Tuesday, 14 February 2012

I feel happy tonight

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On July 2nd of 1944, as she travelled by train from Chicago to San Francisco, author and aviator Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote the following beautiful letter to her husband, Charles Lindbergh — an aviation pioneer who, 17 years previously, in 1927, flew from New York to Paris in the Spirit of St. Louis to much acclaim.

They remained married until Charles' death in 1974, by which time they had both had extramarital affairs and Charles had fathered several children by women other than his wife. They had also faced — and somehow dealt with despite intense, previously unrivalled media coverage — the kidnapping and murder of their 20-month-old son, Charles, Jr.

(Source: War Within & Without; Image: Charles & Anne Lindbergh in 1929, via Shorpy.)

July 2nd

Dear Charles,

I am on my way West. I hope to meet you. I feel madly extravagant and altogether quite mad, speeding over the country with not much certainty of when or where I'll meet you.

But I feel happy tonight. I have sat and watched the cornfields of Iowa darken, seen the homesteads pass by—a white house, a red barn and a brave cluster of green trees in the midst of oceans of flat fields—like an oasis in a desert. The glossy flanks of horses and the glossy leaves of corn. And I have been overcome by the beauty and richness of this country I have flown over so many times with you. And overcome with the beauty and richness of our life together, those early mornings setting out, those evenings gleaming with rivers and lakes below us, still holding the last light. Those fields of daisies we landed on—and dusty fields and desert stretches. Memories of many skies and many earths beneath us—many days, many nights of stars. "How are the waters of the world sweet—if we should die, we have drunk them. If we should sin—or separate—if we should fail or secede—we have tasted of happiness—we must be written in the book of the blessed. We have had what life could give, we have eaten of the tree of knowledge, we have known—we have been the mystery of the universe.”

Good night—

Anne