Garden of the Gods, “It Isn’t to Be Polite,” and the Tightrope Walker: Eric’s Fourth Letter

After a letterless five months, I was delighted to receive an illustrated missive in November 1987. Eric wrote the first part of it while visiting the Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs.

In the Garden of the Gods, Collage by Catherine Raine 2013
In the Garden of the Gods, Collage by Catherine Raine 2013

Catherine,

Greetings. I am watching the sunset at this time.

Garden of the Gods, Collage by Catherine Raine 2013
Garden of the Gods, Collage by Catherine Raine 2013

I’m out at the Garden of the Gods which is a large group of rock formations.

Garden of the Gods, Collage by Catherine Raine 2013
Garden of the Gods, Collage by Catherine Raine 2013

It’s only 4 o’clock but the sun will set soon because there are mountains to the west. I wish you were here.

Garden of the Gods, Collage by Catherine Raine 2013
Garden of the Gods, Collage by Catherine Raine 2013
Garden of the Gods, Collage by Catherine Raine 2013
Garden of the Gods, Collage by Catherine Raine 2013

Two dark parallel lines frame a simple sketch of Eric’s view. A hill with three sprouted lines is Norad, and Pike’s Peak is labelled, too. I love how he included the precise height of Pike’s Peak: 14,110 feet. To the right, jagged rocks burst out of the informative illustration box with the caption “Rocks obstructing more mountains.”

Garden of the Gods, Collage by Catherine Raine 2013
Garden of the Gods, Collage by Catherine Raine 2013

Below the box is an apology that holds painful layers of meaning. A five-month gap between two letters in 1987 seems like a brief interlude compared to the stretch of time that continues to expand without mercy after Eric has passed far beyond the world of letters, apologies, and stamps. His silence stretches both backwards and forwards in time.

Garden of the Gods, Collage by Catherine Raine 2013
Garden of the Gods, Collage by Catherine Raine 2013

I’m sorry it has been so long since I have written to you.

It Isn't To Be Polite, Collage by Catherine Raine, 2013
It Isn’t To Be Polite, Collage by Catherine Raine, 2013

If you are wondering why I am writing though, it isn’t to be polite or because I owe you a letter.

It Isn't To Be Polite, Collage by Catherine Raine, 2013
It Isn’t To Be Polite, Collage by Catherine Raine, 2013

It’s because I suddenly got the urge to talk to you. Why this urge? Well, truthfully, you are the first girl I ever felt really close to and you are always a friend (in the sense of friend much different than a superficial “social friend.”)

It Isn't To Be Polite, Collage by Catherine Raine, 2013
It Isn’t To Be Polite, Collage by Catherine Raine, 2013

The three-page letter continues with news of a break-up and a reflection on how the presence of Norad makes Colorado City “one of the targets for a first strike.” With a wavy line to show a time and location break, he promises to finish the letter back at college.

Tightrope Walker, Collage by Catherine Raine 2013
Tightrope Walker, Collage by Catherine Raine 2013

I had a really great Ethics course. I did a lot of thinking. My favorite quote is (in) the class was from Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Nietszche.

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The text Eric quotes comes from page 18 of this book: “there is no Devil and no Hell. Your soul will be dead even sooner than your body: so fear nothing more!”

Zarathustra is talking to a tightrope walker who is about to die (he fell.) Anyway, the t.w. is worried because the “pious” people told him he was not a good person and would go to Hell. Zarathustra cou(n)sels him:

                 There is no devil and no hell.

                 Your soul will be dead even before your body.

                 Fear nothing further. (F. N.)

Tightrope Walker, Collage by Catherine Raine, 2013
Tightrope Walker, Collage by Catherine Raine, 2013     (I like the text box and how Eric added bold-letter drama to the word Zarathustra. I wonder if the box was intended to represent the tombstone he mentions below).

I think I’ll have this quote inscribed on my tombstone if I have one (which I doubt.) I bet the religious people in my family wouldn’t appreciate the grim humor.

Tightrope Walker, Colllage by Catherine Raine, 2013
Tightrope Walker, Collage by Catherine Raine, 2013

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