Friday, August 31, 2007

Sunday Aug 31

Again visited the camp
this evening. I am in
a way glad I have no
affection for C.

Her actions entitle
her to a new title wildest
for she was the most
daring and noisiest of
all girls; she has such
peculiar ways, so dissagre-
able to me, No such type
for me.

However she is my cousin
and as such I tried to
take care of her in a way
unknown to her.

Enjoyed the party at the
[girls] camp, as for a change
of environment it was


I speculated a bit yesterday on what a party might have been like at the "girls camp" up in Spring Valley, New York, where Papa spent his Labor Day weekend. Once again, for all the scenery and crowds and festive action, he focused all his attention Clara II, the distant cousin for whom he insisted he had "no affection," insisted with the persistence and vigor of a man who's kidding himself.

While he continued to look for new ways to find Clara II distasteful in this entry, he wrote an odd thing, as well: "she is my cousin and as such I tried to take care of her in a way unknown to her." I'm not sure what this means, though I can't help but think she got drunk on prohibition liquor, and maybe Papa took her home and gently put her to bed.

Whatever happened, though, it occurs to me that this moment might reflect a deep change Papa was going through at this time. If I'm right about Clara II's identity, she was distant cousin from the old country. I wonder if his longing for her was tied to his longing for his boyhood home, and I similarly wonder if his struggle to lose his affection for her was tied to his struggle to leave that boyhood behind. Papa's father died back in May, and since then he had, painfully, sought ways to give up his dreams of reuniting with his family, sever his ties to the old country, and finally build a life for himself in America.

I'm writing this on the verge of Labor Day weekend, the official end of one season and the start of another, so maybe that's making me look for signs of change everywhere, anticipate new chapters, perceive myself, my city, my Papa, my world as on the verge of something. But it was Labor Day weekend for Papa, too, the end of a terribly sad and introspective summer, and maybe the party at which he stopped pining for Clara II and started taking care of her was something of a valedictory for him. For a moment, at least, he saw her as what she was, not an object of longing, but an immature young woman, perhaps lonely and homesick herself, who needed help from someone older and wiser. Maybe, in a small way, he was starting to set aside his daydreams and take his world in hand.

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