Written 25 years ago…..
I got a note from my lover, vacationing in Austria. It was not the purple prose of a man in love; it was not the letter I thought I’d like to get.
I had a man who lives in Connecticut who used to write me these be-bop kind of letters that stretched my heart all out of shape and strained something in my throat. Those were the kind of letters a girl might expect from a man in love.
The day I got the postcard from Jonas he was to return from Austria, and laying around the apartment, waiting for his phone call, I got more and more upset and nervous. Where was he?
I had been thinking about this earlier letter writing person for several days because of a song on the radio. Steven used to use phrases of songs in his conversations, or in his letters, and not let on that they were not his own words. Often they were very cryptic, like the one about “satin chickens” and then, weeks or months later, I heard it, Lou Reed singing some thing about satin chickens, maybe an allusion, but there it was.
So, here I am, five, maybe eight years into my life and no real problems to speak of and here comes this Brooke Benton piece over the airwaves….”Ain’t it funny how time just keeps on slippin’ right away, and it stands out so clearly in my mind from one of those lost letters in a shoebox I keep stashed around here someplace.
For two or three days I try to remember the maiden name of Steven’s grandmother so that I can reach his cousins who live in the summer house down by the lake which is about a block away from the winter house up on the hill.
Eventually I come up with Mc Coy, how unlikely is that? I wonder, but it works and I reach Pierre, as I called the trombone playing cousin, and he says “This is so weird, Steve and Ruth just got married two days ago.” This is just too much for me, and having no decorum I ring up this two day bride who I probably got out of bed and say, voice from the past, not to worry. Steve was never one of your real big talkers and always kept up a strong guard. I don’t know what was going on there or how things were going , but as it was one of your four person weddings, I’d say she was pregnant (I was wrong) and that after living together the last few years, they had decided to get married.
I have to say that his voice on the phone did not give the impression that they were having any kind of a party.
It turns out he had been denied his unemployment benefits from the golf course and that eight years of college had not produced the famous fine artist I had envisioned him to become. “You pick the strangest times to call than anyone I’ve ever known” he told me. I apologized and explained that I really only wanted to talk about stuff, not get back together. He seemed so far removed and pretty cool, but I guess what else could he be?
Meanwhile I am annoyed at Jonas for not getting off the plane and rushing to phone me with his coat still on. I wonder where he is. When he left, his plan was to come back and live with me. Could be there’s a new plan in mind. Meanwhile, I’m lying here writing, thinking; ain’t it funny how time just keeps slippin’ right on away……