This post is dedicated to my husband Matt: I love you and look forward to the next seventeen years!
Being that Matt and I celebrate our 17th wedding anniversary today, a book about love letters feels like the perfect choice for my nightstand.
When we were in the early stages of our relationship, he sent me not one but four love letters that I will never forget.
We had often joked about his love (and my disdain) for the rock band KISS. The first holiday we were apart, I received four unexpected love letters – one Thanksgiving card each from Gene, Paul, Peter, and Ace.
I was ecstatic. I laughed so hard when I pulled the four envelopes out of my mailbox. Those KISS “love letters” not only told me a lot about my husband, but how he would some day show love to me.
Matt’s idea to feature the face-painted quattro as my pursuers showed his ingenuity and sense of fun. His unique interests, sense of humor and creative mind are three of the things I still love most about him. And he still sends the occasional love note (although now it is usually electronic).
The hilarious and thought provoking book Other People’s Love Letters lets us eavesdrop on just what the title suggests. Uninterested in “the quill-tip pen variety that Ben Franklin sent to Mrs. F. during their courtship”, editor Bill Shapiro sought letters, texts, email messages and postcards written by people in modern day relationships much like yours and mine.
With a variety of letters that range from mean to sexy, and everything in between, this book shows how beautifully, desperately and sometimes poorly we love.
A dissed girlfriend named Rebecca wrote “I just thought I’d write to say that I should of never given you a second chance…this is the end” (at least it is written on pretty stationery, if not grammatically sound).
Getting to the point, another person simply writes the word “liar” written on a sheet of notebook paper 183 times.
And another is written on a cocktail napkin, and simply asks “Will you be my girlfriend” with yes and no checkboxes (she said yes).
But there are two letters from the book that continue to haunt me.
One was featured on a blog called This Floating Life, from a woman to her boyfriend on his birthday:
I can’t call you on your birthday so I have to write. Wherever you are now, I’m sure you’re surfing the Web if at all possible.
We read on, unclear as to exactly where Ben is — until the poignant ending:
I remember your signature touches. You would bring tea and cookies to me on the couch and plop your legs in my lap…As we rode the bus in the morning, you would plant your hand on my knee and squeeze. You would TiVo stuff for us to watch together. Weeknights were nice and slow with you. It shocks me now to realize how much of a steady presence you were.
Sometimes I get hysterical wondering where the hell you’ve disappeared to. I force myself to remember the night on the pier, as you were losing strength, and then later as your soul left your body…
It’s really cold tonight so I’m pulling out your down comforter. Saro threw up on the green blanky and I need something warm.
I miss you, Ben. You are never far from my thoughts. Now go fuck yourself.
Here’s the other one, sent by email:
Both of us know what tomorrow is and what it might be. Just in case it isn’t what either of us really expects, it is important to me that you know I love you. You have been so wonderful for me for the past 23 plus years and almost 20 full years as my wife. Thanks for all of it.
Bernard, Bunny et al.
I know why these letters chilled me to the bone.
Married to my own husband for these 17 years, I feel the full weight of potential loss. We have shared so much of our lives together, I can’t imagine mine without him. My heart goes out to Erica, Vicki and Bernard/Bunny. I hope they are OK.
Young love is intense and thrilling, and everyone should experience it at least once. But long-time love is not only worth more, it costs a great deal more to lose.
Just as broken bones are stronger after they break and mend, so are many together-for-a-long-time couples. We break, we mend…and our love ends up like bamboo.
A cocktail napkin, torn within moments, couldn’t even begin to compete.