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A letter to Theo
How strange is it that I only write Theo? I could have written Theo, dearest Theo, my Theo, or rather my once Theo. Most people start letters with "dear (insert name,)" even to people- no, particularly to people who they do not consider "dear" at all. Thus I thought it might do us, or the previous us, an insult to begin with something so common, so mundane, as "dear." And so, Theo, I only begin with a simple Theo, for your name in its raw form is enough to call you from the depths of your sedation and force you to read this letter that I have contemplated writing for years- has it yet been five?- and all that has been brewing in my tiny head that I have decided to write to you.
Oh yes, I have heard tales of your sickeningly normal life full of an aging wife, a toddler, and another on the way. J****, no matter how many thousands of miles I travel from you I hear about the good old Theo, from our friends who have the inexplicable need to keep tabs on you and then report to me. Then of course there is my own masochistic use of the internet.
I often wonder about your wife, is she like me? Perhaps you would describe her as pretty, smart, a treat to be around. I'm sure she is more… shall we say, stable than I? Yes she must be, or at least appear that way to you. I bet there is something she does that is quite freaky that you do not even know about. Yes, we all know I can be over-emotional, irrational, impulsive and many far harsher words can be used to describe my overall being, but at least I am open about my insanity. Surprisingly, most of these housewives that it turns out you chose your wife from can be crazy at heart. They wait for their husbands to go to work and their children to go to school and they have that block of time in the middle of the day to be truly mad. Some drink hard liquor at 9 o'clock while others take the box-cutter to their wrist. Maybe a couple decide not to go to book club and moonlight as a stripper. The possibilities are endless really.
I suppose that is what you hoped I would become, a secretly alcoholic housewife, my craziness concentrated and hidden away in one form or another. Sadly my passion never died as yours did, though I often wish it had. It is sad to see how our generation slowly but surely fades just as those before it. At the beginning each is thought to be rebellious and the one to "make a difference," but in the end we all lose the light of youth that we were given. I lost it too, but it was immediately replaced with the passion that's ancestor was us, you, what you used to make me.
Do you remember that summer, the summer when we visited Paris? We had been together years by then, maybe eight, and all that time we'd saved up to move to France, to Paris. We wanted to get jobs and live with the Europeans, disguise our ugly American roots. I was going to play my piano and teach if I must while you were going to open up your small café. I think that was one of the most solid times in our relationship, we had goals and a life set out for us together, we had a plan, and our love had matured to a constant state, where we were rarely fighting, storming out and the like. Still, even if we thought we were older we were not old enough, and we could never get our dreams off the ground. It made for a wonderful extended vacation from California, and it was a very peaceful time in my life.
There was that one night, when we had spent time in that villa with my old conservatory friends in Provence, I'd woken up from that nightmare I always used to have, the one with the fire consuming all those who were close to me and I was the one who started the fire. I woke up and you were not there but then I found you in the yard. You had not been able to sleep and you were just looking out at the sun which could only have risen minutes before. I watched you and seeing you so at peace, not knowing I was there and as if you had forgotten everything else in the world, it made me feel utterly safe because nothing could harm you the way you were in that second, not even me.
Of course after we came back from France we really began to fall apart. The failure of the café hurt you, made you feel like a failure. It said to you that you were not good enough to break from the crowd, you had to conform. Theo, I saw the ideas begin to work their way into your head, settling down, starting a family. We would go on one of our picnics in the park and all you looked at were those children. Not even the children but the parents with them, in their polo shirts and $200 strollers.
I knew you were looking down that path in a whole new light. Where before you had seen those pretentious b******s as I had, settling for far less than they should, turning their back on the romantically tragic world that they lived in. Now you saw them as something to strive for, an eventual goal. The only obstacle really was me, you wanted me to submit to this pathetic existence and I refused. You loved me, and that never changed, but what you never got my darling is that had you brought me I would have died. I would have died in every way that you loved.
But that was all later, much later. No, at first we were unstoppable. The first time I saw you after my concert when I was eighteen, I only saw you. You were with that girl, Melody- quite an appropriate date for a concert- and I just remember thinking how much better you would look with me. So I walked right over to you and asked for a dance.
Poor Melody didn't have a chance after that. I remember being surprised at how well you danced, I didn't take you for a dancer. I knew I had you by the nervous babble you started spewing as soon as we got into the dance. For once I was quiet; I already knew that by the end of the evening I would have you. I went home with you after you got Melody a cab (The gentlemen Theo would never leave a girl without a ride.)
When I woke up the next morning I was shocked to find my clothes still on and you on the couch. Then I remembered how I threw myself at you as I always had in those days, (and returned to after we split up,) but you held my hand, moved over my arm until you held my chin in your hand, and we kissed ever so lightly. At last you let me embrace you but slowly. It was almost a continuation of the dance we'd started earlier, our bodies following one another as we got to know each other better. I said I wanted to spend the night with you and you agreed: "But on my terms," you said. Your terms involved you giving me your bed and taking the couch. When I woke up I found you and I loved you more than any lover I'd ever had.
Still I was only eighteen and it didn't mean much, you said. But you were only twenty two, so what did you know, Theo? Well now I'm thirty seven and you're forty one and I still love you more than any other lover. Tell me, what does it mean now?
Us being only eighteen and twenty two it didn't take long for us to have our first fight. It was something silly, something about what cigarettes I was smoking at the time. Really I think you were embarrassed that my Spanish was better than yours. We went to see your friend, Alec, and his girlfriend at the time was from Madrid. You had been reviewing your school Spanish for a couple of days and for some reason I didn't tell you I could speak the language quite fluently. Then when you awkwardly introduced yourself and I began to tell her in Spanish how I had visited Spain the year before you felt I "embarrassed" you or something. Men and their silly pride.
As our relationship continued our fights escalated. What friends to see on Friday, who's family to be with at Thanksgiving, when to have sex. You kept making me wait and I began to think you didn’t want to commit to me. I would spend the night but you would be on the other side of the bed or on the couch. My parents thought we were doing it, our friends assumed we'd been going at it from the start but the truth is you hardly laid a finger on me for months. Then a month before I was supposed to leave for school I cut you out completely; I figured I just loved you more than you loved me. Days before I was supposed to leave you showed up at my house. I was a wreck because I didn't let myself respond to your calls and you just came to my house and kissed me, nibbled at my neck, and finally we were together as I'd wanted. After you explained that you wanted to save it because you knew how special it would be: "It's not just that we're good in bed but now that we know each other, know we love each other, we're more in tuned to one another. We've had rhythm to the way we interact from the start and this love of body and mind amplifies it." You said something to that affect anyway.