Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Dear Jutta,

It's been so long since I've written you a letter, I don't even know where to begin. I guess I should thank you for always writing to me, in your incomprehensible German handwriting. Whenever you left us notes at the flat, the lads couldn't read them. I would have to translate them for Ronan and Skippy: "I'm at the library studying, be home by 9." or, "Fucking Skippy, I put your nasty socks in the garbage. Have a lovely day!" or, "Wait for me tomorrow morning, I want to go with you for a fry." Ah, the lovely fry ups we'd go have with Ronan on Sunday mornings... Remember? Ah, but of course, you're out in the rugged 'wesht' of Ireland with all of the rashers and the Denny "at least 15% meat product contained within" sausages you can eat. Lucky! Eat some for me. And some Digestives. God, I miss the Digestives.

The truth is I have been thinking about you so much recently. Since about September, the time of year that we first met, I have been keeping a mental ticker in my head... It's been 10 years since I moved into the flat with Jutta and Astrid... It's been 10 years since that night I met Chicca and Jutta while climbing around on the Molly Malone statue... It's been 10 years since that flurry of international student dinner parties, our smiles stained with red wine, laughing at the babel-esque language (Reiner: "I'm a fightah!", and You: "My Roommaid!"), learning to cook from the Italians and all the music that the French girls brought to us... The "Thirsty" Thursdays, polishing off way too much whisky and seeing double Juttas all the way home probably way too many times... Riding our bikes through the wet streets of Dublin to listen to jazz at the Globe... I could go on for hours with this list, you know, but be sure that I've been nostalgic all this time, and this will continue straight through for two more years, through my final year in college, which I realize you weren't present for, and then through our second year together, with the boys, until the day I left Ireland again (but hopefully not forever) to come home and become a mom.

But anyway, we met 10 years ago. For so long, it always seemed just like yesterday, but now, it surely feels like 10 years, if not more. I know that that was me, galavanting about Ireland with my drunken band of merry prankster friends, and I know that those memories are uniquely mine, but I also feel such a distance to that time. We were so carefree! We had to study and go to class, sure, and more for me than for you as I was spending my junior year abroad and my classes just needed to be passed, while you were in your chosen college and having to really work (was that hard for you, hanging out with us waste-oid international students? We were horrible influences!), but still, not a bill, not a requirement, not a "have to live up to our responsibilities RIGHT NOW" moment in that entire year. Just Guiness, Whisky, enormous amounts of Cheese and Pasta (oh, and remember the chocolate mobile we made?), Jazz, Bob Marley, and Trinity are Shite.

I'm so happy to hear you are going back to school to become a psychologist. In some ways, I fancy myself your first patient! Remember those first months after Shamus and I broke up? I was an unstable mess, and you were a constant and peaceful force in my life. You stood up for me, in light of my ex-boyfriend, his new girlfriend and our other flatmate gathering nightly (or seemingly nightly, at least) at our kitchen table, saying, "You know what? Molly kind of needs space. You're here all of the time. It's driving her crazy." Or the night when we had those aborted plans to go out, and we stayed home and admitted to eachother that we were sad, and were just sad together. That was the night I knew you'd be one of my best friends forever. Even if I suck at writing you letters.

I am also so much more appreciative of the job that a psychologist does. The Kid is not well, Jutta. He is mentally ill. He has been diagnosed, technically, with a mood disorder on the bipolar spectrum, ADHD and now we are having to look into an Austism Spectrum Disorder as well. In actuality, it means that he has a hard time taking bad news, he becomes violent and is completely unruly in large social settings, he has a hard time with impulse control, as in, he can't control the urge to do just about anything whenever he wants to. School is the real challenge. He's been enrolled in four schools just in this, his first grade, year. I think we've finally found a good, theraputic setting for him, or at least one that will cater to his needs and help him learn how to teach himself how to be a part of a classroom.

I guess the lesson here, missy, is watch out with whom you mate. It's funny because you were out of town the entire time The Kid's dad was around. It was easter break, and I don't know where you were, but I was traveling for my thesis. We met in Galway and he and his friend traveled with me for a day or two and then he came back to Dublin to stay with me for a week. We only had that one night in "heaven," and I wonder, had you been in Dublin that night in early May, 1999... Oh, who am I kidding, it would have happened anyway, but just not in our room. Perhaps the garden... with the slugs. That would have been, um, just as probable.

But I don't want this one letter in three years to show The Kid in a bad light. Not at all! He's the light of my life, and I don't regret having him. So yes, he's difficult and he throws his shoes at his teachers from time to time, but he's brilliant. He's so smart, and so full. So big and gloriously vital. We went to the art museum here in Denver a couple of weeks ago. There was a journal sitting out on a table for people to write in. On the table was a small sign, asking, "What do you think is beautiful?" I read the sign, gave The Kid a crayon and said, "You can draw or write anything you'd like." Do you know what he wrote? In small, purple, first-grade handwriting, he wrote, "Life." And then directly beneath, in large, purple, first-grade handwriting, he wrote, "Life."

So yes, he's everything, but also more.

And my life is completely built around him. It wouldn't function any other way. I get my "me time," I definitely do, and I do have what passes as a successful career over here, but in that classic way, that only another 9 on the enneagram would do (as I remember, you are a 9 too), I've found myself bending towards his light, getting my energy and passion from him, from learning all I can about these disabilities that effect his life (and mine, and everyone who knows him). But like he said, his life is beautiful. It can only logically follow that so is mine.

So, sweet Jutta, I hope I actually do send you this letter. I write it, or something like it, every year. I chew on your Christmas letter for weeks every year. I think about you constantly on your birthday, you leap-year baby, you. But the letter never gets sent, and the year goes by, and my beautiful and consuming life keeps me from telling me how much I really love you, and wish you the best. Thank you for being my friend.

Much love,


Alison said...

This is an amazing letter. You make me cry. In a good way.

Sarah Dawson said...

Me too.