To Feldman, who finally broke me:
You said you wanted me broken. Well...you sure as shit broke me.
I spent Christmas Eve all alone in an empty two bedroom Astoria apartment hysterically crying alone in my bathtub...a Bud Light Limerita and a pack of Parliament Lights dangling on the edge. I had been living there for almost two years with almost no furniture and no one else around. Cigarette butts and empty beer cans covered the front porch. Dirty laundry consumed the floor and moldy dishes the kitchen sink. That apartment was my prison, a prison of lies I had no idea how to leave. And just as I had done a million times in that desolate wasteland, I obsessively looked at Sienna's Facebook picture. Like a model from a lifestyle magazine, her flawless updo and perfect pastel floral dress stared back at me from a sea of Sconset peonies. But she wasn't a model. She was your damn wife.
For the first time, seeing Sienna's perfection didn't send me into the throes of a drunken panic attack. It was like my pain transmorphed into an empty hole. It felt how I imagined the phantom sensations from an amputated appendage would.
I took off my proverbial blanket that night, and I tried to leave my prison. I had spent the days and hours before concocting an epic resume of lies to apply for "Director, High Jewelry Cartier." I don't know if I could have pulled off such an absurd deception, but I had accomplished many other absurd deceptions prior with surprising ease. But I was done with lies. You married her. No deception could undo that.
I abandoned those remanufactured Cartier dreams, and I walked my dog down the frosty Queens streets alone, glancing in the decorated windows of happy families and passing by good friends in Christmas sweaters excited to greet each other. And for the first time in years, I wasn't filled with hate. I think some part of me knew that would be the last Christmas I'd spend all alone. I walked back to my apartment with a bottle of bubbly and a happy dog. I popped open the Champagne on my front porch, poured it in a teacup, and watched the ice rain down on Astoria. I smoked my last cigarette. I drank my last sip of alcohol.
And then I started writing. The words poured out like sweat in a fever dream.
After two years gazing toward NYC from Queens, I was done. I sold my Hugo Boss suits and Chanel boots and Prada purse. I booked a ticket for Dubai and then Thailand and then back to Paris where I spent the next two months completing the book you'll find enclosed.
MANSION is the only fruit of my obsession with you. The working title was "FELDMAN," and it is literally all I have to show for 4.5 years of an exquisite emotional pain...a pain that overtook my entire existence. It was born from the overwhelming desire--a jealousy, perhaps--for a perfect life. I wanted to become something "better" than some bartender. I never imagined I'd need to become Prestige High Jewelry Advisor at Cartier Mansion to earn your love, but that was the woman you married.
I was wholly unlike any gold digger searching for a rich husband. The want to become part of a new aristocracy innocently began from an earnest affection and adoration for you, a person whose social class I felt--maybe wrongly--would never allow him to really love me. That absurd desire drove me to maneuver myself into a world someone like me would have never been allowed to enter through honest means alone. And the fucked up part is I still don't know if I'm ashamed or proud of what I accomplished.
I know what you're thinking. You never really knew me, right? Well, for many years, I'm not even sure there was a real me to know. You always accused me of not being real. You were 100% correct. I was an empty shell of a human being.
And in the end, I guess the person you knew was three things and and three things alone--a writer, a liar, and a girl so madly in love with you she was willing to destroy absolutely everything she loved and then finally herself in pursuit of that dream. I hope this book signals I am none of those three things anymore...not even a writer. I said I wanted to become something better. This book is as "better" as I can be for now.
And yeah, maybe you might not have known me, but I knew you. I fucking knew you. And I loved you as much as a ghost of human being is capable of loving another person.
The first copy of MANSION is yours. Really, I guess all copies are belong to you. For better or worse, you are the love of my life. Through 4.5 years of insanity, Feldman was the only steadfast. You were a green light on the end of a distant dock...or maybe the lighthouse flickering in the throes of a Nor'easter (if we're sticking to the silly Nantucket theme and skipping the whole gross Hamptonsesque Great Gatsby interpretation, ha). It's a book about how obsession can transform something good into something evil.
You said to me once, "It's okay if things don't turn out like you planned." I try to remember that every day. I look into the mirror, repeat those words to myself, and walk out of my westside cottage into the Nashville air with an open heart. It's a heart that loves you and a heart that is profoundly sorry if I caused any torment to you and your wife. I am so very sorry. There is no excuse for what I did. Hopefully I vomited up every insanity into this fucked-up book, and they will be left to drown in the same dark Nantucket waters that bore them.
You know, I never went to Nantucket. I saw it once from a plane. I rented a car to go there, but I turned around at the Ferry. I guess I worried seeing the beauty of your birthplace might destroy any semblance of the real me there was remaining...filling the shell I had become with an unfulfilled desire that would implode into a singularity and then into nothingness.
I hope you read this book. It's as much yours as it is mine. It's for the Feldman I met in Nashville. Sometimes I imagine him walking up to my simple front porch on the edge of Vanderbilt, with a big hug and a fluffy dog, to greet an ornery street rat who almost infiltrated NY society just because she loved you. Thinking I'll see that Feldman again makes me happy even though I know it will never happen. I'd tell you to untuck your shirt and stop being so damn austere. Then I'd pour you a glass of good bourbon and we'd watch the fireflies saying nothing at all, dogs playing in the yard, the smell of freshly mowed Tennessee grass in the air. We'd eat pizza from Mellow Mushroom, which I think isn't that great but I know you love. We wouldn't look at each other too long. Because in this fantasy there's also the truth. You still married another woman after only knowing her for a few months...fresh off a plane from Dubai to work at the newly opened Cartier Mansion. And I'm okay with it. Because I know she's who you need. Submissive and perfect and dainty. I'll accept I was never suitable for garden parties or Private Equity Fund dinners. I'll accept that the you I know in Nashville only exists in Nashville...your father's chosen home in both his life and his death, after he rejected the society to which you still cling. I'll love you, and I'll move on. You'll go back to NYC, spending weekends in Nantucket with your perfect Cartier wife. I'll forgive you. I'll forgive myself. I'll do it because I loved Nashville Feldman. And because I know he has to leave. And maybe one day he'll be just like his father. Maybe one day he'll leave all the Northeastern silliness for something better, something simple. For a place like Nashville. For a girl like me. For a girl who burned her fancy clothes and left her own NYC high society hell just as your father did.
But Nantucket Feldman? He is to me nothing but a ghost...just as the NYC version of me was a ghost. And I swear they will both stop haunting me upon the publication of this work. So goodbye to them both. Yes, she was a liar. But he was a total and complete cockface.