And I believed that. I thought I’d write this post about my first real boyfriend, my high school sweetheart, and how we have a paper trail, boxes full of notes that I kept and had forgotten about until today.
How it’s sweet to look back and smile at how we used to call each other “baby” and “babe” and how we’d fold our wide-ruled, three hole-punched school paper into shapes that’d make Japanese origami experts cringe, then label them with a “to:” and “from:” line that read Your love.
But as I was looking through this box of random cards, notes, and letters I’ve collected over the years, I found so much more than remnants of my first love.
There were Lisa Frank envelopes, mailed with 29 cent stamps, from my first pen pal.
A note my best friend in high school left on the windshield of my first car, reminding me to come over after school so we could watch Friends together.
A napkin with scribbled poetry I wrote to my now-husband when I went on trip to Argentina with my parents and my sister in 2005:
And I realize that my first love all along has been writing and exchanging words. Not just content, but rather words made physical by scribbling them onto a napkin or a scrap piece of paper or cardboard and delivering it to someone who’ll keep it, and treasure it, and stumble upon it years later, like I did, only to realize it still smells like you.
I thought I’d lament that we no longer write each other letters. Instead, I find myself feeling grateful that I ever sent them in the first place. Real, handwritten letters or notes that we send and then truly let go of.
We can’t open our “sent” file and read the last message we wrote.
When we mail a letter to someone we give a piece of ourselves that’s someone else’s to keep; we don’t expect to get it back.
We lose a part of ourselves for someone else to find.
Do you still have old letters from past loves?