If you have just arrived at The Library in Purgatory, the first chapter is here.

"I never found the girl, I never got rich. Follow me."

~Leonard Cohen

Friday, September 19, 2008

Chapter IV.2

The Garbled Communications of Tristan and Isolde Pt. 1

So, there I was, lost, adrift, and quite happy to be a rummie. Minding my own damn business and not bothering anyone when I invited my good buddy, Ivan, and his wife, Gwen, down to Key West to my folk’s place for the weekend of FEB13-16. They had been incredibly kind to me and let me crash a week at their place after I got out the Navy and was getting settled. Ivan and I had worked together on the cruise and I met Gwen for the first time the day we got back. They were leaving in April for Colorado.

Anyway, as I remember, it was Saturday the fourteenth and the three of us were walking east on Duval on the south side of the street. Ivan and Gwen were walking in front of me and Gwen was directly in front of me. I had a fantastic buzz going. I looked up and saw a drunk bum stumbling towards us, right at Gwen. I don’t think that Ivan noticed him. I merely stepped up and around Gwen to her right, stepping up and between her and the guy, passing him to my right. I did it for the most part without even thinking about it.

I turned a little to my left to check that Gwen was okay. I’m not sure if she had noticed what had just taken place or not. And in that instant, the goddamned universe whacked me over the head as hard as it could with the proverbial 2 x 4 and I saw Gwen in a way that I had never seen her before. At the risk of besmirching the word, I was in love, staring at my soul mate. Is there such a thing as love at first sight after four months?

I was in shock and turned around and kept walking. My heart was in my throat. This cannot be fucking happening is all I could think; over and over. How could I possibly fall in love with my buddy’s wife? I don’t want this, where did this come from, God she is beautiful. And through it all, was this crazy, non-logical sense/feeling, almost as if someone were whispering in my head, “Be cool, be cool, and things will work out.”

I don’t remember much more of the evening as I set about drinking with a whole new purpose, to forget and deny. Alas, it didn’t change anything and she was just as beautiful to me the next morning. I was a wreck, my soul’s seeming desire right in front of me and yet a million miles away. How could this be happening? I didn’t ask for this, want this, how could this have happened? And yet, my soul screamed for her and I could not, did not want to let go. I had tasted something in that split second and it spoke to things that I had never known that I had been missing. And now that I was aware, I could not pretend otherwise. The apple had been bitten, if unwittingly.

I’m surprised how little I wrote of it at the time, almost like I was afraid to lend credence to the whole crazy thing by putting ink to paper. And the rest, well…

“So then, God’s will be done, whether death it be or life. For that drink has poisoned me sweetly. I do not know what the death of which you tell is to be, but this death suits me well. And if delightful Isolt is to continue to be my death this way, I shall gladly court an eternal death.” (Joseph Campbell, Myths to Live By, p. 160)

Journal 17FEB98

Been going out of my head in a most severe kind of way since yesterday; all weekend really, but severely since yesterday.

The clouds were low and gray Monday morning and the air was heavy. A sense of expectancy hung heavy, left over from the night before. It felt like a cross between the summer of ’92 and sometime back when I was a kid, Riverside maybe.


I sit here and say to myself, but I can’t feel this way! I’ve felt similar to this before but it ended, how can you be sure that this is it? But love, or falling in love isn’t an absolute, it doesn’t happen once for good and all. It’s a phenomenon, like the weather, I guess; certain causes/stimuli give rise to conditions that can be explained/predicted. What am I really saying? This is so important, the stakes are so high that I cannot be involved haphazardly.


I’m going to beat my way around this bush ‘cause I don’t want to come flat out and say it. I do but I don’t.

There are so many dynamics— I just hope that I’m confused.

So many times, so much, I have been defined, myself, by crisis. I feel like Wolverine with Cyclops and Jean Gray.

Little Fin

And I lead you

to the edge of the Black Forest

to see the Beast

wired to the tree there—

no longer to stalk my dreams.

The way your eyes shone

in the headlights that night

as we drove north

hands on the wheel


softly your gaze.

I would dream you a million stars

in a lifetime of summer afternoons

and fire-fly-lemonade evenings

burning in the night

if only you could stay,

for just a while.

Journal 22FEB98

And I can’t explain it, because Monday I was crazy about her, chock-full of emotion. And Saturday, I am so very much more calm in comparison. And it makes me wonder. If I feel something I want it to be what I feel, not some God-knows-what unconscious part of me crying wolf. So what am I to think? What is the bottom line, the standard? I feel betrayed by myself somehow. Not that my life is ruled by my emotions but I look to them as pointers, inside information. And I’m afraid now “not to be in love with her” because it would mean that I’m as whimsical as the breeze.

