Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Dear Dana

Dear Dana

I got your letter on Saturday. I would have written to you sooner, I just couldn't. I guess you've probably been dreading this letter a little too, wondering what I would say. It’s all right, I'm not angry anymore. I think I'll divide this letter in two. First I'll tell you how I feel, because I know that's what you'll want to know first. Then I'll tell you what I think. Here goes.

When you said you'd gotten the job in the record shop and met this guy John, I knew what was coming sure as shit. And then I got to the line where you said you'd "gotten it together". Come on. What you mean is you fucked him. The way it was written sounds like you maybe locked the shop door for a while and fucked in the back of the store. I keep trying not to imagine how he got you to do that, even if it didn't happen that way, but the image won't go away. It kills me. I was really sick in heart and body for the last three days. The day after I got your letter I had to call in to work and tell them I was sick, and I never call in sick. Being heartbroken is a different kind of sick, because you can't just lie around in bed watching old movies. It's a fever that makes you get up and walk around and go outside and wander the streets picking fights with people you meet. If I'd been smart I'd have written it all down in my journal so I could write about it in a story some day, but I was messed up. It must feel what it's like for a junkie giving up his jones. You just throw up all the time. I ate bananas. So I don't know if it pleases you or not, but I was too sick to move. I read your letter over and over and thought about you and John in the back of the record shop, doing it.

So that's that. I believe you didn't want to hurt me, I don't think you're like that. But before I go on, the chlamydia infection we thought was gonorrhea? Did you take care of that? I'm glad it turned out to be something sort of innocent, a couple of big pills from the doctor and I could pee again without it hurting, but for you it’s different even if it doesn't hurt. It can stop you from getting pregnant someday if it isn't taken care of. You have to get that fixed. It was hard calling you on the pay phone that day to tell you what the doctor said. I didn't even tell my mom. Were you fucking John by that time? Make sure he knows too so he can get checked.

That's what I feel. Now on to what I think.

I knew this was going to happen. Okay? I knew that the minute I put my underwear back on in the back seat of Dad's old Mercury cougar that first night, after we were done and you were crying. You said you were crying because you thought you hadn't made me come. I told you were wonderful, you're a good lover Dana, I hope John tells you that, but that wasn't what made me know you were going to let me go. I'm too young. I'm a year older than you, but I'm too young for you and you knew it even then when I was climbing off of you. I'm not what you need. You never told me what John looks like or what kind of person he is other than that he's "very together".

Let me describe him to you.

This man John, who, in a little while after you finish this letter and guiltily stash it out of sight, is going to pull your t shirt up, and make you lay down or maybe stand up and will slip in his dick where mine was only a short time ago; this man whose hips you will hump against yours and maybe whisper "You're beautiful, you're beautiful." as you did for me in the back of dad's car, that man is going to be an older man than me, and certainly older than you. He will be older by a few years at least, and his personality will be much older than mine. Manly and commanding. He tells you what to do. He tells you to shut up sometimes. Maybe he hits you. You think it’s not what you want, but it’ll turn out to be what you want. He doesn't have that stupid mental disease guys like me have that make us think if we're nice to girls and always do what they want us to do, they'll like us more. Girls like to have guys like me as best friends, we listen to them complain about the way their dumb boyfriends fuck them, we listen the way a dog listens, but nobody ever wants to fuck us. You were my first. That's why I'll never forget you. You were the first who gave me a chance even though I was found wanting. You're too young too. Timing is everything. We were both born too early for each other.

One more thing before I go. I'll be leaving Georgia soon. I don’t know where I'll go yet, but the doors are all closed to me here. You can tell when you’re not going to stay. I might go to Minnesota where dad is and see if I can go to college there. If college is out of reach I might go to the west coast where DeEtta is going and maybe she can put me up until I can find my way. Minnesota would be the easiest.

