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Letter #121

 

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Dearest mother,

Happy New Year!  It’s a brand new year, which means it is time to sweep the old away and welcome in the new with an open door.  I cannot believe how quickly the past year went by, but with all that has happened I am glad to see it go.

You should be really proud of me.  I brought in the New Year sober!  I spent the evening by myself, listening to some albums and drinking coffee.  I probably would not have even noticed its coming if it wasn’t for my neighbors living upstairs jumping up and down and knocking on their floor with what I suspect to have been a broomstick and shouting Happy New Year.  They are real nice people, though obviously occasionally loud.

I have decided not to write any New Year resolutions down because by the middle of the year the only one that ever gets accomplished is that I continue to write you every month.  I figure that I don’t need a piece of paper to remind me of my only true obligation in life.  I will continue to write you one letter a month, I promise.  That is much better than I did in college, right?

The gang is still fine.  Michael is doing well, he still has a job at the accounting firm of Williams and Bradley.  I never understood numbers like you and him, so when he tells me about a problem at work I immediately plead ignorance in the first degree.  He too has given up drinking for good and that makes it easier on me since he was my best drinking buddy.  Anne is also doing very well.  She was just promoted to editor of the Examiner which means more money and more opportunities “to get the truth published and make it more exciting to read,” as she says.  I am really amazed that the three of us are still as close as we were when we were younger.  Amazing still is how we all ended up in the same city.  I guess I have you to thank for that.  You always were a good judge of character. . . and what characters the three of us are!  Too cheap for a lot and too much for a pair, Anne says.  She always did have a way with words.

I, too, am doing well, though not as well as I could be I suppose.  Don’t be alarmed, I am not in any trouble, I just feel I should be doing a little better.  I have almost paid off all of my debts and I look forward to using the extra money for other things.  I will probably put it in the bank like you have always told me to do.  I already have almost three thousand dollars saved so maybe I can finally take a trip back home.  What has prevented me from doing so in the past is that I never had enough time, what with work and all.  I think that could also be part of my problem these days.  I have been feeling a little homesick.  I mean, I love where I am living and it slowly is becoming home, but never like Lunar Court.  That was probably the last time I ever remember truly feeling at home.  When we moved around all those times, I would never allow myself to refer to those places as home because we were only ever there for a short period of time before we packed up and moved some place else.  The only thing that ever made me feel remotely comfortable was knowing you were there.  There, I said it.  I am finally admitting that I am a mama’s boy.

I don’t see dad much anymore.  Actually I talk to him more than I visit, and even the phone calls are becoming more infrequent.  From what I gather he is fine, as is his new family.  My step-sister recently had a baby.  I was at the hospital for the delivery but went home before the baby was actually born, so I have yet to see her.  I’m sure she is a doll and hopefully takes after her pretty mother.  Dad is having a house built, which is wonderful since they too have been moving around a lot like we did.  I think it’s about time he plants his feet somewhere permanent for a while.

As for your other son, he is doing well, even though it’s been a few weeks since I have heard anything from him.  He and his wife are still planning to move here sometime this summer, so I am eagerly awaiting their arrival.  I sure do miss having him around though that could probably change when he gets here.  Just kidding.  I am extremely proud of him and how he has turned his life around for the better.  I always hoped, yet secretly knew, that he would not be a shiftless, bull headed bully all his life.  Well, he still is bull-headed, after all he is his father’s son. . .  In all honesty I really do admire him.  There is also, perhaps, a small portion of me that envies him for what he has made of himself.  Growing up, I was the one with direction and vision while he was always blind.  Now however, he seems to be in the light while I stay in the dark.  Talk about a bizarre reversal of fortune.

I think that it is safe to assume that the last statement made above is also what has been bothering me lately.  It seems I have no focus, and worse yet, no direction.  I’m at a dead end, I suppose.  At least with alcohol I had something to look forward to.  I can now admit that it wasn’t much, but it was something.  Now it seems I am working myself to the point of utter exhaustion and for what?  Nothing really seems to be going my way.  I feel like I’m running out of things to live for.  Again, with alcohol I could forget about my worries, albeit temporarily.  But sometimes all I can do is worry.  Funny, I just realized that the more I write, the more I begin to contradict the optimism that opened this letter.

