Quietest Hours

My dear Nora,

I hope you’ll forgive me for not writing. It hasn’t been writer’s block exactly. I’ve almost had too many thoughts and feelings to collect them for you.

Elise and I broke up a few days ago. The month leading up to it was filled with tormented days and nights and discussions and overwhelming fear and desire and thoughts and journaling and phone calls to friends and sisters and tears—all of the tears. It was full of sound and fury, but it was never anything bad. Somehow, in all of that, we still managed to convey how deeply we love and cared about each other. How special we considered the other. How remarkably grateful we were to have shared a path for a time.

And now I feel as though I’ve just stepped off of a boat and I’m still swaying with the feel of the water as I step onto dry land. And my legs are wobbly. And I can still smell the sea.

I wanted it to be her, Nora. I truly did, in my heart of hearts. And she wanted it to be me. That’s what made it all so tormented. We were both fighting it in our own way, while something inside us both was telling us we weren’t the best fit for the long term. But the moment it ended, something inside me confirmed that was the right thing, and I believe the same thing happened for her. That sense of peace is what’s sheltered my heart the past few days from the waves of pain that are sure to follow.

Coincidence that Elise bought this book 2 days before we broke up? I think not.

Coincidence that Elise bought this book 2 days before we broke up? I think not. Signs from the universe.

I hope more than anything we will find a way to hold on to each other in life in some capacity. I think we’re still in the shock zone at the moment, figuring out logistics and crap. And also, today is her birthday. Our breakup was mutual, but I still feel like a grade-A asshole for giving her a broken heart for her birthday.

WHAT IS THIS LIFE, NORA?

Thank you for continuing to write me in spite of my radio silence. I’m sure I will tell you more about it all in the coming months. Maybe I am due for an LA getaway and we can just hang out in the park and the California sunshine and play with Toby.

I’ve been reading in the quiet moments, the solemn hours, where everything goes on buzzing around me, exactly the same and completely different at the same time. It feels strange to me, and numb, and like a deafening quiet. I’m reading Rilke’s “Letters to a Young Poet”:

Keep growing, silently and earnestly, through your whole development; you couldn’t disturb it any more violently than by looking outside and waiting for outside answers to questions that only your innermost feeling, in your quietest hour, can perhaps answer.

and also:

“Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked in rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”

I am proud of something, Nora. That I did listen to myself, I did not ignore my gut on this. Even though it broke my own heart. And I don’t understand it yet or have the answers, but I am following my innermost feeling, and maybe living my way into the answers. And in the deepest mud of all the pain, there is a seed of something really good.


Now, about you, my dear. I’m so sorry I’ve neglected you, when you have so much going on. The medical school application process does sound incredibly rigged and infuriating. I want this to be one of those against-all-odds stories like a movie, and you are the underdog protagonist and we are all cheering for you. I am cheering for you. And I’m glad you’re not ready to give up. I want to hear about why you want to be a doctor. What type of medicine do you want to practice?

I’m going to write you a separate letter to discuss numbers 2-4. I have so many thoughts and feelings and questions for you. My schedule is also freeing up so I will have time to write you much sooner than my delayed responses of late. I love this space Nora, having this tiny little corner of internet to talk to you and maybe to others also. It’s nice to know someone is listening. I am always listening, even if I don’t respond for a while, just know that. <3

Love, Ruth

P.S. Congrats on A) NEW JOB! B) NEW APARTMENT! C) NEW HAIRCUT (you look adorable!). Write that personal statement lady, I know you’ve got it in you, put your heart on the page—you are a brilliant writer.

P.P.S. Please re-upload the photo from you letter (titled “dog nut”). I need to see it!

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