If I go there, or if the future finds a way, I want you to know something - Put aside all this stuff about love and saying I love you and all that useless shit. I hate the way it turns out people are so phony with that shit anyway when you think they mean it. Everybody says it, but it’s all bullshit in the end. Dana, listen. I really LIKE you. Okay?

Love gets thrown around a lot. But liking is different. You can love someone and not like them, the way you said you feel about your dad. But I really like you. I still do, no matter what. You were always my good friend, back when we were just friends. I always liked talking to you and listening to your ideas and you seemed to like it too once. I'm not good at remembering faces. It may be the next time we see each other we'll be strangers with common memories, but that's okay. If you see me coming down the street or the supermarket aisle or anywhere - come up to me. Don’t be afraid. Remember, I like you. I want you to come up to me. My future self, who will be closer to the man you need right now instead of me, that man will want you very much to come up and look him in the eye and say "I used to know you." Please - please do that Dana. Or if there's a way for people to find each other in the future through technology or something - find me. Even if you marry John and live happily ever after - find me. Say hi. I promise I'll be happy to see you and buy you coffee. I'll have a story to tell you. I’ll want to hear your story too.

I want to thank you for something you did for me - I'm free. I'm only nineteen. Just a dumb kid, as you know too well. But I'm not going to marry you now like we'd planned. I'm not going to get a job and get settled down in one place and get old with you the way other people do. I’m free now.

I’m scared. Nobody wants me anymore, so I have to figure out what to do with myself. I can go anywhere and become anybody. Until you dumped me I didn’t know this is what I really wanted all along. You get John. I get me. What do we know about what we really want?

I have my future back. What do I do with it? I’ll think of something. All I have to do is try out my new wings and watch out for the cats.

Remember me. I'll become a writer someday. Just so you'll see.

Love Always


College Park Georgia
June 1973

* * * *


Even though we spin clever lies as our chosen trade and artful dodge, I just want to be up front on something. The above is a kind of autobiographical historical fiction. Everything is true, the names and events, all of it. Just the letter isn't. This is the ghost of a letter I would have written way back then, if I'd only known how. My timing has always been bad. Garce


  1. Chris,

    This letter makes me want to cry. Then I want to go find Dana and kick the crap out of her. Um, sorry, never mind that.

    Don't ever doubt yourself as a author again, Garce. You write wonderfully, poignant stuff. Keep at it.

    Happy Valentine's Day,


  2. What a beautiful letter - makes me remember how hard it was to be young. I like to think things always work out for the best - you must have been fated for bigger things.

  3. Hi Jamie!

    Don't be too hard on poor Dana. We were too young. Marriage at that age would have been a disaster. An afternote, you've probably heard of Classmates.com.

    Around 2000 Dana showed up there very briefly, I like to think she was looking for me and we had a chance to email each other just once and she apoligised profusely and I told her that there was nothing to forgive, I was fine. It was a sweet exchange and she dropped out of sight and I never heard from her since. Me, I went on to have an interesting life, though starkly devoid of romance.

    I'm the guy who didn't marry
    pretty Pamela Brown
    educated, well intentioned
    good girl in our town.

    I wonder where I'd be today if she had loved me too.
    Probably be driving kids to school.

    I guess I owe it all to Pamela Brown.
    All my good times, all my roaming around.

    One of these days I might be in your town
    and I guess I owe it all to Pamela Brown.

    song: "Pamela Brown"
    Leo Kottke

  4. Hi Anne!

    I don't know if I was fated for better things, but I had an interesting life I wouldn;t have had otherwise. It is hard to be young, though we don't always remember it that way.


  5. Hi Garce,

    I was looking forward to reading your post this week and it was well worth the wait. Nineteen is so young. Maybe too young for marriage and commitment, but not always. Dana made her choice and I hope it was the right one for her. I hope it was for you too. There's still so much growing and learning at nineteen, isn't there? We don't always get it right. Another thought provoking post. Thank you for sharing a little of yourself with us.


