r e a l i t y

From: Francesca
To: Sam
Date: April 12, 2004
Subject: normative

Sam:

I was just thinking about all the utterly weird people in the world; even if they seem normal, they will pop out of nowhere with something just off-kilter enough that it will make your guts feel all cold with dread. They'll reveal that they like macaroni salad and not in a bad-dirty way but as if it were actually good-in-a-good way, or they really believe in real aliens, or they masturbate to Ayn Rand, or something really hideous. They're equipped to either dwell entirely in the constant wry thing we call reality and never think abstractly or passionately, or else they go off on great tangents, which at first are lovely and you think they are so clever, until you realize that they're never actually coming back to moderation or any semblance of real sanity.

I like sanity, you know, with that zesty bit of an idea how you'd go insane if, for instance, you fell and hit your head really hard and tragically. It's always good to know your own bizarre nodules and to not be boring, but at the same time sanity is something you can really dig your spoon into. I'm all for questioning reality and poking my nose into scary books like it's Halloween-for-sentient-grownups, but at the same time I take a lot of pleasure in the farmer's market and the way heavy fruit feels very real in my hand. If you think about it, it could drive you wild with bliss, just having real things around you; it drives some people truly wild because they can't imagine really having what they need and just sitting still and receiving the damn thing they always wanted.

Anyway, what I wanted to say is that you're very normal to me. I realize as I chip my way through Infinite Jest that we probably have, largely, the same internal and contextual reactions to things; not so much in the sense of personal experience do I mean, but in that some other way I can't exactly name. Maybe it's because we were both brought up in fairly liberal and educated households in nice Eastern socioeconomic places but without the taint of money-obsession. Or maybe we ate the same tainted matzoh (yes, Sam, I ate matzoh, too). I certainly don't think we're peas in any sort of pod, I just think you're so...brilliantly normal, normally brilliant, and sort of real and good.

Anyway, I had a point buried somewhere, but then they kicked us out of the computer lab, so that's that.

Chessie

From: Francesca
To: Sam
Date: February 16, 2004
Subject: strategy

Funny you should say that, because I'm currently grappling with a sex partner who will give me no romance. I seduced him, which made me feel as if I wasn't, as they say, "just being used for ass." I am fully ready to accept if I am being thusly used, for at least then I can be indignant and appropriately hurt and go out and further the universe's sad cycle by using someone myself. But I don't think I AM being used merely for my willingly parted legs; bring on the confusion. Matthew calls me now a great deal, and he talks. He talks a lot. We both talk. Talk. A lot. But he and I, who live in this relatively small city with much to do, never DO anything. We do not eat together. We do not stroll. We do not walk our dogs, sit in the sun, attend parties, drink coffee, deep sleep, prepare tea, go in search of backwoods-backwater hick towns with amazing barbecue, wander farmers' markets, perform grooming rituals, or otherwise engage in anything except head-to-head conversations followed by incredible sex, which is followed by neither callousness nor tenderness. I could kill him. Perhaps I've got some cockamamey European idea of romance that involves rainy days and espresso, or maybe I'm just thinking of the traveling and it strikes me as sexy and I'd like to be somewhere with some lover not for the sex and not for the friendship but for the goddamn romance.

I'm all for attraction and lust. And God knows you've got to be friends with your lover (though I'm not sure that's quite as important in the end). I'll never be anti lust&friendship, but what about The Third Estate, as it were? Romance. Something possesses people to buy presents for one another, even if they end up breaking even. Something possesses people to bring their current lovers out into the world, meet their friends, break bread together, share the light of day. Is it "partnership?" What a dumb word; makes me think of unity candles and Birkenstocks. Is it convention? I don't think so at heart--though certainly that accounts for a lot of it. It's romance. As abhorrent as I find Frenchmen in general, perhaps I shall have to find one.

I had that moment, the other day, when I finally got it (I don't believe in epiphany; I think things slink up behind us for a long time and finally we clear our throats and address them, but I rather like the electricity of nearness before formal acknowledgement). I'm not going to want anything except love anymore. It's not something to drive towards. I just want big romance all the time, even if it breaks plates and makes me cry every day. Intensity, all that.

To tell you the truth, when I drive out on this wild crazy snake-hung-tree-house-Spanish-moss-lost-world island called Wadmalaw and try to get lost and cry when I end up back on a road I know, I think of you. I used to be this tightly-netted form of doubt, doubting my body and my cellulite and my beauty and the things I don't know about German philosophers, and you were part of that (and certainly I have no question in my mind that you're a lover of the lithe-and-swarthy girls and that's life) but also I've begun to detach, let go, consider that one day we might have a fling in the hot springs of Iceland or something. You have to forgive that, though, because you know how randy I am.