I don’t think that my feelings for her have changed but just…I don’t know; those couple of days were like a wake-up call, somebody jerking you around by the neck. And as I sit here writing all this, I realize that I have to trust in myself, in the Great Tao, or all is lost and I will be divided against my self forever.

Dream- Stonehenge Dame

She has shoulder-length brown hair and wide, deep green eyes and a smile to die for. She lives by a ring of trees that looks like a Stonehenge. This accounts for her peculiar quirkiness. She has the ability to mesmerize with her voice. I was lying on the floor on my stomach and she was talking and it was like the most sensual, erotic backrub I’d ever had.

Her mother wasn’t sure she approved of me and picked me up in a whirlwind and threw me out on my ass. I think she did it though ‘cause she really likes me.

She has sisters but I’m not sure if she’s the youngest. She’s younger than I am but she’s so mature and wise. She understands me.

We were horsing around once and I accidentally broke her collarbone. I picked her up and carried her out to my Jeep in my arms and took her to the emergency room. Some other people were there, her friends. She fell asleep and I walked down to the beach. I felt like shit for having done that to her, I was half-asleep and half-awake. She came to me in a dream, like a ghost, to tell me it was alright. She climbed into my lap like a slinky cat and made love to me by the sea.

Journal 24FEB98

Your emotions…what the hell are they for? I feel betrayed by mine. A week ago I was so completely overwhelmed by her that I could hardly sit still, like I was on fire; how was I going to go on without her in my life? Now it’s like nothing in comparison. Was it just a giant slap to the head to get my attention or just the weather or some chemical imbalance?

I don’t understand my emotions. I’m an expert at manipulating them but I don’t know what they mean. I have no workable perspective, no definable scale. I mean, what is love? It’s somewhere on the other side of hate, you can’t be good at one without being good at the other. I know so many people who love what they hate (or love to hate) and I think you can only truly hate what you love— all of which implies intimacy, but more on that in a minute.

I used to think I knew what love was. I honest to God loved Kim, but now I don’t know what that entailed, what it felt like— like knowing that you once did ride a bike but not exactly knowing how you did it, the specifics. And there were times when I was with her where I wondered how I knew? What did any of it mean?

What are the ingredients of love? Respect, attraction, trust, compatibility, friendship? Bla bla bla! Just more words that are defined by more words with more meanings and so on. What the fuck does any of it mean?

Intimacy is trusting someone enough to let them inside your head, you heart, your soul. That you can be exactly yourself, not the mask, that they will be honest but not overly critical, that they will be gentle, non-judgmental, understanding and empathetic. God, more words…


Saving her emails: sometimes responses

to mine, sometimes unprovoked

like watching the seasons

pass over the still and silent sea.

From: "Gwen"

Date: Fri, 15 May 1998 11:08:23

Subject: Re: Hey...

Ok then.... about your email from last week- I'm not ignoring you, I just didn't want to send a knee-jerk reaction all by itself without a considered response attached to it. But it turns out that both responses are the same thing~ AND~ if you're going to take my answer(s) personally, that is, to beat yourself up with later or to beat me up with later because I said them about you (but not about you~ about your argument) then just delete this now- I'm not arguing about the argument and its personal ramifications besides. That's my disclaimer. Don't think that I don't know that it won't do any good.

That said- accept duality. It exists. It works. It’s not up to you to resolve everything to clear and precise detail. Hey. Who the hell is the logical thinker here anyway? If you're so damned right brained then why is it that you need to analyze and (damn- lost the word. All that studying for the GRE went right through my fluff) dismantle everything, for that matter, everybody? Hmmmm? And…what makes you think you GET TO KNOW anyone to the point where you've got them figured out? You might know people very, very well. I think you know most of your friends better than they know themselves, and its because you put in the time and the effort to get them figured out- most people wouldn't bother- but my point here (and I do have one, or more) is that I don't think anybody GETS to know. That and you need to accept that there will never, never, never, never, not ever, never be one answer to everything. Never. Not going to happen. Never.

That's my two cents for today; and darn early in the day too.

I'm reading this back now and it sounds harsh. I don't mean to be vicious, but I do mean to be assertive and direct. Get your ass out here so we can talk :).

Gotta run, K?


