Baker, James

Letter
Date:
June 26, 1943
To:
Mom
From:
Jim
June 26th, 1943

Ottawa, Ont.

Dear Mom,

I think that this morning has been one of the silliest I have ever spent because I did such a foolish thing. As I wrote you in my last letter, I have to report to my new station at MountainView tomorrow morning which is Sunday. In order that I should not have to travel all night and arrive fagged out, I purposely came back off leave a day early. My train left from here this morning at 9.20 and I - like a fool, gets down to the station at 8.20, sits down on a bench, goes to sleep and wakes up in time to see my train pulling out and me not on it! I feel so doggone foolish!! Fortunately, there is another one at 3 o'clock this afternoon, so it is not as bad as it sounded at first.

I spent a very interesting evening last night. While I was Overseas, I was writing to a girl - a poetess, named Sheila Barbour. In one of her letters, she gave me the address of her sisters here in Ottawa, so I decided to look them up, seeing that I didn't have much else to do. There are two of them - remarkably intelligent and fascinating girls, not at all pretty but very very good to know. We got along famously right from the first, probably because we felt as though we already knew each other because Sheila used to read my letters to them, and used to mention them both in her letters to me. We discussed everything from Post-war problems in Europe to shaggy dog stories, so you see, we weren't at all tied down intellectually. They are both writers, Constance - the elder, is a poet too, so we had quite a converse about our work. May - who is dark and very tragic somehow, writes in French and German as well as English. There was a young fellow there too, a Professor Rogers from Queen's University who is studying for his Ph D. in French. He is only 24 and a remarkably nice fellow. Somehow it struck me that he was younger than I was in many things, probably because I have seen so much more that really counts whereas he has been studying ever since he could talk. I am more thankful than ever now that these last three years have been as they have, they have taught me much that is so valuable and yet have not succeeded in destroying my sense of values, rather they enriched and ennobled them. I only hope that I may be able to go back to University and study some more when this is over. The one thing that I am afraid of though, is that I shall get married if it lasts much longer. I find myself sometimes hungering with an absolute passion for a wife and a home of my own where I could settle down and be just plain Mr. Baker, with no pretensions of grandeur and exaltations of spirit beyond my stature. I think there must be two persons inside me - the ambitious driving force that is determined to go places and do big things, and the quiet unassuming nobody who is content to settle down into a more or less safe existence, although somehow, I can never picture myself quite as safe as Blake is right now. Mary and her kind are the people who stimulate the first person and when I am with people such as her, I find that I can hold my own with any of them and that has been a tremendous discovery to me, and people like Sadie seem to go with the other side. I forgot to mention that I saw quite a lot of Sadie while I was in W/peg on this 10 days, I feel I know her better now than I ever did before and what has surprised and rather shocked me, is the discovery that she is just as upsetting to my comfortable existence now as she was three years ago! I thought that that was dead and buried with her marriage, but it fooled me. It was only lying sleeping and has flamed out anew. I am somehow in a terrible mess and I don't know where to turn. I suppose the real fight is not which girl is most attractive, but rather what do I intend to do with my life, for there seems to be two paths leading from here and both seem equally attractive at present. And the ‘devil of the matter' is that both lead ultimately to the same goal, but by different routes. I am beginning to think that I am an awful fool really. If only I was certain how Mary felt about me, and if only I saw clearly what it is I can give her in return for all she can give me. Do I love Mary, or do I love what she represents and what she is seems to be the question. I have to decide and somehow, I can't find a way through the tangle. Now don't get me wrong and think that I am heaping all my responsibilities on your shoulders and asking you to find the answer, because I know that you cannot. I must find the answer myself for I - alone, have to live the result. If you did tell me - and I am sure I know which one you would tell me, and it turned out wrong, I should feel badly toward you the rest of my life and it might ultimately come between us. It is just that I have always felt that I can write to you exactly how I feel and be sure of a sympathetic and understanding heart. This is not a very good frame of mind to start work tomorrow...I'll stop before it gets me down.

Love as always,

Jim



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