May 23, 2017
I want to tell you about myself, but I’m not ready, so this is my practice.
When I was a child—you make me think of children, Roger, is that silly? It’s not that you make me want to have children, nothing as saccharine as that; it’s actually your childlike nature that makes me think about children, not that I’m saying you’re like a child—God! You see, Roger, this is why I could never say these things to you; this is why I don’t talk to many people at all: there are too many complications. Anyway, when I was a child my mom let me have one expensive toy. It was a Pound Puppy, this stupid floppy dog that was the central character of my play world. These dogs were supposed to be rescued from the pound, saved by loving little children. I think that’s the only reason my mom couldn’t refuse me one: because even though she claimed to be morally opposed to pet ownership—you know my mom; do you know my mom? I mean, do we know the same person? Did she teach the same way she mothered, with a pretend appreciation for questions but a real dogmatic certainty to her convictions, like the immorality of pet ownership, for example? Anyway, she couldn’t deny her daughter’s selfless savior sentiment—of course I was never selfless, nor ever very sentimental, and I’m sure I wasn’t so interested in rescuing a plush puppy as I was in capturing and, truthfully, caging that animal for myself. I caught my mom at a moment of weakness when she didn’t have the will to argue with me, to discuss capitalism and feminism and all of her brilliant ideas for which you probably loved her as a teacher, and for which I hated her as a mother. She was right, but I was a child, and I won that round.
My Pound Puppy came in its own dog kennel, and it stayed there most of the time, and that was only the beginning of its hardships.
I want to tell you that I see, now, that I have been the creator of hardships in my life, and in seeing it, finally, I want to be done with it. That’s why I came to our village in the first place, although I didn’t know it at the time: to get away from the difficulties I was imposing on my own life. Again, there were too many complications; there are too many complications, and I want things to be simpler, to be kinder. To be quieter.
I was maybe 7 years old when I got the Pound Puppy, “rescued” from the store and subsequently subsumed into my dark play world of toy stories: lost parents, dead siblings, broken bones, broken dreams. When my mom gave me a microscope—expensive educational tools were not prohibited—I promptly pricked the paw of that puppy to draw pretend blood and discover, with microscope-enhanced certainty, that my Pound Puppy had a horrible disease.
Why did I tell myself such tales? That is a harder question to answer than why I won’t tell you—or anyone—such tales from my past. I want to be done with them.
I started this letter wanting to practice telling you about myself, but I see now that it is best if I stay silent.