You're amazing, absolutely amazing, for listening to me.

Love,
Chessie

P.S. Parts II and III of your stories have come down the line all full of odd computer characters and markups instead of English. I'd love to get a rebroadcast if/when you have time. I keep reading Part I.

From: Sam
To: Francesca
Date: February 15, 2004
Subject: George Foster Wallace on SSS's mating strategy

SSS's M.O. on Ladae Killing

"Look-At-Me-Being-So-Totally-Open-And-Sincere-I-Rise-Above-The-Whole-Disin genuous-Posing-Process-Of-Attracting-Someone-,And-I-Transcend-The-Common-D isingenuity-In-A-Bar-Herd-In-A-Particularly-Hip-And-Witty-Self-Aware-Way-, And-If-You-Will-Let-Me-Pick-You-Up-I-Will-Not-Only-Keep-Being-This-Wittily -Transcendently-Open-,But-Will-Bring-You-Into-This-World-Of-Social-Falseho od-Transcendence, which of course he cannot do because the whole openness-demeanor thing is itself a purposive social falsehood;it is a pose of poselessness; [SSS] is the least open man I know."

Wow, I am truly humbled by this. This is why Infinite Jest is worth reading.

This passage also likely captures exactly why you and I haven't had sex in a loooooong time, and may never again...by transcending all possibility of romance, casted as it is in conversations as constructed, we've defused the raw material of sex...this also gets at the heart at why I have trouble opening myself up to romantic relationships these days...ever since the warm blanket it's been all downhill

...can sex exist without romance?

Happy Valentine's Day,

Love,

Sam

From: Francesca
To: Sam
Date: February 9, 2004
Subject: Infintessimal Breasts

I like the idea for a book. I'll muse on it. I bought Infinite Jest the other day, it's waiting for me after I finish an MFK Fisher and a stack of Laurie Colwin. I just finished Still Life with Woodpecker by Tom Robbins; surely you've heard of him.

I've been to Episcopalian church a little bit, and after the first initial flush of its Anglican embrace I'm missing the austerity of the Quakers. Think I'll go back to meeting again on Sunday. Might be going up to the Yearly Meeting this summer in Amherst, meet some likeminded people with a sense of humor and dedication to ending the death penalty.

The writing isn't going, I'm busy with schoolwork and a poetry class that wakes me up. I always wonder that about intelligent people, in abstraction, because that's how stories are made. I'm not writing anything workable. It's still good to be doing it. I'm not sure if everyone is this way--and tell me if you know of what I'm speaking--but you either live completely in control and in grip of your emotions and the world is your oyster all the time, or you submit yourself to it and the possibility that you'll spear yourself on a sharp afternoon shadow and nobody will understand why you're dying. (No, it's not a novel idea at all, this one of either living entirely and passionately or being in control and not living at all, and maybe a little maudlin, but what can you do when it's just true? That's not to say that it's all serious and melancholy, because God knows living entirely and passionately includes lots of oft-irresponsible amusement, but it's the kind that fucks up your control over yourself regardless.)

And I guess it's not, in the end, who loves you back or what you consummate but the fact that you loved at all, however quietly. It's easier said than done when you're dying inside, I know--I'm not trying to be blase. Still, looking back, I think I could possibly die fulfilled knowing that I bayed at boys' windows in bare feet while they slept obliviously. Those times are seared on me and probably onto something else, maybe the great lithography plate of Time or something grand and remote like that. Never hurt your friends, but if you have to dash yourself up against a wall in private you might as well; there's no sense fighting it.

Much love,
Chessie

From: Sam
To: Francesca
Date: February 6, 2004
Subject: Re: Touchez

I just read that email to C. again. I might have to tack it up on my wall. Thank you Francesca, thank you for being FJS.

If you could write a book consisting only of emails, letters, and maybe phone calls, bouncing back and forth between a web of people, and somehow manage to weave a story through it, and make it as compelling and complex as your email to Chip, you'd have something genius. I'll cowrite with you.

How's the book going, by the way?

From: Sam
To: Francesca
Date: February 4, 2004
Subject: Re: Touchez

Was in Florida two weeks ago and Delaware last week, but I'll be back in synagogue this friday night, saying my aleinus, vei ahavtas and atah geebors.

