Reading My Old Letters

My sister Susannah moved from her house to a condo in Ohio. And sent me a packet of letters I wrote her, mostly from the 1980’s. It’s quite poignant to look at—and I can hardly stand to read it all. I go from being a run about with numerous lovers in San Francisco to meeting and falling in love with my first husband Robert. And then I complain about his lack of ambition. And worry about his hypoglycemia. On to Santa Fe, where I don’t expect to stay, and soon enough I’m pregnant. Robert reports that all over town people ask him “Has the poet had her baby?”
That baby is now a grown married woman, the never ambitious and eventually very ill Robert is long dead, I am long married to Richard and old enough for social security. A cliche like “where does the time go” is hardly ample for my feelings.
In the letters, I recount a meeting with an old sweetie, the one who got away, who broke my heart. I write: “He is out here on business and we spent the day talking. He actually cried about the past—but perhaps more about the dog than me…. Of all things, X. also called to apologize for his behavior. Old lovers never die, they just get schmaltzy when you’re about to get married…”

On the literary front, I’m embarrassed to report that in 1983 I was trying to write a second feminist utopian novella. The first was “Journey to the Commune of the Golden Sun” which was published in “Maenad” but is too embarrassing to re-read today. There NEVER was a second such novella—I refer to a few attempts to write one as VERY DIFFICULT. Well, now there is. I’m about to start the third major revision of “Future Tense of River” which I started in 2015…more than thirty years past my projected date.

These letters are so obviously me. I give romantic and sexual advice, I speculate on every bit of gossip, I read Tarot cards, and review novels, mention when it rains, and give updates on everyone I care about. There are rather elaborate descriptions of cats—my cat trapped on the roof, our old orange family cat and more. I have gigs, or I need more gigs. Then I have too many. I buy red Capezio shoes. I report blowing my budget on plastic jewelry. I can’t really remember the shoes, but I still have some of those funky earrings.
There is introspection, too. I say: “I know exactly what you mean about showing your real self to only a few people…this makes it difficult to ask for help.” A problem I note to this day.
A postcard for 1989 shows snow geese at the bosque and notes that “Isabel eats applesauce and can (sort of) drink from a cup.” And yes, it’s raining.