This is the thirty-second of 87 letters exchanged during World War II between Nicholas Salvatore and Elizabeth Galloway. For more see Nicholas and Elizabeth.

Cactus in Arizona

May 23, 1944
The United States of Arizona

Dear Nicholas,
I may have made a mistake. I wrote a letter to my aunt in New York. As far as I know, she and mom haven’t spoken since we left. If I could get them to talk again it might make her want to go back. How great would that be? To be done with this awful place for good and once again live in Manhattan. God, to think about it leaves me brimming with excitement. I want to travel but how can I when my mom is in the shape she’s in? I can’t just leave her here alone, what would become of her? She used to light up when she talked of New York and now she’s dulled all the time. She doesn’t get happy or sad. She’s found this routine, which is very easy to get stuck in, and she lets it move her along without thinking. I can see it. She’s empty.

All my life I heard how Aunt Emily wrote off my mom since she up and left New York but there’s always another side to the story and I want to at least find out hers. Besides which, it was never my mom’s idea anyway. Never once did she mention wanting to move out here – it was all my father’s doing and she followed because she loved him (I can only believe) and what other options do you have? After the collapse this is all we had left. And so for the past 15 years or so she’s been working hard to make a living off the land. What a life for a dancer, eh? I used to watch her do pirouettes as she gathered the eggs. There was a magic about it. An incongruous magic that didn’t add up. She was still dreaming of those days in the city. I know she was. If only I can get her to again. We’ll see what my aunt says. I figure she has no idea what’s gone on here so I filled her in on Bern, my father and what’s left of mom.

I can’t accept or believe that it’s my mother’s fate to live out her days like this.



Next letter – June 7, 1944