October 1981

theinstitution          The Institution
They bind you and blind you
       and lock you up inside
And say it is for your own good
.     and safety
You are fed and sheltered
       and have all you need
But you just can’t leave
How long is your sentence?
The Institution of Marriage

I just had to get that written down to get it out of my head.  I was lying in bed, unable sleep, with versions of those words repeatedly playing through my brain. I finally drifted off, but I woke up with it still on repeat, like when you set the arm on your record player to automatically start playing the disc over again when it comes to the end of the album. I don’t know where it all came from, except that my thoughts got caught up with the concept of the word institution being one of those weird words with more than one meaning… is it a homonym? Or is the word meaning actually the same for a mental or penitentiary institution and the institution of marriage, and the context of the sentence just provides some further detail? Is getting married much different from being institutionalized? Kind of like The Eagles Hotel California “… you can check out anytime you like… but you can never leave.”

So school has started. With the money saved from my paychecks so far, we got Lou some decent clothes for the fall semester from the mall, just like my mom shopped for me in every September I started a new year of grade school.  He even got some corduroy pants.  The slacks crack me up;  they remind of my dad calling them “whistle britches” because of the sound they make when you walk.  Lou also got some jeans and shirts, a really nice pair of Frye boots, and a new pair of sneakers.  So I think he is all set for now.  It’s a little intimidating here at Duke, aka the Harvard of the South.  To me, that means most people are rich, and we are far from it.  In fact, with all the student loans from Union and the ones we’re accumulating here, we are getting poorer and poorer every day. But that will be short term.  I can’t think of a better reason to get into debt than for education.  It will pay off for sure once he gets a great job after graduation.

Work is going fine for me here. I miss Bruce though, more than I had ever imagined possible. We write to each other all the time using the Ramada corporate reservation system kind of like a telegraph. It’s intended to be used to ask questions or send a message regarding a reservation to another hotel using its site identification number.  For example, you could send a note on behalf of a guest who was going from a Ramada in one town to the next and had a special request.  But Bruce and I created code names for each other and send messages back and forth just about every day.  It’s usually nonsense stuff just joking around, and I am thrilled every time I hear that Teletype machine click on. I write long letters to him regular mail too and he writes back to me here at the hotel address. As a wedding present, he gave me a beautiful original pencil drawing of a naked man and woman embraced in a kiss; it is the only artwork hanging in our apartment.



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