The Silver Linings Playbook Chapter 34

The Silver Linings Playbook Chapter 34

Letter #5-December 3, 2006

Dear Nikki,

The night after the Tennessee Titans destroyed the Eagles on their home turf – a game in which Donovan McNabb tore his ACL, ending his season and maybe even his career – Andre Waters shot himself to death. I realize you don’t care about any of this, but Waters was one of my favorite players back when I was a teenager. He was a big part of the Gang Green Defense. People called him Dirty Waters because he was fined so much for hitting too hard. And when I was a kid, Waters was a god to me. Jake says Waters probably killed himself after watching the Eagles play so poorly against the Titans, which was not a funny thing to say at all. My father is not talking to anyone, because he is upset about McNabb’s injury, which will most likely ruin the Eagles’ chances of making the play-offs. My new favorite player, Hank Baskett, is not getting many balls thrown to him anymore, but he actually threw an interception during a stupid trick play during the Indy Colts’ win over the Birds just this past weekend. And of course, there was also your last letter.

So I’m thinking this is the part of my movie where things appear as if nothing is going to work out. I have to remind myself that all movie characters go through this sort of dark period before they find their happy ending.

It was hard to wait two weeks for your reply. Your letter made me very sad, and in the past twenty-four hours I have written my reply at least a hundred times.

I don’t know if Tiffany read you the part of my memoir where I described my therapist’s office, but he has two leather recliners – one black, one brown. My therapist lets his patients choose which seat they want to sit in just so he can see what type of mood we are in. I’ve been picking the black one lately.

I’ve read certain parts of your letters to Cliff – that’s my therapist’s name. He doesn’t know about Tiffany’s involvement, because I promised her that I would not tell anyone that she has agreed to act as our liaison. When Cliff asked how I was able to make contact with you, I refused to answer. I hope that you don’t mind my reading some of your words to my therapist. It’s funny. Cliff keeps hinting that I should pursue a relationship with Tiffany. And I know Tiffany is reading this letter to you, so this part will be awkward for everyone involved, but Tiffany will just have to deal with it because this is what being a liaison requires, and I already danced so well, fulfilling my end of the bargain.

Cliff says that Tiffany and I have a lot in common at this point and that you and I have very little in common, because we are in very different places. I thought he meant that you were in Maryland and I was in New Jersey, but it turns out he means that I am still fighting to regain my mental health, and you are mentally stable. I asked Cliff why he would want me to pursue a relationship with someone who is as mentally unstable as me, and he said that you were not able to support me in the way I needed to be supported, which is why our marriage failed. I got very mad at Cliff when he said that, especially since I am the one to blame, but he insisted that you allowed me to become the person I was by enabling me – never putting me in my place and allowing me to emotionally abuse you for so long. He says that Tiffany will not allow me to do this and that our friendship is based on a mutual need and a commitment to bettering ourselves through physical fitness and dance.

Tiffany and I are great friends, and I appreciate all that she is doing for me now. But she is not you. I still love you, Nikki. And you can’t control or alter true love.

Mom checked out The Catcher in the Rye from the Collingswood Public Library. I liked Holden Caulfield very much and felt a lot of sympathy for him because he really was a nice guy, always trying to do right by his sister Phoebe, yet always failing, like when he bought that record for Phoebe and broke it before he could give it to her. I also liked how he was always so worried about what the NYC ducks do in winter. Where do they go? But my favorite part was the ending, when Holden takes his sister to the carousel and she rides on the horse and tries to reach for the gold ring. Holden says, “I was sort of afraid she’d fall off the goddamn horse, but I didn’t say anything or do anything. The thing with kids is, if they want to grab for the gold ring, you have to let them do it, and not say anything. If they fall off, they fall off, but it’s bad if you say anything to them.” When I read this, I thought about your writing that I was in my second childhood and that I would have to “leave the basement” someday. But then I thought about how my improving myself and learning how to dance with Tiffany was like reaching for the gold ring, which is you. Nikki, you are my gold ring. So maybe I will fall off the goddamn carousel, but I have to reach for you, right?

I want to see you. I want to talk to you face-to-face. Just once. Afterward, if you never want to see me again, I can live with that. Just give me one chance to show you how much I have changed. Just one chance. One face-to-face meeting. Please.