Dear John (Berendt),
This started as a letter to let you know why I was leaving you. Our torrid affair started innocently enough, after all, I love the movie version of our story. If I squint my eyes while watching and turn my head slightly, watching the entire procession like a freakishly nearsighted RCA Victor Nipper, I can almost imagine that the actor who plays you is the John Cusack of my adolescent fantasies. If I was going to have a little dalliance, it would damned well have a boozy, sweaty, speakeasy jazz soundtrack of John Mercer songs sung by Rosemary Clooney, Tony Bennett, Diana Krall and Joe Williams woven like the buttery lattice crust of a pie through all of the gritty flashback worthy scenes and the film did not disappoint. Mmmmmm. Just reminiscing gives me tingles everywhere. I couldn’t imagine, with my adoration of the cinematic bijou, that the vade mecum might leave me wanting. I was lining up cigarettes for dramatic post coital use while the novel was downloading.
Our first few rendezvous, the chapters that I could steal away with while dinner was cooking and even in bed after my husband fell asleep, were soul deep satisfying. You charmed me time and again with witty repartee and a thesaurusesque quiver of words. Your original idea, it seemed, for the series of events that unfolded, differed largely from the version that I had pictured transpiring based on what had been sold to me in the romance of the theater, but I found myself swept up in it, not caring what the consequences might be of a plot diversion so steep that I might find myself mired in the uncertainty between what I was seeking and what was eventually found.
Then it happened, I’ll never forget the moment I looked at you and the bloom fell from the rose. The second paragraph of chapter eleven, you misused the word somnolent. As a person whom I would have allowed to get close to me, I know that you are familiar with my, let’s say, charming peccadilloes–my, um, adorable obsessions with all things sleep and linguistically acrobatic. You had to know that the hierarchy of rousability was an infatuation of mine with somnolence orbiting somewhere near the nucleus as the perfect word to describe the lush, pregnant second when my eyelids are slowly closing the doors on a beautiful rest. Using it to describe blooming springtime streets? Streets whose bulbs were burgeoning and petals erupting in the state of near and pressing wakefulness? It was as if you had called out another woman’s name in the cocoon of our amity! Didn’t you know me at all? This was no mere slip up in verb tenses. I was so appalled, I wished for a second that I was reading a real book, as opposed to an electronic copy. Your misstep called for a good old fashioned tantrum induced book throwing! Simply huffing loudly and pressing the home key was a wide chasm from the literary equivalent of throwing a drink in your face.
It took me almost a week to think of forgiving you, but slowly, I started to work through my trust issues and see you again–on a limited basis at first, I mean, there was no way that I was going to let you back in my bath or my bed so soon after such a transgression, but short dates over coffee and quick snippets of conversation while I was waiting for water to boil or bread to rise quickly turned into my original irresponsibility of allowing you into my everyday life and, eventually, when my husband left for a week, back into my bed. Sigh.
Luckily, when given the chance, you returned to your original (though defiantly deviant from the flicker) charm and our romance was, well, I won’t say proceeding, because I don’t want to infer that we were getting anywhere near the level of trust previously attained, but there was, admittedly, a certain inertia.
There were tender memories. Your floral delivery of the word ecumenical in chapter 19 a particularly lovely spot of wistful generosity. Your willingness to leave the characters flawed, the voodoo unrequited, the landscape eternally lush, and the supporting actors vapid and silly was a gift to me.
Now that our relationship has run its natural course, it’s fair to say that an intrigue such as ours is both a success story and a cautionary tale for me. I take some fond memories and a hope that I’m getting closer to understanding the way of such things. This fling, this, liaison, if you will, was as inevitable as the passing of time. We were destined to meet. I was guaranteed to fall immediately in rapture with the cacophony of ideas it represented. Of all things, though, my frustration was the most inevitable and my disappointment was assured. If this entanglement had been a fire, I would say that it lit quickly, burned well, and used all its fuel before the logs were half burnt, forcing me to push bits of heated tinder at it trying to coax whatever heat I could.
When a journey like ours ends, I like to put friends like you into one of two categories–Maybe Again Someday and Lesson Learned. I’m afraid, despite the upsides of seeing you again in the future, I’m going to opt for the latter for now. My lack of desire to see you again is in no way a negative reference to future aficionados. Your abundant gifts are certainly noteworthy, it’s just that, for the first time in my life, I am forced to say, “I simply liked the movie better.”