Don’t throw out your love letters.
Don’t burn them, don’t bury them, no matter the heartache and heartbreak and anger and lingering enmity. And for the love of God, don’t return them!
Hide them from your present self in the agony of broken love: unmarked shoe box, file folder, safe deposit box in Bern – whatever protection is necessary from yourself, do not skimp, do not hesitate.
In all likelihood you will survive the HEARTBREAK moment (and as inured as we have become to that term, really what could be worse – ALL CAPS is still an understatement — it hurts like hell, you don’t just feel like you’re dying, you are dying and the effects last a lifetime) ten, 15, 20 years will pass between that day when it all ends and then a day will come when you will need to discover not what the love was, but what the lovers were like.
I found a box of them while clearing out a closet and first began to marvel at their apparent indestructibility. How many domiciles have these things migrated? (close to a dozen); how many countries? (a bunch of them have been in five different countries); how many ocean crossing voyages? (3 or 4); and still they persist. Being a man my love letters weren’t wrapped in a ribbon in a treasured stack. Or even in a box — jewellery or shoe – they were in a plastic bin, with another bin on top with an inch of dust and bits of plaster reno shards at the back of my son’s closet. Now they have been vertically filed by writer, roughly in chronological order. What can I say, my Dad’s a historian, my mother’s a librarian — archiving is in the genes.
There were also a few diaries and journals. Now those, if I may digress, should be buried in the back somewhere and if lost, burned etc. should not be mourned too much. You shouldn’t leave your diaries lying about for a quick and easy reference. There’s something a bit toxic about the raw thoughts of your younger self. Unrequited dreams and aspirations, compromised principles, loves left on the table — who wants to remember the hand that you folded against the bluff? All your abandoned suicide missions with glories left unclaimed? Small swindles you got away with? Dangerous stuff – make sure you have donned hazmat suit and are turning the pages with tongs.
But love letters…
Unearth them from layers of ignored bills, uncelebrated certificates and “why the hell did I save that!”’s Brave the booby traps of your closet, the possible avalanche of precariously balanced stacks of linens!
Courage, Courage, Courage!
You have aged. Yes!
People have died already! Yes.
Your own death is edging closer. Yes!
That was 2 decades ago!
That can’t be right….
No, it’s actually almost three.
…. Fuck me…
(…to be continued)