Thursday, October 18, 2007

Love Letters

By Kirsten Scott

A few days ago, I went hunting through a box of old letters, hoping to unearth my passport. I was heartbroken to find that somehow, water had gotten into the box and destroyed about two decades worth of memories.

But magically, a few pages had survived, among them the letters I received from my first real love. Here's a little poem I found on yellowed paper--

Your hands
are like birds
they pick me up
and fly me
nearer to
a perfect heaven

He was a poet and a writer. We dated seriously in the year after I graduated from college. He adored me completely. Unfortunately, I didn't adore him in quite the same way, though I tried.


Love letters hold a special place in our lives. We devote books to them, Shakespeare crafted plays around them (and their tendency to fall into the wrong hands!) and they serve to make our memories even sweeter. It's what we read for, what we live for--all that emotion packed into one tiny little space.

My favorite love letters are poems and stories. I also know a woman who has a collection of sketches an old boyfriend did of her. They are her love letters--living tributes to the emotion he felt. Love letters can be graffiti or literature, true art or just true love. It's all in the emotion they express.

So, are there any love letters hiding in your closet? Are they standard pen and ink, or perhaps a photograph? Who are they from? Do you re-read them, or do they live in your memory like old friends, just waiting to show up when you need them?

43 comments:

Anna Campbell said...

Ha! First today! The earth has returned to its right axis. Bwahahahahahaha!

Kirsten, what a lovely post. You're right about love letters conveying a feeling that is so pure and real. I wonder what people will hold onto in this age of emails and phone calls. What a lovely poem to have! I hope he went on to a happy life.

Helen said...

Love the post Kirsten
I have a few love letters still in my diary that I have had since I was 15 to 16 years old they were written to me by my boyfriend who is now my husband and they are very special to me I have not let anyone else read them but I will sometimes pull them out and read them when I am feeling melechony they bring back some wonderful memories of our younger days together. I am sorry yours got wet but that poem is lovely.
Have Fun
Helen

Christine Wells said...

Oh, every girl should have a poet in love with them at some stage:) Gorgeous, Kirsten! And isn't there something so dramatic about the graffiti 'I love you'--love written large and a bad boy willing to declare his love to the world by vandalising someone else's property.*g*

You've reminded me that I have a few letters and valentines in a box somewhere or other. I must dig them out!

My mother still has a poem my father wrote for her 21st birthday. It was a teasing poem, inviting her to guess what her present was (a string of pearls). She still has it in her jewellery box. Sigh.

Buffie said...

Great post Kirsten!! Yes, I do have a box of love letters hidden away in a drawer. They are from my highschool sweet (which is my dear hubby). We went to two different highschools and when we first started dating, my best friend (who went to my dh's school) would pass notes back and forth for us. It is so much fun to read through them again.

Donna MacMeans said...

Kirsten - Love, love, love your post. Mine was a long distance courtship. I was visiting my college roommate in Cleveland when I met my dh in a bar. I was living about 250 miles away at the time. We wrote letters. He has the most beautiful handwriting. When we realized we were destined to spend a lifetime together, I wrote every day on perfumed stationary (gag *g*). He was more of a telephoner but he wrote occasionally. After about 3 years of this we marry. I, of course, have every one of the letters he wrote me, tied together with a pretty bow. He, however, doesn't have a single one of the hundreds of letters I wrote! Nada. Not a one! (I think he burned them so his mother wouldn't find them *g*)

I agree with Anna. It's sad that the current generation won't have the memory of beautiful handwriting on carefully chosen parchment.

Suzanne Welsh said...

What a beautiful post Kirsten. Hanging off the top of my computer hutch is a lovely note from my husband typed in blue script font. It's right where I see it everyday. I don't necessarily read it every day, but it's there to remind me how much he loves me!

He's not one to write long sloliloquies or really sappy poetry, but he has always picked out the most delightful Hallmark cards, which I have in the computer drawer beside me. 26 years of birthday, anniversary, Valentines day and just because cards.