Suppose the impulse to get back into the swing of synagogue comes from feeling a little spiritually low these last few days. Find I have to cling to my optimism and spiritual buoyancy more fiercely now, sitting here at home, waiting patiently for life to congeal and the world to become less chaotic, than I have had to for a few years.

Have to admit that the shit with {woman's name omitted} has me out of wack and not really knowing where to begin. Not really interested in seeing other girls, nor in going on a random-fuck rampage...really the goods are sparse out there when in comes to substance and the whole package, as you know.

At the same time, gripped around the throat and choking by the moral wrongness and personal self-destructiveness of the prospects of a relationship with {her}. Need a good rabbi. Or maybe a good surrogate pet dog to keep me company.

Ah well. The Lord works in mysterious ways, chiald. As Andre "3000" Benjamin would say, "better go to church."

Warning on Infinite Jest: it's a beast of a long, desnse book, but not one to be rushed through or to be read in any fragile emotional state. Have had to stop reading it before sleep because it's giving me all sorts of weird, troubling dreams. Still, I suspect you'll like the darn thing.

Thank you for the moving prose, I too find that I know myself best through my letters.

Sam

From: Francesca
To: Sam
Date: February 4, 2004
Subject: Re: Touchez

Hey Sam,

It will be good to make that commune. I'm partially bored here in Charleston and partially content. It's a bit damned-if-you-move and damned-if-you-hold-still, like being chased by a panther. I'm glad you've got your cello and lifting and family. I live underneath a Uruguayan concert cellist, a Spanish pianist, and a Slovakian violinist. They are all so handsome and sweet, too sweet to touch, and sometimes their music over my sleeping head makes me curl my toes with happiness and longing. Are you still going to synagogue? I wondered that in church the other day.

I'm going to check out Infinite Jest tonight at the library.

For some reason, I find one of the best ways to summarize the state of life is to send people letters I've written to others; sometimes I send copies of letters I write to you to C., so here's one I wrote to him.
Stay lovely.

Chessie.

From: Francesca
To: C.
Date: February 4, 2004
Subject: Adulteration, its conventional and inverted meaning

C.:

You fucking piss me off. I've written. I've called twice; twice; I never call anybody. I am completely aware that I'm not being coquettish or sly or cold-skinned in the least. You cannot, cannot write to me and tell me to come to Athens and scrape my foot along your rivulet-run planking; you cannot spell my siren song of a man seized with insomniac hurt; you can't do all these things and then just disappear without at least giving me a doorslam of indication. Your Nerve thing (and perhaps your nerve thing in the pointed lowercase as well) goes up and down, up and down, and I wonder if it's a brief episode of woman or an attack of midnight indecision or that you've gone physically from your home and won't be back for a while.

It's not sexy. You've got to give the linguist something to put in her teeth.

I want you. Don't fucking freak out over that statement; you have no idea how I mean it and I don't think you ever have; I don't think many people ever do. I'm tired of living like I don't need anything; I'm in a constant state of lust for everything, I'm walking slick with the need to fuck and be fucked by experience. I must have you like I must have anything remote and foreign and temporary and consuming for small parts of time; I need you like I need to go to Mt. Desert Island every few years, I need you like I need to put my nose up against mossy fenceposts and the tassel of a horse's ear and like I need to get to Bali before I'm twenty-five and like I need to drive eighty-eight miles through Wadmalaw and imagine I've packed everything up and I'm wearing a workshirt, a down vest from the house of the three brothers that made me, and my throat. I have a bunch of little boyfriends and they're sweet and I wear silk and throw my head back on Broad Street and mince like a dogwood; I'd never leave them even if their names change, but I also want you because you know it's not anything like love and it's a lot more than just sex and this is where we're going to get the things that make us throw down our palms and cry art. You know what kind of girl I am.

I think about writing and about Athens and about sliding onto you and biting your swan's neck and fucking you until I can't, until I lose it, until I'm out of poetry and terrified and then you flip me, fuck me, take me the way prose does, bite my little breast and make me scream violet. I'm sitting in the stupid college library now, dripping wet; few men do this to me. I've really got to have something as big-starving and mean as you, the filaments of aging across your face that are more erotic than youth, your submersible voice, your incomprehensible prejudices. You piss me off; don't stop talking; we should sleep together some more: the three finest things I can think to say to a man, I'm saying to you.

Tell me why you hurt. Let's get in a philosophical fight. Let's curl up in a linguistic hollow and shake while the bombs fall. Fucking hell, C. Pay attention to the people who can actually see you.

