A frank talk


October 2, 1980


We had one of those ďfrankĒ talks last night that hinted at a lot more than was actually said.

It was a talk filled with suggestions of ďfreedom,Ē and how we both might be better off is she should go off to the mountains first alone, allowing her to grow a little.

For someone like me who looks for patterns in everything, this was a stark change, something turning and folding in on itself, making everything look the opposite of what I thought in the first place Ė and at the same time more of the same.

Louise went west alone when she went, while I fled into the Army the way someone might have gone to the French Foreign Legion a generation or two earlier, both of us looking for ourselves in different place, only to eventually end up in the same place anyway.

Last night, I dreamed I had joined the Air Force; a silly dream filled with all the same glitter of repeated mistakes.

It scares the hell out of me.

Yesterday, I found out about endowments, grants and fellowships, which are given nationally. There is hope in these, a chance to function, and write, to exist and at the same time continue to write.

But Iím looking at my gas and electric bill now and shiver, wondering if by winter I can still afford to remain warm.

There are, of course, many who are worse off than I am; many live in the buildings around me, huddled in the walls of illegal converted apartments like termites Ė Polish and Latino people, who cluster in communities where they never need to learn English nor even the ways of America. Some came illegally, and fear arrest and deportation. But in closing their own doors, they have built prisons of their own Ė isolated and lonely the way I felt when I lived in the Montclair rooming house. I was afraid to deal with the real world.

Iím still afraid, but Iíve moved out into the world to face some of its challenges, trying to live up to ideals of my own.

I really donít want to move out to Colorado, now that William Paterson College is doing so much to alter who I was and shape me into someone I ache to be.

Iím pretty sure I wonít go with her if she goes, not because of this little frank talk we had, but because I donít want to let go of something I still need here.

Maybe some day, Iíll go when Iíve pulled it all together, when I am writing for more than just my own pleasure (writing will always be a pleasure, but perhaps someday, will also make money to pay the rent).

She doesnít understand how it is impossible to separate my writing from my life, and how much energy I must expend on it in order to continue to progress.

I understand her better than she does me, and I donít blame her for feeling neglected.

But there is nothing I can do.

Yesterday, in my new role as editor of the school magazine, I talked to the printer about putting out this yearís issue Ė although the conversation went well beyond the usual talk. We talked about the river I love so much, and about techniques of writing, and how to develop my own, and the energy expended, and the things people must give up, and about that old adage about the inability to serve two masters Ė you can pretend to do so, but when it comes down to it, you never really do, and so, even without the words being said in our frank talk, I knew before I closed my eyes to sleep, I will not be going to Colorado any time soon, even if she does.



blogs menu

Main Menu

email to Al Sullivan