I once saved nearly all the love letters/emails from past boyfriends/love interests/high school crushes. I had a fantasy of writing a book about the love letters compiled during my life. It would be an interesting window into my relationships – a cool chronicle of how many relationships one woman can screw up.
However, in a cleaning hissy fit at my condo – spurred by my parents moving out of my childhood home last fall – nearly all of my adolescent love letters went in the trash.
Not sure why I pitched those and not the more recent ones.Frankly the most recent ones are more harmful than the teen years letters. In some ways, holding onto letters/emails from recent boyfriends is clinging to a relationship that didn’t work out for very good reasons. In the case of Frank the Plumber, they are the “proof” of his asinine behavior and justified my case when he dumped me for his ex-wife at his homecoming.
This bout of love letter reflection all started because I’m reading a book about the Peabody sisters – Elizabeth, Mary and Sophia – young women in early-19th century Boston who were well-read, intellectual and part of the Transcendentalist intelligentsia. Years ahead of her time, the never-married Elizabeth was the founder of kindergarten in America. And after years-long courtships and correspondences, Mary wed education pioneer Horace Mann, and Sophia got hitched to venerate author Nathanial Hawthorne.
Men just aren’t making love letters like they did in the early 19th century.
Listen to this – Nathanial Hawthorne to Sophia Peabody: “Our souls drift far away among the clouds, and wherever there was ethereal beauty, there we, our true selves; there we grew into each other, and became a married pair. I love thee with infinite intensity, and think of thee continually, and desire thee as never before.”
During their honeymoon at Ralph Waldo Emerson’s house, Old Manse, they scratched poems to each other into the window panes. Totally romantic.
Counter that with a couple of “romantic” excerpts from an email Frank sent me during his deployment: “I look forward to a nice long warm snuggle. The trip has been on the cold side.” “I am really craving your company, and anxiously await hearing about your busy life.” “Can I have a booby picture, pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease?” “ I am very anxious to touch you. It may look like a locomotive is en route.”
He gets his point across, but it still doesn’t sound as eloquent as Hawthorne.
Alright, so it might not be fair to quote words written from a man in a war zone. So I just dug out some love letters from another boyfriend who was working overseas. Here’s how he started one letter: “This letter is in … what, not penance, but sort of as an afterthought – I hadn’t thought the lack of same would be missed, but now I’ll try and get on top of putting pen to paper more frequently.”
Oh boy – guilted into writing a letter – that’s the kind of sentiment that sets a girls heart atwitter! He wasn’t a very sentimental guy, but here’s his best attempt: “Yesterday was Valentine’s Day. I thought about you a lot … I think you got my flowers and the CD, so – from here and now to wherever and whenever you are when you read this, my love.”
I have had love poems penned for me. Once on a cocktail napkins by a stranger in a bar, who when I ignored him, tried getting my attention by pulling me towards him by my back belt loop. This did not endear him to me and nearly resulted in my fist in his face. The other was when Crazy Jeff wrote me a poem after meeting me at public function in my former place of work.
In the following days, he wrote the poem – which was something about how great it was meeting me and ended in his phone number – and then left it for me at the front desk of my office building. He could only remember my first name and that I once lived in Montana. Enough evidence for my co-workers to get it to me, but the jealous bitches thought they would have fun at my expense and passed it around the office having a good laugh. I didn’t even know he had left the poem until I passed him on the street and he asked me about it. I then had to go shame each of my co-workers into telling me where it was.
So after reviewing my archive of “love letters” and “love emails” – I’ve come to a couple of conclusions. These letters and emails are interesting chronicles of my various couplings, and are a great record of my psychological development in the relationship arena. But they are wanting, and so is my heart.
There has to be a man out there with genuine sentiments and a good heart who has revived the lost art of the love letter.
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Last reviewed: 5 Jun 2012