Dearest Rachel –
I woke up this morning to an orange glow covering my eyes. Now, this shouldn’t have been that much of a surprise: having gone to bed with a sleep mask on (because for whatever reason, the neighbors’ house has their backyard burglar light on all night, and it seeps into the bedroom even with the blinds drawn), I’d slept in an extra hour or so. Not that it’s that much of a concern – it’s not as if I have to report to an office or anything – but by 7:30, the sun is well up and pouring itself into every corner of the house as best it can. The mask can only do so much.
I’d been dreaming, from what I could tell, about getting all the paperwork together that I’ve been meaning to take back down to your old family home to give to Twofeathers; including the inspection deed, and a small 9″x12″ papier-mâché model of the house that your dad assembled once upon a time, and which she’d asked us to bring back down whenever we got the chance. You would know about them, but I feel (for whatever reason – more on that in a moment) like I should point out that these things actually exist; they’re not things I conjured up as part of my dreamscape. Not a particularly fascinating dream – indeed, a bit too literal to be worth relating in any great detail – but there you are.
Upon awakening, and checking the clock (because it seemed too bright to be the usual time, even with the fact that the sun gets up earlier each day these days, and will continue to do so until Daniel turns twenty-nine), I found myself going through my mail – either filing or disposing of it, as there’s rarely anything that requires answering – and reviewing my statistics.
I probably shouldn’t bother to do it, as I’m not really writing to anybody but you, and for nobody but me. Whether someone else bothers to read any of this should be none of my concern. But I’m as human as the next person, with an ego just like anyone else; I’d like to think there are people out there (out here?) who are interested in my life and what I have to say. Not the most logical of beliefs, to be sure, but there you are. And when I hold to those beliefs, it’s a bit of a disappointment to see the numbers as they are.
The thing is, I haven’t learned to play to an audience – or, maybe more to the point, I’ve no desire, no insistence that I do so. I’m well aware that people come here – or anywhere online – to read things they want to read about. For a while, I had a number of dog people following me as I dealt with Chompers and his needs; I literally had subscribers with handles like ‘doglover84’ and ‘knowyourdog’ and so forth, so I knew what they were looking for. What’s weird is that most people seem to be online looking for advice of one sort of another (I probably should have a few more letters where I go on about recipes and food – that’s a big thing for a lot of people – and they complain to high heaven about authors who rabbit on about their lives before getting to said recipes, too), but I’m not in a position to offer any: I’m as lost as the next guy on most topics. Maybe more so, especially with regard to dealing with animals.
When you come down to it, though, these letters are like Forrest Gump’s iconic box of chocolates: you never know what you’re going to get. And that isn’t the sort of thing that appeals to any regular audience. This is what conversations are like between friends or spouses, but to a random person on the internet? Not really interested, unless it’s really wacky… and I think I’m too old to really do ‘wacky’ well. That, and I’m too suspicious of TikTok.
Now, I know this is a bit of a jump, but on the subject of Mr. Gump, I recall that you had the book on your nightstand for ages. It certainly sat there for months after you were gone, until Jan and I went through the bedroom and cleared so much out. I’ve always wondered in these days since your departure what you saw in that book, as you never really talked about it much. You mentioned the other book that sat there for ages, Wide Sargasso Sea, which you described as a Jane Eyre fanfic; perhaps you assumed that, since I’d seen the movie with you, that I was familiar with the story. Which was true enough, but I never understood the fascination you had with the book. Was it an Oprah recommendation, or were you really into the film to an extent that I wasn’t aware of? Or maybe it was just there waiting for you to get around to reading it, and you never did. I don’t know. Heck, I didn’t even think to ask about it when we were down in Miami late in 2019 the night before the Sea Bronies’ cruise embarked, and we actually ate at one of those Bubba/Gump seafood restaurants (which I didn’t realize was a chain at the time, but I probably shouldn’t have been surprised to know), where they had the film on endless loop projected throughout the restaurant, along with the usual sporting events you’d expect at any similar such establishment. You might have mentioned about getting Daniel to see it at some point (you – and I – had something of a list of ‘the classics’ we wanted him to be familiar with, for some reason. I don’t think I’m going to be all that insistent about his historical pop culture studies going forward, though)
It struck me that his momma’s little bit of faux-losophy isn’t all that true. When you have a box of chocolates in front of you, you may not know what’s in each piece of the assortment – and, of course, you will have certain ones you prefer to others, and some that you might actually despise – but you can be reasonably sure that every single piece will be sweet. Sure, some will be spiked with salt (especially those with nuts), others tinged with a bit of (citric) sourness, but it isn’t as if you might bite into a chocolate, and find yourself with a mouthful of baked beans, or a little dead frog.
But some days are like that. Some days are hot pepper, some are garlic, some are cinnamon. You can get through them (not as if you have a choice if you want to get to the next one – another way life isn’t like a chocolate sampler, as you could spit a distasteful one out should you choose to), but they aren’t necessarily pleasant. Some days might even have wonderful parts to them, but taken as a whole, they don’t work – can you imagine a juicy tenderloin steak, wrapped in a layer of Godiva’s finest? Two great tastes, that don’t taste great together.
I know, I’m reducing a simple analogy down to an absurd level, but this is the sort of thing I wake up with – and it’s the realization that what few readers I have are dealing with. To them, I apologize, sort of: you knew these letters weren’t for you when you arrived; it’s kind of up to you now whether it’s worth it to sample another bite, if this one isn’t to your liking.
As for you, honey, well… you at least probably caught the references, and would be amused by them. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy the next paddle down my stream of consciousness. Until then, keep an eye out for me.