When I was in college, my mother came across a box of her old love letters. Some were from my dad, some were from others. She showed them to me and I read through a few; they were quite colorful in parts, but also full of such love and affection. I barely remember what they said, but I do remember how much I enjoyed exploring that aspect of her life and coming to understand who she was as a woman, versus who she was as a mother.
My mother was, obviously, a sexual creature, but she was also someone that men adored, loved, and cherished. She was funny and witty, and beautiful. While some people might not want to think about whom their parents loved before they met, I (save the super steamy stuff) did. I wanted to know my mother as a person. (Let me note that both my parents have always been open about their past; especially my father – who has definitely gone beyond my comfort zone. Love ya, Daddy.)
This one moment has always stayed with me, so I was excited when I stumbled across my box of love letters (and other mementos) while cleaning today. When Jason and I moved in together, some of my friends (I won’t name names) encouraged me to throw away the box and its contents. Why keep old letters when you’ve got a man? they asked. What happens if he finds them, won’t he be upset? When I told my mother that I was being encouraged to throw it away, she told me not to, just to tuck it away. She assured me that their existence wouldn’t make him upset (and really, it’s not like I am asking him to read them). That moment of reading her letters resurfaced in my mind. So I didn’t throw it away, just cleared out some of the items (which, I now realize was the wrong thing to do; I fear I may have lost some wonderful mementos from a particularly serious relationship). When Jason and I move into our apartment, I tucked the box away and pushed it out of my mind.
I knew that it came with us when we moved into the house, but I never looked through it. I shoved it into the back of the closet in my office/guest room and promptly forgot about it. Then today, while cleaning, I found it and opened it, not remembering what it was.
Boy, was I glad that I kept that box. When I found it, I hungrily read the letters I forgot were there. I knew, in the back of my head, that they existed, but I forgot about the passion that filled the pages of these letters and cards. I forgot about the four page letter filled with poetry that one boy wrote me, and the dozen cards filled with words of love from another. I forgot that at one point in my life I was reckless and in love with abandon, not knowing what my future brought. (Which was, in case you’re curious, a wonderful husband who loves me very much, even if he doesn’t write me love letters.) It felt nice to remember what it was like to be that young, reckless, open-hearted girl again.
I hope that I one day have a child who wants to know who I was before I met Jason. I hope that they want to read through these cards and letters and look through the box, to get a glimpse of my young self. I hope that they ask me why I was called Tiger, or laugh after they cringe when they hear about the time I danced naked in the rain, or cry when I tell them about some of the heartbreak I endured. I want to share that part of me with them, as much as I wanted to share that part of my mother with her.