I’m writing you from the airplane. It’s a really tiny jet, just one seat in my row and two across the aisle. On the right side (I’m on the left) you can see the sun setting across the whole wide world. There’s one solid line of burnt orange, sandwiched by a dark sheath of cloud and the earth below it. It’s pretty beautiful.
I had lunch with your Mom and Dad today. Grandma’s doing well, actually, better than I’d expected, maybe even better than she was a few years ago. Grandpa just sits in his chair, he doesn’t know what’s going on. We were having dinner yesterday, for Christmas – we still do our celebration on the 24th, but now on the 25th I'm flying instead of going to the movies like we used to do together -- and everyone was watching the babies play with their new toys and Grandpa says “Where am I?” and everyone ignored him. It was real quiet and maybe only I heard him. He says stuff like that all the time.
Anyhow we were watching the babies. Carrie and her husband have a boy, Kyle and his wife have a girl. I guess we always knew they’d be the first ones to do that.
Grandpa’s chair has a button on the arm-rest so he can lift himself up almost all the way into a stand. Sometimes you’ll just be sitting there and you’ll hear this buzzing – that’s the sound the chair makes when he’s pressing the button to go up. That’s how you know Grandpa wants to go somewhere.
Everyone helps him get up and then he gets on his walker and walks to the back of the house, then he gets confused and Grandma goes and takes him back to the chair. She takes care of him all the time. It’s something to do.
Anyhow, it was good to see them and see everyone – Mom, and your sisters and my cousins, and to spend time with Lewis. I guess you know what happened with S., I’m sure your sister told you about it, or maybe she didn’t. All the lies he told and what he took from her; his mother. One of the things I learned this year was that that kind of thing actually happens more than people think. You know – people make up lives and stories they like better than their true lives and stories. Sometimes they do it for love or money but usually they don’t even know why they do it, they just do it. Like how I don’t know why I sometimes get swallowed in darkness, it just happens and there I am with my eyes open but nothing around me seems light.
I wish I’d had the time to know you. Maybe what I mean is I wish you'd had the time to know me. I’m obsessed with you.
Then Aunt B said, Oh no honey. I mean I wonder if your father would have been in the cabinet. I laughed like we were talking about spaceships or something. He was on track to be an economic advisor for Clinton’s second term, she said then. I probably laughed again. I mean still as I write this I feel like I’m writing lies too.
Uncle T said: At the funeral, strangers came up to me and said losing Vic is not just a loss to the accounting community and to U of Michigan and to Price Waterhouse but losing Vic is a loss to the world economy.
We talked for a little bit about that; you know, how you never told us anything. Top ten accounting researcher in the world, Lewis saying your study was material in an investments class he took in college. You never told us anything besides that your work was boring and we didn’t want to hear about it.
Maybe telling myself you quit while you were ahead was the only thing that got me through, so I’m going to say that I think they were bullshitting about that too. Everyone seems better in retrospect. I mean it’s over Dad so what can anyone really say?
Everyone always talks about how you were a genius. Does that mean I’m a genius too? Sometimes I feel really stupid, Dad.
Anyhow so I was going to tell you about 2008. It’s probably weird that I’m putting this on my blog. You get it though, you always knew this is what I’d be doing. When you and Mom started having me dictate my diaries to you before I knew how to write? You told me it mattered enough to write it down. Maybe that’s all I needed, maybe that’s why I guess you get this.
I hope so ‘cause everything I do, I do hoping you’d approve. It’s kinda difficult since you’re dead, I have to do a lot of guesswork.
Anyhow so 2008 was crazy. 2007 was crazy too but 2008 was a different kind of crazy. You're a good person to talk to about the years because it's your birthday. December 31st. You were born and then the new year started right away.
I’ve spent the last two years in other people’s fantasy worlds. I think that says something about my ability to accept the world as it is. It’s just that as it is; the world is sort of ugly and mundane and miracles don't happen every day. In the subway I look around me and see faces like paper plates. It’s just that I died when I was only 14. Fuck. I’m sorry. I mean that you died when I was only 14.
I’m obsessed with you, I like you so much, I talk to everyone but you. I pretend sometimes I couldn’t care less.
I've learned that I don’t have eternal life, that I haven't been chosen by some higher power to change the world, I'm the one with that choice, and speaking of the opposite of that I learned this year that I’m not truly able to jet to Malibu and drink cocktails and read novels by the pool all the time and over-tip and give everything to everyone who ever needs anything. It was fun though to believe those things. It was a time. We laughed and ran, like you did. Always running, laughing, always in the air going places.
I tell you Dad, I loved it. All the places I got to see. I’ll see anything. I feel like everything is interesting! Crossing that bridge at night in Austin, heat like a desert dressed up as an acoustic embrace.
The moment right before Austin I first saw my secret cyber-savior walk up the stairs to my stupid linoleum Harlem place and even though I was so nervous I was already high enough to not know what to say, and stayed nervous for weeks, and then how this year I nearly lost her like I lost you – I mean it Dad -- and how one day when we have that kind of vocabulary Dad? I’ll understand how much it meant that I didn’t. We didn’t lose her. Anyhow I was talking about flying.
The peace of the bed in Miami, alone when they went into town without me. Hiding from the world beneath those sheets, and the silver to eat with. I said, what do you want. I said, I have access to your happiness. I know someone who knows someone. I said I was a superhero. No one is but like I said anyway I was talking about flying. The thing about flying is all you see. You can see for miles, sandwiched in that hot orange place between earth and sky.
