. In that manner I have bumped into other women and hurt them
A billion billion fiery cataclysms led to us meeting. I want to be grateful for that, not bitter
I needed a ceremony. It had to end in fire as it had all begun
Yes, I crippled myself loving you.
No, I’m sorry, that is not true. There is no one like you. That’s all
I was lucky to know you. And for too long I have needed my memory of you to be encased in perspective and placed in amber, a sacred relic, not blinding my eyes every day
I have lived my whole life with a NONsense of destiny. I have put myself against the Gates of Hell too many times with expectations.
I have cursed and dishonored the very forces that created the two of us.
I shall be grateful for your daily breath.
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But, the most ancient scrolls are kept on: THE TABLE OF MALCONTENTS
IMAGINARY LETTER No. 3
This is coming to you from the blue down under. It is at a time like this that I miss knowing your thoughts. My thoughts are always guarded but you are my warden.
I can’t hurt you and I have no one to whom I can turn in this prison cell. I believe in God but we don’t get along. He has left our feeble Will in charge of kindness and mercy. He gives, yes, yet He takes away in equal measure. That is emptiness.
If only I had never met you. If only I had never seen the sun. The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.
Then I fill the dark vacuum with the memories of you. Memories of you abide in me. And usually at times like these the memories of you can be animated enough by me to talk to me, yet this time my bridge of extrapolation washes away in sadness.
I have to write to you as if you are there.
Call me. Call me in your memory. I would rather shelter there. Let me be the extrapolation from which there is awakening and sorrow no more.
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But, the most ancient scrolls are kept on: THE TABLE OF MALCONTENTS
IMAGINARY LETTER No. 2 (“know, too”?) 7/20/13
Are you still a flautist?
After that summer I was pining so piteously for you that my mother took me out and let me select an electric guitar (hear ominous duh-duh-duh-DAH!) so thus I would have something else to do besides mope. Of course I wrote eventually my first song for you. That was my first memory of “hearing” something before I played it. It gushed out of me like…well,…
After we had stopped writing (the first time) I veered into the oncoming adolescent desire to be popular. I had been blessed with piano lessons as an innocent youth. A blessing I eventually discarded with the mindless cruelty of a child (Forgive me, Ms Brundage. I wrote about my eventual guilt and anguish in a veiled manner in my first novel (!!) ADOLPH MEISTERMANN) but now, with guitar and sometimes piano, I followed the piper of that epoch and became one of the army of kids who wanted to be famous musicians. I’m still paying that piper. That leads to my own “turbulent 20’s” story to be told in whispers another time. Perhaps we can scare each other someday?
Today I like baroque music in general. Most of it has no “agenda” like subsequent music; just the unfolding crystalline logic of the musical elements. I also like anything by Handel. I like any quartet, quintet, sextet, or such “chamber music” of any age by anybody. In such smaller works every note must justify itself. There is no hiding in some symphonic fast-talk.
Of course my favorite get-up-and-go song is “Highway to Hell”, cranked up to “11”.
I must preface that which I whine about next by stating that I know I am lucky not to be a legless orphan scuttling in a Bombay alleyway. However…
The only thing that I ever knew for sure was that I loved you. The same way I might know that I was hit by a train and mangled. I was so convinced of divine providence that to awaken from such a dream was bitter. I spat out God. I began the random walk through my life. Statisticians have a word for that random walk; they call it the Drunkard’s Walk. It can lead back and forth over the same territory, like a drunkard looking for his lost keys under the streetlamp because that is where the light is.
That is why I have crossed your path again, no doubt.
“Everything happens for a reason”.
Well, duh-uh, how inanely obvious is that? It doesn’t invoke a divine guidance any less than it invokes a careening billiard ball (even if you ask “So, Who took the first shot?”). So where could I plead injustice? God’s “mysterious ways” appeared to me no different than random acts of justice and injustice. There is no morality in randomness. Karma? That’s a snapshot of a wish; the arc of consequences that can’t be grasped. However, “Every solution is the next problem” is now what I like to offer as sobriety.
