I one time fell out of love with a girl because look and look and look though I might at the directions she wrote away from her house—her apartment—her student apartment—to the highway to my house, I couldn’t feel her body in the shape of the letters, and whether the failure was mine as decoder or hers for failing to stew her handwriting in the sauce of herself, it was a failure I had never known. As luck would have it, though, she didn’t love me either.
I have fallen in love with a stranger—a man—my boss in a foreign field—because of the way he writes the ns in my name. They’re artistic. They’re small but not contrite. Neat not fussy. Flipped up at the tails not in a stroke of chump’s optimism more like a sign of the cold hard art his brain chucks into his body without either his brain or body becoming aware of this chucking. Or perhaps he is optimistic. Resplendent even in the rain, glowering below a buttercup umbrella; or my name is a slip of treason—he is otherwise badgered gray by an unfunny, sobbing life below sobbing sky but he lifts his own spirit on the ends of my ns, if you will.
If you go by certain theories of evolutionary psychology, women—more than men—though not in particular more than one single given man—peel worlds out of faces because one time they had to. Some had to. Their hunter husbands returned with sleds of beasts and to protect themselves and their young they had to read the men’s moods. And the ones who got good at it passed on genes and tendencies. And the ones who still do it are sitcom punchlines.
I still look over my brother’s letters sometimes. When I want to feel something old and original and the bluest blue. He wouldn’t want me to. I press my ear against the vowels and hear the ocean rucked in a windstorm. I take a deep breath in the dusty, low-ceilinged space of his sentences and start, appropriately, to cough. His letters remind me of my unseen boss’s, of course, and of course share no properties with the girl’s and so the question stands there, a talk bubble frozen and stuck to the icy tongue of its speaker—is there an irreducible fondness for the dressing, the shapes, or has it all been nostalgia for the words when one time the words still flowed.
Photo By: Nicholas “LordGordan” Fiorentini