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A gloomy letter for Christmas? Well, it really shouldn’t be for you. You are still young and beautiful and, with any sort of an even break from fate, you should have every chance for a real happiness before you, a happiness that it has become indubitably evident I never did and never can give you. And I certainly wish you to be happy, Agnes—from the bottom of my heart—remembering our years of struggle and the deep friendship that ought, no matter what, if we are decent human beings, to exist between us for the rest of our lives. For what has happened is neither your fault nor mine. It is simply the curse of the soul’s solitude, the grinding, disintegrating pressure of time, that has destroyed Us. If we are not vicious and mean, we can only sadly pity each other. We both tried— and tried hard! So my Christmas present to you is really to give you back your absolute liberty in any way, by any method, you may desire. I will always do anything you wish to make you happy. I will always be your friend—your very best friend, I hope! I can be that—in fact, as a friend I can be “the works” while as a husband I’m afraid I’ve been a miserable misfit. Please believe that everything I have written is an explanation of something that has happened in me. No outside circumstance has anything to do with it. And no one is to blame. Any other supposition would be shallow and absurd. You know well enough that, when it comes to profound inner convictions I am not swayed by anything but my own searching of my own life. And this is a time when, in justice to us both and our children, I have searched deeply. And you are free! Look into your own heart and face the truth! You don’t love me any more. You haven’t for a long time. Perhaps you feel a real affection , as I do for you, but marriage, as I wanted it and can live with it, cannot go on on that. But there’s no use going into it. It is. We don’t love each other. That’s evident to anyone. So, as friends who wish each other happiness , what are we going to do about it? As far as I’m concerned, anything you wish. It doesn’t matter to me. Nothing matters. I’ll work someplace or other—California, New Mexico, Florida, it doesn’t matter a damn. I can rely on myself to do my stuff and outside of that life is meaningless to me anyway. Kiss the children for me. I hope they like their presents. I love them more than you give me credit for. But what do you understand of me or I of you? And for their future happiness I am sure it’s better for me to be more a friend and less a father than the reverse. God bless you and give you happiness!60 Traces of Separation • 165 In this letter, and even more so in the next, Gene was invoking what he considered a precept of their marriage, namely that it was to be founded on love and love only. If one or the other were to lose that love, then the marriage should come to an end. Thus, he insists that any causality for the end of the marriage could have nothing to do with Carlotta, and the beginning of his animosity toward Agnes comes from his sense that she supposed Carlotta to be the agent of change. This, he assigns to the tawdry storytelling of Agnes—and Broadway. To DePolo, of all people, he pleads in May 1928: “You must have heard a lot of the gossipy dirt of Broadway relayed through Agnes—quite natural that she should believe it all—but I know you know women well enough to discount that—and know Broadway well enough.”61 On December 26, he admits to Agnes that he loves someone else. In that letter, he rejects the notion of keeping up any “pretense of being husband and wife”: We have often promised each other that if one ever came to the other and said they loved someone else that we would understand, that we would know that love is something which cannot be denied or argued with, that it must be faced. And that is...


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MARC Record
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