Sunday, February 14, 2010

I've Loved You So Long

February is always the cruellest month for me. If it was simply down to the fact that I was just dog–tired of the long dark nights and bitter cold then I’d be pleased for there to be such a simple explanation. Instead there are many more components that entangle me in this pit of introspection, most of which I’ll try not to bore you with.

This time around I thought I’d found the perfect antidote to pass all this by, but as it turned out that wasn’t the case. It should of, but rooting around in the filing cabinets for some pertinent background material I happened upon a file filled with the many cards and handwritten letters from The One That Got Away. If I’d had any sense I’d have seen what the contents were and then pushed it to the back of the drawer. But for anyone who has read just a few months of these posts will know that, to put it not so delicately, she is the itch I cannot stop scratching.

There is a valid reason for being unable to let the memory of her go, rather that it simply being some silly fancy. So I have that, not that it really does me any good. When we started going out, initially kept apart by holidays in the Far East on her part, long hours working on The Rabbit on mine, and then only seeing each other twice or (at best) three times a week, we’d fill in the gaps by writing each other letters about the day we’d had to whatever came to mind. Now I suppose it would be done with emails or texts of these ridiculous tweets so I suppose I should be grateful in a way for having this sheaf of missives, all gracefully written with a fountain pen.

Being very careful and selective as I leafed through the pages, I happened upon the very first note she had sent me, not long after I had graduated and just months before my first short story was to be published in a new anthology. Giving only her address and no telephone number, necessitating a written reply (which I suppose is where the continued correspondence started off), she had written:

They told me today that you write;
so what do you write?

Yours faithfully


very, very nearly third year graphics

Just reading that again earlier this evening, the peremptory nature of the letter made me smile until I glanced up at the date written in the top left hand corner of page before the address: 20/07/87. Had it been that long? That’s now just over half my lifetime ago. Obviously there’s no way to go back and change the past, more’s the pity, but I wonder – especially at the end of a day like today – if things would have been better if I’d never fed that very first sheet of paper into the typewriter and just got on with designing cereal boxes instead.


At 11:29 pm, Blogger Riddley Walker said...

Oh, fella. :-(

Obvously nothing's going to salve this wound, but your friends love you too, for what it's worth.

At 6:01 pm, Blogger Stephen Gallagher said...

Everyone can relate to what you're feeling - the thought of 'the path not taken', or never got to take, must haunt us all in one way or another, though rarely in so unmuted a form. I know I've used it, and I'll use it again; but I also know that for it to be such a big part of your life must involve real pain.

At 9:29 pm, Blogger Stephen Gallagher said...

A very cool and understated reading of a great song, btw.

At 1:11 am, Blogger Good Dog said...


This long after the fact I can’t see it ever healing but, you know, I try and keep a lid on it as best I can even though it obviously claws its way out from time to time.

There’s stuff that always makes this a tough month so I suppose I should just get a repeat prescription from the GP and schedule a couple of sessions with the shrink to settle it.


Yeah, it’s just one of those things that you try and get through. Otherwise, unfortunately, it casts a shadow over every relationship that follows whether they last as long as two years or as short as two weeks (he said from experience).

I’ve tried to put it to good use, making a fiction of it to help me get my head around it. I got to just shy of 32,000 words before realizing I needed to introduce other elements into the narrative otherwise it just sounded like whining. Still, by examining the years before and after so clinically it certainly helped me understand why it was so important at that point in my life and why it’s coloured everything since.

In the end I suppose these things happen. The romantic in me would like to think that somewhere down the line we could end up like Fermina Daza and Florentino Ariza at the conclusion of Love in the Time of Cholera. But I’m not holding my breath.

And having only known the Nat King Cole rendition for the longest time, I think that Pavi de Mayo has done a great version of the song.

At 1:20 am, Blogger Good Dog said...

Stupid of me to forget to mention this but thank you both for your kind words.

At 8:58 am, Blogger Brian Sibley said...

There are those who can bin their old diaries, birthday cards and love letters and others of us who keep them, somewhere, at the back of a drawer, because, well, because...

There are those who can wait for a wound to heal and the scab to drop off its own accord and those of us who have to lift the edge - just a little bit - to see how it's getting on.

But then you wouldn't truly be you if you behaved differently.

At 5:38 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...


You’re absolutely right there. Some things have been let go along the way but I couldn’t do without the boxes filled with everything from letters and photographs to opera and theatre programmes, tickets stubs and even the books of matches from bars, restaurants and casinos picked up on the “grand tour” of the United States.

It’s been ages now since I’ve looked through any of them but I suppose I need to know that they’re there, at hand, helping join up the dots of my life. Much as it would be helpful to let this one thing go over the years, it really is part of who I am now.

At 6:12 pm, Blogger Brian Sibley said...

I recently came across a tin of matchbooks that I collected from all the different restaurants and shops in Disneyland and Walt Disney World - including, now long gone, obviously - the tobacconist on Main Street.

Sometimes I think I envy those people who can chuck such stuff and relieve their lives (and floors!) of some of the weight of the past. But then, as Eeyore would say, "Some can and some can't..."


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