These letters were written, almost entirely, from September of 1988, when my wife and I first moved to New York City, until April of 1990, when I separated from my wife and returned to the West Coast where I would live and work in Seattle for the remainder of the spring and the entire summer before returning to Gotham in an attempt to salvage the marriage.
I started transcribing these old letters because I was experiencing an intense emotional crisis. The crisis was brought on by the Seahawks 2012 playoff elimination in Atlanta. My world was topsy-turvy and I needed to make an effort to bring some order and sense into my life, to stop the free fall.
I began the project with gusto, gusto which has long since petered out. It took a little over a year and a half to compose the letters in the first place; it has taken more than two-and-a-half years to transcribe them.
At the nadir of my 2012 Seahawks playoff crisis, my intention initially had nothing to do with these letters. They just happened to be stored in a string-tied cardboard folder identical to the one that housed a spontaneous prose document entitled Shit Stinks, composed while living as a bachelor in Washington Heights recently returned from my Emerald City sojourn. I opened the string-tied folder thinking I was going to get Shit Stinks, and it ended up being letters I wrote trying to make sense of a living in the megalopolis, working dead-end low-level clerical jobs, drinking and struggling with a doomed marriage.
I read a few, and I thought, "Why not?"
One thing that is clear to me now, one bit of advice that I wish I could impart to my younger self -- something I realized, understood, back then but had difficulty following through on -- is to do things while you are young because when you start to age you don't have the energy.
I have this story about watching TV all day, football TV, and I even have a picture to record the event. But a day before, a redhead with a lot of pancake on her face paid me a visit. She was delivering a letter from her boyfriend who was in Memphis for the holidays but who didn't have my address. So she was acting as a messenger.
Her name was Juliet, and she had a few blemishes which peaked out of the pancake. But the deal was that she had a vitality, a joy to her that wasn't usually there; so I told her that she looked really great, and I meant it.
My shirt was dead and green and my hair was dirty, but I think I had the look or the energy that set the clock ticking, and, anyway, she got a little too high. We stood there on a sidewalk in front of my old building, and the sky was gray and the season was winter and it was Berkeley and the grass was still green. And she wouldn't leave. She gave me her phone number, and I gave her mine. Then we parted.
I went back upstairs and realized that I had to start watching myself; I was becoming an indiscriminate Romeo. Anyway, later on that day -- in fact, it was night, one of those rare, cold, black winter nights in Berkeley -- Ashley and I were sitting doodling in the living room talking about what was for dinner when the phone rang. I picked it up, and it was Juliet, love-starved and looking for a savior and a guru. She wanted to have a drink, and she wanted it fast. And she wanted it to be like a Mickey Rourke movie, the one where he has the bear's body and the angel's face and the sage's brain.
But Ashley was right there, behind the coffee table, sniffing out any change in odor. And sure enough, my brow furrowed, and my tone took on paternal priestly modulations. I was, with a few words over a telephone receiver, transformed from sex-packed and sex-approving male Aphrodite to genderless and emotionally-emaciated Pilate.
I declined with powdered sugar dry strawberry puffing from my bloated shredded gap-toothed twat-like maw, a golden boy king on a shit-&-gold throne (his mother curling up in the wings with a peacock plume and chicken nuggets piled on lengthy silver platter).
All I remember about the rest of that night is that I don't remember it; whether beer or bay fog, I don't know. But somehow I was able to fall asleep with myself, an amazing feat considering that I was caught red-handed in my own skin.
The next day the sun rose, and we were there, though I can't remember exactly where, in which way the light was or what I was thinking.