Journal 18MAY98

This thing with Gwen has got me down. It seemed that I had quit thinking about her and then the latest thing comes up. I don’t know why it is, but we just can’t seem to find a common ground. And I know that part of it is my fault just because I won’t be 100% honest with her because I don’t feel that I can. I don’t trust her enough to trust me to be totally honest. I don’t feel that I’ve been invited across the unspoken boundaries that I perceive between us.

06JUN98— Unsent letter to Gwen:

Gwen, Gwen, Gwen …

I once caught shit for saying that I couldn’t have a serious conversation with you, a lot of shit as I remember, in some stupid Mexican restaurant/bar with Ivan and West. But, you can’t have serious conversations with people who accuse of you of premeditating them. The gap between my grokking of you and my understanding is so huge as to make neither worthy for points of reference. What you imply hints at unplumbed depths, what you say is stark 2-D. I wave and smile— “later”. What else can I say? Goodbye Ice Princess.

From: "Gwen"

Subject: No pictures!

Date: Fri, 19 Jun 1998 19:24:54

Hey you-

My stupid ‘puter won't open your Pete's picture. Maybe it needs rum first?

Did you get my buffalo/brain cell joke?

Things are same old same old here- except my good friend Ivan seems to be missing.

I haven't seen the boy for weeks. He's taking me to McDonald's tonight, though.

Whoo-hoo!! Dinner out on the town!!

Give everybody a poke in the tummy for me, K?


C ya


26JUN98— Unsent letter to Gwen:

The last time I talked to you for about forever…it all used to be so easy; I was just me— lovable, laughable rummie. Nothing to worry about except where the next drink was coming from. Now, I wander around lost because I don’t have a direction, a plan, a destination. And how could I— trapped in a holding pattern? The only two directions: forward/ingress or departure…and I seem stuck at the failsafe point.

Frustration. I owe you an apology that I’ll never be able to explain lest the (terrible) truth be known, guessed, insinuated. I have listened without hearing— substituting me own thoughts and projections for your words. And yet, it’s not just me. We continually “just miss” connecting. But maybe that is the unpardonable sin, the bridge too far.

Feeling Mountains

So often

these days

I see mountains

whenever I drive west.


Colorado Springs:

Ah god, where to start? A lot has happened in the last two days. I need to shave.

So many impressions, swamped by them. Inundated with insinuation, it’s all almost too much. She has done such a good job of hiding; I cannot begin to find a path to where she is. I am totally at a loss— which doesn’t happen all that often. And I don’t think that I will discern it on my own, I truly don’t. The path will only ever become clear if she chooses to reveal it to me, which I can hardly being to speak to.

The other option, one that she would sometimes have me believe, is that this is it, all there is, that there isn’t any more to her, nothing secret, nothing hidden. It’s all too pat though, too neat, too scripted for me to believe.

Journal 14AUG98

I must be losing my mind…looking at these pictures from some night at Pete’s. There’s one where I’m talking and she’s listening. I know we were talking at least semi-serious. She cares. She cared back then. And now the weird part…the rest of the pictures— it’s like she knows and is taunting me. Not badly, but because I don’t remember, because I haven’t remembered for so long. What does she know? What is she waiting for?

Journal 21AUG98

Interesting thought— for so long, felt like I’ve had to stand guard between people I care about and some dark, unknown part of myself. But maybe it’s not myself I’m standing between but something outside of my self— a general darkness of life.

I’ve said or repeated that you don’t choose who you fall in love with. But, you can’t say that and also say that, in one way or another you control everything that happens to you.

From: "Gwen"

Subject: Re: What you said...

Date: Sun, 22 Aug 1998 20:06:39

Okay. Stay with me here. You said something along the lines of being friends was weird because we really just met and that you felt bad about "dumping" on me and that you shouldn't rant on and so on and so forth and I was replying with the pitch/throw stuff meaning that if you can dish it babe, I can deal- and that you were smart to realize that occasionally I tend to over-react and not process thoughts well and just generally miss the point entirely and have done so in the past and it has landed us in more than one argument (only we really were just bickering about the same thing and no one was going to win because we were both of the same opinion, but both of us just wanted to win one and it just got away like that) So. Sometimes when I write stuff like that I answer your retort for you and then comment on my perception of your reaction. How's that??

So this gets back to my point about arguing about things that we're not arguing about. And all I was saying is that I am going to make a concerted effort not to argue for the sake of argument…only when absolutely necessary. I don't know how you feel about it but these conversations-gone-awry trouble me. I get nervous. And I never know if I understood what I think you said and was never good at giving advice anyway- but you're not ever really looking for any and all I can do is break it down and then I get it twisted up and then I put it back on you. That's the way I work. So far- that's managed to isolate me from about every friend I ever had, except the ones that get it and didn’t blow me off.