"Sometimes I think of you as the destroyed mill town and me as the poet. Long ago we gave up anything but blameless eyes."

From: Francesca
To: Sam
Date: February 2, 2004
Subject: Touchez

Sam,

Do remember to update me on your address and phone when they change. It was wonderful to see you this winter and I still have every intention of visiting you in whatever city you next call home.

Much love,
Chessie

From: Francesca
To: C.
Date: January 18, 2004
Subject: Re: and yes....

I wasn't going to write back for a long time, or ever, but then I read some Anne Lamott and had to envision Northern California; then I thought I saw you in the EarthFare today, just your back; then I saw one of my sexier thirtysomething acquaintences out at a restaurant holding his toddler son and remembered how you looked in that picture with [your daughter] across your lap, how when I first whooshed my breath on your hip I was thinking in wonder: this body has hit its mark: twice.

I'll come in the spring. Don't stop telling me things, though. I asked you that once in bed and you got all antsy and in the dark I rolled my eyes thinking "oh you egotistical slut, I don't mean romantic things." Just things you choose as curator, just things for your small own peerless natural history.

Francesca

From: Francesca
To: C.
Date: January 22, 2004
Subject: elusion

he disappears for
days and days

where you break
the line matters

From: C.
To: Francesca
Date: January 13, 2004
Subject: and yes....

...i remember. with an extraordinary amount of momentary vividity.

From: C.
To: Francesca
Date: January 13, 2004
Subject: RE: your fist full of my hair, and other stories

tell me one thing more frustrating than writing a response that, while it could never possibly equal, at least was a pretty return to someone's astonishing words, only to accidentally hit the esc (?) key with your errant left pinkie and send it into some other place completely unreturnable.

hahahaha.

fuck.

ah, and the questions i typed, i was dying to see your answers.

i think it's a sign, that you should come, or i should go, and i can ask you the questions high, in the grass, and can listen to the answers. we have scuffed wood floors of each other's to tread and trade.

i vote for the weekend after this one.

From: Francesca
To: C.
Date: Jan 13, 2004
Subject: your fist full of my hair, and other stories

C.,

I've just moved houses and we have no internet there yet...school doesn't start until tomorrow...it's been catch as catch can with the e-lettering. I love my new house. Double French doors, a bunch of lovely antiques that I am slowly inheriting from mama, gleaming wood floors, enormous windows, in Wraggborough and a stone's throw from Marion Square and everything else. I want to start, now, collecting good art.

I do my nails, now; I wear nice shoes when the situation demands it; I shop, sometimes, at Neiman Marcus and on lower lower King. I grew up around heavy wood, heavy silver, first-edition Tiffany plates and cold houses with dust. I can't escape that. I've stopped trying. Certainly, there's a difference between the upstarts and the real old crumbliness; the real old crumbliness is always a mite dirt-smudged and bizarre. We let the dogs in the house; they chew on the Chippendale chair legs and we shrug. We don't do trends, and still in this house (we stand still in this house)...you've heard enough. You know what I mean.

So now I know restraint, restraint, passionate restraint. Very few people in the world still know and understand this archaic way, this semaphore, the electric wildness under the stiff upper lip. And the modern world in its binary way will say "Be free, woman! Shed these shackles! You are more than this," and at the same I wonder how there could be more than this; this is everything, this is the glorious friction--don't they see? There is sheer abandon in this kind of restraint.

The only kind of loving that will sustain me, the only kind of loving that will free me, is the kind where I am both cherished and pinned down. My mouth goes dry with desire at the thought of a thumb pressing into my pulse points--wrist, neck, inner elbow. It has to be done just so, it has to be done in a way that is firm with loving; a command, not a plea, for my body. Remember when we fucked in my bed, the day you bit my arm so hard it made a bruise? That was sex where I left my body, where I felt unfolding, and you did it just right, everything perfect to the last rigid inch, when you took a fistful of my hair and pulled my head back while you were in me, sideways. Of course I wanted you after that, because you had what no boy could possibly give me; I was twenty; can you blame me?

You barely ever wrote back to me, might I point out, though I know you were in the middle of big bright free confusing things. We argued once about whether life was funny or serious, and I know you thought I was a dour little thing for saying that there was a shot-through silver thread of gravity through everything in the world, though we laugh and bless it all the while (rapture's the same to God, no matter what makes us quiver, pain or exultation). The idea of you in pain blisters me; I know enough that you don't hurt with something ordinary but with the same unmentionable nails that leave us like trail markings for whatever is slinking through infinity; the talismans, the past-tense, the run-through and bizarrely, now, more alive. And movement, and friction, and so forth and so on.