Maybe with the computer age, those kinds of cards are a form of love letters in themselves?

Caren Crane said...

Kirsten, this is an interesting topic for many reasons.

It's wonderful to see so many people have great keepsakes from the days of their courtships. Alas, I tended to date men who were not so great with words. My husband did write a poem for me at Valentine's Day a few years back, which was wonderfully sweet. Have no idea where it is now, but in my imagination, I put it in a keepsake box. Maybe I even did that! *g*

As far as the young people now, there is so much they will not have that comes across as IMs and cell phone calls. I have taught my kids that words on paper, written in your own handwriting, means more to people than e-mails. They get it, but still are slo-o-ow to send cards (esp. Thank You cards!). I made them go to Cotillion and everything and still, the cards are a chore. *sigh*

doglady said...

LOL at Anna C! Kirsten, what a fabulous poem. That is for the days when you feel bad about yourself.(And I think we all have them.)I feel so sorry for this generation where everything is instantly there and just as instantly gone. Letter writing is fast becoming a lost art. I am a devoted letter writer. There is something about the time and care it takes to put pen to paper that simply means more. As I traveled so much while I was singing, my husband and I kept up a steady correspondence of cards, letters and postcards. I have them all and I do get them out to read and relive our romance now that he is gone. When my great aunt passed away I helped my mother clean out her apartment and I found all of the cards and letters I sent her from Europe tucked into a lovely decoupaged box. Caren, in my family written thank you's are MANDATORY. The family matriarch, a 4'11 full-blooded Native American is NOT one to be trifled with at any time. It is an idea that is being passed to the next generation as I receive prompt thank you notes from my niece and nephews. Very much a Southern thing.

Kirsten said...

Anna, You get the GOLDEN ROOSTER this morning! Way to go! :-) And I wonder, too, whether my daughter will have any letters to stick in her memory box. But I'm sure they'll come up with something, you know? That's part of the point, right? We sentimentalize the paper and ink, but it could be graffiti or a text message--it's all in the emotion it conveys and the story it tells to the recipient.

Kirsten said...

Helen, I was hoping you would write in! I remembered you had the extraordinary marriage to your sweetheart from high school, and oh how perfect that you've got his letters from back then. My only advice--keep them out of the basement!

Kirsten said...

Christine, I totally agree about the graffiti, but I hadn't realized until you said it how it speaks to the personality of the writer-who is clearly the kind of bad boy you were blogging about a few days ago.

I hope you do go back and find your old Valentines. Walking through those memories is so sweet.

Susan Seyfarth said...

Oh, I love this topic, Kirsten. And that poem from your ex-BF was so beautiful. It made me look squinty-eyed in the direction of my husband's office (where he is working away in blissful ignorance of my squinty-eyed look) & think, "You have never written me a poem, mister." :-)

But I do have a box in the basement full of gorgeous,hand-written letters from the boy who adored me in high school & college the way I could never adore him. They were lovely & touching, & if we'd connected in person the way we did on paper, I'd have been married long before I met my husband.

But as much as I adored those gorgeous letters, I needed more than words. And I'm happy to report, my DH is far more than words. He dances with me in the kitchen, he comes running with me when I ask him to, & when we were dating long distance, he emailed me every single day at least once. He gave me the words & then some. I'm a lucky girl. :-)

Kirsten said...

buffie, I've been meaning to tell you that I love the new eye candy you've got goin' for yourself. Me-ow!

I love the story about your go-between best friend. I remember so clearly those days of note passing. Half the fun was wondering if you'd get caught!

Course, when I was in high school, the only one I was passing notes to was a girl friend. Note that my first real love was after college! I was a little delayed...

Kirsten said...

Donna--you REALLY had perfumed stationary? OH MY GOODNESS! Did you wear a flowing robe and fluffy slippers when you wrote on it? :-) Did the perfume bottle have one of those little squeeze balls, like in the black and white movies? ;-)

No, seriously, you and your husband were clearly meant to be together if you survived that long distance relationship. My poet and I also went through the long-distance thing, and while it garnered me some goregous letters, it didn't do good things for our relationship, that's for sure. Not that we would have made it otherwise, but the distance highlighted the things that were already wrong. The distance between you and your dh seemed to have done the opposite.

