Recently, I have been overcome with . . . that word that I can never place. Of feeling lost in the past. Sadness and yearning for the “good ole days”. What IS that called??
I’m not sure.
At any rate, it is becoming most troublesome. It has been extremely hard to live life the past couple of weeks as I have been burdened by nearly every thought that passes my mind. It all started when I was going through my truck of letters that I keep locked at the foot of my bed. I don’t know what on earth possessed me to go through them, but es ist was es ist. I have hundreds of letters, and I am not exaggerating. I have letters from best friends, ex-best friends, enemies, lovers, ex-lovers . . . I have always been one to keep every letter I receive because letters are a dying art. With Facebook, smart phones, and even email, it’s just so much easier and faster to send a quick thought, rather than take time to hand write pages upon pages of words.
This is my theory: words are not as special as they used to be. Nowadays, I am witness to countless relationships – those of my own very dear friends – that fall apart, broken, because people spoke words they did not mean, or spoke them prematurely, without understanding the weight and the meaning they held.
This is a tragedy.
Even I have said words I did not mean – to people I sincerely loved! – thinking it was the right time and the right way to show them that I cared. But if words are spoken hastily and without grave consideration, you can shatter even the most precious things to you. I speak from experience. Heed my warning, for your sake. I care too much about you, dear reader, to see you hurt like I have been hurt, or hurt like I have hurt others. These letters of mine, that I have stumbled upon again, remind me every day of the things I have lost and the lessons I have learned. I am glad I have them, even if they sting a little every now and again. You can’t save every text conversation or email the way you save letters, now can you?
“But letters are so bulky! You’d need storage bins for a lifetime of letters, C.W.! At least I can save my emails and messages without taking up so much physical space.”
Yes, yes, yes. I see your point. But I will always believe there is something so undeniably special and irreplaceable about holding a letter from a loved one in your hands. The feeling you get is indescribable. You don’t get that kind of feeling but only from a letter. The fact that the person spent so much time – possibly hours! – upon crafting a note of sentiment for you, and only you . . . I live for that feeling: to feel it, and in return help others feel that way too. Everyone needs to feel that loved, at some point in their lives.
My trunk of letters contain stacks tied up in silk ribbons, each a different color which represents a particular person. I have a rather small stack, from a boy I loved when I was a teenager. Actually, if I am being complete honest with you, it would be more truthful to say these letters were from a boy I thought I loved. But in reality, I did not. Not really. These are the only love letters I have ever received. Therefore, they are special to me, even if him and I didn’t end up together, and in fact, haven’t seen each other in approximately 2 years now. Not even passing on the street because he has moved away. The funny thing is, well, there’s this quote, from a favorite book of mine that says “men never know their own minds. We have to make them up for them.” In a way, this is true – at least, it was in this particular situation. I was almost positive of his intentions towards me, but it wasn’t enough for me to trust in glances and sighs to get the point across. I simply had to say something. I had to write down how I felt and send him a letter. This is always my instinct, when I am feeling any sort of strong emotion. I write it down. It is so much easier to say what one means if you write it down, rather than just stumbling over the words as they are sent flying from your mouth.
I sent him a letter. He wrote back. He felt the same way.
“You knew I would reply, didn’t you? I mean, really, you couldn’t write me a perfectly beautiful letter like that and then not expect I would have something to say in return . . . ‘Today I fell in love again’. A bold statement, no? And yet with you, it’s so easy to believe. After all, why wouldn’t I fall in love with you? Not only are you the best friend I’ve ever had, but meeting you is one of the greatest things to ever happen to me.”
If I did not have these letters, how would I ever remember that those words – such emotional, sentimental words! – were ever spoken about me? Me of all people; so undeserving of any kind of love, ever.
Another letter, more achingly lovesick words, after a “falling out” of sorts happened that ruined any chance we had of being together.
“I still care about you immensely. You know that. I’ll still wait for you, as long as it takes, and there is no way I could ever forget you.”
Oh, but he did, and how quickly too, when I told him that I had no intention of trying to make things work any longer. But instead of just telling him my anxiety about our situation, I told him I never loved him in the first place. His reply was with none other than a letter; a letter that spoke words I no longer associate with the boy I once knew. For he no longer feels this way towards me. I suppose that is just what happens when you break someone’s heart. They don’t take kindly to it, do they?
“By now I’m sure we can say that the secret romantic relationship we had is over – it’s been over for quite some time, really, and I think we knew at the time that whatever ended up happening between the two of us, it wasn’t going to stay exactly that way forever . . . I would have liked to say that I thoroughly enjoyed being in love with you . . . it could be that you didn’t mean any of those things, but you don’t have to tell me. If you were to tell me it was a mistake for me to give you my heart, I’d tell you it was the best mistake I ever made. But I don’t believe it was a mistake. Perhaps some people come into our lives at just the right time, not sooner, not later, for exactly the right reasons. And I am still incredibly thankful that you came into my life just when you did. You gave me an eternity within a numbered amount of days, and I still like to consider myself the luckiest human in the world for ever having the privilege of loving you.”
A month later, I heard from another friend that he had burned all the letters I had ever sent to him. I’m not even exaggerating. It happened. And he told me to my face, with real, spoken words that ring in my ears even to this day, that he couldn’t believe he ever fell in love with me. That he couldn’t believe he had ever found me beautiful, or smart, or funny. I had become, in his eyes, someone who was no longer trustworthy, or worthy at all, of any kind of affection. And I do regret it. All the things I had said and then taken back. I had no intention of hurting him, or anyone. You must be wondering why I would ever keep such letters! Don’t they just stir up memories I’d rather forget? Well, the answer is, truthfully, no. I don’t want to forget, ever. These letter serve to remind me that I am capable of great love and great destruction. I have the power to bruise and to heal, and I don’t want to abuse that power ever again. That is my vow.
Words are life. Remember this.