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Silen, P. (2018). Letter From the Editor. Fort Da, 24(2):1-2.

(2018). Fort Da, 24(2):1-2

Letter From the Editor

Peter Silen, Ph.D.

You will leave everything loved most dearly; and this is the arrow that the bow of exile shoots first.

— Dante, The Divine Comedy, “Paradise,” Canto 17

He sits quite still, looking away from me, and I try to match his stillness and quiet. He describes to me feeling in his body as if he is opening and closing. I think about that as we sit quietly together. He says that I am one of the few people he feels close to, and as we talk about this man's wish to be close to others, he tells me he is worried that I am going to die. Feelings of closeness followed by the panic of losing someone he loves is a familiar pattern. At times I've doubted whether I could hold and help him, so great was his need for closeness and reassurance. I'm reminded of a moment earlier in the treatment, before a vacation break, when he cautioned me, in a humorous tone, not to die while I was away. Half-jokingly I said I had no plans to, which, in the moment, we both found funny. The interchange remains vivid because my response bubbled out of me before I could think about what I was saying. Even though he later told me my words relieved him, in retrospect, I felt that I was trying to be witty to cover over feelings of my own I had yet to understand.

He was raised in an environment that looked full and rich from the outside, but which he experienced as emotionally precarious. His father emigrated from one country, his mother from another. English was a second language for both of them. His parents were able to educate themselves, and the family settled into a middle-class suburban lifestyle. But there was a fragility to their lives linked to having no other family in America. His only “relatives” were friends of his parents who did not share the same skin color or ethnicity. He remembers his parents purposively flying in separate planes to the same destination to protect him and his siblings from the possibility of losing them both simultaneously. He was not uprooted from the culture he knew in the way his parents had been, but the effects of leaving their former lives had interfered with his ability to take root.

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