Journal 24AUG98

For the most part, don’t think Gwen will like Twenty2 the Hard Way. Not even totally sure what I mean by that.

--She won’t like it aesthetically as a book/story?

--She won’t like it ‘cause it brings up her own things that she’d rather not think about?

--Won’t care?

--Won’t understand?

There’s a small, quiet, voice though that says she will like it very much for some reason or other and will respond to it.


Kicking myself some times. How many times have I babbled and carried on that, “this is/might be the one,” only to have it end up nowhere near, feel like an idiot, feel betrayed by my emotions? But how the hell am I supposed to know, especially in this circumstance? Yeah, I’ve probably jumped the gun, but all you can know and sometimes say, is what you feel and hopefully that you acted the best you knew how/could.

Funny I guess, away from Gwen, I don’t want to say I’m devoid of feeling for her, but most noticeably is the absence of any kind of fear or terrible ache/longing that I have so often associated with love (?), romance (?).

Dream- Kilo of Children

I was walking though the Kennedy (CV-67), twisty-maze-ish, tight P-ways— wires and pipes running through the overhead and numerous unnamable boxes jutting out from the bulkheads.

We were traveling through some canal, the Suez perhaps. Suddenly I am in the water maybe half a mile in front of the Kennedy and they are going to GQ stations ‘cause one of the lookouts spotted a periscope in the water off the forward port quarter. Between me and the Kennedy are two subs on the surface, boomers, and they both have their missile hatches open. The one on the left is a US boomer and it launches two missiles that go up maybe one hundred feet and then crash down on the other, enemy sub, sinking it.

Near me, to my right, an LA class SSN makes an impressive emergency surfacing, shooting out of the water and crashing back into it like a breaching whale.

Next, I can just make out the silhouette of a sub underwater coming right towards me. It surfaces under me and I am taken prisoner, below decks as it re-submerges.

The crew of the vessel are all children— thin, gaunt, eastern European looking, and not one over eighteen. Some of them look like they might be five or six.

The captain is around sixteen years old, give or take— thin, gaunt, but full of confidence and self knowledge— a Peter Pan to this crew of his.

I’m hustled down a narrow P-way, standard naval issue. From out of every nook and cranny these kids are coming out to look at me with wide eyes.

I’m telling the CO that according to the Geneva Conventions I am a prisoner of war and must be treated accordingly. He replies that I was found in the water, that I must be a spy, and THAT is how I will be treated.

I’m left in this room and this young girl comes in. She can’t be over seventeen but she is attractive. I don’t think we say anything to each other, but she leans over and kisses me (out of curiosity??). She has put herself at great risk by doing this ‘cause she’d be in a great amount of trouble if it were found out that she had done this.

After that I went to take a shower in this tiny head and was naked but I didn’t care.

Journal 31AUG98

Talking to Bob last night at Lynch’s and he asked me if I loved her, the same thing Dave asked me Sat night on the way back from Pete’s. My answer was better Sunday though.

I said that I still wasn’t sure enough to seriously use the word (love) in a sentence but that, if the situation arose honorably, I felt (and this is based on incomplete and not totally accurate info) that I would be happy spending the rest of my life with her. Not totally romantic I guess, but it is a starting place though.


Note I wrote inside Gwen’s book—

Up until five minutes ago, I was full of wit and wisdom just waiting to be jotted down here. But now I can’t think of a damned thing to say, the music is annoying as hell, and I feel as witty (and wise) as a turtle on roller-skates.

Many times I have found that it is easier to talk to strangers than to people you care about, simply because you don’t really give a damn if they understand what you’re trying to say or what they think of you when they walk away. Often I’ve found myself trying to say something to you while not saying it at all

I’m not sure exactly what I’m trying to say here and even if I was, I’m not sure I’d say it. No hidden meanings, just that I care and hope you like the book. If you do, Joseph Campbell has written a great deal about mythology, the collective unconscious, and what not, that is very interesting. In any case, hope ya like it and that it doesn’t put you to sleep.

From: "Gwen"

Date: Tue, 1 Sep 1998 22:15:28 -0600

Subject: Re: I'm a loser, baby

Hey you!

I just went to check my email and had 10 ka-trillion messages piled up, turns out I don't check them any too often anymore since I’m back to being a scientist and all (for whatever that's worth).

