For a bout eleven months in college I was involved with a woman named L. who came here from Cuba when she was five, I think, and who (the world was in agreement) was way out of my league, might even have been playing a different sport, and yet I somehow managed to sustain a torrid, passionate, quarrelsome little fling where the wordcount and aggression of our texts to one another in the morning, full of accusations and scorn, was only a forecast of how intense that night’s sex would be. I didn’t really meet her friends, nor she mine, but both camps seemed exhausted by our drama, such as it was relayed.
It was the kind of complicated fun you don’t appreciate until it’s long over.
She asked me recently for a handwritten letter, which I offer to everybody, and I agreed to send her one but wound up typing it, rather than doing the whole thing in longhand, cuz it was basically just a torrent of memories and it was fraught with stuff and had to go through a couple drafts.
I was at a bar the other night when she texted me a photo of the envelope in her hand.
Martin Amis has talked about this feeling of being on a ship and sailing through time, just living your life, when one day the fog clears and you see this huge uncharted island. And it’s your past. And you’re far enough removed from it that you can hop off now and explore.
This bottomless warmth of reaching out through the hedges of so many years, from the shadowy personal corners we’ve hobbled off to, and lacing fingers together again with some far-off person who once knew you well, just as you knew them, and with whom I guess you can share the certainty that the past did actually happen and that, yes: once upon a time, things were really that good.
I could never’ve guessed at it.