I am quiet, in a wingback chair, and read about 1939. I understand if I'm lame, if I've let you down. I don't sleep with anybody these days; I date boys from south of Broad and I hold out, hold out, because we're cold people. In the end I am a cold person. Not calculating, not mean, not cold to the core, but cold to the touch, now. Exacting, I suppose. Things happened, love died, unborn babies died, people left. I go to church every Sunday, and I am quiet and read about time before time began. I think, in many ways, I'm happier than I have ever been before. I understand if it leaves you dry, if you don't want to write back. I think maybe with you and your body I could abandon again, I could release and see violet behind my eyelids. I didn't trust you then, not a bit, but I trust you now.

You should read The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen. Oh, oh but it's written in the key of you.

Francesca

From: C.
To: Francesca
Date: January 13, 2004
Subject: ok. fine.

guess i can take a hint.

but still, dammit....

From: C.
To: Francesca
Date: January 8, 2004
Subject: elusion

she disappears for days and days.

From: C.
To: Francesca
Date: January 6, 2004
Subject: Re: purely curious as to

oh god, i love your emails.

WHEN are you going to be here? i so want to know about the 180 turn it's not even funny.

we've known each other for this long, i'm determined to make it something undefinable and real. even if it's just someone to walk down the sidewalk with and tell secrets to.

a brief history that's lasted long enough to actually matter.

so i've been introduced to unfathomable pain lately. i think i've made it work, made it to the other side, but still, 3 a.m., my former favorite hour, sneaks into my unlocked windows at night to tell me things and people are often not what they seem. sleep has become a relatively foreign concept.

but hey, any life lived on an elevated emotional plane should be one to be thankful for. i'm just glad i've learned that i can feel.

come here soon.

c.

From: C.
To: Francesca
Date: January 5, 2004
Subject: RE: purely curious as to

you thought i didn't want to see you the last time you were here?

watching you handle your sister and the ex fiance was oh so interesting....i learned a lot about you. good god, you had your hands full.

plus, your haircut was pretty damn cute.

i just want to see you, chess. that's all. there aren't many human beings like you. isn't that enough?

besides, you said you missed me.

From: C.
To: Francesca
Date: January 2, 2004
Subject: i would....

love to see you sometime soon.

From: Francesca
To: C.
Date: December 17, 2003
Subject: Re: when...

thank you.

From: C.
To: Francesca
Date: December 17, 2003
Subject: Re: when...

aw.

well, i really look forward to seeing you here. sooner the better.

From: Francesca
To: C.
Date: December 16, 2003
Subject: Re: when...

no. pennsylvania. one last time.

From: Francesca
To: C.
Date: December 15, 2003
Subject: Re: when...

indefinite future. spring, perhaps.

From: C.
To: Francesca
Date: December 15, 2003
Subject: when...

are you in town?

From: Francesca
To: Sam
Date: November 12, 2003
Subject: libertad

Well...I'm free. I had several moments of pure panic and dread and I told [him] I needed more time before I decided on him. He couldn't handle it and thus the fiasco is history. Thank God. There is really absolutely so very much to be done, seen, absorbed, savored, blown apart, and scraped with one's nails out of the dust of what we've made here with this whole human condition set-piece. I still have love fears (which version of ourselves will we have to become to sustain love? my friends and I wonder) but they're so small what with mountains and aforementioned friendship and so much to be examined.

Can you imagine a hot breathing summer along the latitude of Pennsylvania, in Europe, in some small fetid apartment? The tomatoes haven't begun to rot and the bread is nearly weeping. I think of MFK Fisher, whom I first read when I was anorexic at fourteen and who probably saved my life, gave me the seed of literate luxuriance and let me tuck it away until twenty. I think of turning off the lights, and even the fan, and sitting in chairs with heads tilted back barely able to suck the thick city down. I got so mad at you at seventeen because you refused to see the geometric passion behind things like drops of nectarine juice in the cusp under the lower lip of a person. I think you've learned.

When you see a sheep in New Zealand, smell it behind its ears. For me. You should meet me in London in March, I could be Sarah and you could be Bendrix, and I'd die of consumption but not before the glass all got bombed and I came for the first time on a parquet floor, the end of the affair. Or not.

