In Which We Crave What Has All Gone Wrong

Living with Me

by DAN CARVILLE

Dear Daniele,

Tonight an exceedingly rash act was performed by a man who should know better. It may be that there is no completely moral act, only I hope there is.

The lights on Mott Street were fading to almost nothing on the way back. I walked from there to Astor Place, where I saw a kissing couple bang on the door of the McDonald’s. But it’s always open.

I used to take you to a bookstore near there. They kept all of the fiction in the back. Up front were the true things. It may be that there is no completely moral decision.

The rest of the way home I saw them pressing against each other, lights interchanging, flashing. It is a way to communicate, but not the last remaining method left to us.

Dear Daniele,

I understand why you felt all that was too impersonal, like I was addressing an effigy. Your analysis of me is nearly always dead on, a frightening fact that will scare our children when they read these old letters. I can pray they will not know even what a letter is by then.

Well, when I got home I did call you too many times, but that is just excitement. I remember when I slipped on the ice and hit my head (I was eight or nine that year) and all I wanted to do was tell the person who meant most to me. This was sort of like that.

If you had answered, I am sure I could have convinced you.

You were so composed, sitting on your own couch. Picking the place to fall apart is as important as selecting the time.

Dear Daniele,

I have been back and forth to the hospital too many times. The food is even beginning to taste good. I would be stupid to think this evokes any sympathy in you. That kind of caring is short term – what we feel for the suffering of others. You were more capable of the long term variety, which my mother calls devotion.

Changing someone’s mind is very hard. I know that changing yours is impossible, an aspect of how it was constructed in the first place.

Then, of course, I met someone else. You couldn’t pin down the reason for her beauty. The difficult god had returned. It was in the clear low span of her forehead, when her eyes found someone farther out than I could see. You don’t want to know my problems.

Dear Daniele,

That night, I got off the subway a few stops too early. I wanted to see who was really awake, if I could be provoked into dismissing all of this. The following weekend I went to the country. The more decisive any act is, the more chance there is of it being absolutely moral.

The hibiscus, the crafted fern. Deep in the woods the smell of a hostage to the trees. I sat peacefully, I was at rest. Here you could forget about what brought me to this farm, what brings to me to this prolepsis.

You see, I am a different man! Completely! I wrought all the meaning out of what I went through! The plasmids, the certain, last goff! You could see me at the apex, and then prancing down like someone you barely recognize! That will be me, holding the bale!

There were bats in the barn. I don’t know what they fed on exactly, flies or bugs, maybe?

Dear Daniele,

I am back in the city now, and I feel somehow you know these things, what I think to tell you before I say it in my own inimitable voice. We sold the lingua franca, we bought the flowers and a potted plant that it could be said might last for decades. Those last hours in the arbor, before forty-five minutes of stopped traffic on the FDR. Are things becoming worse or better? For you, I mean?

Candidly, I hope you dream of me. A promised life is real enough. I can’t meet another woman in a sweatshirt, or find something derelict next to the castor oil. I am not that type of person, or even if I am, I am not the type of person to realize I am that type of person.

It is always kind to shut the door on the way out of your room.

Dan Carville is the senior contributor to This Recording. He is a writer living in Manhattan. You can find an archive of his writing on This Recording here.


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