Saturday, January 10, 2009

a letter, January 5th, 2009

I wrote this after finding out that Jesse wouldn't make the rest of the week. I imagined that he was going far away, because I can't imagine him simply being gone. 

Dear Jesse-
I wonder what you're thinking about now. I imagine your death as a great adventure. I hate this waiting and not knowing. I imagine that you are going to a hot, tropical place, to Live the rest of your days in a white canvas tent, wearing khakis and white button-up shirts with the sleeves rolled up, and a straw hat, writing your observations and sometimes poetry and sometimes sketching insects or plants or the island you have stolen away to. I imagine you reading by the yellow light of a kerosene lamp, sweating from the humidity. Reading a leather bound book, maybe, or a letter. Suddenly, we are adults, and the letter is from me, telling you about the funny people I work with, and my beautiful new cousin or niece or nephew, or even a child of my own. you are something like Darwin, conducting your observations. I imagine that you can't write back because a chimp stole your stamps, or you spilled coffee on your envelopes and they all stuck together. I imagine you at the tropical island after you have seen all the places you wanted to, and I tell you in a letter about France, and you smile at all the places I went that you went to too. 
I'm going to think of you in the library at NMH, or in Brattleboro, or with your khakis rolled up around your ankles, walking on the beach of your island. I want to remember that night at your house when we went for a walk and the winter was so beautiful and clear, or at the Marlboro Fair, having High Tea, and I liked my jam more, and you liked yours more. 
I'm sorry that I hurt you so that time, and that I said it in the library before class. I went to my room and sobbed about it afterward, I felt so terrible. 
It feels like I'm just re-reading my favorite parts of a book, before the plot darkens. All these memories of you that make it so hard to believe how weak your body is. I think that it's unfair that you were matched up with such a body. I hope you come visit me sometimes. But I understand that your research is very important to you. 
You wrote to me once that I was like a bright red cardinal against the snow, standing out from what other girls wore. you were the same way- I think we both treasure the art of self-presentation. I remember how mad you were when you got the 'Most Likely to Teach at NMH' superlative, and when we walked in the cemetery, and how you move your hands. 
I wish you could see me graduate. I wish you could see my Union Suit! I'm thinking about you all the time. I know you don't mind that I also laugh with my friends, and that I can't always criy about how much I miss you. I want to thank you for being so wonderful, and for taking care of Naomi. I'm really worried about her. Try to get your stamps back- we would all love to hear about what you're doing. 
Sweet Dreams, Dearest Jesse Lopata.
I love you, and I always will. 
-Ruth Shafer

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