Anyway, Justice is an imperfect human invention, a flywheel to restrain revenge upon innocents I think.
In October of 2011 I was shown by my erstwhile friend a blogger’s site called Open Salon. That was a pivotal moment of my personal evolution. For nearly three years since then I’ve written at least one story or poem every week. I have developed some writer’s muscles. Now, like a jogger hooked on the endorphins (I’ve been there) writing is becoming the meaning of my life, whatever that signifies. I think you are a jogger, too, right?
Hooked on endorphins. Now I’m thinking of my father and how he was so against “drinking” because his father had been an alcoholic (I alluded to one of his childhood events in my story GIN FLY). Apparently there is a streak of obsessive behavior in my family (yes, yes, I hear you laughing at me! Don’t worry about that: I’m too lazy to become a stalker physically). I have an aunt who is a gambler in Vegas. I have a cousin who wrote a book about gambling. Me? Apparently I’m gambling with my existence. Rolling those dice and thinking, “something good will have to happen”.
And that will lead to my tales of marriage.
Respectfully affectionately yours,
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But, the most ancient scrolls are kept on: THE TABLE OF MALCONTENTS
IMAGINARY LETTER No. 1 (“no one”?) 7/17/13
See? We are no more “strangers now” than we ever were.
I’m glad you liked that story. I think you’d like TWILIGHT IN PARIS. I don’t know where that story came from but it was like taking dictation. You might also like EUPHORANASIA and DANCING WITH THE BLACK BULL. Again, I couldn’t type fast enough.
I know I have a lot of irons in the fire with several serials on which I’m working but for now I’m staking out territory. My realtor told me about a Mexican film producer who is shopping property nearby where he can build a film set for Westerns. I’m developing SINS OF THE FATHER so it could be turned into a low budget Western script more about characters than special effects.
The act of writing is the only thing in my life where I get what I want. By the time I make any money at writing I’ll be able to pay for my Depends.
I’ve become a hermit crab living in a shell of congeniality. My characters are my friends. I know, I know. I hear the cuckoo clock.
My oldest friend from fourth grade elementary school was in a sky-diving accident, not fatal, but he jammed his neck and spine and he’s on a LOT of medication. I think the medications must have liquefied his brain. We were giving him monetary help (I did not want the corrosion of a “loan”). Finally when we were broke we had to ask that the next “installment” be a loan. For some reason that offended him and we have not had communication for a long time. That made me feel old because he was such a tether to my youth.
My only other friend is an expatriate living in Germany. I’ve known him since high school and in fact he was introduced to me by my erstwhile friend I mentioned above. He too is a writer, a much keener judge of humanity. He is the guy telling all the great jokes. In a previous life he was a very successful salesman.
My avatar in the allegedly real world years ago found a book entitled Innovation and Entrepreneurship by Peter F. Drucker in the bargain bin of a bookstore. It was one of those transforming books. I subsequently read all of his books and was evangelized to the possibilities of the practice of management and how powerful it was in this world. Until then I was a worker bee who thought that management consisted of long meetings and dissociation from the actual work being done. I read all of Peter Drucker’s works and became a proselyte and was finally hired into a management position.
However, in the end I have been defeated. Companies are neurotic “incorporations” just like people. Doing the right thing is always a struggle apparently. In the end people bow to their paycheck, understandably. So there is still a reign of “artificial challenges created by bad management” and I never wonder anymore why a company goes out of business. Fortunately for me where I work, there are still people who will come to me and tell me what nefarious schemes are afoot so that I can at least navigate with some hope of staying afloat.
I’m afraid to look up and see how selfish I really am but I really don’t want to talk any more about me. I’d rather hear from you.
I’m good at imagining conversations.
Respectfully affectionately yours,
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But, the most ancient scrolls are kept on: THE TABLE OF MALCONTENTS