May 17, 1935
It’s undeniably spring in Pine Hollow, as the days reach heights of humidity oppressing enough to curl my hair, yet night still chills me to the bone. I prefer the more stable temperatures of the Alps. Even with the seasons came the comfort of meeting my own expectations of the weather. Snow was snow, and it fell when snow was supposed to. The same went for rain and wind and sun and heat. Maybe I preferred the Alps because the weather, unlike myself, followed the set of rules that it was supposed to. And perhaps my lack of alignment with such rules is what landed me back in this place.
I still dream of Otto, as much as I try to banish him from my thoughts. Such a life is unfair at best. Once you say you love someone, you are inclined to that statement forever. People should be more careful with their words. With words must come some sort of action, and because of that, I keep my eye on the calendar, knowing that Otto’s marriage is a day old, a week old, a year old. Today, one year old. After a year, there has probably been a baby, or at least talk of it. And I wonder how many houses he’s drawn up and built in a year.
But, the point of this journal, this document, this testament, if you will, is to move my thoughts past Otto. Surely there has to be more to my life than a married man halfway around the world. I can no longer think of Otto as the sun. He never thought so of me. He never thought of me but as a distraction from the mundane torment of his life. I was his “Gestirn” and too late did I come to realize that stars can only truly be seen at night, and only when truly being sought out. The sun shines brightly and commands one’s attention, but the star must wait to be discovered. The star can be forgotten such as I am.
I make it my solemn vow to be forgotten by no man, ever again. It may not be necessary to be the sun either. Rather, I’d be air. For, in all seasons, and in all times, and in all places, air is synonymous with life.
May 18, 1935
Love is constantly surrounding me as I try not to see it. In hindsight, I was obviously never in love with her, but she broke me in another way. I’ve never felt shame over my station in life, but I felt pity on her when I realized that being ignorant to the situations of others made her a fool. I spent six months courting her, and when I told her that I was changing my course of study in physics to become a doctor — to fight TB — she recoiled in horror and said TB patients should be put out of their misery and gassed, not kept up in hospitals for months or years. I never so much as kissed her in six entire months, and at that moment, I was thankful for my reservations. I suppose that’s how I know it wasn’t love. Just like everything else, it was a proving of sorts. I had to prove to myself that I was a master of camouflage.
I will now banish Mary from all of my future thoughts, and that will be the final time I scribe her name. As I sit on this train to a new place, I’ll find a new identity. John Wimbley is dead. He was a bore anyway. Perhaps Richard or Henry would do. So Shakespearean, but that’s just fine because life proves often enough to be a comic tragedy.
There is also the chance that I’ll be Valentine again. Maybe that would be best. Pretending gets to be insanely tiring at times.
May 25, 1935
They’ve begun the construction of the stone wall in the hillside around Larkspur Lake. A whole crew was brought in by the New Deal under the Works Progress Administration. Finally, something to stir my bored mind. I was walking in the woods when I saw a group of them taking a break in the shade and passing a cigarette around. One of them had a bloody, bandaged hand. He looked to be about seventeen and his clothes were practically rags. He took the longest drags from the cigarette. I had to ask myself what would come of someone who must have so much life happen to them before they ever get a chance to live. Why does everything that builds certain people have to be only comprised of failure, while other certain people are only built on success? I would think that the best personality would be built on a mix of the two.
May 25, 1935
As I’ve shown aptitude in math, I’ve been put on the placement crew. We measure and dig some and measure some more. Each rock must fit perfectly and be brought up on a strong foundation. This is true only of rock walls, and not people. Rocks need a foundation to prevent them from toppling over. Some people can seem to grow wings and fly. When I look back on it all, I’m not sure how I got here. I suppose that’s why my mother named me after a saint. So I would have something to carry me. Or maybe my name is my foundation. That was all she had to give me.
It’s a pleasantly different crowd here than it was at Columbia. Nobody talks about their father’s money, and sometimes that’s nice because I’m not so alone at the wall. I’ve taken a small room in town and if I listen quite closely, I can imagine what the sounds of laughter might sound like coming from the amusement park. I saw the great sign from the trolley window on the way to work this morning and I promised myself I’d see it on payday, with the prettiest girl in town. Setting my sights high hasn’t failed me yet.