Please welcome today’s guest writer, Caitlin Gent (’15). Caitlin graduated with a major in writing. She is currently completing a year of service through Lutheran Volunteer Corps in Chicago, but plans to relocate to her home city, Milwaukee, shortly thereafter. When she’s not working or writing blog posts, she’s usually on a long walk with a friend or on an ice cream run with some combination of her five housemates. She likes to wax poetic about Wisconsin to anyone who will listen.

Dear M,

I hope you are enjoying life in Oregon. Chicago is finally warming up, which is nice. It is hard to be sad with the sun winking at me overhead and Logan Square’s tree-lined boulevards in full leaf.

I am trying very hard not to miss you. Sometimes, it works.

Until next time,

Caitlin

P.S. One good thing: I am writing again. Prose and poetry, of all things! You would have been proud of me for this, once. It isn’t going well. My recent work is comically wistful at best.

P.P.S. Teach me how to detach and move on; you are better at that than I am. Most days I’m dry-eyed and steady, but I still can’t listen to half of the music we used to like. I am impatient to be whole, healed, and soaring. My mind knows only time can sift you out, but my body wonders aloud if kissing might help?

P.P.P.S. I went, once, for a whole afternoon without missing you. I was light and happy and full to the brim with sunshine, and I owe that mostly to the weather and a good friend. He was very kind to me. He asked if I was a pianist and remarked that I had long fingers and narrow palms, which I thought was an odd thing to notice about a person. I must have been fidgeting with my iced tea. For all his virtues, he makes me nervous. I’d like to see him again.

P.P.P.P.S. Please write back soon.

***

The first time he left for Oregon, we wrote letters. Some time ago, I stashed them in a shoebox that I will now neither open nor destroy. He has told me since that he wasn’t sure what to do with my letters, either, but that he’d brought them along for this year’s one-way trip to Oregon. I never envisioned that he’d want my ninteeen-year-old ghost to follow him there, but I never envisioned him breaking up with me, either—my “envisioning” skills must leave something to be desired.

The longer I keep the Oregon letters shut away in the closet, the fewer details I can call to mind, but I do remember using “P.S.” often.  Throughout that long-distance semester, it became our custom to close every letter with several postscripts: quotes from books we’d been reading, movie recommendations, goofy little drawings, or life details we’d forgotten to mention in the body of the letter. I remember him once using half of a page on a complex doodle of himself slaying a dragon next to a sparkly, smitten-looking stick figure labeled “Caitlin.”

It has been two months now since I last saw him. I miss him more and less every day. As our letters collect dust in my closet and I feel myself healing, I am tempted now and again to write him another letter. I do not know what else to do with the “me” that has both wilted and blossomed in his absence except to write about it. I want to tell him everything: the petty things that happen at work that no one else cares about, the sunlight that comes in the front window on June mornings, the little artifacts of us I have removed slowly from my drawers and walls. I want him to know, in cursive, the precise bittersweet flavor of a recent sultry evening with a friend out East, both of us stripped down to bras & faded shorts on the back patio, sipping Jim Beam from a sweaty tumbler and sensing in the humidity both the complete confidence and fresh loneliness of my body without his. I want to strut in bold letters about why I won’t miss him at that one friend’s wedding because—it doesn’t matter why; I just won’t.

I am tempted almost daily. Every time, I resist. I will let his wounds close, too, I tell myself. And anyway, I don’t know his address.

Caitlin Gent
Caitlin Gent (’15) graduated with a writing major. She lives in Milwaukee and works in fundraising & development. When she's not working, Caitlin is usually walking with a friend or singing in the kitchen. She likes to wax poetic about Wisconsin to anyone who will listen.

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