Diary of a Dancer
Shalimar – 3:30 PM –13 Aug 76
Was sitting on a box of Lite Beer sipping coffee
reading Miss Read when Carmen warned me that the boss
might fire me for reading. Apparently writing he doesn’t mind
so much, probably because he can’t imagine anyone keeping
it up longer than 10 mins at a time. R. will be here soon, then
we hit the bank, pick up my stuff and we’re on the road for the
Finger Lakes. Five hours alone in the car. I find I have a lot
of inhibitions against voicing boundaries in our relationship –
mainly because I don’t want to be lied to. I want to find out
how things really are. For example, he spent last night in
Gaithersburg with his wife. Now her I’m jealous of, because
he used to love her, used to think she was a “catch” and
was surprised and gratified that she “descended” into
marriage with him.
I probably won’t ask him if they had sex because
it would be making too much of it. He’s said before he wouldn’t,
and she definitely wouldn’t. But I can’t believe a woman who
knows she’s losing a man might not change in her feelings –
just to see what power she has left. I would, if he wanted the
divorce and I didn’t. Will I be able to tell just by looking at him?
R feels the right to be jealous and possessive over me, which
I don’t grudge him since I’m naturally monogamous. He feels
no discomfort making rules for me. But he should.
6:00 PM Saturday 14 Aug 76 Finger Lakes
Lying on the bed in our tiny TINY two room cabin –
with just a curtain separating the rooms – I was going to write
here about how much I love my job (I really miss dancing so
much when I’m away from it – the ideal thing would be three
sets a day for life) – when R came in, threw himself on me,
tore my clothes off, began kissing my breasts and exploring
my tan lines and pressing his beautiful valued body hard hard
hard into mine – and you know what happened next. If he turns
the fan on high I don’t think the other campers can hear our little
yips and screams. At least I hope not. We spent last night in his
grandmother’s house in Binghamton, New York.
She bedded us down in separate rooms – he gave me a
long lecture about how you have to respect the house rules of
whoever you’re staying with – and then who do you think showed
up in the middle of the night saying he couldn’t sleep. It is ecstatic
to have sex almost without moving – this must be what Tantra is like.
We were directly over her and the bed creaked so we didn’t move a
muscle – absorbed and shed each other like snakes. Wonderful.
Next stop was R’s cousins who own the cabins. I don’t know
what to say about them – plastic flowers and Sonny James. My state
of deep shock probably resembled mental retardation. Some people’s
houses are frighteningly ugly. Their clock has eyes, they keep the
plastic on the lampshades. I just sat there while the ethnic and sex
jokes filtered around me. Who could blame R’s first wife for
shunning this bunch?
I would not choose them for buddies either. And the fact
that they are renting us a cabin doesn’t appear to mean we will
also get privacy – so I have taken to wearing my glasses. Number
one – I don’t see as well – number two – it creates a kind of screen
between me and them.
The Lake is beautiful – but I don’t need to go in more than
twice a day – I also don’t have the patience for the fish-a-thons that
absorb the rest of them, dawn till dusk.
Plus one time waterskiing was plenty. Since dinner is a
vast barbecue down at the beach every night and we only have
sandwiches for lunch and cereal for breakfast there is not that
much to do, thank God. Sadly the dinners are followed by
hours of dancing, drinking and fighting. I go to bed early to read
but R stays and plays “peacemaker”. Tonight he says he’s going
to let them kill each other and join me. Therefore I can set up my
typewriter on the kitchen table and get right to it. People keep
coming to bring me coffee and cookies – I think they really
want to see a writer “in action” – at the end of this trip I MAY
be 20 lbs heavier. The rest of my time is spent sunning and reading.
Unfortunately St. Secaire going VERY badly. Complete
I’ve started it four separate times. I think at this point I just
have to keep going and hope it’s possible to clean up the mess later.
Tuesday 17 Aug 76 7:30 PM
Outside a fair number of people, all high as kites,
revving their engines and swearing they’re leaving and never
coming back. I don’t know if anybody’s actually going to GO
or not but I wish they would. No wonder R had nothing to do
with these people for four years – he may conveniently blame
his wife but the truth is none of them can stand each other.
Pack of wolverines. I’ve been left totally alone and am well
out of it – they may have forgotten I am even here. Last night R
was so depressed he just lay on the bed exhausted by them. I
tried to explain to him about resentment and the resulting succubae
and incubi thus created. (Subject of my novel, in fact.)
He said something about “our next 25 years” that just
floored me. Even my husband didn’t talk like that. Remember
saying to my father – I would be fine if I could only find a man who
treated me as well as I treated him. Dad – so ready to take
anybody’s part over mine, said, Has it ever occurred to you that
you might be hard to live with? Such a typical Daddy remark –
the more you think about it the worse it gets.
Well, R treats me better than anyone else so far.
He’s almost talked me into looking for a new job when I get back –
and that’s a lot. But if he wants to introduce me around, can’t lie
about what I do, etc etc. (This group – doesn’t know about my job –
he says they’d eat me – and him – alive. I can scarcely believe
they would take the moral high ground with me but I suppose
anything’s possible.) Tried to read a Redbook someone brought
shouldn’t do it. So depressing. Could never write like that or
be like that. If that’s the standard this whole thing is hopeless.
Then I picked up a book by Grace Livingston Hill. I’m going to
include her in my article on female pornographers.
R told me he had the impression that if I didn’t have my
novel to write I would probably go bananas. I said probably. I tried
to prepare him for the very different kind of vacation he’s going to
get in Maine – where people very deliberately leave each other alone.
If somebody sets off down the beach and you wanted also to walk
on the beach – you’d turn and go the opposite way. R says in his
family that would be grounds for a six-year grudge punctuated by
sobbing, screaming and threats of suicide.
Went night fishing with R because he wanted me to.
Wrote a wonderful poem about Coleridge – just came to me in
one piece. Couldn’t really share with R – he doesn’t know who
Coleridge is. So I showed him – Haunted Wedding.
The pregnant car disgorges
Only us. It’s winter.
Drunk as silver fish
We beat our gills as light
In an amethyst ring
Of drypoint trees
The half-built house
Gapes and swells
Its timbers stink of sap.
Windrill fields occlude
Our crossing, so you carry me
High above the thorny osiers.
We sleep aloft for safety
Locked and levitating
In this space of air
One season only,
Unseen by angry outriders;
Bloodless in our wedding robes
Like the doubled membranes
Of the frozen flowers
This triggered a fight because he says it wasn’t written
for him. If he jealously searches my work for other lovers
madness is assured.) He almost talked me into thinking it a
I feel my mother’s disapproving stare on all of this – “
don’t ruin what you have by trying to get something else” – as
if showing R this poem would be a deliberate way of hurting him
by making him feel inferior – part of her larger accusation that I
channel so much energy into writing I’m no good with people and
that’s why my relationships suffer. All I can say is, thank God for
Writing now with my feet in R’s lap while he plays cards.
He strokes my toes from time to time, as if I were a cat. We came in
from fishing and he just took my pants down – such earthy
sexuality has never existed for him. He told me he’s never
been so happy. And as for me? One side of my multi-prismed
personality is happy, but some of the other sides are complaining.
Difficult to contemplate an existence where I am not mentally alone
six hours a day.
One of the reasons I like my job is that it leaves that part
of me remarkably intact – dancing is a lot like sleepwalking. If I get
another job there’s a strong chance I’ll have to interact with humans.
Hell. And we both know how humans can be. Then I might be too
exhausted emotionally and battered psychologically to have the
energy to write – it’s a serious risk. Those architects ran roughshod