Well. I got your very serious message and I can just see you sitting there typing and squirming and pushing your drink around and making that face you make when you're saying stuff like that. Just to confirm- nope. I don't live in your head. It's all you, buddy.

I think you give me a lot more credit than I deserve in the thinking area. Lots of times I go to think and not much goes on in there. Honest to god- thinking can be tough. Sometimes I can think all I want and not get a thing out of it. That's the truth. (ptttpth :0)~ )

Ya know- I'm gonna go ahead and pick a bone with you and that there bone is this...it is OK to unload on your friends, else you go nuts. If you can't unload on your friends, then they ain't (your friends, that is). Ok? Bone 2: You ARE a good listener, and if I feel as though you aren't paying attention, I'll let you know. Ask your good friend Ivan about not paying attention and hearing about it later. :0) I'm not a religious gal, but I've put in that man for saint hood. You should see me. I'm a mess. And~ I'm a crabby mess. You wouldn't know me anymore. Well. Maybe ya would. Bone 3: I was going to tell you that it really isn't so necessary to be so cautious about what you say, considering we're all friends here and I should be able to handle whatever you pitch without throwing a fit, but if I were you, past experience would dictate otherwise. Good call, no, really, I promise I'll stop analyzing everything word for word and twisting it up and spitting it back all wrong. It's really not good for either of us.

OK. That said, I finally figured out that you are not @aol and that would be why my emails from school come back all of the time. I was writing to tell you about my hero, Mr. Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Now, I don't know WHY, after reading 20 zillion journal articles last week, I decided I didn't have enough to do or enough to read so I went to the library and picked up a little novel called Cat's Cradle and I am going to the store sooooon to get you your own personal copy. Here's a little excerpt from like, the first chapter:

"The trouble with the world was," she continued hesitatingly, "that people were still superstitious instead of scientific. He said if everybody would study science more, there wouldn't be all the trouble there was."

"He said science was going to discover the basic secret of life someday," the bartender put in. He scratched his head and frowned. "Didn't I read in the paper the other day where they'd finally found out what it was?"

"I missed that,” I murmured.

"I saw that," said Sandra. "About two days ago."

"That's right,” said the bartender.

"What is the secret of life?” I asked.

"I forget,” said Sandra.

"Protein," the bartender declared. "They found out something about protein."

"Yeah,” said Sandra, "that's it."

My hero.

Anyway. It turns out to be my answer to "What I believe." I was so excited I sent my email to the wrong damn server. I'm a Bokonist for sure, and I'm thinking about having it put on my license plate. Ha!!

So. Sorry for not responding sooner. You probably think I'm avoiding you but really I just didn't look at my email for a while, that's all. Ivan is a super good buddy, as well he should be because it would really suck to be married to your arch enemy or something, but it's nice to "unload" on somebody besides him every once in awhile. Besides, he doesn't really understand or like Kurt Vonnegut, and I have a feeling you do.

School is ok but the drive really, really sucks- even if you sleep through most of it. Things are going as well as being expected in the lab. I haven't done anything yet that I don't have to do over. That's why they call it RE- search.

I have a cell phone now. I usually keep it on when I'm not in class or way, way busy. Ok.


Ok then. I will catch you later.

"Send Chocolate"


06SEP98— Unsent letter to Gwen:


Here’s what I was really trying to say:

This is just going to come out— in not particular order and that’s the only apology I’ll make for the rest of the time.

The problem doesn’t lie with you but with me and what I’m willing to risk. And with you guys right now, it hasn’t been that much. And what I mean is, not that I don’t trust you, ‘cause if I didn’t we wouldn’t even be here talking about this, but that (without being too melodramatic) I don’t think you know what you’re getting into. All of this goes much deeper than I think you see and I can’t/won’t ask you to be my guardian angel (so to speak). It has to be voluntary. I used to play games to get attention when I was younger and I hated it ‘cause it cheapened me and made me feel like my dad. So, I’m always looking, checking that my intentions, statements, or actions are honorable and that I’m not luring someone into anything. I don’t want to hurt you guys and since Kim, I ‘m all too painfully aware of how good I am and how easy it is to do so unintentionally.

And that probably brings up the question “what the hell is all this that is so serious and that you’re so afraid of?” Well, if I knew the answer to that, all this would be a moot point.

There’s a part of me buried way deep down that is just so dark. I don’t know what it is or why it is. It is deadly serious and protective. Its darkness comes from the feeling that it has done something so terrible that it can never be forgiven for what it has done, nor ever be loved by anyone. It is a picture of a small boy standing watch over his dead puppy whose death he is not responsible for but has assumed. He has forsaken every joy in life and growing up to stand guard over his fallen friend, killing anyone who ventures too near without the proper air of respect— his watch words are duty and honor.

