Prelude 2014: An Anonymous Letter


Photo courtesy of Paul Ketchum

Submitted by: Anonymous / Published by: Sarah Rose Leonard


During Prelude I went to the panel on intimacy and was given a letter to read written by a stranger (M). The letter was for an unknown reader (me). This is my response to that letter.

I will also send a physical version of this response to M via the US Postal system. So M will receive it and people on the internet will receive it and somehow the anonymity feels like an important/exciting/sacred part of the exchange I am having with M and with the people who may read this.
Dear One (M),
You have a way with words. Time is important. And I want you to know, before we begin, that I appreciate your delicate way.

I am thinking about what it means to be myself.

I am sitting in a cashmere sweater and thick socks. I am on my couch. I am thinking.

Do I act like myself around others? With you, (dear one (M)), “with you” in this writing, I am a version of myself. I am the kind of person who addresses another as Dear One (following your lead) and the kind of person who wants to be heard by someone they perceive as cunning.

Are you funny and smart? Are you a man or woman? Are you happy?

Am I acting like myself now? One of them.

Am I “acting”? “Like myself”? Yes! YES! I AM “ACTING”. But maybe not so “like myself” as like the self I think you would like to meet. Maybe I am “acting” like yourself. Or what I imagine yourself to be. I do feel confident I am “acting”.
I want you to like me. I want to be liked. I am 26.

Do I act like myself around myself? Today I slept in late and did not brush my teeth until the afternoon and sat on my couch and convinced myself I have Ebola. I do not have Ebola. I have a burst blood vessel in my left eye.

I made a Zocdoc appointment and met with an eye doctor. I told her I was worried about Ebola and she said- Oh, you’re one of those. And she told me that I do not have Ebola but then she looked at my eye and said it did look “weird” and also my veins did look “juicy”. It was still disconcerting.

The doctor asked me when I last had a physical and I could not recall? Last year? Never? Who am I? She asked if high blood pressure runs in my family.

I called my Dad. He has high blood pressure. He told me to get a physical. He told me I should probably be exercising and taking better care of myself.

All I have eaten today is coffee and miso soup. My debit account is overdrawn $183.

I am thinking of a moment I felt truly intimate.

Who were you last intimate with? Who were you first intimate with? When were you most intimate?

SIDEBAR- Are you always intimate in relation to someone/thing? Or can you just be intimate? With a place? With yourself?

I am remembering moments I was intimate with someone else.

The moments are shuttering through my mind like in one of those things- ugh- oh- you know those things- maybe you get them at Disneyworld and you put these circular papers in them and then you move a lever and you look through and you see different images?

DOUBLE SIDEBAR-What are those things called?

I am thinking of people I have been intimate with. Men. They are mostly men/boys (not boys. Just like…adult boys). I have slept with all of them. And now I think…

Why did I not first think of my friends? My family? Myself? Surely I have shared intimacy with those people too.

Is having sex with someone the most intimate act you can do?

What is your first association to intimacy?

In many of those memories I am indoors. I am in a room. I am in a bed. I am not anonymous. I am vulnerable. I am invulnerable. I am myself. Time does not appear to exist.

….the time with that necklace with the lion on it and “can I keep it?” or “can I wear it?” or the hand-rolled cigarettes and the window cracked slightly or the sheets or the carpet and some kind of laundry detergent smell that’s always on those white shirts or that wood floor and that time with the accents and laughing and laughing and laughing.

I guess you had to be there.

If we met in person, would we discuss these sorts of things? Would we discuss them the same way? Would it be easier or more difficult?

I have something to tell you.

I have put this letter on the Internet. Just mine. Not yours.

I hope that does not displease you.

Does that change how you feel about this letter?

What is the difference between a public and private letter?

Does the act of writing a letter intrinsically feel like the act of writing a love letter sometimes?

Truth or dare?

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