Chere Julie, dear Jules. (Part 22)
Jules Lablagues xx
Ma chere Julie,
Our time of meeting is almost upon us and I find it difficult to contain my excitement. I have completely lost my appetite and my family tell me I walk around with an inane grin on my face. I am so happy. I have never known such joy before. To see you will be the fulfilment of a life-time of dreaming. In just a few days we will be together and I hope you get this letter before you leave for Buckinghamshire as there are many things I wish to say.
I love you with all of my heart and have done so for many months but I have been afraid to frighten you with a declaration of my true feelings. Nine months ago I was a lonely boy who was quickly ageing into a lonely old man but I was unaware of it. I thought I led a full life but, after just one letter from you, I realised my life was almost empty. It is true I kept busy but the mundane tasks that occupied my time only represented a small part of what a whole life should be. Intellectually, my thesis satisfied my cravings, but the mind is best served by using it sparingly. It was my emotional life that had been neglected.
As I have told you before, I have difficulty in expressing my feelings but with you I want to bare my soul and show you myself as I truly am. For the last nine months we have exchanged words but in a couple of days we will swap smiles; we have delved into each other's thoughts but soon we will look into each other's eyes. I knew, from your very first letter that you were more than just a penpal with whom I would exchange pleasantries and comments. Your words were like a fine piece of music I was hearing for the first time and I knew I would want to hear it again and again until I knew the tune by heart and could hum along with it.
I want to hold you against me and press myself to your body. I have never felt this way before. I hug Jacqueline, of course, and we cling together like the two halves of an oyster shell but when I think of holding you I imagine something quite different. I want to merge with you and become one.
Even as I write this I become afraid that my feelings will not be reciprocated. The thought makes me go cold and my mind becomes a damp cellar. All is black, chill and depressing. I do not think I could go through life loving you if you did not feel the same way about me. I thought I could and, until a month ago, was quite prepared to live with unrequited love but now I realise it would be impossible. The situation would drive me insane. I do not just want to love you; I also want to be loved by you.
These feelings confuse me but I welcome the confusion with open arms. The emotional chaos I am experiencing is quite new to me but I would rather live in turmoil than not live at all which is what life without you would be. Before you entered my realm of experience I was an empty shell. I appeared, from a distance, to be alive but on closer inspection it was easy to see that there was a vacancy where my soul should have been. You have woken up a part of me that I was hardly aware existed. I was conscious of an ill-defined longing with which I had lived for many years but you have given shape to this concealed desire and awakened me to aspects of life I had neglected in favour of worldly achievement. You have brought me alive.
Jacques and Pierre have decided to visit Buckinghamshire and they will leave tomorrow. Pierre has challenged Jacques to a race and Jacques has accepted. They are both outside at the moment working on their cars. I have never known such good feeling between the two of them. It is though Jacques has become the brother Pierre always wanted and no longer torments him. Even as I write this, I look out the window and Pierre is alone with the two cars but he is unselfishly helping Jacques by fixing something underneath the engine. When he could be improving his own car he takes the time to help Jacques.
My mother, too, has decided to visit Buckinghamshire and she left this morning as she has to do some shopping on the way. I do not understand this sudden interest although it is possible she wishes to meet you. She has taken my grandmother.
Odile left a few days ago and she is walking to Buckinghamshire. She sees it as a pilgrimage which is in keeping with her latest religion, the Gaufri sect, that places going on pilgrimages as the highest form of existence. For Odile, this is a practice pilgrimage that will prepare her for greater challenges to come. Later on in the year she plans to walk the length of the Great Wall of China as the first of a series of pilgrimages that will take in the seven wonders of the world. Five hours after she left for Buckinghamshire I drove along her planned route. I found her just six kilometres from home and her bare feet were already bleeding. I forgot to tell you that she is clothed only in potato sacks and has no other earthly belongings. Most people within ten kilometres know her well and have been very generous when she begged. She was eating very well but had made little progress.
Genevieve is also going to Buckinghamshire. She has hired a truck and chaffeur and the Last Painting will be installed in it so she will be able to paint as she travels. She has promised that she will unveil her painting when she arrives at our cousins' house where she will present it to them and suggest it is hung in the Great Hall.
It seems I will be the last to leave here and I will have a whole day to myself which is a rare but welcome occurrence. It will give me time to dwell on our forthcoming time together.
My father is just leaving and I want to wish him a good journey so I will finish now and give him this letter to post. All my love goes with it and my one wish is that you will not be disappointed when you meet me.
I love you very much,
13 Beach Street
My dearest darlingest Jules,
This is my last letter and I hope it arrives before you leave because theres lots of things I wants to say before we meets. I am really excited about going to Buckinghamshire and meeting your cousins and everything but more than anything I'm looking forward to meeting you. I havent been completely honest about how I feels about you because I thought it was silly to fall in love with someone you never seen or met but thats what I've gone and done. I loves you with all my heart Jules and I dont care if you dont love me because thats alright too. I'm not asking you to love me as long as you'll be there so I have someone to love. I dont want nothing in return but I cant stop me loving you and you cant stop me loving you either. We're stuck with it. I just cant help it. In my wildest dreams I imagines you feels the same way about me but then I tells myself that I'm being silly but it dont matter. Dont feel that you got to pretend that you loves me just to make me feel good.
I'm scared to read what I just wrote as I might be making a fool of myself. If someone I never met was to write to me and tell me they loved me with all of their heart I wouldnt know what to think. First I'd think it was a nutter. How can you fall in love with someone you never seen. Its like saying that you likes eating larks tongues before you ever tasted one. I read about larks tongues in my mums cooking book and people really did used to eat them in the old days.