On a lighter note, while cleaning out the drawers of my desk, I came across an old book of photographs of you and your sisters that grandma gave me.  Mostly of you, though, as it should be, right?  You were such a pretty girl with your ever-present smile and curious eyes.  I wonder if you would still have smiled like that if you knew then what you know now.  Also in this little book are some pictures of me.  Even as a child I looked afraid.  Well, maybe not afraid so much, but suspicious.  Maybe I knew then what I was headed for.  I also came across a picture of our old family.  I cannot help but look at it with disbelief.  I would like so much to believe the play being acted out on that stage, but I can’t even bring myself to look at it for more than a few seconds.  Even my memories are tainted.  The good ones are transparent and the bad ones become worse.  Not the memories of everyone individually, but the illusions of our once big and happy family.  Maybe this wasn’t on a lighter note after all. . .

Mother, sometimes I get so wrapped up in the world.  My problems and every other thing that I know should have no permanent effect on me whatsoever tend to make me lose my bearings.  I am confused about many things and I can’t seem to find the answers.  More than anything, I would love to have you kiss my forehead and promise me that everything will be fine.  I would love to cry!  Then I could release my collection of guilt, confusion, pain, frustration. . . whatever!  That would help me more than anything I could imagine.  I just wish I could remember how it’s done.  Listening to songs that you used to sing to me and songs that make me think of you don’t seem to help at all.  Hell, even looking at those pictures has done nothing to ease the pain.

I have a confession to make.  Well, I have several actually, but I will try to give them to you in one dose, as I suspect what I have to say will be a very hard pill for you to swallow.  There are a few things in my past that I have knowingly lied to you about.  I won’t name specifics, just know that I haven’t been honest about a few things.  If I wasn’t so damned weak and afraid then I would have come clean, but I’ve always felt that having you look at me with disappointment and hurt in your eyes would be terribly worse than any scolding or spanking could ever do.  I love you far too much to ever give you a reason to look at me with those eyes.  Besides, those eyes were always reserved for your other son, not me, the proverbial sunshine of your life.  Unfortunately I am still afraid to tell you the specifics.  Even writing these down would do me no good.  Hopefully you will just accept that I have done wrong by you more than once and hopefully you will also be more than willing to forgive me.

All in all, I now feel that this letter has been a waste of time, ink and paper.  Nothing against you, please know that.  I have never had anything but complete and utter love and respect, most importantly love, for you.  It’s just that now, having written this, I realize that these empty lines and petty confessions are all in vain because we both know you’ll never read this.  This letter will be the one hundred and twenty-first letter I have written you since you died ten years ago this month.  I have written one letter a month since then and mailed it to your house.  Whoever lives there now always sends the letters back.  They have even sent me several letters asking me not to mail anything to their address anymore.  I always wished they would at least keep them for my sake so I could try and believe one last illusion about you, but no.  No one understands.  I even wonder if I understand.  Would going back and reliving it all do any better.  Would I turn out any better?  Probably not, no.

Well, I guess I’ve rambled on long enough.  Life isn’t getting any better, nor am I getting any younger, so I’d better try to salvage what’s left of my week (wreckage?) by trying to do something constructive.  Even menial chores like housework have become arduous and therefore tend to get neglected.  This will probably be the last letter I write to you.  See, again I have lied to you.  Didn’t I say somewhere in the beginning of this letter that I promise I’ll write one letter a month?  So before I disappoint you any more than I already have, if that is possible, I will conclude this letter so you can finally rest in peace.

 

Love?

Pete

 

(c) 2014 by Jarrod Campbell

Categories: Uncategorized

jarrodcampbellauthor

2 replies

  1. Not only the question mark at the end, at least for me, but also the confessions that Pete so desperately wants to make and yet never mentions —aside for his having lied to his mother. This is such a classic piece of writing. It reminds me of other storytellers like Truman Capote and, in particular, of Carson McCullers, another wonderful Southern writer. Just like dear Mr Campbell.

    Like

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