A Life of Letters

I Don’t Know If I’ll Ever Get On the Water

Posted in 1983, Loves, Rebecca by southpawcom on March 6, 2012

Bec had moved to Seattle with a young woman she knew from working at El Azteco in East Lansing. She was 22.

Buuku Bucks

Posted in 1994, Loves, Rebecca by southpawcom on March 6, 2012

The state senator I had worked for for the past two years surprised his staff and other observers by announcing that  he would not seek re-election in 1994. That left me in the fall of that year thinking somewhat stricken with panic about my future. And what I thought was that it would be neato to own a travel agency.

I had some money coming to me from a going-away package from the Senate, and I also thought I had a credit line as trustee of mom’s estate. Without spending a whole lot of time researching the subject and with positively no experience in the travel and hospitality industry, I reached out to a company called Uniglobe, a franchisor of travel agencies. I remember spending an hour or two in a creepy guy’s poorly-lighted hotel room on Lansing’s west side, the room air still heavy with the steam from his morning shower, listening to his sales pitch and looking at the sales literature he brought. He asked a lot of questions, but soon it became apparent, to him at least, that I lacked the capital to make a go of opening a Uniglobe franchise in Lansing.

I think shortly afterward I got a letter from Uniglobe headquarters saying that they regretted shattering my dream but I was not the well-heeled investor they were looking for.

It was not long after this that the Internet happened, and everyone started making their travel arrangements themselves online through Pricline and Travelocity. I just checked, and Uniglobe is still out there, but I wonder if their cost-to-earnings ratios and profit margins are the same as they were in those brochures in 1994, before William Shatner and the gnome started taking our reservations.

I’m just grateful I didn’t give anything more than 45 mins and the time it took to write this blog post…

Bec, now equipped with a couple of kids, writes with encouragement, not as much for going into business but for continuing to write. Sadly devoid of any pen flourishes or whimsy save her signature and closing with a queer sequence of letters and special characters she called her “e-mail address,” her letter foreshadows the demise of the art of letter-writing.It reminds me of how Nazi officers begin to replace the bohemians at the guest tables at the end of the movie, Cabaret.

Wearing Your Striped Shirt is Enough to Make My Day

Posted in 1980, Loves, Rebecca by southpawcom on February 6, 2010

Bec taped this note to my door at 269 Phillips Hall at Michigan State, before she whisked off to begin her busy day. I remember that when I wanted to linger in bed with her in the mornings, she would demur gently: “I want to start my day.”

I’ve always felt a special intimacy whenever a girlfriend (or wife) would wear an article of my clothing. Bec would frequently wear a lot of my shirts and even my grey, Irish walking cap. Talk about cute.

For my part, she had a pair of denim OshKosh overalls that I could wear. She and others had applied to them all kinds of sayings and loopy flower-power designs with blue ballpoint ink.

When she wore them, though, as she walked past I would enjoy grabbing the utility loops on the sides, saying “C’mere…,” and kissing her before freeing her to her return to her appointed rounds. It was also rather nice that one needed only to slide a hand down under the riveted buttons on either side, as likely to be undone as done, for a little heavy pettin’.

There is no doubt in my mind that the tape at the bottom of the image was helped along toward becoming yellowed by having picked up a bit of the heavy stain and lacquer applied in many coats to the old oak door of my residence hall room, 269 Phillips, Michigan State University. Go Green!

A 300% Jump in One Year

Posted in 1987, Loves, Rebecca by southpawcom on February 3, 2010

Bec had moved past est and the people and life she had in Seattle and was back living in Detroit and working for EDS when she wrote me this undated letter. (Well, OK, March 11, but no year.) This came out of my big box of letters without an envelope, either. I’m going to put it at 1987, since she says I must be “going through a lot … with the wedding,” which must have been my wedding to Julie on May 9 that year.

She describes at length her relationship with her boyfriend, John, which she gives an outside survival chance of six months, because she wanted to stay focused on her career. If I’m not mistaken, this is the same John that she married and remains married to. I’m glad she’s not an oncologist.

I always enjoyed Bec’s warm and free association sense of humor. She was always very supportive of and genuine with me. We never stopped telling each other, “I love you,” even after we had long since stopped being romantically linked.

On the other hand, isn’t she a little bit sassy, acknowledging my impending wedding and then asking me for a date? (And then giving only her work number to call.)

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We Have Ants

Posted in 1982, Loves, Rebecca by southpawcom on January 17, 2010

Dad was dying in Kentucky when Rebecca wrote to me from the brick duplex we had just moved into on Ann Street in East Lansing in July 1981. I was down in Kentucky saying goodbye to Dad, although we didn’t know exactly when he would go. He had a hospital bed set up in the family room and 24-hour nursing care by this point. He would go in and out of consciousness. I don’t remember really any meaningful conversations with him at this point of his illness. I remember of course being overwhelmingly sad and sorry for Mom. She was putting on the brave face. I also remember it was stiflingly hot in the Ohio River Valley.

I don’t remember the girl in the shoe store that Bec mentions not once, but twice. I guess she was a little unnerved about something I had said that I thought I might do while I was down there. I’m sure I was kidding the both of us, as having fun would have been the farthest idea from my mind with Dad dwindling down to nothing.

It’s interesting and a little sad that Bec said nothing about my Dad in her letter. She wasn’t an insensitive person by any means. I think she was maybe a little freaked out or perhaps I didn’t explain the graveness of his condition to her. It’s also likely that I myself was in denial about it, and so maybe I didn’t talk about it realistically or openly with her. She was very young, only 20.

Not too young to work a naughty picture in between the lines though…. 🙂

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