January 20 (Werther to Lotte)

Dear Lotte —

I feel like I have to write you right now, from my tiny room in this motel upstate where I’ve pulled off the highway to get out of a blizzard. The whole time I’ve been in that madhouse N___ Y___, running around everywhere with all these people I barely know who are so deeply not my people, I haven’t had a single moment, not one, when my heart called to me to write you; but now, in this little room in the middle of nowhere, alone, with snow and sleet raging against my tiny window, here, you were the first thing I thought of. I walked in and images and memories flooded over me of you, oh, Lotte—so sacred, so warm! oh God… it took me right back to that first night again.

If you could see me now, dear heart, in this vortex of distraction! My soul is shriveling up… not one moment of fullness of heart, not one second of sacredness! nothing! nothing! It’s like I’m watching a screen, seeing people and cars flicker by, feeling like I’m in some kind of video game… And I play along—or actually, I get played, like a character in a game, and sometimes I take my neighbor by his digital hand and give it a shake… At night I promise myself to get up early and enjoy the sunrise, and I never make it out of bed; at work I dream about catching some moon-rays, and then I just stay inside. I don’t really know why I’m getting up or going to bed at all.

The spark that used to fire up my life is missing; the zest that kept me smiling in the dark of night is lost—that thing that got me out of bed in the morning… it’s gone.

I have met one person here, this young woman B____—she’s a lot like you, Lotte dear, I mean—as much as anyone could be. “Eww,” you’re probably thinking, “he’s being so cheesy!” And… you’re not wrong. I’ve gotten so smarmy lately, you can’t help it here, I’m all “smooth” now, and guys have started calling me a player (= which translates into English as “a liar”, by the way, since that’s what “game” is all about—you know?)… anyway. I was trying to tell you about B_____. She has so much soul—you can see it shining out of her blue eyes. She’s sick of her “successful” life that doesn’t nourish her heart at all. She wants so badly to get out of the rat race, and we spend hours together fantasizing about selling everything and going backpacking or taking a road trip… mmm! and visiting you! She’s always saying how wonderful you sound—really, this isn’t me, this is her talking!—she loves hearing about you… you’re very dear to her already.

…I wish I were still there with you, sitting at your feet in your living room, with all our dear little’uns crawling all over me… and if they ever got too loud for you, I’d draw them all around me and quiet them down with one of my spooky fairytales o.O …

The sunset is glittering on the snow-covered hills, the storm has died down, and I—I have to go lock myself up in my cage again. — Be well! How are things with Albert? Are you guys still—ahhhhh, I’m so sorry, that wasn’t okay, I’m sorry!