Kirsten said...

Suz, I think those cards are definitely love letters, and your little blue note sounds so sweet! What a perfect inspiration to go over the computer screen. By the way, did you get your massage yet?

Suz's perfect husband got her a massage coupon for her birthday. Does he get the prize for awesome men or what?

Susan Seyfarth said...

Hey, congrats on being first, Anna! The world is indeed back to normal. :-)

And, yeah, Christine! I'd never thought of vandalism as romantic until you described it that way, but right on! Now I have to give DH a squinty-eyed look for never spray painting my name on an overpass.

Caren & doglady -- I was courting & getting married around 1998-2000, & I have a computer disk full of love emails that I haul out every now & then. I don't even know if my computer will open it anymore. :-( I wish I'd printed everything out while I had the chance.

Kirsten said...

Caren, why am I not surprised that your kids are in Cotillion? ;-) You know, I'm really glad there are people like you left in the world, because otherwise, my kids would have no idea what thank you notes were.

Yes, I'm one of those horrible parents that doesn't do thank you cards. I mean, I always try. I have such good intentions. But they never seem to get out the door...

The thing I've been seeing lately, as we're trying to hire someone so I've been sitting through a lot of interviews, is that people don't send thank you notes after such things anymore. They send emails. Now I'm not a huge stickler for manners (see above!) but an email thank you note just isn't the same. I'd rather get nothing, to be honest.

Kirsten said...

Doglady, I'm so glad you have those letters to help you relive your romance. I get teary just thinking about it. I imagine you have to be in just the right spirits to pull them out.

LOL about the family matriarch! My husband's grandmother (she's the one I wrote about a couple weeks ago, who was married 70 years when her husband died) is the same way. She barely comes to my waist and she's almost ninety, but I have no doubt she could take me in a fight. ;-)

Kirsten said...

Susan, I think you're totally right--we all probably had that boy who adored us a little more than he should have. My poet definitely came into my life at a time when I needed to be adored, and helped me do a lot of healing. But it wasn't healthy in the long run for either of us, though it was lovely while it lasted. I've tried to google him a few times but can't find him. Sigh. I bet he's published a few books by now, or is teaching writing at some small college and adoring some other, much more deserving woman.

And yes, yes, yes--we need the poetry but we need the action, too. When my husband takes the kids far away or pushes me gently out the door to the coffee shop to write, I feel sooo loved.

Kirsten said...

Susan, you should go print out those emails! And do it in blue italic script like Suz!!

Claudia Dain said...

Fun post!

I used to have a box of love letters from past boyfriends. I kept every letter ever written to me by an old love.

When my DH and I were newlyweds, we threw them away together, a ritual of sorts. It was symbolic, but it meant a great deal to him. The love letters from him, I kept, and I have a box full; he wrote me every day for a year.

H Maree Davis said...

This is fun. Brought back all sorts of memories.

Nearly all my love letters from dh are on old style fax paper - yes the sort that has the writing disappear after a while. I got them out a while back when we got a new printer to copy them and - yep - they're still in the pile of junk beside the printer.

I was reading all the comments about boys that adored some of you too much, thinking 'why didn't I have that?'. Then I remembered Smiley. He was lovely. And I was such a cow. *sighs* At least I learnt to value the gorgeous inside instead of the gorgeous outside. Of course it's nice when they go together. :)

Claudia's comment reminded me of an old lady I know who had a ritual burning of the love letters her dh had sent her during WW II. After someone broke into her house and got into them she couldn't stand the thought of anyone else reading them.

H! :)

H Maree Davis said...

And I completely forgot the reason I was here in the first place instead of writing.

Anna and Christine signed some books for a charity auction for St Jude's Children's Research Hospital.

