What is Dead Men Tell No Tales? It is a selection of (hitherto) undisclosed, private ruminations and epiphanies. Most take the form of (slightly) edited letters to unnamed recipients, but some have been scavenged from the depths of private journals recently rediscovered. Over the next little while (however long it takes – days, weeks, months, years?) I’ll be posting them in episodic fashion for the reading pleasure of my nonexistent audience.
In Take Me As I Am, our author puts forth the very best effort he could in professing his feelings towards the love of his life. The rejection arrives nearly a month later.
[In response to how I’m doing:]
Me? I’m drifting, as per usual.
I’m in Utah, working full time. I was working 80 hours a week for a while; now I’m down to 40. I used to be the closing manager for a live theater but I dropped that job and stuck with the one where I repair and sell watches. I got promoted to a position where I get to travel the nation and open up new stores for the company.
Arizona, eh? That’s not so far away from Utah!
Sara, dearest and oldest friend of mine, I have missed you these great many years. (One man’s ‘great many’ may be another’s few, but hey.) I remember with much fondness our closeness. I have done some broodings and had some revelations while here in Utah – I have had much alone time with which I could reflect on myself – and realized that I had pushed you away. I think I can finally say what I’ve been meaning to for so long.
I’m about to sound like an idiot, and that’s because I am one.
I honestly had no recollection of my pushing you away until I dug up some old emails and such and put the pieces together. I was incredibly depressed and cynical at the time. I was just coming into the full realization that my brother (whom you may recall I love(d) completely and totally, and who I used to idolize and want to be like) was an alcoholic. My parents were breaking up, my mom was taking everything out on me.
I am in no way trying to excuse myself. Rather I want to explain.
I had convinced myself of some dangerous things. At this time in my life, I was losing a ton of friends. No one seemed trustworthy. Everyone was abandoning me. I had persuaded myself that people were unworthy of my trust, and that I was fated to be alone – that being alone was in fact superior and admirable – and so those that hadn’t already abandoned me… well, I tried my best to push them away.
I told you I didn’t trust you anymore, flat out. I had no memory of this in recent years – you see, shortly after I did this, I became something of a malnutritioned insomniac. For a year, maybe two, before I left Bellingham, I was eating less than one meal a day and sleeping less than three hours a day. I’ve done some light reading – these activities are not good for one’s memory.
Anyway. I never really did want to lose you. I tried doing many stupid things I should not have to forget about you (like getting into a relationship with another girl). Obviously none of this worked, as a day hasn’t gone by that you haven’t crossed my mind.
Here’s what I figure.
Things probably won’t ever be the same. I screwed up, perhaps the biggest mistake of my life. You know me – I’m taciturn, guarded. I don’t talk to many people, I don’t share myself with many people, but I’ve always been open with you. I tell other people that I only have one regret in life.
I’ll tell you what that regret is – that regret is the way I treated you. When you were interested in me, I let cowardice rule. When you were nice and sympathetic to me, I used you up. When you were a good friend, I was terrible. When it was my turn to apologize, I waited years and years.
Here’s another thing I figure. If I don’t talk to you, you won’t talk to me. And if I don’t tell the truth and speak to you straight and honestly, you won’t talk to me. And the worst that could happen from me opening up to you again would be for you to not to talk to me. And if I let inaction win the day, well, you won’t talk to me either.
So basically, the worst that could happen is that you won’t talk to me. It’s already been almost a year since the last time we talked but I haven’t forgotten you for a day, nor will I ever.
What I’m trying to say is, I’m sorry.
Really, really, really sorry.
I don’t know how to make it up.
What’s the best way to proceed? Start over? Say, “Hi, my name’s John, what’s yours?” I dunno.
I have no idea what you think of me or what you’ve thought about me for the last few years. I’ve speculated all sorts of things – what if she hasn’t thought about me at all, or what if she thought about me everyday like I have her, and so on.
And the most terrible thought – what if I hurt her by what I did? That sudden betrayal, that sudden push away. God I’m an idiot.
That very day I saw you last, in June, I started writing a letter I’d always meant to write you. Not long after, I finished it. I had promised to send you something when you were in Honduras. I didn’t have the courage then.
I wrote another letter in December, around Christmas time. I didn’t have the courage then.
I don’t know why I do now.
I hope you haven’t found this to be overly melodramatic or stupid or laughable or annoying or…like I said. I’ve thought about you every day for the last five years. I don’t know the right things to say, just the honest ones.
So, again. I’m sorry.
I miss you.
[Her response, about a month later:]
You know I really don’t know what to say to this message. All I can really say is that there aren’t really any hard feelings here, and there haven’t ever been. I’m glad that you could come to a realization about things and figure stuff out. You were a bit of a butt back then but I never held it against you, I understood that you were going through a hard time. Anyway I’m willing to stay in touch, I’m not sure how much we can but I would like to stay friends with you.
Anyway, I just didn’t want you to think that your message was going to be left unanswered.
Hope you’re doing well.”
[I would enlist in the Marine Corps three months later.]