Dear Darling, July 24, 2013
On my way to the subway today, I
passed a man carrying what looked like a surf board. Surfing? In Williamsburg?
I then decided it was probably an ironing board, and that struck me as equally
funny. Whatever it was, it was in a cloth case with a drawstring, and he had
other things in with it. Men iron too, I know…I guess!
the bookstore today, I came across a book of letters from Katherine Mansfield
to John Middleton Murry. “When I got out of bed for cigarettes,” she
begins her account of the day. I get out of bed and make coffee, but I don’t
like to admit that I'm getting out of bed FOR coffee. It's true, though, in my case. Many cigarettes and descriptions of food follow, in the letter, all of
which seem wonderful to me, since it’s not the kind of thing people pay
attention to these days. Maybe on vacation, but not on just a regular day.
am waiting for email, email that will either eliminate or fortify one of the
roadblocks to publishing my essay—you know, the one I’ve been working on for a
year now. I send out these emails convinced that people will reply right away
and excited at the prospect. Then they don’t. I know you’ll write back.
what did I have for lunch? A Reuben sandwich at a metal table outside Le Basket. The
man sitting near me had a Listerine bottle full of liquor, or amber-colored
mouthwash, anyway. I’ve always wanted to eat at Le Basket and sit outside,
maybe with a single beer. It would be so Le Basket—a charming mockery of
elegance. Listerine al fresco! I’m glad to have finally done it, but I have to
say, I don’t like feeling alone and vulnerable to the other people sitting
alone at tables outside.
I don’t think I told you: The other day at Think Coffee, a woman was sitting alone with her cup when I went inside, turned in profile
to me, very still--the only person on that side of the patio, now that I think of it. When I came back with my glass of wine, she was still there. I sat down and got out
my laptop and from behind me, in a very still, very smooth voice, I heard:
“That’s a nice case. Did you make it yourself?” It was just a regular laptop case
with a zipper. She had a thin-skin face and hardly moved
a muscle when she spoke. “No,” I said. “Thank you,” I added, to be polite. I
worried when she spoke to me, but there was nothing I could do. I heard her
getting up behind me. “You’re nasty,” I think she said. I didn’t look at her.
When she left the outside seating, she walked past me again to continue down
the sidewalk, and I just hoped she wouldn’t stop and turn around. She didn’t.
Well, darling, I’ve got to get back
to work. I’m sitting up here at a table looking down on the people entering
Housing Works Bookstore. It’s like the Harvard Coop but with used books, with
its curving staircases and its second-floor balcony. It’s cold in here. I
brought a sweater but haven’t put it on. You would like this place.
How I wish I had you to eat al
fresco with! We would eat lunch somewhere cheap and then have dinner at a real restaurant, with wine. I want to try the seafood place near my apartment. Soon. Please write and tell me what you had for lunch and whatever else I am missing.
PS: I'm so jealous of Katherine Mansfield. Not of her husband, rest assured; jealous of her... temperament. I wonder why she doesn't write, "The sun was peeping out of a cloud like a face under a monk's hood, but..." But. But. But...I don't know what I'm going to write next. But I don't know how I'm going to pay the bills next month. But the person I wanted to interview didn't answer my letter, and I don't know whom else to ask. So many possible buts. These things don't register in a romantic outlook, I suppose. Or if they register, it's "Oh darling, have absolutely no idea what I'll write next, and my confidence is sapped; I'm empty. I see the sun making shutter patterns on the wall, but who cares? I had orange marmalade on my toast. But who cares? A cardinal was singing outside my window, and I told it to piss off or to go do what birds do."" Somehow the reservations would lack reserve. I'll try to do better next time.