Your name doesn’t start with M. I know there’s no reasonable way you’d ever see this, since you don’t know who I am.
A few nights ago I was up late, per usual, and I checked up on you. I do that sometimes. I see that you got married a few weeks ago. Mazel tov, M.
Though we never met, I know all about you. I’ve seen your photos, preschool you with your parents, fishing pole in hand. Your mom wore ’70s glasses and a Jewfro and your dad looked post Acapulco Gold. You were crouched in a country-house kitchen. You grew up leggy, stunning. Your high school graduation, school projects, action shots of you playing ball at your small progressive liberal arts college. Mom’s eyewear changed, your dad looked sober. I knew about your coursework. Boyfriends. I knew what you’d eat, and what you wouldn’t touch. Your dad liked to cook, and he thought I should, too. He’d email me recipes: shrimp on a bed of slivered almonds, brown sugar, Siracha sauce, sesame oil. (Pyrex, he said, was a must.) Food you ate in your kitchen in your home in your wonderful, funky, artsy neighborhood. A walking neighborhood with cafes, food co-ops, and a bar where your dad hid out. Mom worked nearby. You were a family. I’m pretty sure you still are.
I’m the person who told your father to stay with your mother.
Your dad is insomniac, like me. A big search-engine night owl. 3AM emailer. Your mom went to bed early. Your dad liked to potchka predawn with Photoshop. I’m looking at some of his prints right now on my living room wall. Big lurid photoshopped orchids and goldenrod. They get lots of compliments.
He was so proud of you. You showed your talent for —— at an early age. And your dad, an avid archivist, took tons of photos. Lots of attached jpgs for me to admire. You were so good then. And I see, from your website and reviews, that you’ve continued doing ——. You’re better than ever. You’ve started to show your —— in galleries and I’m in awe. But I’m not surprised. You come from a creative family. Grandparents, uncle, talented, prolific, acclaimed. You’re right there with them.
When your grandfather was hit by a car, your dad called me from a payphone. He gave me frequent dispatches from the crisis. I worried, waited for the next update. I liked your grandfather, even though he was difficult and drove everyone nuts. Your grandfather had no clue I existed. Neither did his daughter, your mom. I wanted it that way.
Things were long distance, epistolary. Clean. But not clean, just by virtue of emotional proximity. Nothing Biblical, not ever. I made sure of that.
I met your dad face-to-face twice. Once in a park, when I came home for a funeral. Once for lunch, at a raw vegan restaurant in the East Village. Your dad and I were chaste in our coats. We walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and spoke about Hart Crane and 9/11, when he crossed the bridge on foot, covered in ash. He saw some things that day he didn’t want to talk about. But he told me, and I listened. He gave me a gold bracelet with pinpoint rubies. I love it, have it, never wear it.
Your wedding, I see, took place on the tropical island where your cranky grandpa has a home. A friend of yours posted photos of the ocean view. It looked so beautiful. I can imagine it. You wore a long columnar off-white partly gauze gown. You’re tall, all gleaming redwood hair, cheekbones lit with Nars highlighter. Your indie-rock husband is adorable. He’s probably teaching your dad a thing or two about music. Your parents walked you down an impromptu aisle, rental chairs stuck in the sand.
Your mom and dad, together. They must have been so happy. They love you so much. I’m glad I told him No.
I wish you every happiness. I wish your family health and love, always.