"Damn, Sam, I love a woman that rains"...do you know that line? Anyway, damn, Sam, the library is closing and they're kicking me out.

Chessie

From: C.
To: Francesca
Date: November 7, 2003
Subject: Re: My Morning Jacket

i KNEW you would.

you looked wonderful in your delirium, by the way. and the short hair.

when you come up you MUST spend time with me. no is not an option.

From: Francesca
To: C.
Date: November 7, 2003
Subject: My Morning Jacket

Thank you for telling me that I could change my mind. You would be shocked to find the number of people, in whose care of friendship I stand, who forgot to tell me. I changed my mind. You're lovely, even in your big black car, even if I was drunk and scared and reeling at where all my stars are splitting off to. I can't wait to visit my mother in her not so big house on Nantahana street.

Maybe I'll see you around, but I won't count on it. It's always better in memory.

But thanks, I needed to hear again that I was free.

From: C.
To: Francesca
Date: [...] Subject: RE: Fourierist

some scientists up at cornell did a documented study on the physical act of 'falling in love' not long ago. they determined that the act was actually a potent unleashing of a hormonal cocktail made up of dopamine, oxytocin, and phenyl-something or another. they then figured out that this rush had a distinct lifespan of 18-30 months, which, not coincidentally, is just about the right time needed to meet, mate, and produce a child. which then begs the question - if we're biologically NOT built for long term monogamous relationmships, then why do we stay together? there are obvious answers - apathy, 'for the kids', social constraints, or simply because two people actually grow to like each other...which ironically, this 'like' may actually be the more graceful, true brand of love.

but i can tell you this from experience - you'll never not want to be with other people. whether you choose to act on that desire or not is almost simply a matter of personal preference.

From: C.
To: Francesca Date: [...] Subject: (none)

maybe, just maybe, you hold enough resolution to make it work. the odds are stacked against anyone with a thinking soul when it comes to marriage, but the few (very few) that i have witnessed that have actually worked are breathtaking.

ah, who's to say?

there are many places to be in athens...5 points is where the old monied mainstream coexists with scattered touches of bohemia. other neighborhoods walk a more purely left of center line, but for your mother, 5 points is certainly the first place to look. chopping wood and carrying water are of absoloutely no necessity here, however. take that to the mountains with a backpack, and come home to your scuffed hardwood floors.

my ex wife apparently met your future husband on the snake river. i have no idea how or why, but it did happen. i can't even touch that kind of universal irony.

From: Francesca
To: C.
Date: October 5, 2003
Subject: Re: RE: Fall again

Engaged. No date set yet. It's a fucking weird feeling. But I love the quiet house in midday, coming home and clicking like something worn and grainy into the silence; it's as if you know exactly what you're being asked, as if you know exactly how you're supposed to do it. It's how you know when to plant, when to harvest, when to leave, when to abandon, when to conceive. It's how you know which windowsill to line the plums, or in what cardinal direction lie prostrate and blink.

People think that we're seeds, but I have come to believe that we're more the soil in which everything beautiful could grow.

Is five points the place to be, where the open people live; should I point my mama there? We're all sick of shit, we're all sick of objects, we just want to chop wood and carry water.

Thank you for telling me to come sit; it's redemptive. I'll bring that essay.

Francesca

From: C.
To: Francesca
Date: October 1, 2003
Subject: Re: fall again

you're getting married?

oh my. come sit on my veranda in 5 points and tell me about this. i can't say much, 'cause i did it once, but oh my. oh my oh my oh my.

slay was the coolest last name anyone ever had.

From: Francesca
To: C.
Date: October 1, 2003
Subject: fall again

And why not?

I tell myself you don't reply because you haven't gotten my letter saying I'm possibly getting married; maybe you merely don't care. This is know, I drive through Athens twice every other weekend and it rips my heart out. I now want to show up on your doorstep with a million questions spilling out of my mouth. It was over and I got the picture, but I think of you as a man and father and I long to know you now that it's safe, it's safe, it's safe. [He] cuts my hair on the porch, random chunks, and it falls in my eyes. I love it. I haven't worn makeup in months; I've never been more beautiful or more unbeautiful. I've got to get out of downtown and I will, before the new year. My mom and sister and I are going to Athens mid-month to look for mama's house. Maybe I'll see you sitting around some bakery table. Maybe one of your dogs will recognize me. Maybe we'll never speak again.

I never could pass by a town without thinking; I'm always thinking. I don't forget. Twenty-two is so good. How is thirty-three?

Francesca