To: Stacey Marchenkova
Sent: Tuesday July 23rd 1999 2:35 AM
Subject: RE RE RE RE RE RE RE RE RE RE RE RE RE Perhaps…
So here it is. Here’s the truth. This is what I’ve been bottling up for months.
And please stop reading now. I am about to open up my chest and let it all out.
It’ll be easier to write if I know you’re not reading.
So please stop reading now!
Okay, I’ve tricked myself into believing you’ve stopped reading and I’m just writing to myself.
So here it is.
I do like you.
I like you very much.
We connected – bantering about collectives and silly dog names.
And the first night we went out was lovely.
I couldn’t stop thinking about you. I had that hollow cup feeling, you know?
I was fourteen again. I’d write your name all over the place even with my finger in the air, in dirt with a stick. One evening I bought some sparklers and wrote your name in the night time sky.
I even made you a mix tape too. How shameless.
Here was the track list:
1: Am I wrong – Love Spit love
2: Thirteen – Big Star
3: You’ve lost that Lovin’ feeling – The Human League
4: This is the day – The The.
5: Melt with You – Modern English
6: Let’s Ride – Roger Nichols and his Small Circle of Friends
7: The Night I heard Caruso Sing – Everything but the Girl
8: Unguarded Moment – The Church
9: Gossip – My Friend the Chocolate Cake
10: Ghosts – Japan
11: Margot’s Waltz – Lloyd Cole
12: Don’t Think Twice it’s alright – Bob Dylan
13: If I could talk - Lemonheads
14: That’s Entertainment – The Jam
15: Ouija Board – Morrissey
16: Ship Song – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
17: Glory Box - Portishead
18: Hard Times – Baby Huey
But I never gave it to you. I think I was embarrassed. I mean it’s such a clichéd thing to do.
I tried to write you a poem too; something a little funny, quirky and childish. But it was mainly crass – so sorry for even attempting.
But then Marcus happened (and that’s cool) and you liked him (again – cool) and I fucked up (not cool) and knocked that stupid drink over (really not cool).
I know I did it because I was emotionally all over the place. And you owed me nothing. I was an idiot - plain and simple.
But I still thought of you. I tried not to.
I dreamt of you. I saw your face on strangers in the street.
You were everywhere; on the radio, in the newspaper, on the television.
Your face was plastered twenty feet high on billboards. Your image was posted on the side of buses selling a great romantic movie that was coming soon.
I tried to make it stop. I really did. I’d close my eyes. I tried to sleep. But you were still there.
I was crushed.
And do you remember that rave (‘Herpes and something or other ball’ a few months back). You asked me if I turned up because of you.
I believe I went on some verbal rant about how amazing the night was and how it was coincidence I was there.
But the truth is I did go out that night because you were there.
I even tried to tell you how I felt.
I recall the moment; a smooth mix of Biftec was playing. You were dancing with Marcus and I said,
‘Leave him. Run away with me.’
But the music was so loud you nodded and didn’t hear me.
And when the morning came and I saw you with Marcus, I suddenly realised that I was a cuckoo; foolish and sinful.
And it wasn’t just guilt.
It was the romantic Gods that told me.
You did look good together.
You smelt good together.
Your children would be healthy.
That’s what the Gods told me.
I admit I cried a little that night.
And in the morning, Elsa came home with that Keith guy. Remember him? Very handsome and very dull. They went straight into her room.
And I was alone (I have a small bear for these moments – had it since I was one week old)
So I decided to stop. I hit my chest hard and decided to stop.
The following morning, I woke groggy – coming down. I met Keith in the Kitchen (good name for a band) and love, sex and the whole pot suddenly seemed a little unfair.
So when Keith was gone I drew pictures of knobs with Elsa.
The next morning we woke in the same bed.
And though I still occasionally thought of you as I kissed her, I knew this was maybe a cure.
I focused on Elsa and tried to forget about you. And I enjoyed it. I really did.
For a week or so.
But you emailed again and it was ever so tempting to go back. I tried not to. I tried not to email you so obsessively.
If you recall, I wrote curt, short replies.
And I spent my time with Elsa.
But soon I was back; falling for you again. And all those feelings of teenage pain returned too.
But it was getting familiar. I liked it.
And when we went to your birthday dinner party and I met some of your new friends, I felt comfortable. I felt that I could sit with you, as yours, and fit right in.
But I was with Elsa and she’s so sweet.
And there you were too, at the head of the table preparing to flash your breasts in the female toilets.
Things were now very complicated.
I remember holding Elsa’s hand under the table and gently stroking her knee as some kind of guilt compensation.
I couldn’t even look Marcus in the face. I felt he knew and when he left so abruptly, part of me felt it was because of me. He was upset at me. Deep down I knew this was madness, but I couldn’t help think that he was returning home and preparing some kind of home made bomb with my address on it.
And all the while my hand remained on Elsa’s knee.
The following day when you emailed and discussed your awful night, I felt so buoyed that you considered me safe to discuss such woe.
And then Oftenbark started writing. That was liberating. I could say some of the things I couldn’t directly.
And I felt you could too.
It was an affair of sorts.
I even put it out there. I don’t know if you recall but Oftenbark suggested that we’d make a great couple.
You correctly saw through this ruse and shut it down.
And I understand.
But for a few hours, I hated you a little.
I wanted you to confess, that you had feelings for me too.
But you didn’t. And that’s cool.
So I stopped writing as Oftenbark and tried to return to Elsa.
But you kept coming. You invited me over for breakfast. You even invited Elsa. I said she was asleep. She wasn’t. I wanted to be alone with you.
I spent so long in the bathroom before coming. I deliberated about what clothes to wear. I thought about bringing you the mix CD.
I giddily arrived. I was so happy to see you.
But as soon as I stood in Marcus’s apartment, I truly realised that you were with him.
Not me. I was so close to acting foolishly.
And this feeling of jealousy and disempowerment brought back that moment with my ex and Russell.
And I hated myself then. I felt sorry for myself and I hated myself.
I even told you the story about Russell, so you’d feel sorry for me too, I think.
And I think you did. We plotted ways to kill him. I loved that game.
And for a moment I convinced myself that this was the best outcome. We’d be secretly intimate in our writing and publicly polite everywhere else.
You’d be with Marcus.
I’d be with Elsa.
And we’d shag with emails.
We’d have something with each other that we never would share with them.
We had secrets. We had fears. We had cruelty. We had fun.
I was going to survive.
Thank God, I was going to survive.
And then you broke up with Marcus.
(not quite sure how to write a musical dramatic chord progression to punctuate the moment – maybe something like Dum-dada-da-DAAAAA!)
So my plan didn’t work.
You see, for me to survive I needed you to have Marcus. I needed you to have the real relationship so we could have the secret one.
So you’re right, I was being safe in my responses to you. I was being a councellor. But if I didn’t, this is what I’d write:
“Dear Stacey, don’t be with Marcus. Be with me. He’s an idiot. I am too. But I know it. He doesn’t."
And for the record you shouldn’t have break up sex with him. He’s a fuckwit and you’re being foolish and perhaps a little cruel.
Besides he’s still controlling it and if you think differently – you’re deluded.
Finally – and here's the big one, if you actually want to go back with Marcus well that’s fine and good. But if you do, please stop writing to me.
I don’t think I can take it anymore.
PS So there it is. Complete honesty.
God I hope you haven’t read this.