Diary of a Dancer
2:30 PM Dunkin Donuts, Eelsboro, Maine Fri. 26 Aug 77 Here I am again: have I changed? I like myself better,
I think I can say that. Thurs night was a big success. Devon came in with
an IMMENSE bottle of white wine – he either needs it for himself or he’s
trying to turn me into an alcoholic (with my full cooperation.) The clam
and noodle thing I invented was quite good but he wasn’t ready to eat till
nine and we didn’t get to bed till midnight where he revealed a sexually
savage side to his nature that has been previously unseen. So maybe
he was nerving himself. (I loved it). We finished the housecleaning and
were off to the airport by 11.
Fairly silent in the car, though he was tender. When I
mentioned he might come down to DC he said he didn’t think there was
much of a possibility – so now I’m worrying that I’ve been pushed onto
Bad Girl Island while he pines for Pure Young Innocent Eng girl with who
he would NEVER do those enjoyably awful things. (She’s 21!!!! He knew
her 24 hrs!!!) I shouldn’t be silly. I really can’t ever “lose” him. I think he
loves me and everything else is just scar tissue. Devastating airport
goodbye – he asked me to “write soon”. I’m probably lucky he loves me
as much as he does. I was looking damn good if I do so say so myself in
backless red halter top and tight, tight jeans. I do want him to remember
me as beautiful.
11:30 AM Sat 27 Aug 77
M & D are on Ryder’s side!!! And they HATE him! In other
words, they will line up with anybody rather than me. They say of course R
“behaves badly” if I am having an “affair” (don’t you love the archaic term?)
with Devon! I say he doesn’t even know about Devon, plus we weren’t
exclusive BY HIS CHOICE plus we were BROKEN UP. All still seems to be
my fault. Incredibly, they think I am not SUFFERING ENOUGH. Here are
people who have lectured me all my life to find any excuse for other
people’s bad behavior – life has surely injured them somehow. They
didn’t have Advantages! According to them I am the only human being
alive who doesn’t get an excuse – I should just “be different”. How,
asks mom, can I meet “suitable young men” while dancing? Suitable
young men! (They like Marc Kramer who’s a complete horndog and a
political troglodyte. But at least he can afford me!) Am I living in a
Trollope novel? I am so annoyed I don’t want to accept their hospitality
but I really don’t want to rent a room in the House of the Damned aka
Burnside Inn. which doesn’t take dogs – who wept to see me again like
children – then immediately got over it.
Dad’s a very restless retiree I must say but don’t ask me
what to advise. I’m too ignorant. My advice to everyone is “write”; like
naturalists say “Be alone in nature” and religious people say “Find God.”
Reading Vol I. V. Woolf’s diary (so different from A Writer’s Diary) and
hitting the gin. Mom thinks I’m taking “bad” advice from messed up writers – “modeling” myself on failures and suicides – (Dad calls them “degenerates”)
– because it’s “cool”. That’s why I need the gin. I need the gin the first
minute I wake up. Must try not to be such a limp limpet. Told Mom if R
calls at night not to come get me.
Sun 9:30 AM 28 Aug 77 Mom washing windows. God - I think I am supposed to
offer help but I Refuse. I need to get the hell out of here. Mom says I
can’t add my laundry to hers but have to go to the laundromat in town.
So the Battle is On. I’ll just go around smelling bad so there. Mom and
Dad are sailing down the Inland Waterway but not till Oct. Have a horrible
feeling I’m not out of the woods on this Ryder thing. Maybe I can get
established in Wash without him knowing. If I go back to him I will despise
myself. Keep D as my lucky talisman.
Drunk, fat and exhausted. Parents had cocktail party
inviting Island Poet. (Published in The New Yorker.) Tried to give her
the rundown on my summer but it sounds a complete waste – “Wrote
half of a no-good book, got my other book rejected”. Of course my summer
doesn’t sound like anything with the sex & love left out!!! Am I trapped
at the end of a cul de sac? No; there is something there. I just can’t
find it yet.