The auction was yesterday and their contribution helped us raise $100! Final figures for the entire auction aren't in yet but I made sure I kept track of the reader's basket.

Thanks so much both of you.

H! :)

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Oh, what a lovely topic! I am blessed w/ a dh who not only wrote cards and letters while we were dating, but sent flowers with notes. :> He's my hero. Grins. I have one posted to my bulletin board next to my desk that says, "It just keeps getting better." Sigh. Such a keeper. Like you, Kirsten, I love him most when he does those little things like shoo the boys away from Mama while she's working, and take them out to McDonalds when they get too loud. I do still keep a couple of old love letters - shhhhh, don't tell! - but more for the sweet memory of the words, rather than the men who wrote them. Isn't that awfully selfish of me? Snork.

Caren, my dear mother would rise up from the great beyond and smite me if my boys didn't write thank you notes. I've been known to deliver them in person if I think they're getting too late.

Kirsten, I am so with you on the business thank yous too. Its a touch that makes you memorable as a job candidate. I never neglected it and usually got the job offer. It was always mentioned too. :> It's the little things, isn't it?

Susan, I love that your DH dances w/ you in the kitchen. What a lovely image. Suz, the blue-penned note made me smile as well. Helen, you (and several of the Banditas!) are a light of hope to all of us who see the divorce stats and wonder if it ever lasts.

Viva the love letter/card/note or act of love that reminds us why we married them in the first place!

Linda said...

A few years ago I decided to rent a debris bin and clean out my garage. Among the "why did I keep this crap" stuff I found my small Lane "hope chest" that I got as a graduating senior from a girl's high school. In it were dried flowers, concert tickets and a few "love" letters from my first love. Our relationship ended badly but re-reading the notes made me remember something very important - someone REALLY loved me! There is nothing like the intensity of your first love. The men since then have never felt THAT way about me and I felt like I had had my love for my life and it was over for me. But at least - I had it.

MsHellion said...

Ha, I think I do have buried in a trunk a poem a young man wrote me in high school. (I was a senior, he was a junior.) I think it was an ode to my breasts or something--he certainly stared at them enough.

But most of college talking came from emails. No love letters by pen then. Plus the guys I knew weren't exactly articulate with pen & paper. And if they went to draw me, it would have been a stick figure. No love letters for me. Other than that poem, I don't exactly inspire men to those kinds of levels. *LOL*

I do occasionally print really good critiques from CPs to remind me that my story isn't complete drivel and I should keep writing/polishing/sending it out. Those are my favorite love letters at the moment.

Cassondra said...

Kirsten this is a great topic.

I was not necessarily a late bloomer, but I did get a late start dating, and short of the few "I like you if you like me, check yes or no" notes from grade school, nobody bothered to write love letters to me until my husband. He's a brilliant, though not a prolific, poet, and wrote me several nice letters over school holidays. And yes, I still have them. It's nice to read and remember how that felt--how exciting it was to be as much in love with love itself as you were with the person doing the writing. :0)

Caren Crane said...

Wow, Claudia, every day for a year! No wonder you married him. *g*

Caren Crane said...

Kirsten, I did remember the incredibly goofy, romantic thing my husband did. We met in engineering school and were not really youngsters (I was 23, he was 28). Before we started dating, when we were "interested friends" he would call me every night.

Now, it would be late (totally blowing my "no calls after 9 pm" rule), when my son was in bed. When I was doing homework. Sometimes we talked about homework, but often it was just getting-to-know-you chit chat, with a few "name that tune" segments thrown in.

I was in a position, as a single mom with no money or time, where it was very difficult for me to date anyone and he worked around it. One of the many reasons he is my hero.

Donna MacMeans said...

Kirsten - Nope no fuzzy slippers or feather boa robe. I perfumed my blue (always blue to match my eyes - double gag!) stationary with a cotton ball sprayed with fragrance and kept in the box with the paper. Geez, reading the comments makes me glad my courtship was in the days before computers *g*. November marks our 34th anniversary and my dh's letters to me are sprinkled with concerns about Vietnam and the draft and all sorts of historical (hah!) detail. It's a true loss to future generations if those kind of communications are preserved in some form.

