Journal of a Summer, 1968 Journal; 36 pages, plus other notes, entries; Complete as a fragment; Philadelphia, PA Age: 16; Diaries; memorializing.


Mss_0019_01.

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Spiral bound notebook; Handwritten; cartridge ink on college ruled green paper; Very good;

Prose; My life, our characters, events; Discussion of George, Nameless, Paul and the others; Amy; my mother; others; Philadelphia;

Clear, strong, regular script, unhesitating.

Related mss: 1964;   Felice;   Mirror, Mirror;   Nameless I, 1970;   Prose, 1968;   Journals from: Summer, 1968;   Journal of Characters, 1968   Journals of: Fall, 1969;   Winter, 1970;   Inventory, 1970;   Summer; 1970;  Amy, 1984.  

"Amy left for camp today." So begins my "Journal of a Summer," with its clear pronouncement of intention, "I have decided to keep this journal as accurately and unpretentiously as possible so that when I read it later I will have kept the summer." Writing was the hedge against loss, the attempt to take experience and make it into form, production, output, something tangible as a hedge against the ephemerality and painful passage of time. Amy is gone, how can this be?

Because of the difference in our ages, Amy had been a year ahead of me in high school. She graduated in June, 1968, and was set to go to college in September. In the summer between her graduation and departure, she went to work in a camp as a counselor, an odd thing, as neither of us had ties to those East Coast institutions or their social and cultural networks. Still, our parents wanted us apart by that time, and the three and a half years of intensity that was recorded in the long manuscript Nameless I, with all of its struggles and difficulties, was coming to an abrupt end. We had known it would happen, but we were unprepared for the impact.

I had no idea how to function. How to go on with the other to whom all communication and with whom all formative exchange was gone? Since she moved in four years earlier, she had been my world, the substance and core or my writing, my daily life, my inner life, and outward struggles. No one knew, really, what had gone on between us, the complexities and intricacies of intimacy, the lingering intensity and engagement of hearts and bodies and minds. I was clearly numb, as I noted on this page, and the writing was meant to provide some solace, some comfort, some kind of subsitute for the complete absence of my beloved companion. Because this is something—perhaps the one thing—I could not speak about, it was enormous in scale and determined everything else. These journals went on, in great detail, almost continuously, through the year ahead, noting the shifts and changes of my relation to Amy in her absence, occasional presence, the confusions and difficulties of disconnecting and longing, reconnecting and not. The affair was over, ended, and yet, every excruciating detail of the process of disconnection is mapped here, as well as every nuance of information about the plots, and the characters, those acted out figments of our fragmented selves.The journal was the only place to record the shock and trauma, and explore it.

Amy and I must have written to each other that summer, though I have none of those letters from her or to her. In fact, of all the vast correspondence we carried on for the years we were together, none remains. I must have stored it in Philadelphia, and it must have been tossed by my family in some cleaning purge.

My summer was committed to a science program at the University of Bridgeport, meant to provide a college-type experience of laboratory work and study in a residential setting. The diary records the days before departure, the loneliness on arrival, and many dreams whose recording provided material for writing, a displacement from the direct accounts of the separation and loss. Amy and writing had absorbed all energy and focus, provided all emotional frameworks and contexts, for years. The break was almost unbearable, and more so for the realization that ahead lay only more. We had no way to plan a future that included reconnection, only imagine the intermittent periods in which we might be in Philadelphia at the same time. To complicate matters, her parents had sold the house across the street from mine, and moved to an apartment some blocks away. Hardly a great distance, but the space we had shared so intimately, her rooms on the third floor of the house identical to mine, were gone from our lives.

I wrote extremely sad things in this book, since it was the notebook that recorded my summer separation from Amy and her departure in September. An entry on August 21, 1968, written when I was still at the University of Bridgeport enduring that painfully difficult summer science program, reads, "Only two more days and I'll be going home—to Amy. I only wish I had something to look forward to. All I have is a year alone--only that is not true; I have my whole life alone. This seven weeks I have hardly existed—I can't tell whether it's because of this place or because I am without Amy." Two weeks later, on September 5th, at 11:10 pm, "This is it, this is the night. It is really here. I don't believe it. She is really going." And then notes about our characters, followed by this poignant paragraph, "I think I will really die. It is horrible. I miss her already. So completely. I am totally co-existent with her. Such is life."

This journal goes through the end of August, and I was still at Bridgeport. A small note on a hand-written calendar indicates that I saw Amy for the last time on September, the 6th. But no trace remains recorded.

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