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(4 pages)

Nov. 14, 1980 (Fri)

Dear M.P.W.W.S.T.O.B.P.O.P.A.P.T.I.P.L.,

As I said to you on the bus – I wouldn't worry but worry. In other words, worry but don't worry too much. Don't worry until you make yourself sick, but also don't ignore the problem so much it makes you feel guilty.

Um. You see, I'm not used to someone as graphic and straightforward as you. Often we deal in metaphors and acronyms. (is that the word?) We, meaning Cindy Erika and I. Being writers we tend to do this, making life a little more bearable*.

* note the letter (note) I gave you – it was very vague, But it was vaguely specific. If you knew what I am talking about it made sense, & if you didn't it still did.

Indelicate situations we tended to talk around the subject or replace it with something comparable.

Once again, I say I am not used to things being brought out in the open – the way you do. In a way it makes me embarrassed but it also makes me feel better about the goresum-foursum's relationship.

Last year we had times when somehow or another we would be separated and this would cause us to wander around like ships that have lost their mooring. Especially when Cindy was absent (in body or spirit) Erika and I would — sit.

And after these times sometime there would be a feeling of unrest(?) We would look at each other and see strangers. Or see friends, good friends that we had known a long, long time ago. Have you ever met with one of these friends before? You smile, laugh, talk about the old times – but you've lost that spiritual tie that grew over a long time to be made strong and then to be broken. Being with one of these friends is one of the saddest things you may do in your life.

Memories are fine. But lost friends warmed over are sick.

We have had times (to get back on the subject) when we would reach and never touch, our eyes wouldn't meet, and our minds would be screaming at the things our mouths were saying.

Don't worry but worry. You're right that is my problem. I never commit myself to an answer. I'm too afraid I'll be wrong. A lot of the time I don't know. You can call it seeing both sides of the story or you can call it being wishy-washy.

I reference to the first letter/note (I'll call it a note – sounds less formal) of Friday November fourteenth:

* this is to confuse you and make you think of profound things like each question is its own answer etc.
A* Who / what is Edward Gorey?
1 this is to confuse you more and follow before the "A"
Q1 The Doubtful Guest, The Unstrung Harp, The Vinegar Works, The Gashcrumbly Tinies, The Pious Infant, The Beastly Baby are, to name a few, of his works.

And what became of Confirmation?

Nothing became of it. I told you about the retreat last weekend (the 8th and 9th) more or less. And how I wrote 20 pages of writing to while away the hours. Sunday I have R.E. (Religious Education, better known as C.C.D. What does C.C.D. stand for? Catholic, something, Doctrine, I think)

Oh, I like your clever way of telling someone to turn the page. You did confuse me somewhat but I did figure it out!

The second note Friday November the fourteenth:

"Love is a constant rattle" ?

Love ? O.K. No questions asked.

Is this note long enough to make up for a week's worth of no writing? ....2 3; ..4..12:...

I am full of empty ideas in answer to your request. Wiggle your ears.

Call a group meeting and make everyone look at each other.


P.S write down all
your arguments concerning
my confirmation


Worry but don't worry” : What I vaguely remember is that this was about one of the others seeming kind of distant. I thought at first it was Erika but it might have been C. Either way, I had a hard time dealing with it when any of my new friends seemed hard to reach; it took me years to learn that most people just do that sometimes, and that they have good reasons for it. Maybe that's an autistic trait in me?

I am not used to things being brought out in the open – the way you do” : And here I go again. From my email interactions with C and E over the past few weeks as I've been writing up these notes, I get the distinct impression that they'd both just rather not think about this era of their lives, but here I am digging it all up and dissecting it and asking them for any details they can remember.

Digging Up the Past

I can understand that wish to a certain extent – certainly on a rational level – but apparently it's simply not something I'm capable of. Jenny's absence has been a constant ache that I've always had to shut out in order to stay functional – but I never wanted to not think about her; I had to make myself do it, even though it was eating me alive the whole time. If either of the others had approached me wanting to talk about Jenny, I'd have been delighted – as I was when Sandy first emailed me in 2001 for that very reason; it's what we initially bonded over.

There are other people in my life for whom I care deeply, but nobody can replace Jenny. Sandy's therapist thinks maybe I imprinted on her, like a duckling; that makes complete sense to me... and now that I think about it, I may have said as much in my Ongoing Undeliverable Letter, back when I was still writing it.

I remember the exact moment when that imprinting crystallized; she talks about it in Note #26.

I read somewhere that an important part of having a solid identity (something like that; feeling like you deserve to exist) is the existence of (at least) one person who really gets you, has an accurate understanding of who you are and cares about the happiness and wellbeing of that real-you.