Dad said he’s sure my life provides a lot of stories, but
maybe what I need is a PhD in Eng Lit! Mom’s reaction to that is rigid
disapproval. (He’ll never make that mistake again.) To explore the
boundaries of one’s soul is Selfish. One Lives to Serve (or to Claim one
is Serving. So, if you’re too stupid to know you’re selfish its win-win for
the small-minded!) Tried to read The Clocks but its Agatha Christie’s
worst. Absolutely meaningless. Poor Virginia Woolf going through a
very bad, painful period. Obviously sick, recording only weather & food.
Now theorists act like she was “mental” not liking to look at herself but
Vita Sackville-West felt the same way. Couldn’t look in a mirror,
wouldn’t buy evening dresses or go to parties! (And she was on the
sexual prowl, unlike poor VW.) I think their era was actually worse
about beauty than we are – they gave it a “magic” “classical” quality so
it was very much restricted. We see more beauty – and in weird places.
Otherwise how explain Leslie Caron? Jeanne Moreau? Charlotte Rampling?
Hardly classic beauties but wonderfully, rightfully worshipped as
goddesses. I see hope for all of us.
8:00 AM Mon 29 Aug 77 It’s real Agatha Christie weather – fog so dense you
can’t see the water. Nevertheless the ferry’s running – Mom took
Dad down. I’m feeling successful, sober and sane. I’m doing exactly
what I want and will find my own way. I’m determined to be happy and
not develop some kind of “rejection phobia.” Not knock out the props of
my own happiness. Accept the fact that my pride has been hardest hit.
The ghost awaits his chance
Inside us all
Revenge de-bodies –
Anticipates the dark
Grasps our foot
Beneath the turning of the stair
Reveals a face as blank as
Icy, seaweed coils entwine mistrust
Around our throats
Suppress our breath
While we dead live.
4:20 PM Letter from the Folger Shakespeare Library
inviting me to read Oct 13! Even Mom was impressed. 20 mins pays
$50! I’ve hit the big time! Wish I’d known this when Island Poet was
asking me why I don’t just kill myself and get it over with. M & D can’t
argue with me going back to DC now (they tell me Berthe Slaughter’s
condo is for sale on the cutest little road. Right on the waterfront. I say
I would rather have the art gallery next to the Atlantic Grocery $5000,
no bath or kitchen. In case they’re buyin’. They aren’t, in spite of the
fact that they are very flush with money right now. Got their $$ back
NY State bankruptcy but Dad always in a panic that we’ll figure out
how rich he is.)
9:00 PM Called Shoulders. He said dogs will be all right
for a couple of days but he’s being evicted at the end of Sept! Too bad,
such a nice house. (And in Chevy Chase!) So I’m spared kennel
fees for 2 days at least. R must be back at work (if he still has a job).
Reading old NY Times Book Reviews in front of a roaring fire.
Dishwashing break – I said I’d do them. Pick up Agatha Christie afterwards
– the preferred reading for “shock cases”. (She was a shock case herself.
Absent in the Spring is very fine).
Island 10 PM Monday night, 5 Sept 77 In bed in the Barnacle drinking coffee, eating bread
with honey. Delicious solitude. Can’t go to the Main House because
Genevieve’s friends from Boston are there – they no sooner arrived for
this Fantasy vacation than they decided they need a divorce. Fortunately,
they are quiet about it. The one thing they can’t deal with is their dog –
tomorrow I have to drive him to the ferry. Oh well. I’ve been enraptured
by this delicious solitude – beachcombing is very healing. I guess I am
just a solitary sort – don’t really care for people at all, I fear. Last night
a bad dream about Ryder – treating me cruelly and me, paralyzed. In
the daytime – in my conscious mode – I remember everything good
about him, his lips mouth and fingers – his constant air of playfulness.
The way we fit perfectly together like interlocking puzzle pieces made
it nice that he was short – my mirror opposite, only male. My lost twin.
But nature abhors a balance, apparently.
