kitten   October 19, 2004

Dear Alexis,

It seems to me that writing to you is something of a catharsis, a way of getting my thoughts in order. This is not to say that I'm writing for myself, instead of to you. It's just that for anything I know to the contrary, these letters are piling up in a warehouse somewhere stacked to overflowing with packages and postcards that have no home. It's a chance I take with every missive I send to you, and I think it's worth that small risk, but the returned silence from you puts me ill at ease. I suppose it's my fault for not putting an address on these, or giving you enough clues to figure out where I've gone, but like a gambler putting everything down on an unlikely roll, I'm trying to see if the universe is on my side, and somehow I know that if I'm patient, fate won't let me down, and neither will you.

This morning I awoke to the sound of a seagull. I can't say for certain that's what woke me but at any rate it's the first thing I heard. I thought it strange to hear a seagull's cry so far from the ocean, and figured it must have gotten lost. Do you think it will ever find its way back, or is it destined to wander the skies above this city for the rest of its life, entirely removed from all the things it knows to be familiar? I've decided I miss the cry of seagulls and the discarded tracks they leave on a new morning shoreline, along with all their associations. It reminded me of Maine, of being able to sit up on the piers at night and watching lighthouse beams strobe into the darkness. Most of the lighthouses there aren't in active use anymore, radio beacons and other modern navigational systems having replaced the antiquated systems of bright lights and guesswork. Sometimes I think we've lost something in that, because the increase in accuracy meant a decrease in soul, with all those lighthouses sitting empty on small rock outcroppings, useless. I can't be the only one who thinks this way, because the lighthouses still run on occasion even if they aren't needed, so someone out there with the right influences must have done something about it. I'm glad they did, because I spent many a content evening on those shores with the slow and frustrating sexual rhythm of the tide, and focused beams of light from those towers piercing the night above like my own private surreal theatre.

In those sort of theatrical settings I sometimes feel like I'm in a different world completely, one that's like this one but twisted just off the axis and the me in that world is really the one calling the shots to the me in this world, which is why I can't always make sense of the things I think. Do you ever get tired of feeling like you have to justify your emotions, Alexis? Have you tried just letting yourself feel without trying to defend those feelings? You were always a brilliant one for logic, not wanting to merely assert without cause, and I know that explaining yourself is your way of making sense of your thoughts. I've always been willing to hear you out, to be your little sounding board, and before too long I will be again. But I wanted you to know that I'd accept what you say at face value, whatever those wishes and feelings may be, and you don't have to explain yourself to me.

Forty-seven days here and the first hint of winter was yesterday, the air heavy with the smoke from wood burning in fireplaces. I don't have a fireplace in my little apartment but if I did, I think it would help make the room seem a little less confining. Every now and then I'll feel trapped in there, with some urgent primitive kick telling me I need to leave, and so I do. You know I've never been one for long pointless walks without a destination in mind, but when the four walls suddenly seem to collapse a few feet, I can't think of anything else to do, so I walk. This city on foot is an entirely different experience from driving through it. For one thing, in the car, all that strappy nylon securing me in place and an empty seat next to me makes me discouraged, and I try to drown it out with music, which doesn't afford me the opportunity to get the full sensation of the place I'm in. Walking, especially in this weather and at night, traffic is down to a minimum and I can go for quite a while with the only sounds those of my own muffled footsteps, and the occasional draw of a siren in the distance. That sort of airy silence really forces you to pay attention, in spite of yourself. I've found places where I can stand and if I look straight up, I'm surrounded on all sides by lofty towers of concrete and patch of black sky above, like standing at the bottom of an impossibly deep well. It makes me feel very small and insignificant, but in a strange way that's comforting, because at least it's familiar, but I'm unnerved by the notion that I can take solace in a feeling of isolation and irrelevence. Maybe it's possible for something to be completely wrong, yet exactly as it should be. That's something of a paradox, don't you think? You've worked hard to erase these regrets from me, Alexis, and I never wanted to disappoint you. I hope you'll forgive me my lapses. They're a vice I'd rather be without.

When I was in high school there was a pretty girl in my class who I was absolutely intimidated by, and she knew it. She'd leverage it to her advantage, too; cold and calculating and manipulative, she'd torment me, insult me, and point out my every flaw if did anything that she didn't approve of. She was like a cat toying with her prey, and I adored her for it, though I doubt she knew that. You could call it something of an awakening in me, that epiphanic little epoch when I began to discover something about myself that I didn't know was there before. You already know what that something is, Alexis, but I'll tell you something you didn't already know -- what first caught my attention about you was that same predatory look along the edges of your eyes. I've always found it delicious, even before you figured it out on your own and carved your keepsake into me.

I have every confidence in you and your self-reliance; it's always been something I admired, and I know you'll work your way through your situation when the time comes. I can't tell you the number of cigarettes I've lit just to keep myself from ringing you, if only for a moment, but I think I was holding you down the way I was, and when we meet again I hope to be absolved of that. But I still give a lot of thought to you and the way your lips curve when you're puzzling something out, and I trust that, at least sometimes, your mind turns to me as well. That sort of trust is another risk I take with you, because it opens the way to fear, being open and exposed to you, you could eviscerate me with a few sharp words if you wanted to. But that's another risk I'm willing to take with you, much larger than letters without return addresses, and I know you won't betray that conviction. Either way, you have my devotion.

Until next time,

Always yours,