For those of you expecting a dolly bird and a bikini, you will be sorely disappointed. The truth is that I miss America. It’s been a mere six months or so since we parted, and I’m afraid I’m not over her. I wrote her this letter, but can’t bring myself to send it.
Miss America, I was never with you for your hidden depths. It was the insubstantial things I liked about you, but then feeling at home is never a matter of important things. Except, of course, all those things that aren’t important turn out to be the foundations upon which we build a life. Things like pressing our noses on the window of J. Press in Cambridge; the timbre of Peter J. Gomes’ voice – sadly nevermore to be heard – and his tired old jokes every time he sent around the plate in Harvard Memorial Church, remember?; the floodlights at Fenway Park, that signalled Americans being American; a darn good hamburger; terrible TV; and a hive of intellectual activity mixed with pheromones at the Widener Library. I really missed your autumn last year – I don’t miss hearing it referred to as the fall – but the winter you can keep.
Peter J. Gomes, who died last week
Miss America, you were so terribly self-important, but we met when you’d taken a knock to your confidence. You were hiding your light under a Bushel, and resenting every minute of it. Still, we got along. Your boys called me prep until I reminded them that I was English, and try as they might, they would never be that. We had tea parties in Boston and ate cream pie and had roast beef at Thanksgiving. It was a gesture. You fetishized me and my accent and I let you, because it was fun. But it was always only going to amount to a fling. Our paths lay in different directions, but I reminded you when I left that the world is round. Our paths would likely cross. We’ll meet again, maybe soon; maybe in a New York taxi this June. I hope you’ll remember. You haven’t forgotten me have you?
Affectionately, I remain yours,