Letter to the Editor
11 February 2020
I’m writing to you, as usual, from Colorado, but tonight embodies the Colorado most folks think about when they think about the Centennial State. The ground outside is blanketed with about four days’ worth of what I call Christmas snow, those white flakes of powdered sugar consistency that fall so slow-motion you could count them if you had a mind to. About the only thing I can say when I look out the back window is Gosh. Maybe, hopefully, that’s enough.
I just talked with my wife. She’s been away this week on business with her boss and another colleague. Three ladies loose in L.A. Tonight was their final evening so they found some bougie spot for dinner, a restaurant known as The Ivy, well-known for celebrity sightings. They didn’t see Jennifer Anniston, but my wife’s salad did cost $40. Seems to me if you’re gonna pay $40 for a salad that ought to include an Anniston or something, but what do I know. I almost made a snarky remark about her high dollar salad but all I could eek out was Please come home. It’s hard being away from my wife, always has been these almost thirty years. I know you’re apart from yours right now as you’ve gone on ahead, as they say, to Michigan while your family wraps things up in Texas. A frank & hearty congratulations on your new job, but I do pray the reunion with your wife will be swift and soon. You once described her to me as a woman that makes the world go ‘round. Yessir, I get that. Let not your heart be troubled, my editor and friend, for this is but a season, and seasons do change. But I hear Michigan winters can hang on.
I did want to thank you for being my editor over the last year. I felt sorry for you at first, like you’d drawn the short stick or something in your editors’ meeting and everyone belly laughed with ha, ha, you got the older white guy. But I’ve come to see our pairing as happy coincidence. I’ve been most grateful for your editorial prowess coupled with a light hand. I have had a few editors heavy on the red, so to speak, which in retrospect I firmly believe were actually frustrated writers taking out their frustration on me and my Pat Conroy-esque lust for purple language and Brian Doyle-ish affinity for long ramblin’man sentences sans punctuation. I hope those editors got all their frustration out and went on to lead rather obscure financially shaky writing lives, like me. But I don’t know as we’ve not (ahem) kept in touch.
I’ve consistently had the sense you not only believed what I wrote but also enjoyed it, at one time even describing a column as damn fun. I know some writers who write for the sheer artistry of it and, while I understand what they mean, I couldn’t live on that bread alone. I want some wine and butter to accompany that bread in the form of someone to read what I’ve written and maybe just maybe if I’ve witnessed to what I’ve seen and heard in an honest if not damn fun way, then they might pause and consider something similar in their lives or possibly even something completely different. You’ve helped me write closer but not too close to the bone which let’s face it can be painful. Wallace Stegner once described Wendell Berry as a writer who is a “ruminator...who generally ruminates up some human decency and a lot of human affection and a lot of affection for the earth.” Gosh I like that.
As I’ve said on more than one occasion, when we do finally meet in person, dinner’s my treat. But please know I draw the line at $40 salads, unless of course our wives are with us in which case the writer and the editor could be bougie, if for just one night.
Keep me ruminative, Jed.
Grace, always grace.