three letters

May 10, 2009

cross posted from  lettergraveyard, on livejournal

dear david,

almost four years ago, i met you at a party in a smoky room.  you gave me a beer and we played cards until 3 am.  you were surprised that i was only 16, four years younger than you.  the next day you took me sailing on Lake Erie, and i spent four of the most fabulous weeks of my life with you.  you were my first kiss; you kissed me at five o’clock in the morning, sitting on the pier, looking at the lights winking from the islands.  we made out on the roof of the pump building with the sky all open above us.  we laid in my bed and listened to the rain fall outside my screen windows.  i fell in love with you in two weeks; two weeks later you were gone, back to college, and i went home too.  it took me six months to fall out of love again; and when i had finally accepted you were gone, you called to tell me you’d be back that summer, and would i like to meet up?  and you came to me that first night, drunk, and told me that you wanted me again – so i said okay.  but “please, please,” i said, “a year is a long time.  if things are different…if you change your mind…just tell me.”  so we started again.  except you didn’t seem to want to kiss me…and you flaked out on meetings…and didn’t return my calls.  and two weeks later i found out you were dating someone else, telling her that we had never been together, and i was just some stalker.  after that, the only time i ever heard from you was the text that you wrote, when you said “i’m sorry for messing everything up.  i’m not good at dealing with or fixing bad situations like this.”

it’s been almost three years since i received that text.  i don’t love you.  i don’t miss you.  but i do think about you.  do you see people who remind you of me on the street?  is my number still on your phone?  did you keep the letters i wrote during that long year when you never wrote back?  do you feel bad for what you did – or just embarrassed?  do you regret being with me, or leaving me?  do you feel bad for lying?
i’m planning on going back to Lakeside this summer, where i met you, and fell in love with you, and where you broke my heart.  will i see you there?  and if i do, what will you say?

what will i say?

yours most sincerely,

dear paul,

i fell in love with your eyes like coffee, and your dark hair, and the way your breath billowed out before you when we walked together, late late at night, on the coldest nights of the Wisconsin winter.  i know that you never fell out of love with Lea.  but i’m still wondering, did you ever love me?  you dressed me up in black and posed me on a rooftop for photographs for your art class, and i wasn’t sure if you were looking at me or if you were looking at the figure in your photos.  you wrote poetry with me when we walked and talked, your hands always cold, and the streetlights flashing yellow and red.  you were so mysterious, so dark.  so sad.  i see that now.  you were awkward with me; i thought you were cold.  i thought you were embarrassed by me, or at least that you knew you didn’t want it to last.  but i realize that you were probably just afraid, because you knew that i would let myself love you truly, and you didn’t know how to let yourself do the same.  of course, there was still Lea, always Lea.  you didn’t know how to love, so instead you took the image of a girl you once knew and put her on a pedestal, because it was easier to love someone from afar than the person who was in front of you.  i knew that when you left for France it would be over; when you took me for a walk on that April afternoon after coming home i wasn’t surprised.  i just dipped my toes in the creek and tried to pretend like it didn’t hurt me that you couldn’t at least say it.  you just knew that i knew, and that was good enough for you.  i ached for you when you went back again; i missed you and your paintings and your photographs.  and then you messed up again; i was letting go, and i was moving on – i had even met a new boy, one who was sweet and thoughtful and saw me, and you called me one night, so late, and woke me from a dead sleep.  and you cried on the phone, and told me that you were sorry you had ever hurt me – you had never meant to hurt me.  you just didn’t know how not to.  you told me you loved me, and i told you i loved you too.  but i shouldn’t have said it.  it wasn’t fair of me to say i loved you when i didn’t really know what love was.  i was lying to myself.  i pitied you, you poor starving art student – the boy who couldn’t let go of his own insecurities, who hid them behind long-exposure photographs of streetlights and installation pieces with eggshells.  arrogance and indifference are a poor mask for fear.

i hope that you can learn to love Lea; last time we spoke, you said you didn’t know what love was.  but she deserves to be loved, just like you do – just like we all do.  and i am glad that i had what i had with you.  your darkness, your mystery, your late winter nights and your coffee from the diner.  i am not in love with you anymore, but i love my memories of you, even if you hurt me in the end.  don’t be afraid, paul.

with affection,

dear Micah,

i have begun and erased this sentence several times already.  i don’t know how to say that i love you.  no, that’s not right – i can say “i love you”.  it is a simple process – “i”, the subject, “love”, the verb, and “you”, the object.  what i don’t know how to say is, i love you with everything that i am – you fill my life with love.  you were going to be my summer fling, the last bit of fun before i left for college and my future and a whole new life.  you first kissed me exactly a month before i left for my freshman year; and in that month i fell in love, yet again.  and i ached, oh, how i ached, knowing that i would have to say goodbye; knowing that you were someone that i could spend months, years, maybe even a lifetime with.  knowing that there was a deadline on the brightness you brought to my days, with your brilliant blue eyes and laughing face and gentle hands.  you told me one night, as we looked at the skyline as we stood on the pier, that i made you happy – and i realized that you truly made me happy, too.  that dark night before i left, as the clock ticked down, and i lay with you on my big bed and we listened to the CD i had made you, and you kissed me and kissed me and kissed me and we cried together.  we lost our virginity together that night, even knowing that we were going to say goodbye and go our separate ways the next morning.  on my doorstep you crushed me against you and i could feel your tears in my hair, and you told me that you didn’t want me to go; watching you drive away, the only way i could keep myself from falling was by holding on to the door frame.  saying goodbye to you was the single most painful thing i had ever done or experienced in my life.

so there we were, 1,200 miles apart, at new schools with new friends and new lives…and i was miserable.  oh, how i missed you.  you struggled so much; Lindsay, your best friend from home, was depressed and nearly suicidal, and she told you that she loved you too, that was why she didn’t want you to date me in the first place.  you called and told me what she said, and you talked and talked and talked, and i just listened, just tried to comfort you…and finally, after a long time, you said “and all i could think about all day today was how much i missed you, and wanted you to be here.”  i knew then that i was not going to lose you.

it’s been almost two years now since i met you at that graduation party.  two weeks from today i will be getting home for the summer, and the first thing i’ll do after dropping my bags off at home is run to your house to tackle you in your front lawn.  and we will spend the summer evenings sitting on the bench swing in your backyard, watching the sun set, and walking around our neighborhoods, talking about our childhoods.  we’ll visit our favorite coffee shop, and admire our city’s skyline from the pier, and make love on the bed where we lost our virginity while the fan in my window cools our damp skin.

i love you more than i ever knew that i could.  i am only 20 years old, but i hope to spend the rest of my life with you.  i can see us waking up in a big bed together, in the sunlight in the morning, and making breakfast for children with blue eyes and chubby cheeks.  we’ll grow a vegetable garden together, and play Scrabble in the evenings, and take turns doing the dishes.  you have shown me kindness, respect, honesty, compassion, sincerity, silliness, and more than anything, love.  because of you i’ve had the courage to let go of what is safe and accept what is terrifying, because i know that it will make me happy in the end.  i am in debt and i am struggling in school and in my social life, but i am not afraid, because i know that you are there for me, always.

i think perhaps e.e. cummings put it best:

yours is the light by which my spirit’s born:
yours is the darkness of my soul’s return
-you are my sun,my moon,and all my stars

i love you, i love you, i love you – a thousand times, i love you.  thank you, for everything.

with all that i am,
forever and more,


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