A reply to: A letter from Newt
Yes, I’m still writing you.
Yes, it’s a surprise to me. When you find out what I found out–oh, wait. You already know. I guess you’re surprised, too.
OK, I really don’t know what to say.
Dammit, fool–just write the letter!
That’s me talking to me, not to you.
Right. So here’s what happened. The other day, Ira and I stopped by Meadow’s place. There were all these kids there, and Ira stayed outside talking to them.
I went in. I was happy. I love watching Ira with kids. She’s like a big kid herself, and seeing her with them just makes me smile.
I started painting at one of Meadow’s easels. She’s got the best light in the foyer of her place. And she has these casein paints I’ve always wanted to try.
While I was painting, she came and stood by me. She was wearing her sister look.
If you had a sister, you’d know what I mean.
She started talking.
“I’ve got big news! Like–apocalypse-size news! I mean, get ready. Are you ready?” she said. She talks really fast when she’s excited.
I set down my palette and brush.
“We gotta sit down for this,” she said.
I followed her into the living room, and while we sat there, once everyone else had cleared the room, she dropped the bomb.
The bomb is this: Your soon-to-be ex-wife is my sister’s penpal.
Well, OK. It’s not a bomb to you. Or maybe it was and it already exploded. What I mean is, you know this.
But I didn’t know it. It was a big bomb.
If you had a sister, you’d know what I mean. All my life, I’ve made it my mission to keep my sister away from guys like… away from anyone who could hurt her. That has seriously been Objective Number One with me since the day Meadow was born. You’d know, if you were a big brother. Imagine how you feel about your daughter. It’s the same thing. You’d do anything to keep her safe.
So, the first thing I wanted to do was to beat you up. Or maybe shoot you. I know I shouldn’t tell you this–but it’s just that the feeling was strong. It was instinct. Yeah, that’s what it was. This huge protection instinct reared up, and I told Meadow she couldn’t write to your soon-to-be ex anymore. We were cutting the two of you off. Like that. But not before I wrote a letter filled with four-letters–the same four letters over and over, followed by “you.”
I know. I shouldn’t tell you all this. But look. We’re friends. Yes, we’re still friends. And I had to work through all these rages. If we were friends who met for a beer, rather than pen pals, you’d know how I was feeling. I wouldn’t be able to hide it. And I’d probably take a swing or five at you, and then kick you in the gut. That is, before I worked out my rage.
But I’m feeling better now.
I talked to Jasper. Jasper said this, “So, now you have a face to the other, and you see that the other is connected to you, through your sister. And now she becomes more than an other. She becomes a person, just like you. What was she before? Was she not someone’s friend? The friend of someone’s sister? What makes it different now that you trace her back to yourself? Does she become more valuable being now within your sphere?”
Yes, my uncle really talks like that. Like he’s some guru. But the thing is, he makes a lot of sense.
I thought out what he said. I realize that it’s no different–you’re no different. It doesn’t change things that there’s this other connection. You’re still Newt, even if your ex is someone close to my sister.
It doesn’t change that you’re my friend.
It doesn’t change that you’re the reason I’m with Ira, that you’re the reason I’m trying so hard to be a good “Primary Care-giver” to Aari.
It doesn’t change that we’re still penpals, and I’m still writing to you.
You can think of this letter as my punching you out–or trying to–and us getting over it and sitting down to share a beer.
Man. I thought Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon was just a game. I didn’t realize it was true-to-life.
Well, Normal Newt, it sounds like you’re doing well with your new girlfriend, setting up your new career, and moving to a new town. You’re doing a lot to set your life right, and I admire you for that.
Hope you forgive my outburst. I just needed to clear the air.