For most people, that's one or more parents; in my case, it was Jenny. She was the first person who really "got" me, and possibly the one who understood best.

I'd like to think I got her too – that I at least understood her basic self on an emotional level, even if I tended not to understand the genre (poetry) through which she preferred to express it.

Dissecting and Pinning Down

The letter (note) I gave you” almost certainly refers to her previous note: she is once again telling me that she wishes “the thinker elsewhere”, although this time mainly because I tend to make her uncomfortable by stating truths plainly / "crudely" – dissecting them, exposing that which is best left obscure.

I say the word "dissect" and I think of Jenny giving me a hard time for overanalyzing things – killing them by taking them apart. One of them (I think it was C, though I remember Erika pointedly singing along with it) wrote a song with the chorus "you can't pin down a butterfly's wings", which I understood as being in support of Jenny's position, so there was general agreement on this point – but I don't think that's what I'm doing. I'm trying to finally live an experience which, at the time, was so intensely painful that I just had to shut pieces of myself off in order to deal with it. Transitioning has lowered the painfulness to the point where I can actively feel it, and cry about it, and write about it.

I don't want to say goodbye, though. I never could. I don't want Jenny to vanish into the mists of time. I want everyone to know how amazing she was.

More selfishly, I want everyone to know who I am (mistakes and all), since she isn't here to speak for me. I want it known that Jenny mattered to me and I will never stop caring for her.

It also matters that people understand that sometimes a teenager (even one as screwed up as I was) knows her own heart a lot better than most people think. Even at the time this was happening, I knew that Jenny was important to me, and would always be – but who would ever have believed me? Who would have believed that I'd still feel that way three and a half decades later?

Edward Gorey : I had never heard of him before. I find this rather odd, and a rather glaring oversight on the part of my parents.

this is to confuse you....” : She was being clever and assertive again; I absolutely ate it up. I don't know if she considered it flirting, but it had that kind of effect on me. Brain-flirting? This ventures into a topic I've been struggling to even name, much less write about. It will happen.

your clever way of telling someone to turn the page” : I think it was something like "with your right hand, clasp the right edge of the page; with your left, clasp the left edge of the page. now move your right hand in a leftward direction while moving your left hand in the opposite direction but allowing vertical room so that the two may pass each other without any unfortunate incidents", OSLT. "Clever" seems a bit of an overstatement; I was probably partly trying to one-up her "please turn the page upside-down" in Note #2 (brain-flirting back).

And what became of Confirmation?” : This refers to me asking her that in whatever note she was responding to. Something in me cried out against the idea of her being formally initiated into Catholic adulthood. I knew she had every right to make her own decisions about it, but I couldn't just let it happen without saying something. I was probably less tactful about it than I should have been. Disagreement over religion soon became a major theme...

When it came to disagreement over strongly-held positions, I hadn't had good behavior modeled for me. There came a point in one of our arguments where I realized that the yelling I was reflexively doing was both disrespectful and unnecessary; this was one of the many ways in which this whole experience opened me up to a more positive view of life. Dealing with other people is a hell of a lot more pleasant when you don't have to yell in order to be taken seriously.

Apparently CCD stands for Confraternity of Christian Doctrine. I only just found that out now, by searching the internet.

"Love is a constant rattle" ?” Actually, I had written "love is a constant battle". Using the word "love" was my tacit acknowledgement that my feelings towards her had become stronger. I don't remember what I was referring to, but I'm pretty sure it was something about relatively minor disagreements or miscommunications we'd had. I had never voluntarily used the word "love" to describe my feelings about anyone before. I was actually a little embarrassed to confess to it; Jenny's reaction is a reflection of the fact that she was similarly embarrassed. She was probably doing her level best to distance herself from it without seeming to reject me.

....2 3; ..4..12:...” : I don't know what these numbers mean. 2, 3, and 4 might have been counting pages – but what's the 12?

...your request. Wiggle your ears.” : I don't remember what my request was. I do remember that wiggling my ears was a thing I could do.

Call a group meeting and make everyone look at each other.” : We were all important to each other. She didn't want us to drift apart. (This goes back to the first topic, i.e. one of the other two seeming distant.)

Píczluvvík” : This is the first written evidence of what became a long and hallowed Goresum Foursum tradition that only died when the Foursum did (i.e. over the course of fall, 1981). One of the three of them was mock-threatening another one, and the other one was saying "Peace! Love! EEK!!" in response. We began saying it to each other like a ritual greeting / parting phrase ("Gotta go to class – peace-love-eek!"); I decided that it should be spelled like a foreign word, and was greatly cheered when the others went along with that.



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