Kathi Brown was a really good friend from my years in California. She and her family rescued me when I left a relationship that wasn’t working. When I was in the Hospital at Davis after a breakdown, she came every day to see me. One day I said “you don’t have to keep coming to see me,” and she said angrily “Did you ever think that I might want to see you?” I realized that I meant something to her. She came to visit me when I was living in my house in Brunswick. Alas, I didn’t manage to keep up with the relationship because of depression. I lost a lot of relationships because I didn’t want to inflict my “black cloud” self on other people.
September 2, 1975
Had a wonderful visit with Kathi. We talked and talked, went to L.L.Bean’s at 2:00 in the morning, went to Camden for dinner, went to the Tempest at Monmouth, to dream class, to the beach, a walk round the point. Kathi teased me. At first i was hurt, thinking she was trying to get across an unpalatable truth. Then remembering something my sister said, i said ‘are you teasing me because i’m teasable now and i didn’t use to be?’ she laughed and said yes. and super sensitive too. At last a sense of humor about myself! Being teasable is another index of how much i’ve changed.
She also made some observations about life in the bosom of the Deupree family. No effort was made to fix a proper meal. as meal time approached everybody seemed to get uncomfortable. mealtimes in her family are occasions for celebration, but in ours they are always painful. My parents never asked about her work, about her husband, about Iran. She didn’t take it personally — but it suddenly became clear to me why it took me so long to learn to question people about themselves and why i still have to make an effort: it wasn’t lack of interest (as Bettie once suggested) but lack of example. I told Kathi how i used to go to the Goldsmith’s house for conversation, she laughed. she understood. She said that having met my parents she could now see what my struggle must have been, and in some ways was amazed that any of us were doing so well. It made me feel rocksolid, validated, confirmed. I was crazy. It was a tremendous struggle. I didn’t make up the whole thing to make myself special. Perhaps this is the first time ive been able to hear it without either guilt (‘i am too critical of my parents’) or excuse-making. Perhaps it was because, of all my friends, Kathi is the one who has seen me through all the stages of the struggle. When people say to me with surprise ‘why, your parents are really nice’, it tangles me up in all kinds of guilt: have i presented them as such ogres? am i unable to see their good side because i want to paint them villainous and make myself out to be a suffering heroine? But what Kathi said validates me. She can see in what sense my home life was impoverished. She helps me to say yes i was crazy, yes i did struggle, but in a matter-of-fact not melodramatic way.