That is the metaphor that feels the most right. Psychologically I think it represents something that I know or did that I have buried in my subconscious. I have posted a guard over it because subconsciously, I fear that to learn the truth would kill me. In trying to understand that was going on for me seven years ago I just labeled it as “the/my Beast”.

The self-loathing and hatred is so intense sometimes it threatens to consume me and I don’t even know for what; what sin I must repent for, seek salvation for. There is hope though, this kid secretly hopes that someone will come along (me) that can right this terrible wrong and restore his dog to life, thereby abdicating him of his sin and his duty to remain trapped in time. If it were not for this hope, I honestly believe that I would not be alive today.

I carry this hidden inside and, for the most part, I think I do a damned good job of not letting on. Sometimes though, it leaves me feeling so wounded and alone. Beauty and the Beast seems the best metaphor for me because, secretly, I feel like the beast— trapped, hideous, dangerous and with time running out.

Maybe you can see now why I’m so damned cautious about letting anyone get too near. Unless you know what you’re getting into and what to possibly expect I don’t see how you can’t end up getting hurt. You have to have some idea and choose to go on anyway, because the only way you’ll be able to go on, to be of help is to risk everything about yourself, to be painfully honest about yourself. You can’t just sit on the sidelines with this one and comment on the action. In your own way, you will become as involved as me.

I want so desperately to ask for your help, because for some reason I don’t understand, I know you care. But I won’t because I don’t think it’s fair to you, and on top of all that, I’m left with the strange feeling that you would end up knowing me better than you would Ivan…and I can’t ask that.

Dante had Beatrice accompanying him in his descent into hell. I can’t do this by myself— or maybe more aptly, this quest can’t be completed by an individual alone. And for reasons that I can’t explain and might not even know, the counterpart has to be female.

And now it’s starting to look like I’m walking around trying to find someone to play Dr. to my patient, savior to my sinner and it isn’t that at all. Just to have someone to listen, who cared, and who wouldn’t judge me with my own eyes.

From: "Gwen"

Date: Fri, 25 Sep 1998 11:44:29

Subject: I'll hold you to that drink


I am going to barrel through that this weekend and I will send it back to you on Monday. It fits in a priority mail envelope so you should have it in a few days. Alrighty?

I promise that you'll get it back- even though I managed to uphold the stereotypical girl thing and it is in a pile of things to read and hasn't been read and it wasn't going to be sent until it was, but I understand you want it back and I'll get it back to you soon, K? K.

Letter From Gwen

27 September 1998

Ok. I am finally returning your book. You’ll notice I did not feed it to Twitch, although I saw him eye it one day and drool a little. So I sent some other stuff with it, mostly the journal you forgot (you Target victim, you) and the new book I love ~ which you might not want at all, but I have sent it just the same.

I’m good like that

So, I wanted to thank you for sending me “22” and letting me read it. I liked it. I really did and I’m not just saying that. You’re a good writer ~ but I think you know that already. I think— nope, I know damn well that it takes balls to write that way ~ well, to write it down at all is hard. You- you have the ability to write down what you think + feel + tell about where you were and there’s nothing special about that— what you do is bring someone else there ~ and that’s a gift. And it may torment you- but it’s your gift and there are lots of people, including myself, who only wish to be so lucky as to be able to tell things in a way that will make other people think and understand.

So, I’ve been thinking about you lots and I’ll admit I worry about you some ~ but not as much as I used to. And whether you like it or not ~ it has been seen fit that we meet + become friends and here we are. Some strange place, huh? I don’t know why I feel the way I do about you. I don’t know what draws me to you, or what it is I’m supposed to do for you, or what you’re supposed to do for me. God knows you’ll never be able to call me for advice. In case you didn’t know— I give shitty advice. But I hope you never again feel like you’ve been a burden to me, like you’ve said too much, or can’t say what you think. I would hope to be a better friend than that.

So it goes.

Did I fumble that up? Yes. No. Oh god. No. I meant all of it.

Let it go— the

smashed word broken

open vow or

the oath cracked length

curse— let it go it

was sworn to


let them go— the

truthful liars and

the false fair friends

and the boths and

neithers— you must let them go they

were born

to go

let all go— the

big small middling

tall bigger really

the biggest and all

things— let all go


so comes love.