I already got all my things packed even though theres still six days to go but its silly really because I still needs some of the things and I got to unpack it and it all gets into a mess and then I got to iron things and pack everything again. At least it keeps me busy and as I already told you I likes to keep busy. When I'm not doing anything I starts to worry about not fitting in with your cousins and making a fool of myself. The wedding dress or at least what there is of it which is basically material is in a big brown paper bag. In one of the suitcases is all the designs I done for dresses that I thought the Comtesse Jacqueline de Mont fort would like to see. If she ever gets her shop on the Champs Elysee she might be interested in using some of them or even one of them.
Everybodys really excited and we dont talk about nothing else and even with the people in our street thats all we talks about. Nobody round here ever went to stay in a big house before where there are cooks and servants. It'll be good to have my family and friends around me for the first day until I get my bearings because it will help me to get settled. Its all going to be really strange and I hopes I fits in. Sharon says I should be myself and if they dont like it then they knows what they can do with it. Its going to be a bit like going on the stage and theyre all going to be watching me. I'm going to stick to you like glue and I'm not gong to speak unless I'm spoken to. Thats what my dad says I should do. Say as little as possible and look interested in what other people are saying because people thinks your intelligent if you agrees with what they are saying so I will be nodding my head a lot and keeping my mouth shut. Thats what me dad told me to do. My mum says that if I wants to do that then I'd better not have anything to drink because then I speaks my mind and gets argumentative. I dont really but I do tend to talk a lot when I've had a couple drinks. Promise me you'll stop me if I starts rabbiting on because I'm bound to end up saying something I'll regret later on. Kirstys always reminding me of things I said when I was a little bit drunk and she really embarrasses me like the time when I was at Kevin Smalls party and no I cant tell you about that now because it makes me get all hot and red just thinking about it. It wasnt really that bad but it makes me look stupid.
Dearest Jules. Its just a few more days and I dont know how I'm going to cope. I dont know if I am coming or going. I'm going to see my gran this afternoon and brush her teeth because its my turn today and I'll probably stay for an hour. She dont always know who I am and sometimes she falls asleep in the middle of a sentence. She only sleeps for about ten minutes and when she wakes up she carries on with what she had been saying as if nothing had happened. Its really strange. She's really excited about going in a car to Buckinghamshire but it is more for the car ride than anything else. She loves driving in cars and when I told her it was going to be a big one with a driver she clapped her hands and started laughing. It worried me a bit because I dont remember her ever laughing before and I didnt know that she could. I mean that I took it for granted that she could laugh if she wanted to because everyone can do that but nothing ever seemed funny to her. She used to sit and watch the comedy programmes on telly and you'd think she was watching the news with something about the civil war in Angola or something. Apart from not laughing she seems happy enough.
Tomorrow I'll probably repack all my things to make sure I got everything. With the money you sent I bought loads of new underwear and a couple of dresses because I dont want to start borrowing other peoples clothes the day after I arrive. I had to buy another suitcase because one wasnt enough. My dad sent his suit to the cleaners because it was all covered in green mould. Its been hanging up in the attic for a few years and its really damp up there. I dont think its going to fit him but he wouldnt try it on before its cleaned and I dont blame him really because it was all stiff and slimy and it really stunk. He hung it up in the living room during the evening while we was watching telly and all our eyes started watering and my mum made him hang it up in the back yard during the night and it rained a lot which didnt help much. The cleaners got their work cut out if they are going to make it clean and presentable or else he's got a sports jacket and grey trousers.
My mum bought herself a new dress for the occasion and I've never seen her looking so happy. She never goes anywhere or does anything and she never complains much and she deserves any happiness she can get. I saw her packing an apron in her bag and I told her she wouldnt need it but she says that she's going to help with the washing up and she dont want to get her dress all messy. I told her she would have her hands full with looking after gran.
Keiths been studying French for the last week and he says its really going well. He's got a thing called Learn French in Ten Days what is a load of cassettes with people speaking French on them. Unfortunately he dont have the book that goes with the tapes because he got it cheap in a car boot sale so he dont really know what they are saying all the time but he can speak whole sentences and it sounds just like on the tape. Last night he told me he had learned forty two different sentences and he practiced them on me and it sounded really French.
Dave Roberts goes around telling everyone that he's going out into the country for a couple of days and he's bought himself a tweed suit. I dont think he's ever been in the country before but he has driven through it sometimes when he's gone to the airport on one of his business trips. He says he feels more comfortable walking on concrete. He keeps asking Kirsty if theres any snakes or things he should look out for. He bought some green wellingtons and I dont think they goes well together with the tweed suit but he says thats what all your royals wears when theyre in the country and if its good enough for them its good enough for him.
I could carry on writing to you and telling you about all the things that are happening here but if you are going to get this letter before you leaves home then I had better go and post it. I'm going to take it to the main post office in town because I thinks it will go quicker. I dont want to stop because there are loads of things I still havent told you but it dont matter because in a couple of days I'll see you. I dont know how to explain it but when I thinks of seeing you the whole world disappears and I goes into a sort of trance and even stops breathing. Then I gets this really funny feeling in the pit of my stomach thats a bit painful but feels really nice at the same time. Then my mouth goes all dry and my eyes goes misty. Maybe this is what loves all about but I wouldnt know but I really wants to know. When I thinks about you its like the sun coming up and it feels all warm. I imagines us in a field and your laying down with your head in my lap and you got a piece of grass in your mouth and your really beautiful and your wearing a white shirt and we looks just like an advert for soap powder.
My darling Jules I really got to stop writing or else I'm going to miss the post. Theres so many things I wants to say to you. Just one last thing I hopes your not disappointed with me.
I really really loves you,
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