Sunday, December 6, 2009

Robert - Unsent Letter - December 1983

Dear JP,

I am in the mood to type to you, but the typewriter, like the yellow VW bug, is broken this Christmas. The dishwasher door must be left open so that the pipes do not freeze. The puppy must be locked in the kitchen at night so that she will not chew things; this measure has been only partially successful. The puppy's casualties this Christmas include a calculator, a scarlet-and-glitter Christmas-tree bird, the corner of the kitchen hutch, and one of my new shoes -- slightly injured.

"Slightly injured" is the phrase used on the radio here to describe the condition of Gene and Tim Kelly after the fire that destroyed many cherished mementos of a long and laudible and legendary show business career, and made Gene cry... As neighbors like Carl Reiner (and possibly you?) rushed to the scene to help/console/talk shop. Celebrity tragedies, minor and major, like celebrity weddings and celebrity funerals, are not immune to media name-dropping.

I have spent the past week in Akron recovering from a cold, Christmas shopping, trying to quit smoking, recording in painstaking detail every tremor in my little mind, and considering every possible variation on the theme of What Robert Will Do the Rest of the Vacation. I have, in short, been thinking too much and doing precious little.

Now I sit on the dining rooom floor near the heating vent, by the Christmas tree, and this is where things stand:

I am disheartened by my efforts to quit smoking; I feel weak.

I have determined that home is NOT the place to rest and relax and become strong again -- Florida is.

I would like to go to Florida with Eric, but I doubt that my father will pay to send me. My father is not among the ranks of those who believe in Florida vacations or the need for the sun's replenishing warmth or the value of a nice tan in January.

I might go to New York, but New York is cold like Akron, and involves anxiety and too much planning. If I do go to New York, however, I will get to spend time with Alice and also my mother and her boyfriend, who have invited us to spend New Year's Eve "loft-hopping" with them -- pleasant prospects both.

I may just return to Washington, because while Washington is also cold, it demands little effort and allows me a lot of money to spend. I can work a little and buy a bureau and learn my lines. "Queen Eleanor -- Your Grace." The play seems silly to me now, as does school.

I need Florida and I need more vacation time and I need a second window blind, and a calendar for 1984 and a new pair of tennis shoes and many other things. I make lists.

Here is a list of things I no longer need because I received them for Christmas:

1. A watch
2. A bathrobe
3. A sweater
4. A portable bookshelf
5. Gloves
6. A work of art
7. Socks
8. The 1983-1984 edition of Fiction Writer's Market
9. Two records
10. A white turtleneck
11. Money from my grandfather

To tell the truth, I know that need and rest and strength are all states of mind, and that Christmas vacations are no more capable of supplying them than any other arbitrary block of time. I just want everything restored to schooltime order -- I want to do and not to think about doing; I want continuation or ending for things left unfinished.

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