I’m writing the captain a letter, since he likes reading English so much and can understand so much more if it’s given in writing. It’s the only thing I can think of to make this bottle of Johnny Walker a gift that actually says “So long and thanks for everything. Really –thanks. I mean it.” So of course I want to write something meaningful. And I’m getting awfully sentimental about this considering the annoyance and venom which I have been known to reserve for him. But however mighty my on-and-off frustration with him has been, his unflagging esteem for me has done its work. He has moved into the box where I keep people. The people in the box are like my own personal peanut gallery. I don’t do or think anything without thinking of what at least one of them would say or do in response. There is a former professor. I write almost every word with him in mind. There is an ex-friend. I conjure him whenever I need a worst-imaginable critic to challenge what I think I believe. And now there is the captain, though I am not sure yet what role his voice will serve since I understood so little of what it actually said.
I know, at least, that this is how the letter ends: “I hope that I can be the person you say that you see in me.”