New Hampshire
November, 2005

Dear Hunter,

Last night you asked me to marry you.

And tonight I cried on the way home from work.

I cried because I thought of my father. I thought of his disregard for my mother and of his neglect of the children he brought into the world. I thought of his narcissism, so fierce that family, his family, was far less important to him than his need to gratify his ego, to mask his insecurity, to become Someone Very Important and Known.

In tonight's swollen silence, I was reminded of him, always self-absorbed, while mother stitched fake smiles into everything he unraveled. It's quite plain: I was not born into a fairy tale (as so many rosy desires to wear tutus and glitter and tendrils in my hair might have suggested), but rather into a kind of nightmare of two people, so different and so ultimately mismatched. My mother understood the importance of family, of being close and connected. Not my father, the chaser of broken dreams.

Did you know that my father was unfaithful to my mother every one of the 16 years they were married? Did you know that he left us for a woman with blond hair and cold eyes? Did you know that when that relationship dissolved, he moved from woman to woman, bed to bed, and that oftentimes, on weekend visits with Dad, I had to listen between thin walls of small apartments to the moans of his lovers? Did you know that, at seven, this was more terrifying to me than any monster in the closet could have ever been?

I do not blame him, my father. I do not even ask for explanations. I simply allow that it is not my fault I am scared. It is not my fault that I question the sanctity of marriage, that I have only the vaguest notions of "family life," that I give little credence to the concept of wholeness, and that I chose, in most cases, to be broken, unmoored, in hiding.

You have asked me to be your wife, Hunter. You have asked me to come out of hiding, to accept your love. This has stoked feelings that, until now, were foreign to me. There are brides who have picked a venue before the ring is even presented. There are brides who have wrapped themselves in white gauze and lace, eyes brimming over pink cheeks, innocent of any danger as they wait for "the day." There are brides who take home glossy magazines, and believe in all that is written inside.

I am not one of them.

Hunter, I hope you will take my hands and hold my heart in all their imperfection. I hope you will let me open the secret doors of my shame, so that I might finally purge their blackness. I hope you will be patient when the weight of my past slows me to a crawl. I hope you will know that in those moments I am not gone. That, in fact, I am gaining, even in my trance-like state of solipsism, the momentum to propel me even closer to you.

Last night you asked me to marry you.

And tonight I cried on the way home from work.

Perhaps, though, the lament was not a father-song. Perhaps it was the lament of a girl giving up that very song. Perhaps it was a last dance with the man who could never be what I know you already are.

My answer is yes.

I love you.


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