Journal 30SEP98

And I read her words

her trembling naked soul

and I know in the most sacred (part/of) my being—

that I will dark, ignoble, repentant/guilty/maniacal/

misunderstood/ and solitary

that I will love her 4ever

that nothing (anyone has ever believed in)

could keep me from her side

that time and time again

I would/will rise 4th

2 commit the highest atrocities

and (commit the) deepest sins in her name

that I would cross any distance

surmount any barrier

and suffer any fate

to answer her call


her choice of words— so apt/selections-

cuts right through my defenses 2the

last one

piercing my heart like a cold dagger

and I cry out in loneliness and pain

salvation, understanding/has never been so close

and yet so far away.


At the risk of sounding wise, I have been drawn from my protective shell of self-sworn ignorance and ineloquence. And I can assure you, that, while I wasn’t looking, it disappeared forever. I only meant to get drunk tonight and scribble down the dirty secrets of my dark insanity in an effort to understand. I never expected to be touched in such a way as to remember the stars and cools night breezes in my hair.


How could I have been so fucking blind?? She gave me the key to the tower once and I didn’t even fucking see it. She said it all to me, every single little bit of it and I missed it all, every single little fucking bit of it.


You words, a telescope into the distant celestial of you.

02OCT98— Unsent note to Gwen:

I so badly want to talk to you, forever, about everything. But I’ve been holding back (it’s okay this time) because it’ll all come out garbled— like trying to taste a drop on your tongue in a waterfall. I will wait till I can put something together that accurately parallels my thoughts.

And now that I say that, that was one of the most striking things about what you sent— the amount of thought that went into your words and your selections. The power of that thoughtfulness lent it all an air of sincerity and compassion that would not have otherwise been possible.

After talking to Kirah, I was ready to pull chocks and wave goodbye. I could feel the darkness coming on again, signaling the approach of the Beast. I could not bear the thought of dragging you into that and had decided to cut my ties to the minimum; thereby hoping to protect you and Ivan, who I love so much. Your words though, stopped me like a bullet through the heart and made me wonder.

You cannot put into words

what you do not know

you cannot know

what you do not understand

you cannot understand

what you have not experienced

and so whether you meant to

or not

you put into words

something I knew and understood

making me realize that we have had

experiences that were similar.

04OCT98— Unsent note to Gwen:

Every time I read your words it makes my heart tremble to fly as your soul brushes mine. To know that every word, every though so delicately laid within and carefully penned onto supple paper was meant for me, just for me, makes me dizzy with ecstasy.

I seem to recall writing or saying to you once, “…the things we would be able to talk about if we could just come out from behind our walls.” I couldn’t honestly say though if you wanted to step our from behind your defenses, if I was supposed to even know of their existence, if I was intruding. In my own careless way, I ‘m like a kid sometimes; where something will catch my mind/curiosity and I’m off after it without a thought. And eventually, suddenly, I’ll look up to see where I’m at and go, uh oh, I wonder if I’m supposed to be here, seeing what I’m seeing?

I know I’ve said it before, but I live a great deal in my head and most people don’t even begin to fathom what a big place that can be. And although I don’t necessarily pride myself for it, I have developed quite an extensive array of barriers to keep others out and myself in.

Ever so slowly, since that night when I told you you don’t have to worry about having a serious conversation with Gwen…because you can’t, I have been inching/sliding/tiptoeing/crawling from behind those defenses. For some reason that I still can’t even begin to fathom, I want(ed) you to know/understand me. And what is even weirder/stranger to me is that I trust you implicitly, like I’ve known you forever.

I’ve been hesitant though, more out of the fear that I couldn’t justify laying a trip like this on someone you care about for any reason. In fact, the reason I asked for 22THW back so abruptly was because I realized that it’s not over yet; and at that point I was considering to what extent I needed to cut the ties between us, to serve as a buffer. And then your letter came…

Dream- Poems and Failure

I’m in a building mildly reminiscent of the animal building at summer camp and the aquarium in Key West— however; the place is supposed to be an art museum and is celebrating Mexican Appreciation Month— really, no joke.

Anyway, I’m in there with Gwen and we are a bit distant though I’m not sure why. Somehow I feel I’m responsible and this is supposed to be my apology.

This place does NOT look like an art museum. In fact, it looks more like the kinda place that you pull over for on the highway, miles from nowhere, and it has a sign outside that says something like, “See the Oddities of Nature,”— really third rate. I think there were even bales of hay to sit on inside.

There are several display cases out in the center of the main hall, really cheap— Scotty’s home lumber and Plexiglas— not even painted. I want to show Gwen this one display ‘cause her poem is in it, written on a nice piece of heavy bond paper in beautiful calligraphy.

