1964, 1965 Creative non-fiction; 54 pages; Complete. Philadelphia, PA; Age: 13; Early adolescence; Amy, the beginning; Direct prose, an account.


First page of 1964, manuscript, written in 1965. Mss_0015_01 .

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Loose typewriter sheets in a box; Typewritten; Typewriter ink; Good; paper is aging, but undamaged;

Prose; Adolescent love; girls. Recounts events in the first year of my relationship with Amy; Diane, myself.

The type on this page is pale, as the surface of the ezerase paper is coated, slick, and shiny. The hand-written manuscript, produced in ballpoint pen in a spiral notebook with a soft brown paper cover, is gone. I remember it well, and the days of writing, directly, about the connection to Amy, beginning of our relationship. All that material evidence is absent from this page, which was typed around 1973, when I wanted to share the project with some friends.

Related mss: Nameless I, 1970;   Prose, 1968;   Journals from: Summer, 1968;   Journal of Characters, 1968;   Journals: Fall, 1969;   Winter, 1970;   Inventory, 1970;   Summer; 1970. Amy, 1984.  

This is the first direct account of my relationship with Amy. Awkward, adolescent, naive in its writing and tone, the story is woven through with longing, sentimental impulses, accounts of banal events and profound ones, treated equally. I wrote it in the spring of 1965, following events in winter, but in advance of the deep and long involvement that would begin in the following fall. At the time I wrote this, I thought our friendship had peaked, and that the brief, intense, connection we had shared would be the sum total of what passed between us. The manuscript was written in that mood, full of sadness, registering loss, pervaded by ennui and a sense of the impossibility of our ever connecting again.

I was thirteen years old when I was writing this. Almost a year had passed since Amy moved into the house across the street. I had been through torments of longing this year, wanting her friendship, her affection, her approval. I believed she was the friend I had always wanted. But I could not get her to engage with me beyond the one incredible bonding experience we shared on the day after Thanksgiving, 1964. I had knocked on her door, taking a chance in the chill afternoon that she might let me in. She did, and we sat in her parents' livingroom as it got dark, hypnotized by the streetlight shining off something in the carpet in the gathering twlight. The bright spot of light hypnotized us, and we let the moments extend, darkness wrapping itself around us as we sat. We talked and talked, into a level of intimacy I had never experienced. The back and forth of exchange was intense and genuine. I felt I had found perceiving sentience, an awareness, to meet my own. When the spell broke, I left, and we said goodbye in the dark, at her front door. But the room and that moment remained as a point of reference between us, the "day after Thanksgiving," a touchstone phrase.

In this manuscript, I wrote about that experience, and about what followed. For a brief and very intense period after that Thanksgiving event, we played out characters in a "plot." This was improvisational engagement, a role-playing game that Amy and her cousin Robin had invented. Amy shared the game with me, letting me into the world of imagination in which all kinds of permission could be granted. In a very short span of time, November and December, we did an improvised plot together. Based on my understanding of what Amy had described to us the summer before, I had already taken up plotting with Diane, my friend down the street, my Amy surrogate. But in the winter of 1964, Amy and I shared a "plot" together. I thought that a world of magical intensity had opened to me. Our plot was an excuse for intimacy, for erotic and emotional connection. But it was brief, and Amy broke our relationship very quickly, busy with her high shool friends. I was two years younger, and though I would be in the same school the following year, for that first year the gulf between us was too broad.

I was deeply hurt by the rejection. So I wrote this story as a direct account of what happened, of the psycho-social dynamics that went on among us–Amy, Diane and others, of our infatuation with the Beatles, of our private dramas and my own sadness within an intense self-awareness. I loved Amy, and did not know what she would think of the manuscript, which was not like anything else I had ever written. Gone were the fictions of the year before, or even recent ones, and in their place, this childish but genuine account of my frustrated attempts at courting her, of my persistent desires, longings, and sadness at not being able to go on being her friend. More of an elegy for the relationship than a love-letter, the text was written to hold on to the lost relationship at a moment when it seemed completely gone. But the final lines on the page say so much, the attachment to writing so clear even in struggling with its futility, "Sometimes I wonder about the endless writing, the brown notebooks, then I remember they are so that I do not forget. Then I wonder why."

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