Must remind myself how he had to try to turn it to his
advantage, throwing the whole system off and spinning my world into
frozen space. Now he doesn’t know where I am (although he might
suspect.) No phone in this building thank God.
Tomorrow goodbye Maine – back to DC to house-hunt.
M & D have been good about not dragging me to things – enjoyed the
Smythes sculpture show – parties not so much. Parties seem like
“consensus building events” where I’m fated to be perennially on the
outs. Ford Madox Ford made some kind of statement about how
people have to achieve a level of “ordinariness” to be “successful” –
I can’t remember the exact quote. Plus I lack the patience to look it up.
R felt I despised him intellectually, which of course, I did.
I don’t think of myself as stratified, but he is and when you’re with a
stratified person, you become so. Sometimes I am in mourning for the
part of me that died. I wish I could get my letters back – but they were
only love-letters. Must seem now like the ravings of an insane person.
Well, there’s no reason to see him again. I think the casual relationship
is beyond me. I hope in the future I’ll be careful of men going mach
one across the sexual barrier. I’ve got to stop looking at sex as a vitamin
requiring periodic intravenous doses.
Chevy Chase, MD - 10:15 PM Thurs 8 Sept. At Shoulder’s house. Not a bad drive down – (washing the
dogs right before the ferry (I had to – they stank) put some time
pressure on me – but I made the ferry anyway. Larry – Shoulders –
looks different – has a moustache. Talks about needing a roommate –
does he mean me? He doesn’t know where yet and I don’t want to live
with him. His constant string of ignorant pickups would eventually get
me down. He doesn’t mention Ryder and I don’t look up his TV show.
Promising stuff in the classifieds – a garden apt in Landover, a townhouse
in Dale City, sharing a house in Kensington. Took the dogs on the old
walk – they remembered the route. Huge construction at my old house.
Cold lonely core I was
Before you found me
Freed me from
Now I’m a single facet on your stone
Most myself when I’m alone. But
Memories like stones I’m free to choose
And in life’s river,
5 PM Sept 9 Kensington House hopeless. You have to join some
kind of food co-op that’s like a cult religion and there’s a huge emphasis
on kitchen and cooking duties. They all eat together. Seems like
the worst of college and boarding school to me. I’m now sitting in a
real estate office which is really a garage waiting for a guy who’s already
an hour late. He’ll be here in 10 mins they say, then he’s going away for
2 weeks so I hope he will want to close the deal tonight, It’s described
as an old apartment, high ceilings, fireplace. $210 a month. So I’m just
praying the neighborhood’s not too bad.
Bleak. Too bleak. Tried to imagine myself doing my
exercises on that floor, standing in that kitchen waiting for water to
boil, etc. Couldn’t manage. Feeling very stressed. Do I even want to
live in this city? It’s just that I know I can easily make a living if the
book doesn’t take off. Went to the library and loaded up on Agatha
Christies to help handle the strain. It works. Maybe I need to get a
shag haircut and spend the winter in Spain. Now why don’t I do that,
other than the obvious reason I can’t afford it and have missed my
dogs as much as I want to. Another guy says he has half of a house
I might want. With a fenced in yard.
8:15 AM Wed 14 September – Powder Mill Road Drinking coffee in my own kitchen from the mug that
was my present to myself last morning on the island. The guy is
selling this house as a rental property and was amazingly cavalier –
needed a tenant – didn’t look up my refs or demand cosigner.
Absolutely cool when I described myself as a ”writer” so “dancer”
remains beneath the radar. (Dad would say that proves I know
dancing’s “bad”! I refuse to be unsafe just to convince my own father
I’m respect-worthy.) Yesterday very full day. Got up at 8 and moved
the dogs to their fenced in yard. Fetched the truck, loaded and
unloaded with Larry The Shoulders’ help – bookcases, boxes, mattress,
desk, sofa – had truck back by 3. A thousand robins on the weed-grown
lawn. I wonder how long I will be looking at this peaceful green view.