But it’s not there— sadly, her poem had nothing to do with Mexicans and was taken out. Once again, I feel like a complete jackass!

09OCT98— Unsent letter to Gwen:

Jesus Gwen,

What did I say this time? First this letter where you say that I hope I know that I can talk to you and then when I call I can’t get a word out of you (which I really haven’t been able to do all along) about anything. Did I misunderstand something? Did you mean to say that I can talk at you but you reserve the right to remain silent? I might as well just talk to you in my own head.

I don’t know what’s going on and it’s making me nervous as hell. All of a sudden, and I do not know how at all, I find myself back in the exact same fucking place I was with Kim in ‘91/’92 and it is scaring the living hell out of me.

I didn’t know then how to say, “I hurt, I need your help,” and I don’t now. Furthermore, it goes against my own fucking code of honor to ask for help; and even if it didn’t, there is no way in hell that I could even justify on any grounds bringing you into this.

And now I’m stuck— I can’t talk to you about this, if I tried to explain we would only end up arguing and I’m afraid of that, I could send your letter and poems back but that would only hurt where I don’t want to, or I could just disappear out of your life— and that might hurt, but I think it would hurt the least of all.

I don’t have the energy for this. Not for this and trying save myself, not unless you are somehow tied up in the latter and I just don’t know. I just feel that I’m going to have to risk/bet everything I have to get through this and what we have now is so damned important to me, if tenuous, that I would rather give it up completely than risk it and lose it.


Walking out of work it hit me that this isn’t about some stupid crush. There’s something deeper and I don’t understand. It’s all a complicated dance and not a very graceful one at that and I don’t know, can’t see where it’s leading. We seem to be locking horns all the time and I don’t understand why.

Journal 12OCT98

Thinking about Kim and myself the other day and I saw things in a slightly different way.

I thought that I could make everything all right for her through the sheer effort of my will. After some time, this alone would have been enough to make her mad, it ignoring certain facts about grieving and being more concerned with alleviating the suffering rather than supporting the growth of the individual. In any case, it began to make me mad because here I am busting my hump to try to make things better and it’s not working so I feel she’s ungrateful and bad/impotent because I couldn’t make things better for her.

Add to that that I have totally ignored my own grieving which is piling up on top of everything else. It further makes me mad because, in the relationship, she get’s to be the “needy” one and I don’t— her grief is more real, more important than my own. And as if that wasn’t enough, my whole fucking life— a sea of shit and bad ju-ju’s has kicked down the door and is damn near drowning me.

I didn’t know how to ask for help. Didn’t know how to show her how much I was hurting…and how could I? She was already going through a suicide; what kind of bastard would I have been to add my own problems? If I had been a better man, perhaps, I would have kept my silence and walked away. That at least would have been honorable.

And what ended up happening was that I half tried to call out to her and half tried to swallow my anger and keep my mouth shut and all that came out were angry, hateful words that pretty much put the nails in the coffin of our relationship. It’s funny, I guess, I really didn’t understand it all till I saw When A Man Loves A Woman.

And now I find myself, it seems, in almost the same spot with Gwen, though our relationship is nothing like mine and Kim’s. And I am again at a loss for to explain or understand what is happening or why. Once again I couldn’t keep my fucking mouth shut and I still don’t know how to ask for help; not that it matters because I can’t justify on any grounds asking someone I care about to take on this burden.

Journal 13OCT98

She said, “Could we continue this later?”

I called last night and

no one was home

she will not call tonight

I will never call again.

Journal 15OCT98

Sept. 2nd I wrote, “When the time comes, you will know the words.” At the time I couldn’t have told you why I wrote it, only that I liked (the implied meaning) it.

For the last two weeks I have searched desperately, vainly, for the right words and have continually felt let down by not even having a sense of what they were. Despair. I was willing to make one last-ditch effort at trying to explain to Gwen before leaving. If she still did not understand, the only options I could see were to (continue to) hurt her by berating her with subsequent attempts and hating her for not understanding or to walk away in silence. And honor dictated that I choose the latter. This was the mistake I made with Kim. The situation isn’t exactly the same here but it feels like it.


“Silly boy,” she laughed, “our stories are so intermingled that to try to run from me would be like trying to kill yourself.”

“I know,” he replied, glumly staring at his shoes, “I almost did both.”

She looked up quickly, concerned, “I…I didn’t know it hurt that much…”

He laughed quietly to himself, “How could you?”

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