  6. That 'letter' broke my heart. Thanks for sharing.

    I admit, I too, have a piece, The Value of Love, that my first love showed up in. The idea being if we had known the value of love - how hard it was too find, if we had been older - maybe things would have been different. So that touches me personally.

    I am now happily married to someone else.

    But love always changes us, whether we stay together or not. I think there is part of us that keeps on loving that person, in some way...and we are better for it...

  7. Hi Garce,

    What an amazing letter. It must be difficult to reveal so much of your innermost self. I believe catharis is good, so this letter is a positive IMO.


  8. I know this makes me sound like a mean bitch, but I liked reading about the gory details of a lovesick man.
    that makes me sound like a horrible person, but maybe because it makes me feel normal for my own lovesick obsessive experiences.

    and because, knowing the man you have become, I don't feel one iota sorry for you.

    well done. once again, your writing drew us in.
    thank you.


  9. >>
    You get John. I get me. What do we know about what we really want?

    I have my future back. What do I do with it? I’ll think of something. All I have to do is try out my new wings and watch out for the cats.

    Yep, that's about right. I got dumped at 19 as well, by a guy who fell for a girl older than me. They worked together in a restaurant. I knew something was going on when he called and mentioned he was sharing a ride with one of the waitresses. What I didn't understand back then was that I got the better end of the deal in the long run. I spent the next three years of my life trying to fix my broken heart (and it was one of the most painful experiences I think I've ever lived through). But once I got it back together, I found my husband, and that was the best thing ever.

    I haven't had the wildest, most adventurous life, but thanks to my husband I have done a bit of globe trotting and we've had plenty of adventures together. Don't think that would have happened with the ex.

  10. Hello, Garce,

    In some ways, this was another initiation, wasn't it? You go through something like this, that tears your heart to shreds, and you really want to die. Later you can look back and understand, both what happened and what you learned, but at the time, the world is coming to an end.

    It happened to me, later than you - the man I'd spent every day and night with for a month suddenly disappeared. I was frantic with worry. When he re-entered my life a few days later, he told me that he had been in Las Vegas, marrying his former girlfriend.

    I was alone in LA, a new, strange city, and my lover, my beloved, the one who I was convinced was my fated mate, was gone. Truly, I thought I would not survive.

    In fact I was in a car accident the same weekend (someone else was driving) - shook me up and started to make me think again. Then he showed up at my door to apologize, and the love was still there. But I sent him away, and now I'm more than glad. I was so wrong about him.

    You are a writer, Garce, with a gift for telling the truth.

    Valentines hugs,

  11. Hey Jude!

    Thanks for reading my stuff. Nineteen is too young for some of us, but there are people who marry their high school sweethearts and get it right on the first try. Then there's the rest of us. I don't know how this stuff works, if its karma or genetics.


  12. Hi Chloe!

    I hope you're right. But its good that you eventually found the right person. I think the problem with love when we're young is we don't even know ourselves yet. Unless you're lucky enough to pick the right person, it takes a long time to become that kind of person who can remain n love.


  13. Hi Donna.

    Well, it was a long time ago, so revealing it now is mostly about looking back. That was a different person back then.


  14. Hi Renee!

    Yeah, well, you know me pretty good by now. I don't know if being lovesick is normal for man or woman, but its what makes people glorious. I always enjoyed your stories about being lovesick and wondered about teh dumb guys who let the goddess slip through their hands.


  15. Hi Helen!

    I enjoyed reading this. I wonder if maybe it was the cruicble of fixing your broken heart over the three years that made you better prepared to meet your husband when you did.


  16. Hi Lisabet!

    Man, you really went through some stuff. From what you say, it sounds like a certain kind of man who is both exciitng and confused. I see women who are like that, who would make interesting and passionate girlfriends but would be a disaster to to try to build a life around or give your heart to. You wonder what ever becomes of these people.



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