September 17, 1976
You are too funny! I told you I wrote to you to say thank you and that was all. I certainly didn’t intimate that we should get together again. You are incorrigible!
And you ask such personal questions about me and David. I can’t tell you any of that! But I suppose the question you were really asking is if it is with him what it was with you that night at the Del.
And the answer is no.
You ignited something in me that I’m not sure has ever truly been touched before. Something I never even knew to want.
Even writing this to you now, confessing this to you, does something to me.
September 30, 1976
I cannot believe you called me on the phone! I don’t even know how you tracked down my number. And yet my heart skipped a beat when it was you. Just hearing your voice again as I stood in the kitchen lit me up.
What is it about you that gets inside my mind and won’t let go? I can feel your hands on me even when you are miles away, even though you have only touched me one night. You did things to me no one has done before. Things I need again.
I guess that is my way of saying yes. I will find a way to get back to the Hotel del Coronado—just tell me the night.
November 20, 1976
What are we doing? I can’t leave my husband, and you simply cannot leave your wife, and I’m afraid that if we carry on like this, it will only hurt everyone.
It was one thing when we were a one-time or two-time (or four times in one night!) thing. But now I worry this is getting away from us. I can’t keep pretending I have friends in town or a doctor’s appointment an hour away.
We have to end it, don’t you think? We have to forget about each other.
December 14, 1976
You are the first thing I think of when I wake up and the last thought I have as I go to bed. I find it difficult to even kiss my husband now. The other day, he came toward me and I shuddered, accidentally. It’s not that I don’t care for him, but he is not where my heart is.
You hold my heart, Ken. You own my body.
I am ready to make a plan to spend more time together. Not just an afternoon or a night, but real time.
Could you do mid-January?
Every year, my mother-in-law comes to town to watch the kids so that I can go away with my girlfriends. It’s scheduled for January 14 through 17. If I tell my family I am going with them but instead come to meet you somewhere, can you get away?
P.S. I heard Simon & Garfunkel the other day at the bank and thought of you dancing in your bathrobe. I started laughing right there in line. My kids thought I was nuts. You make me a little crazy, I think.
January 18, 1977
I am falling in love with you. I should have told you that yesterday when you said it to me, but I was afraid of what loving you would do to my life, to my family. It’s true, though. Of course it is.
I love the smell of your aftershave. I love the way you seem to need me, the way you sometimes look like you’ll die without holding me. I love how you always order your burgers with the cheese on the side. I’ve never heard of that before!
The past few days were full of so many moments that made me fall more and more in love with you.
I loved lying in our robes and eating french toast in bed. I loved reading the paper with you out on the balcony. I loved how beautiful you made me feel as I stood there in front of you in an old wrap dress and beat-up knee boots, things I’ve had for years.
It hurt so much to leave you there. I did not want to come home. I love being the woman I am when I’m with you. I feel like everything in the world is exciting, and everything is something easy and fun to do.
With you, anything is possible. At home, I’m always thinking about my children or whether my family can afford something or how my in-laws will feel. There are so many things that have to be done in a day, and none of them are for me, none of them are what I want. But as I go about all of it now, I think of you. I think of the woman I am when I’m alone with you. With you, I am enjoying myself. I am doing what I want. I am living, in our moments together, with no worries.
You are only for me.
It is as if I have lived with a hard shell all over my body and you have cracked it and it has all fallen off. I am fresh again.
I love you for that. And I needed you to know.
February 15, 1977
Thank you for sending those letters. The ambivalence you felt about sending them seems to match my ambivalence about reading them. I wish I hadn’t, but I know that I had to.
I feel unending fury at the idea of her sharing what she has shared with your husband. When I think of the two of them in a hotel room together, it burns inside me so hard that I think I might collapse.
Yesterday, on Valentine’s Day, Janet left to take a phone call in the bedroom. I pretended I had no idea what she was doing. But before she even came back, I got so mad that I punched a hole through the pantry door and had to pretend it was an accident. You don’t know me, but I have never punched a thing in my life. I even pretend to kill spiders, but I actually coax them into a jar and take them outside. Please don’t tell Janet that. Not that you would. I guess that’s my own secret, isn’t it? I’m not quite the man I pretend to be, and she’s certainly not the woman I thought she was.
Am I weak for still not confronting her about it? I am scared for the things we will say that we can’t take back. I am scared for our children. I do not want to be one of those dads in a condo. She’ll take the kids. What if she takes the kids and moves to LA to be with your husband?
But I also don’t know how much longer I can go on, living a lie, side by side with her. How much longer can I keep this all inside?
Tell me how you live with it, how you make the days go by. I cannot make it through this alone. I don’t think I’ll be able to survive. Please, Carrie, tell me how to do this.
February 16, 1977
I am sorry for my previous letter. I was losing my mind. I know that you can’t help me through this. I’m sure I sounded like a crazed maniac.
I’m sorry I wrote to you so desperately.
February 22, 1977
You have nothing to apologize for. I am always ready to listen. And I find great comfort in your letters. You can consider this a two-way street.
I don’t think you’re weak for not confronting your wife. As you know, I’ve decided not to confront my husband just yet. I still think there is a good chance this thing will run its course quickly. If it does, I think we will be happy that we let it.
But even if I didn’t have that hope, the truth is I’m still not sure I would confront Ken right away. In general, I prefer not to discuss anything with him until I know exactly how I feel about it. Ken has a frustrating way of always winning any argument. He is very intelligent and very persuasive, and I oftentimes lose track of why I was mad as I’m speaking to him. So no matter what direction this thing leads, I am not going to speak to him or anyone else about this at all until I understand exactly what I want to say.
Which is complicated. Quite obviously.
My situation is different from yours. I do not have children. (We have tried for years, and I have not been able to conceive so far.) So I suppose my fears are different.
I married Ken almost ten years ago. I can’t imagine a life without him. I wouldn’t even know where to start. I am afraid of losing all that I have ever known.
I feel like I can’t tell anyone about this because if I’m not willing to leave him, then no one can know.
What I am saying is that I am alone in this, David.
Except for you. You are the only person who understands exactly what I am going through. And I hope I can be that same thing for you. We are not alone. We at least know of each other. It is a very lame consolation prize, but I will take it if you will.