West Village, New York City
The pen and paper rested on the table for hours. They stood next to the clear glass fruit bowl, just over the small white crochet tablecloth. I sat near the window, where I could hear all sorts of city noises—cars, voices, horns, the rustling of shopping bags, the women's high-heeled shoes hitting the concrete sidewalks. The weather was cold and windy, and a freezing drizzle added to the dirty, overstepped slush accumulated on the curbs. My breath near the window fogged the glass now and then.
It has taken me a long time to write this letter. But if I procrastinated, it was not on account of any pusillanimity. Not anymore, at least. It was, rather, on account of hope; hope that I would never write this missive; hope that I would wake up one day, stand by this very window, look at these very people walking down below, and be able to, once again, believe in our love. But hope has deserted me, Jeremy, for the truth is as simple as it is obvious: Our marriage was no more than a fallacy, like smokeless cigarettes, syllogisms or theodicy.
Our relationship became our religion, and we stuck to it like one sticks to any other religion—not for love, but for fear; for fear of being alone, for fear of sinning, for fear of breaking up with tradition, for fear of what others would say or think, for fear of God, and hell, and lost paradises. For fear that we would lose our identity if we acknowledged the fact that we simply didn't believe anymore.
So we continued to pray our barren prayers—we pretended, we acquiesced, we cheated, we nodded, we turned our heads the other way, we wished we could reconcile defending an omnipotent good in view of surrounding evil. We lived so for years, blindly filling in our days with the emptiness of our souls. And if these words sound sad, and cold, and sour, and harsh, and insensitive, it's because they are all that and much worse, Jeremy—they are a portrait of what we became; they are the aftermath of faith.
And for all this bitterness, I can neither apologize nor repent. Nor can I muster enough strength to fight, or hate, or revolt, or fear. It seems as though I have attained the peace of the atheists, that non-committal, non-judgmental state that gives me the license to feel beyond good and bad, that allows me to write you with a steady hand, without that lingering guilt that, somehow, used to swallow me whole.
I just feel lighter, Jeremy.
And I have been feeding off of this lightness. Even in the loneliness of this apartment, or the grayness of this cold afternoon sky, I feel invigorated, rejuvenated by my faithless existence. I have discovered the pleasures of what I like to call the secularism of the prosaic—a trip to the post office, a visit to the grocery store, the enchanting smell of fresh produce, a glass of red wine, green olives, a sliver of Manchego cheese, a walk down Commerce Street on a crisp Fall afternoon, the black-and-white feel of Central Park in an ordinary winter morning, a smile from the cute young girl who sells me coffee across the street.
I'm amazed at the weightlessness of my feelings.
Reality, Jeremy, for all its horrors, can be so innocent, so sincere, so pure, much more comforting than our old, fickle heavenly fears.
Think about that in memory of me.