I went to a lot of places, which is funny ‘cause in ’07 I never went anywhere at all, just to Philly, and out to the hospital and out to see her family in the suburbs. ’08 is the first time I’ve traveled for the sake of traveling since you died.
Right after you died, we tried to go on vacation without you but it wasn’t the same so we stopped trying at some point. It wasn't anyone's fault, it's just we were reminded. Grandma mentioned Hawaii, she still remembers the food on the airplane. That's the farthest away your parents have ever been from home, because you took them there.
In 2008, I tried to fix the biggest hole that’s ever been dug in my heart since you’ve died and for a lot of reasons, I failed. So I just have to let that hole sit there, un-fixed, and do what I can to tread efficiently and productively on the fissures. I am figuring out how to see it and feel it and say: that's okay, I can go on.
I’ve found some wells of happiness. I sometimes sit at the bottom, splashing and happy as a clam.
I mean it. Eyes like saucers, blue and open to anything, even me.
I had a really brilliant June and July. A solid January full of hope. Some of February. Oh ... some of all of it.
I can’t really say anything more about that part of my life because something else I learned this year is that when I write things down, I make them true – permanent at least – so I try not to do that to things that are still happening. I don’t want to fuck with time and space. I mean that I do – I do want to fuck with time and space. What I learned this year is that I actually cannot do that. All I have is this time, my little space. Insert myspace joke here.
I think I’m more confident now than I was, even if I don't deserve to be. Remember how I kept getting fired? I was the worst. Not all of us were put here to work, Eileen Myles says: “Why can’t I just act that way. why can’t I write everything down like my life counts, like I’m the Queen of England or Bobby Vee, and that way I can be safe and not have to wait to die ... why can’t I live right now. Because I am not rich, I am not a saint. But I do know this: not all of us were sent here to work.”
Actually I think we are all sent here to work, it’s just different kinds of work.
Anyway Dad I was talking about flying and in that burnt orange space I need to tell you that anyway I have this hope that people are gonna come to me when they oughtta. I gotta believe that things are gonna work out somehow and that all choices in retrospect become good ones because they are true and if something is true it must be good. Anyway I was saying honesty is a real bitch.
I want to be more self-reliant because when I hand the wheel over to someone else, I’m not even like a backseat driver. I just recline and stare at the stars and wait to become infinite.
Like you; infinite.
I have really amazing readers who do crazy things for me! It’s so awesome, I think you’d be kinda proud of me sometimes.
I’m living with someone I love and I love our apartment and being here with her. I get scared just writing that, I always jinx good things.
I've tried to clear a late century place for us
in among the shards.
Lie down, tell me what you need.
Here is where loneliness can live
and nothing's complete.
I love how we go on."
(Stephen Dunn, “Loves”)
So anyhow. I’m still writing and editing videos. Still scraping by. Still have all kinds of debt I know you’d hate. I think you wrote the book on how to avoid that. I still rely too much on substances to make me feel anything other than this. “Not me” is what all those pills and drinks should be called. I’ll just have a “not me on the rocks.” But Dad I don’t think that’s going to change any time soon, so I’m gonna figure out how to better live with it.
I guess that’s the thing – accepting things as they are. Accepting discomfort and making a life anyhow. I want to start my own magazine online so I’m going to do that, alone I guess, starting real soon I hope, I’m getting ready. Or not, I mean. I was talking anyway about flying. One time we went running together, you and me. One time in Orlando she jumped on the grass, one-two-jump-on-three. Everything was beautiful and perfect. It’s just that I rarely let go. I let go a lot last year and this year. I was dropped too, but first I opened up to like ... I dunno. Joy? Comfort? I just always felt like if first I had the help to jump, I could fix something. Just I want to help the world get better. God, I mean, that’s so pretentious. Who am I, no one. But that’s the thing who cares? I’m no one but if everyone is who is no-one wants to help the world get better than surely we’ll all make a difference like by default.
I think I have some things to say and I’m hoping there are people willing to listen. I know the economy has crashed – which probs made your head explode, how avoidable that whole thing was – but we have a new president who you’d like. Hope and that.
I feel optimistic right now, who knows how I’ll feel in five minutes. I feel sad right now, I wish I could die tomorrow and I hate myself for a selfish wish. I feel so happy, I feel so beautiful, I feel ugly, I feel terrific, I feel whatever the fuck ever, who cares. Enough feeling ... I'm hoping to act on that.
I love how we go on.
Anyhow, I just wanted to let you know what’s been going on. I know you’ve been worried. I keep trying.
You two were so close, your Mom said to me. You two were glued together. You were just two peas in a pod.
So, you, it’s Christmas. I’m writing you now from my bed, it’s been several hours since I was on the plane. My friend picked me up from the airport, I had champagne and we talked about how things are better in a lot of ways since last year, and how there’s nothing else to do but go up. Okay, so we didn’t say that about going up exactly but that was what was said. We will. What I mean is we try to predict the future, which is boring 'cause it's never true, so in the meantime we can play infinite. Anyway I was talking about flying.
I made some bad choices this year, you know. But I grew and keep on.
My number one feeling is dancing. My number two feeling is:
until I summon it, or make it up,
and I love how you believe
and certify me by your belief,
whoever you are, a fiction too,
held together by what? Personality?
Voice? I love abstractions. I love
to give them a nouny place to live,
a firm seat in the balcony
of ideas, where music plays.
(Stephen Dunn, Loves)
I just want to live like music.
I'm still trying to reach you.
All my Love,