Lynnfield MA, 10/21/1980

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October 21, 1980

I’ve been making an effort to try to be a better boyfriend to Melanie, when we talk I try to let her know she can tell me about her day, not matter how bad it was.  It’s started to work a little.  She’s constantly stressed, so she has begun to tell me, but it has dominated our entire conversations, and I worry about becoming just a shoulder to cry on at the end of the day, since I’m not there to be more.  So, I wrote her a letter this morning. My thought is maybe I can use a different outlet as a way to remind her that I’m also in love with her, without stifling her conversational needs.

 

Dear Melanie,

It’s starting to get cold up here, and I think it’s my turn to come down and see you!  I hope that I can see you soon, because I miss you.  I’m glad we’re talking more often, but there is no replacement for the electrical connection I feel when when our fingers intertwine, or the sweet dessert that are your lips.

I’ve been thinking about you in your Red Sox hat a lot.  It’s amazing how whether you’re in a bikini on the beach, or scrubs at the hospital, or a sweater and a baseball hat at Fenway Park, how you don’t look out of place.  I’ve never really felt as comfortable or confident anywhere as you seem everywhere.  I know you’re more vulnerable than you appear, but it amazes me how you’re able to look the part, and act the part no matter where we go.  I wonder what you’d be like in Antarctica?  Would you be commanding a research team, or would you be leading a team of Emperor penguins around.

I know that you’re stressed right now, and that every day seems to be the absolute maximum that you can bare, but I know you can do it, and when you get through this, you will be contributing in a way most of us never can.  I know I probably seem like a lustful teenage boy around you sometimes, but I hope that you know I have never held anyone in such high esteem.

Anyway, I know this isn’t as lovey-dovey as I had hoped to get, but I thought maybe it could be better than a phone call, because if you like it, you can reread it.  I don’t know, but I want you to know what you mean to me.

I love you,

Darren

 

My signature as ‘Darren’ is still a work in progress.  Every time I have to sign something, it’s a lot of effort to not accidentally write Michael Cole with big swooping letters like I used too.  I don’t miss it, but it’s still somewhat ingrained in me.  In fact, I don’t miss being him at all.  I miss the relationships I had as him, but in a lot of ways Darren is a better man than Mike ever was.  I’ve adjusted much of my personality and behavior to reflect the story I have to tell everyone but Grandma.

To them, I’m new to Massachusetts, so I work hard to conceal any hints of the accent.  I have even forced myself to adopt non-New England lingo as much as possible.  I refer to soda as ‘pop,’ and since I’ve told some people that I’m Canadian, I have begun to refer to traffic cones as ‘pylons,’ and have rounded the ‘O’ sound in sorry.

Being more conscious of my actions, and being more deliberate, has started to shape me into a better person I think.  (Other than the fact, that to some extent I’m potentially ruining the lives of Melanie and my grandmother.)  I’m also in the best shape of my life.  I’m not quite as lean as I was in January, but my muscles are toned.  My body looks like Travis Bickle without the emaciated quality.

 

As part of my transformation into Darren, I received my SAT scores, and was happy.  I did much better this time than I had in 2002.  I aced the math portion, and a 700 on the English portion.  I’ve begun to apply to colleges, and hoping to get into Boston State College.  I have just over  a month to get everything ready for my application, so that I can have it in before the December deadline.  I’m trying to not be too upset by the fact that I’m not likely to restart my education until September, so I’m in the process of trying to find out if I can take a class or two as a non-matriculated student.

 

I met with my grandmother a couple of days after the Red Sox game.

“They seemed like they had a good time.”  She seemed encouraged by the progress.

“Yeah, it was really nice.”

“How are you planning on proceeding?”

Integrating me into their lives had been an obsession of mine for more than a year, and it was an increasing fascination for her now as well.  I knew my time-frame, and I also knew how unlikely it was that I’d fully integrate, and that at best I could hope to be their friend, but she didn’t know that, and I didn’t want to tell her too much. I wanted their to be some mystery, and for her to enjoy her life.

“Well, they had mentioned wanting to hang out next time Melanie was up here.  I suppose that will be the most natural way to let it play out.”  She looked disappointed in the answer.  “I’ll still get to see my Dad every week, and if that plays out better, I’m open to it.”

“Do you have plans for Thanksgiving?” she asked with fake innocence.

“Not yet.  I’m hoping to find out what Melanie is doing.”

“Well, you could always join us…” She smiled, and I knew that wanted me to join her.

“Thank you, but I’m not sure it’s a great idea.  Out of curiosity who hosts it?”

“My parents.”  She paused for a moment, and I thought I knew why.  “Do you know them?”

“I know your father pretty well, and I knew your mother, but I only have one memory of her being coherent.”  I loved Great-Grandpa, he was one of my favorite people in the world, and he had died just a couple months before he would have turned 97, and a couple of months before I turned 16.

“You know him well?”  Her eyes sparkled, and it was clear it was something she hadn’t considered either way before.

“I think so.  As well as young man can know his great-grandfather.  He was always so great to me and Sam.”  He had been, he was the ideal great grandparent, encouraging and loving, with none of the anxiety of a parent, and none of the expectations of a grandparent.  I didn’t tell her about the end, about how the dementia made him forget that her mother had passed away already, and that she had passed away already.  I didn’t tell her about the heartbreak in his face the first couple of times Mom told him, before we learned it was best to just lie to him.

She smile and grabbed my hand across the table giving it a squeeze.

“If things don’t work out with Melanie, you should consider coming over.  I’ll try to get Maria to invite you!  Make it sound like you were some lost puppy that her and Scott found!”  She gave an excited laugh, and started to put on her coat.

“Will I see you tomorrow?”

“I hope so,” she responded as always.

We’ve seen each other a few times, each time her asking about Thanksgiving.  Melanie is working the whole weekend, as the majority of the senior staff had requested it off.  So she began putting the wheels in motion.  On his drop off last week, my dad awkwardly came over and told me that he’d been asked to invite me.  We had been talking regularly when he came in, and this was the first time it was a bit awkward, and I told him I’d be happy to join them.

 

After I had written this whole post this morning, as I was getting ready for work, I had gone out to the mailbox, and along with the normal mail, there was a letter without a return address.  When I opened it, it simply said “I know who you really are.  I want to meet, stay tuned.”

My heart has been pounding for nearly a half hour.  I looked around the street, hoping that maybe I’d see something suspicious, or out of place, but after a few minutes I realized, that the letter had been sent via USPS, and so it was unlikely the sender was lurking around.

The only handwriting in the world that I recognize is Judy’s and this isn’t it.  My mind is racing, and I started looking in my phone, and lamps for listening devices.

After a few deep breaths, and trying to gather my thoughts, I started to calm down, and decided I need to go to work, to try to take my mind off of it.  I’ll just have to wait for the next communication, and be really careful about who I talk with.

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