Letters from Andy: 6


It's such a cliche, but they really do grow up so much quicker than you expect. I feel like I blinked too long, and now the kids are about to graduate high school.

Do you remember Sorrels Library? Remember how strange it was that the ugliest building at CMU housed a magical library that made time fly by at ten-times speed? Maybe it's a metaphor for the ugly building that is life, and how investing your energy into something you love makes the time go by faster. Or maybe I should leave the poetry to you.

You haven't seen the little ones since Thanksgiving before last, no? Or was it even the one before that? It's like we used to be part of the same family, but now we each have our own thing and no time for each other. I guess that's growing up. Well let me catch you up on what they've been doing.

Alex has started looking at colleges, but her absolute top choice is the Shaffer Conservatory, in New York. She's going to take piano as far as it'll go. Who would have thought the child of two physicists could become such an artist? Roy's been getting letters back from colleges, and last week he got accepted at Carnegie Mellon (sorry — "Three Rivers University." I'll never get that right. I mean, fuck Carnegie, but it'll always be CMU to me.) He's got no clue what he's doing though. I think he's intimidated by having a younger sister who's so motivated by one particular thing. Alex has no scientific inclination, but sometimes she still seems like the smarter one. He's a very book-smarts kinda kid, but I worry that he lacks direction.

Oh yeah, Clair and I are splitting custody. I'll get weekends and holidays. We were gonna wait for both Roy and Alex to get into college, but we decided it was better for them if they didn't live in a household with both of us.

I just have no context for how to handle this. Dating when you're young, it was easy to roll with breakups because it's like you're supposed to go through a couple of these things before you figure it out. But isn't marriage supposed to mean you figured it out? Where do you go from here?

I've started JuVen, because I have every intention of making the most of my life. Remember how you used to tell me that? I would come to you with questions — "should I do this or that," "what's the right choice here," "what am I doing with my time" — and your answer would always be some variation of "make the most of your life." I'm honestly a little surprised you're hesitant about JuVen, it seems so in line with your philosophy.

I think I'm mostly afraid of losing my wits. Alzheimer's runs in the family, and I probably would have lived to see both my parents forget my name if they hadn't been hit by that drunk driver. I'm turning fifty in a few months, and if I have the chance to keep my mind sharp for another fifty, you can bet I'm gonna take it. I love research and teaching, and I can't imagine what my life would be if I couldn't do either.

I keep having a dream that me and Clair are back at college together, holding hands while walking over the Schenley bridge. That's the one with all the padlocks on it, put there by delusional college students who pretend that the Bellefield boiler is as beautiful as the Seine. In my dream, each of the locks had two dates — one for the day they put the lock on, and another for the day the relationship ended. Most are months, some are years, and a rare few are decades.

You seem to have figured it out though. You always do. You and Cynthia had a rockier start than Clair and I, but now I can't imagine the two of you not being together. I'm not trying to bring you down, I'm just so envious you found the right person before I did.

Everything is temporary, Ceci, makes you wonder what's the point of trying. I still have you, at least. That's keeping me together for the moment.