Kate Carlisle said...

Kirsten, my husband and I have never sent letters but I have a box filled with goofy cards with lovely sweet sentiments along with stacks of those little cards that come with the flowers he's bought me over the years. He's always finding new ways of saying "I love you" on those little cards. I like holding onto them because they're all special to me!

And what a sweet poem that was. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Beth said...

What a great topic, Kirsten! The poem you received is lovely *g*

My husband never wrote me love letters but we do exchange notes/letters instead of cards for birthdays and our anniversary and I've kept them all.

My FIL had my MIL burn the letters he wrote to her during WW II as they were too painful for him to have around (he was a Paratrooper with the Airborne and a POW in Germany) She does still have a lovely scrapbook with a few notes she saved but we all wish she could've kept the letters :-)

Kirsten said...

h maree, thanks for stopping by! Our resident Aussies are amazing, aren't they? Great job raising money for St. Judes! And you should make those copies before they're too faded to read! I sure wish I could get my waterlogged notes back.

TICD, I applaud your ritual burning, though I never would have had the guts. I love my little letters too much.

Kirsten said...

linda, I'm glad you had that love and kept that hope chest! I think these are the things that put that smile back on our faces when we're ready to give up. Nothing beats love, right? Nothing.

Kirsten said...

MsHellion, you always make me smile! I love the stick figures--that's about what my drawing ability would be. :-) I save those really nice letters from CPs too...in fact, my darling CP is Susan Seyfarth also a bandita, and it is no exaggeration to say that her letters alone have kept me in this game. I don't know what I would do without her.

Caren Crane said...

This is an ugly message for KEIRA and ANNA (both) and every other horrible Bandita who encouraged me to try Nutella!

My name is Caren and I am a new NUTELLA addict. And it's all your fault!

Anna Campbell said...

Actually, Caren, what makes me laugh is that it was advertised here as HEALTH food! I don't know how they worked that out! Tastes like pure nutty chocolate to me and I don't know HOW MUCH SUGAR is in that sucker, but I bounce off the ceiling every time I eat it.

Keira Soleore said...

Kirsten asked, "...just waiting to show up when you need them?

I have to say "a land mine" is what went through my mind as I read that question.

Foanna, I better check through my ginormous e-mail records for those, ah, revealing messages.

Christine, loved that tidbit about your parents. Absolutely sigh-worthy (and tucked away into my research files). :)

Hellion, something out-of-this-world hilarious always happens to you, doesn't it?! :)

Keira Soleore said...

Nutella -- YEEEE HAAAA!!! A spoonful of Nutella makes everything go down, everything go up, everything go around.

Foanna, I think there's something else in that Nutella of yours. With the earth titled on your axis, it's no wonder...

Caren, next October, fried Nutella on a stick will be coming to a fair near you.

Buffie said...

Kirsten -- I'm glad you enjoying the new eye candy!

Caren Crane said...

Buffie, darling, we've all been enjoying your new eye candy. He is a threat to keyboards everywhere! *g*

Keira, I'm thinking if you put Nutella in a popsicle tray, add sticks and freeze it, then you could batter it and flash fry it. Drizzle with chocolate sauce, dust with powdered sugar and--voila!--Fair food! *eg*

Kirsten said...

Keira! We haven't seen you for a couple days--where ya been, girl? Caren had a whole post about COFFEE and I was expecting you to swing through any minute so we could tell them that nobody knows coffee like people from the NW! :-)

Keira Soleore said...

Kirsten dear, I've been sick and sicker. Still struggling. Hence my absence on this board.

Caren, I can't believe I missed your ocffee post!!! And I also missed Joan's Dancing with the Stars post. I'm SUCH a huge fan of both.

BLEH. That picture of the curdled half-n-half in the coffee just soured my stomach. Sugar always makes caffeine go down smoother. :)