A new indie movie, Bright Star, which opens today in New York, is about the true-life epistolatory romance between Romantic poet John Keats and a young woman named Fanny Brawne--about how they fall in love through the letters they write to each other. Since it's directed by the brilliant Jane Campion (the second woman ever to be nominated for a Best Director Oscar for her jewel of a film, "The Piano") I'm looking forward to seeing it. And in a review for The New York Times, A.O. Scott raved, calling Bright Star "learned and ravishing" as well as "perfectlt chase and insanely sexy."
A bit of background gossip about Keats: He died tragically, at age 25, of tuberculosis--and upon his death, at his request, all the letters Fanny had written to him were destroyed!
(Also: the actress who plays Fanny--an Australian up-and-comer named Abbie Cornish--is now dating Ryan Phillipe and it's rumored that she's the reason he broke up his marriage with Reese Witherspoon.)
Anyway ... the reason I'm posting about this is because I was once involved in what Jake Stein liked to call (perhaps with a bit of jealousy!) an epistolatory affair.
While I was in grad school--living in the middle of nowhere, feeling cut off from the real world, miserable--the main source of happiness in my life were the letters I was exchanging with a writer I admired ... and adored. I went out to my mailbox every single day with a bit of anxiety and hope, wondering if there would be some fat envelope from him waiting there. And if there was one? Oh, ecstasy! The smile would creep on to my face and stay there as I walked back up the long, long driveway, which faced a pond. (The little apartment I lived in was connected to a house on six acres.) I would check out the envelope's width--and if it was too skinny, feel a bit of disappointment. I would smell the linen envelope, the pale yellow color of cake batter. I would wait to open it--sometimes for days--till I had time to drive to a nearby lake and read it there, in a state of delirious contentment, before watching the sunset.
Though there was a lot of passion and feeling in the letters, the writer never made any explicit declarations of love--and neither did I, of course. And yet, I fell for him from afar, despite the fact he had a serious girlfriend at the time.
And when his letters suddenly stopped, after about a year and a half of steady exchanges, I was DEVASTATED.
Did his girlfriend tell him to cut it out? Or did he just start to feel like things had gotten too strangely serious between us? Or did he decide, instead, that I wasn't smart enough for him? Or pretty enough? Or that I was too pathetic?
I'm never going to know. I heard he got married--to the same girlfriend--a few months ago. We're not in touch at all any more, and I doubt we will ever be again.
* * * * *
Have any of you ever had epistolatory affairs?
I'm not sure if I entirely recommend them ... and yet ... I still have all my letters from him, and I have no plans of ever throwing them away.
PS: An adorable little kitten followed me in my door last night (as I was pulling my bike inside to the landing). Does anyone want to adopt this bundle of sweetness? Please? I'll help pay for the shots.
PPS: regarding the snoring question: Maureen and Angela, I'm glad you're with me! (But Jenny? You're probably.) Kay ... well, I suppose you and I can never date. (Ha!) But good luck figuring out your allergies. xxx