The Lost Year

The very last entry of 1982: “2 Sept. Back to work 8:30 am”LostYears1

But it wasn’t until Saturday, Jan. 7, 1984, that I picked up the journal (an all-new National 43-571) again.

So for heaven’s sake, what happened between Sept. 3, 1982, and Jan. 6, 1984?

In a letter to Abi, nearly two weeks after returning from our trip, I confessed: “My social life is an absolute sham. I feel ill and pensive. Back at work, I’ve contemplated my duties and it’s dawned on me that it makes me miserable.”

By Jan. 18, 1983, I was corresponding again with Lindsay. Apparently I’d phoned her brother’s flat from Gatwick the day I flew out. She wasn’t there, so I left a message with a flatmate. “I doubted you received the message,” I wrote, “and boarded the plane a bit dismayed—I thought I’d lost a friend!”

LostYrs2I even told her about the late journey strife, that Abi and I “had our share of rows, but living out of each others’ pockets as we did for five weeks didn’t go that badly and, though we learned the dark and light sides of each other, we are still close—only as best described as [Abi] would say—‘as Laurel and Hardy.’

That letter also reveals that Abi did join me and Lindsay on our tour of London Bridge and Tower, admitting that it “was a bit awkward” but “all was made up for at Hyde Park that Sunday.”

After Lindsay wrote back, I responded on Feb. 21: “When did you snap at Abigail? I don’t recall any such thing… Was it at the Tower, or during our lawn outing in Hyde Park? Please tell me, that part of your letter confused me. Did you really snap at her? Good for you! She probably deserved it, the jealous little daughter of Israel.” I sent along Abi’s address, in case Lindsay wanted to apologize.

But it was probably the Jan. 26, 1983, letter to friend Terry Hollingsworth that accurately summed up the British trip:

“There were rough waters in my relationship with Abigail a while ago (distance does not make the heart grow fonder) but we have reconciled. I phoned her about a week and a half ago and we got on much better: the problem lay in a heap of confusion—tapes not received, letters with ambiguous meaning … she wanted me to see other girls (which I have through no prodding from her) and she had been seeing other guys, all the while confessing to be bored with their company but enjoying their caresses just the same. I kept telling myself ‘why?’ The excitement was sucked out of our relationship and it is just now gasping for its second wind. It’s a fine line between here today and gone tomorrow. Deep down I know I don’t want to lose her.”

Everyone at home had assumed Abi and I would get married. So when I arrived back in Minnesota, a lot of old girlfriends contacted me—seemingly to get me on the rebound. High school girlfriend Kristi Peterson invited me over to her parents’ place for gin and tonics; University of Minnesota friend Therese Williams and I started dating that fall of 1982—she, visiting the farm over Christmas that year and, later, both of us attending the February 1983 five-hour staging of Liviu Ciulei’s adaptation of Ibsen’s Peer Gynt at the Guthrie Theater.

But back on the farm, Mom’s depression worsened. In a letter to Lindsay I wrote that “my parents are going on holiday to Florida in two weeks’ time … My mother has been a bit ill lately and that is part of the reason her [sic] and my father are going to Florida—fresh air, warm beaches and sunshine.”

Yet another letter to Terry cuts the subject to the quick: “Things at home have not been going too well; my mother was in the hospital this past week for observation—which proved negative—the doctor said that she is suffering from mental depression; you see, she sleeps all day, has no energy or desire to do a thing, refuses to laugh or cry. My father’s been trying to get her back on her feet again.”

On Sept. 9, 1982, Mom cosigned on a loan for a blue 1981 Datsun 310 GX coupe I bought from a dealership in Wayzata. With a raise from SOS Printing after returning from Britain, and the shop moving up the street that spring, I was finally getting my own wheels. It had over 49,000 miles, and was priced at $4,878. It had a sporty-sleek exterior, zipped along back roads, its AM/FM cassette player blasting the whole time. I was in heaven.

A letter to Lindsay on Sunday, April 10, 1983, reveals a detail I’d wrongly reported in a previous post: that Pop’s Australian sheepdog, Muddy, was there when they bought the farm in late 1980.LostYrs3

“We’ve just got a new dog!” the April letter reads, “Our 13-year-old mixed collie-Sheltie had to be put down at the beginning of this winter, for cancerous tumors were popping up all over her body.”

So, Lassie died during the winter of 1983. It was awhile before Dad felt ready to own a new dog, but when he did he found “a five-year-old Australian shepherd dog named Muddy (pictured above right with Teddy, our barn cat, in front of the farmhouse). She has mottled blue-gray color and answers to phrases such as ‘Hallo, mate,’ and ‘Come ’ave a pint wit me an’ Bruce.’ Ha.”

Early that spring I’d abandoned the Dumond stories for an ambitious novel about the summer in Britain with Abi, its working title Out of English. I confessed to Lindsay my “…inability to pull together a pleasant, easy sentence,” further acknowledging:

“Writing for skill can be really heartbreaking. Just a moment ago I picked up a textbook entitled Writing and Reading English Prose and scanned through the chapter ‘Qualities of Good Prose’ and felt crestfallen to read that in my drafts of Out of English I had nearly broken all the rules; for example, it says here that good writers clarify their prose by ridding it of distracting rhythms, rhymes, assonances and alliterations. The other day, pleased with myself, I scribbled down: ‘They communally snuggle up to the same melancholy sounds, self-indulgently sorrowful, these pining Scots as far as Scots pine…’ You hear the ‘S’ sound snaking its wicked way through that line? I used to think that it was poetic in quality, it offered a melodic strain uncommon to most writing. Now I discover that it’s distasteful!

“Imagine that.”

~ by completelyinthedark on February 6, 2015.

One Response to “The Lost Year”

  1. Reblogged this on Completely in the Dark and commented:

    End of July and noodling posts for August editorial slate. More to come! Enjoy your summer, friends! MM


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


Champion Parallel Parker & Recovering Optimist

Tweak & Shout

RaineFairy's Acrostics

Through the Skylight

Publisher of quality esoteric and literary books, based in the UK

Shadow & Substance

Exploring the Works of Rod Serling

Polysemic Stupor

-the near-unconsciousness of possible meanings -

Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

%d bloggers like this: