Letters from a Year Apart

DECEMBER

From: Alexandra Eames

To: Robert Goren

Subject: Any Better?

Date: December 1, 2010

Bobby, are you feeling better? I hope so.

I told my sister about our plans and she suggested we take a train some of the way. What do you think about that? It might give us a different view of the landscape.

—Alex


From: Robert Goren

To: Alexandra Eames

Subject: Re: Any Better?

Date: December 2, 2010

I'm not sick anymore. Happy to be done with it. But I haven't been able to sleep. I feel like I've been awake for the past three days.

I told you I was looking for jobs, right? I have a few offers. The Fort Worth thing looks good, but it won't start until March, so I'm not sure about that. I recently applied with a few Police Departments outside of New York…we'll see if any if that goes through.

But as far as my lecturing career is concerned, I guess it went well. They asked me to sign on for a year contract. If I do, I'll end up traveling anywhere the Army needs me. That guy I told you about (the one I knew from my army days) said that there is a good possibility I could work as a case consultant periodically.

I haven't made up my mind, so I was wondering if you had any thoughts…

The train sounds good by the way.

Bobby


From: Alexandra Eames

To: Robert Goren

Subject: Re: Re: Any Better?

Date: December 2, 2010

Well…

If it were me, I would consider two things: what will make me happiest and how are my finances.

It may sound too practical for you, but if you are in need of money, than take what you can get and don't sign long contracts. Otherwise, wait it out and let the best thing find you. Also, did you ever try to petition with the NYPD? I told you that with my statement about being forced to fire you and a review committee looking over your case, you might get your badge back. I think it's worth a shot.

That might not be the response you're looking for, but for now it's all I've got.

—Alex


From: Robert Goren

To: Alexandra Eames

Subject: Re: Re: Re: Any Better?

Date: December 2, 2010

I have all the paperwork filled out to petition, but I have not sent it in. I don't know if I want to go back.


From: Alexandra Eames

To: Robert Goren

Subject: Joseph Hannah

Date: December 6, 2010

I met a Joseph Hannah the other day. I was at 1PP trying to convince Rodgers to move our ME report to the front of the line (which she did, sort of) and Joseph stopped me to ask how you were. I'm not sure how he knew who I was, but he was nice and I'm sure he'd like to hear from you. He said his phone number hasn't changed.

Made any decisions yet?

Still not sleeping?

—Alex


From: Robert Goren

To: Alexandra Eames

Subject: Your Practical Advice

Date: December 7, 2010

No, I'm not sleeping. I haven't heard from Hannah in years. I always thought if one of us was going to be fired, it wouldn't be me. I guess things change.

I have good news and bad news:

The good news: I took your good and practical advice and realized that all I need right now is a job. I'm going to lecture more, but as you so wisely advised I only signed on for four months and not the year. It won't necessarily be limited to classroom work or CID or even one location. I might be going to military academies. I'll get the details later. I hope I can consult—that's what I really want out of this.

The bad news is that I will be staying in Europe until April. I start back up again on January 10th. That will cut into our trip. I really tried to avoid this, but I don't have a lot of choices right now. We can still have our road trip, but it will be abbreviated to just one week. I'm sorry. Maybe we'll just take a train the entire way.

Bobby


From: Alexandra Eames

To: Robert Goren

Subject: Re: Your Practical Advice

Date: December 8, 2010

Don't worry about it. I'm happy you made a decision.

So if we start our trip on the 1st and get back to New York on the 7th or even 8th, then we'll have a few days?

Maybe we'll save California for another time. I don't want to rush through the places we do have time to see.

—Alex


From: Robert Goren

To: Alexandra Eames

Subject: Re: Re: Your Practical Advice

Date: December 9, 2010

Alex,

I don't want to rush through anything either, but you wanted to drive across the country. That's why you took those two weeks off, and that's why you're working holidays that you should be spending with family.

I'm sorry that I messed this up.

Alex, I think you should go without me.

You're always putting others before yourself. I know that I have taken advantage of that in the past, and you have forgiven me more times than I've earned. I wish I was more like you: Kind, giving, honest, confident. You give all those things to other people. This is a chance to do something for you.

Hear me out: traveling alone is a great experience. I know that you said you wanted someone to share the memories with, but there is something to be said for the solitary traveler. If ever you wanted to do something for yourself, maybe traveling alone would be better than with company.

I'm not backing out of our road trip, but going it alone is something to consider—especially since I don't have enough time to devote to this. Whatever you decide, do it for you.

Sincerely,

Bobby


From: Alexandra Eames

To: Robert Goren

Subject: Re: Re: Re: Your Practical Advice

Date: December 14, 2010

Bobby, I do want to go with you. You're the reason for all of this. I'll admit that I'm disappointed by the turn of events, but I'm not disappointed by you.

I was talking with my sister about our dilemma and my nephew said I should take him. I think he was joking, but I liked the idea. He and I are close, but in the last few years I haven't seen him as much as I would like. I know I've told you this before, but there is something special between us and I don't want that to fade as he gets older.

He'll still be out of school for those two weeks and my sister thinks it's a good idea that I take him with me. Best of all he's all for it.

His birthday was November 21—I didn't see him on his birthday because I was working and only had time to send him a card—so it can double as a better birthday gift and a Christmas gift. (I've never told anyone this, but I feel like November 21 is my birthday too. I did give birth to him, after all.)

If it's okay with you, I want to do this with him.

—Alex


From: Robert Goren

To: Alexandra Eames

Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Your Practical Advice

Date: December 15, 2010

Alex,

I'm relieved that you're still going to do this. I'm sure he'll have the time of his life. You both will.

You and I will figure something else out.

When I was a kid and we would go to my cousins' birthday parties, I remember that my mom would wish the mother of the birthday kid a happy birthday. I never understood and no one else seemed to get it. Everyone would my mom funny looks. She used to say that the mother was the one who did all the work when the child was born—and the mother remembers that day, not the kid—so the mother is the one who should be getting gifts and congratulations.

I think it's just fine, and rather endearing, for you to feel likes it's your birthday too. It's extremely logical if you think about it. I'm surprised it hasn't caught on.

Until next time,

Bobby


From: Alexandra Eames

To: Robert Goren

Subject: Do I Have to Wait Until Christmas?

Date: December 22, 2010

Bobby,

I got a large (and heavy) package in the mail today. Can I open it? Or do I have to wait?

—Alex


From: Robert Goren

To: Alexandra Eames

Subject: Re: Do I Have to Wait Until Christmas?

Date: December 22, 2010

Alex, you can open it whenever you want.

I got a package from you in the mail a few days ago. I guess you beat me to it. I'll wait until Christmas to open mine.

I wish I was in New York right now. I am getting sick of being away. It might just be a symptom of age, but I just want to be home. The funny thing about it is that I never considered the fact that I might get homesick, but here I am—homesick. Even funnier is the fact that I do not really have much to be homesick over. I have no family or major ties to "home," but home is where I want to be.

Bobby


From: Alexandra Eames

To: Robert Goren

Subject: Re: Re: Do I Have to Wait Until Christmas?

Date: December 22, 2010

Well, Bobby, I opened the shipping box with the intention of receiving my gift, but once I saw that the gift was meticulously wrapped and decorated with simple red paper and green bows, I decided to put it under my tree and look at it for a few days. (It really is a big box. . .)

New York has been your home for your entire life, why is it so strange that you miss it? You may miss home, but I know that home misses you more.

Wish you were here.

—Alex


From: Alexandra Eames

To: Robert Goren

Subject: Merry Christmas

Date: December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas, Robert Goren. Because I'm working on Christmas Day and the time difference between us confuses me, I thought I'd send you a Christmas wish now.

I don't know what you're planning on doing for the holiday, but I want you to be happy. Do something you enjoy and take pleasure in the little things.

I'm always thinking of you.

Alex


From: Robert Goren

To: Alexandra Eames

Subject: Re: Merry Christmas

Date: December 24, 2010

Alex,

I check my emails once a day, maybe more, and I wait for your words, your friendship.

I miss you more with every day. Merry Christmas.

Yours,

Bobby


Handwritten Letter

From: Eames. To: Goren. December 25, 2010

Dear Robert,

When I was shopping for your Christmas gift, I realized that I've never done this before. We've never exchanged gifts and I've never felt we needed to. But with you across an ocean, I was compelled to send you something.

When I picked up your mail, I noticed that your subscription of Smithsonian magazine was about to expire. (Yes, I did a very bad thing and opened your mail.) But I renewed the subscription for 2 years, so that should make up for the offense.

The seashell, though, is the gift I want to explain. You may not remember this, but on one of our cases years ago—during a particularly difficult time in our partnership—we were on the beach looking over a dead body or something, and as we were walking back to the car you slipped this seashell into my pocket. You were very good at it too. I only noticed the shell in my pocket that night when I was taking off my clothes. I recalled that when we were trudging along in the sand you stumbled a little and brushed up against me. I assumed that that was when you were able to drop it in my pocket without me noticing.

I never asked you about it, and you never said anything, but that didn't matter. You're the only person I've ever know who could make anything okay with such a small gesture.

The seashell has sat on my nightstand ever since. I've seen it every night before I go to sleep and every morning when I wake. Sometimes when I couldn't sleep I would hold it and run my fingers along the smooth sides and the chipped edge. It certainly isn't a perfect seashell, but given all it probably went through before it got to my pocket, it must be strong.

To slow my racing thoughts at night, I would imagine that shell's journey. It may sound crazy, but it helped me sleep. I hope it helps you sleep.

Faithfully,

Alexandra


From: Robert Goren

To: Alexandra Eames

Subject: Re: Re: Merry Christmas

Date: December 25, 2010

Dear Alex,

I'm still having trouble sleeping. Just as it struck midnight—officially Christmas Day—I found the gift you sent me and opened it. I read your letter over and over again. I traced my fingers along the smooth edges and the chipped edge of the shell. I eventually fell asleep. Your sensitivity and thoughtfulness never ceases to catch me off guard.

I don't think you have any idea of the effect you have on me.

It is a beautiful gift. Thank you.

Bobby


From: Alexandra Eames

To: Robert Goren

Subject: Re: Re: Re: Merry Christmas

Date: December 25, 2010

I'm glad you like it.

I haven't opened my gift yet, but I will. I get off work in a few hours.

—Alex


Handwritten Letter

From: Goren. To: Eames. December 25, 2010

Dear Alex,

Merry Christmas. If you opened the box from the top and not the bottom, as I know you have a tendency to do, then this letter should be at the top and the first thing you read. If that is the case, then we are off to a good start. Please follow my instructions carefully:

On the very top there should be a notebook. Inside is the itinerary I started for the trip. There are maps marked with the best routes, and I printed out "facts" about the places we would be going through. For instance, as we would exit Arizona and enter the California Mojave Desert, I was going to impress you by my knowledge of the Joshua tree. I thought you and the nephew could use it.

Next, there is a Manchester United t-shirt in there somewhere. When I was in Manchester it rained and my other shirt was wet, so I bought this to change in to. But when I got back to London and washed it, it shrunk. I know it will be far too big on you, but it is too small for me. It's clean. It's just been sitting in a drawer with my other clothes. Wrapped inside the shirt is a Manchester United keychain. I think you mentioned that your nephew loves soccer, so I thought he might like something from "the world's most popular football team."

In a long, slender box there is a Spanish fan. I think every woman in Spain has at least one on them at all times during the summer. They must work, and they are quite beautiful.

Now find a square and slender jewelry box. I don't know if I ever mentioned the few days I spent in Prague, but your suggestion was spot on. Prague is one of my favorite places so far. The earrings are made of Czech garnets—I was told they are also called Bohemian garnets—and the deep red is characteristic of what has been mined out of the Czech Republic for quite some time.

When I was in Sweden, I really thought that the perfect gift would be a Volvo. But the shipping costs were a little much and I didn't know what color interior you would like most. (I did visit the Volvo crash test center and it is remarkable—but maybe not as remarkable as the world's largest IKEA. The Swedes are innovative people.) The greatest thing, however, to ever come out of Sweden will always be ABBA. That ABBA coffee mug and that ABBA poster and that ABBA stationary is all yours.

Somewhere in there you should see a mass of bubble wrap. If everything goes well, then the bottle of wine inside should be intact. I bought it in Italy. It wasn't the most expensive wine I could have come away with, but when I tried it, I loved it—more than that, I thought you would enjoy it.

Lastly, I want to wish you happiness. You deserve a life of contentment and joy. If ever I can help you with that, I'll be there. You have given more moments of happiness than I could ever repay.

With all of my heart and good wishes,

Bobby


From: Alexandra Eames

To: Robert Goren

Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Merry Christmas

Date: December 25, 2010

Dear Bobby,

When I got home and saw the box, I suddenly perked up at the thought of your kindness. You'll be happy to know that I opened the box from the top and unpacked it with great care—the kind of care I'm sure you put into it packing it.

Every little gift and story reminded me of the wonderful person you are. You're like jazz music. The first time you hear a new piece of jazz, it can be difficult to listen to, or harsh and unnerving, but if you give it a chance, with each new listen you learn something new about it—the things that were once difficult become beautiful and better with each listen. Jazz is not instantly gratifying like pop music, but it is rewarding and everlasting.

I think you underestimate how profound your friendship and partnership has been on me. Who would I be without you?

Maybe because it's Christmas, or maybe it's because of your wonderful gift, or maybe it's because I can say this in the comfort of a computer screen, but I want you to know that I wish I was with you now; I wish that in some form we were still partners; I wish our trip had worked out.

Thank you for the wonderful package of treasures. I'll save the wine for when you return. We'll open it together.

Always,

Alex


From: Robert Goren

To: Alexandra Eames

Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Merry Christmas

Date: December 25, 2010

Dear Alex,

I wish I was with you right now. I wish I could have hand delivered your Christmas gift and sat next to you while you opened it. I know I mentioned a few weeks ago how I missed home—New York, my own apartment, my own bed—but I really think I could live without all of those things and never miss them again if you were with me.

If you were here in London, with me, I'd make us dinner. We'd talk like we did in the best of times. Eventually, we would move the coffee table, and even though it's cold outside, we'd open the windows, turn off the lights and dance to the string ensemble that plays in the courtyard of the corner bistro. We'd be close and loving—all smiles and trepidation.

Maybe, if things go well, you'd let me kiss the tops of your bare shoulders.

Yours Truly,

Bobby


From: Alexandra Eames

To: Robert Goren

Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Merry Christmas

Date: December 25, 2010

Dear Bobby,

If I let you kiss my shoulders—and why they're bare, I can only imagine—then certainly things would be going well. I'm sure that the dinner would have softened me. But dancing in the living room would have been the way to my heart. To quietly hold each other as if we had held each other for the last decade—that would be wonderful. It would only be so long before I kissed you.

With Affection,

Alex


From: Robert Goren

To: Alexandra Eames

Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Merry Christmas

Date: December 25, 2010

My Dear Alex,

If you kissed me, there would be no turning back. It would be agonizing to do so. Certainly it would be a slow journey, as ours has been, but not a wasted one. We would be cautious and tender and eventually—probably well after the ensemble stopped playing—I'd watch you unbutton my clothes before I helped you out of yours.

Yours truly,

Bobby


From: Alexandra Eames

To: Robert Goren

Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Merry Christmas

Date: December 25, 2010

Dearest Bobby,

If we made it that far without second thoughts, I'd be surprised. But if we were together right now, all logic would be gratefully lost by the time we pulled down the sheets to your bed. We would appreciate every kiss, every touch, and every look, because we would know that we deserved this. We deserved a first time together. It wouldn't be exactly what we had imagined it would be, but it would be what we needed, what we wanted. It would have been worth the wait.

Love,

Alex


From: Robert Goren

To: Alexandra Eames

Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Merry Christmas

Date: December 25, 2010

Lovely Alex,

After—I would try not to fall asleep before you. I would want to tell you that I love you and that I have always loved you. But I wouldn't say anything. Somehow, though, I would believe that deep down you already knew, and that you've always known.

Love,

Bobby


From: Alexandra Eames

To: Robert Goren

Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Merry Christmas

Date: December 25, 2010

Bobby,

With the sheets pulled to our chins, I'd sleep next to you—as close as possible—and when I was sure you were asleep, I would slip my hand into yours and let you keep me warm. I would cherish your love and affection.

Alex


From: Robert Goren

To: Alexandra Eames

Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Merry Christmas

Date: December 25, 2010

Alex, I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing that we're not together tonight.


From: Alexandra Eames

To: Robert Goren

Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Merry Christmas

Date: December 25, 2010

I guess we'll never know.