Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Proust, Proust's Double, and Me, Part 1

A search of my computerized documents yielded the following excerpts of a letter I wrote on 8 August 2008. That month I made a project of going very meticulously through my old journals and letters to try to make sense of aspects of my past.

8/19/85 journal entry: Watching Brideshead. Guest on the QEII tries to prevent the melting of the ice swan, a futile act. A metaphor for the entire novel/series - a brilliant theme, period. My own Brideshead is, of course, the H____'s, the air of poetic ecstasy - such moments as biking at the S____ Museum and running into J. and his father driving in the VW white car, or J. and I on our first date, star-gazing.

Felicity [J's mother] to Belle. Undated (“Tuesday.”) [30 April 1986]
… We had a marvellous Christmas. J and L were here and G and K most evenings so we had dinner party after dinner party and it was tremendous. One night had the headmaster from King and that was really wild. Lots of guests so that the table was out full length most of the holiday…. Naturally we had fires every night. Both my daughters[-in-law] are pyromaniacs.

"My favorite professor at Wellesley - hands down, no competition - was a brilliant man by the name of George Stambolian. He was a professor of French literature. I took a course with him on Proust and Flaubert (in translation), as well as another one my senior year on theatre since 1945. Along with being brilliant, he was a caring professor, a great wit, and very attuned to nuance. He was a figure in the gay literary scene in New York, as well. It is a cliché, but he loved life and was both tremendously engaged and engaging. He died prematurely, an early casualty of the AIDS epidemic. I still miss him.

Anyway, I noted in one of my journals that he had once mentioned, “nothing obsesses me more than the notion of outside/inside.” That is something that has also very much been a recurring theme in my life.

I believe the letter I excerpted above was the last one I ever received from your mother. It’s undated but I believe it belongs with an envelope that’s postmarked 30 Apr 1986. I am sure it cut me to the bone when I first read it. The import for me (however unintended I believe it was on your mother’s part) was that I was forever outside the magic circle, and could have no hope or illusions otherwise. I don’t believe I ever wrote back. I think there ceased to be a point.

Ah, no matter now. Unbeknownst to me, it was a watershed moment. One door shut for good. But another immediately opened. On May 1, 1986, D. and I got together for the first time, on a whim, walking home over the Brooklyn Bridge to celebrate a glorious spring day."

No comments:

Post a Comment