The time I set aside for blogging today dissipated into the multiple efforts required to prevent a family problem from evolving into a family catastrophe, the routine, mind-numbing chores necessary to feed and clothe those same family members, and a couple of hours spent reconstituting myself by re-reading the letters Julie1 sent me before our lives merged in a single geographical location.
Consequently, the best approximation of a post I can offer is a fragment from that correspondence.
The Epistolary Courtship
In the pre-email, Twitterless, Facebook-free era when envelopes emblazoned with 13 cent stamps routinely carried letters to and from family, friends, business associates, and lovers, whether writer and recipient were separated by a couple of blocks or an entire country, Julie and I each wrote the other well over 100 letters between Labor Day weekend, when we reunited after being incommunicado for six years, and Christmas Day, when we moved in together.
Julie’s letters were, as one might expect, stunningly erudite, grammatically correct, and syntactically sound with a marked tendency toward the epigrammatic, no small feat in those days before every ambitious dolt attempting to impress a sweetie, a boss, or whomever can lard his email messages with random quotes and aphorisms, courtesy of The Great And Powerful Google.
The letter from Julie I randomly selected first today, for example, ends with this line:
I love you “intensely and for good.”2
It’s nothing profound, but it’s a step or two beyond the How are you? Fine I hope sort of letter I typically received from others.
I soon realized that my only advantage in this ongoing correspondence was a greater familiarity with and a greater willingness to casually invoke modestly-moderately crude and, on occasion, lewd terms in my compositions – nothing that would shock a longshoreman but still studiously coarse enough to contrast with Julie’s invariably proper and polite constructions.
Of course, I used my power only for good, such as redirecting a discourse drifting dangerously close to intellectual percepts or, worse, an emotionally laden give-and-take toward altogether more appropriate down and dirty topics, many of which involved anatomical explications.3
And this tactic worked – but for all too short a time.
One of today’s finds was a card from Julie that marked the point at which my grand strategy was negated.
I had given Julie a subscription to Chicago Magazine, an especially self-serving gift given that we were then deciding whether to live in Dallas or Chicago , along with a card that read simply
Who the hell do you think would send you this?
I judged this sufficient to jog Julie’s attention.
A couple of weeks later, I received a birthday present from Julie, a salt and pepper grinder made of brightly polished wood. Attached was the card from her:
I love a quick study._____________________
- Julie was my much-beloved, fiercely smart, extraordinarily sexy wife, who died in 1999 from cancer diagnosed the week of our wedding nearly 20 years earlier. She was also a prize-winning writer. This blog includes many other posts about her and the unlikely but true story of our romance as well as several of her short stories and other pieces. For the location of the various content about or by Julie, see Julie FAQ. [↩]
- This is a Browning quotation taken criminally out of context – I don’t care, I like the words [↩]
- One especially decadent instance necessitated, I’m proud to say, a diagram [↩]