In Lori Horvitz’s thoughtful “The Lost Language of Lox,” she examines the idea of how, sometimes, the only way you can help a friend is by letting go.
“We met in a fiction-writing workshop in September of 1997, both of us doctoral students at SUNY Albany. You wrote stories about drunken escapades: one that took place on a Pepto-Bismol-colored bus in Nantucket; another about a marine who lured the narrator into his pickup truck and tried to pull off her shirt, but she ran, leaving one of her sneakers in his possession. Soon I learned there was nothing fictional about your stories. You told me about your boyfriend of five years who studied marine biology in Indiana and wanted to marry you. You said, ‘Maybe I’m in love with him but I just don’t know it. I rarely see him and only call him when I’m drunk.’ At last, I spoke openly about my sexuality instead of hiding it. I told you about my relationship with my last girlfriend, a Mexican scientist who studied in New York for two years before returning to her country. In response, you said you’d never been with a woman but had had crushes on women, and added, ‘Any woman who says she hasn’t thought about it is a big fat liar. Oh my gosh! I’m not hitting on you.’ A week later we took a day trip to Williamstown, Massachusetts. I loved driving in the car with you, listening to the mixes you made for me, both of us singing at the top of our lungs to Joni Mitchell, Cat Stevens, the Indigo Girls. For a good part of our visit, because it was raining, we sat in a cafe/photolab. ‘What a great idea,’ you said. ‘You can drink coffee while waiting for your pictures!’ I loved your optimism, your enthusiasm about everything, every a simple cafe. At the time, I had no idea about your ongoing depression. In fact, your cheerful disguise was so effective that a depressed classmate pulled you aside one day and said, ‘You give me so much hope. You’re the happiest person I’ve ever met.’…”
LORI HORVITZ’s short stories, poetry, and personal essays have appeared in a variety of literary journals and anthologies, including The Southeast Review, The Broome Review, The Salt River Review, Hotel Amerika, The Coe Review, Thirteenth Moon, The Mochila Review, Dos Passos Review, and Quarter After Eight. She has been awarded writing fellowships from Fundacion Valparaiso, Ragdale, Yaddo, Cottages at Hedgebrook, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Blue Mountain Center. She is an associate professor of literature and language at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, where she teaches courses in creative writing, literature, and women’s studies.
Read the rest of Lori’s letter, and 35 others, in P.S. What I Didn’t Say: Unsent Letters to Our Female Friends, now available on Amazon and in bookstores nationwide!