Love letter # 357
Love is one of those words – ideas, tropes, clichés – that gets misused all the time. Mistaken for lust and ownership, dependence and habit. We have, I’m certain, each been guilty of all of the above. Yet still we remain, despite the inadequacy of words and the grind of years. In spite of all our flaws and everything we’ve been afraid of. Having outlasted boredom and survived the temptations of wandering eyes.
Why? How? What for?
Or maybe the reduction of so-called ‘answers’ makes them an irrelevance. The analysis pointless. The resulting labels little more than catechism. Indeed, perhaps it does not matter if we love one another or not – only that together we are both better. Stronger, truer, more able to deal with the world. Better equipped for time and uncertainty. For the commonplace and complacent cruelties that swirl around us. For the act of living and the odyssey of dying.
In some ways this isn’t really a love letter at all. But whatever you call it, it is an acknowledgment. A thank you. A form of ongoing pledge. My feeble paean to you. As good a promise as I can ever make and as humble a troth as I suspect you would likely accept.
Or shall we just call it love – and leave it at that?
Love letter # 502
In the beginning there was a kind of blindness. In the end I was staring at wreckage. In between there was you. Or rather, the manner of my breaking open upon your touch. The dumbstruck awe, the distemper of desire, the sheer terror that only beauty can evince.
You came, I fell at your door, you fled.
I chased, you ran even harder, and before too long even the angel of love had departed.
In pettiness and anger I blamed. In hurt I cursed. And yet, in loss, I soon found. With rubble I made anew. With time I gave thanks – for the ecstasy of your kiss and the wrench of its withholding. For the breath of your whispers and the silence that came after.
Now there is a kind of dust; the soft settling of memory and forgetting. I leave a trail with my finger – the surface shiny underneath – and I like the taste. Not just the ghost of you or even simply the echo of an erstwhile me, but something distilled and refined. An essence I could not detect in the flurry of the drama. That which has survived the fire. A rain of ash which is now a springtime of renewal. To which I am, at last, no longer blind.
I know I’m not the first single, middle aged guy to be smitten by the shopgirl thing – and I’m sure I won’t be the last. Especially if the girl in question is as gorgeous as you.
It’s true I barely know you – just a name badge and beautiful smile – and I’m guessing that I’m not the only customer you charm with your bright and bewitching eyes; but I always love our random minutes together. In fact, the first thing I do every time I enter the store is to scan the space for you, hoping you’re rostered on, hoping it’s you I’ll get at the checkout.
When the grocery gods are on my side and I’m standing next to you, trying not to say something totally stupid and embarrassing, I always notice the rings on your fingers. And the playful spark in your gaze. The flirty tilt of your head. The curves that your uniform can’t quite hide. But also – something deeper. A person. A soul inside.
On occasions I have wondered if, in some small and discreet way, you are reaching out. Looking for something more. Daring me to cross the invisible line between us. But then I walk away and I’m sure it’s just a game.
I know why I’m playing it and I’m pretty sure why you do – but just in case I’ve got it wrong … I am here. Should you ever.
Love letter # 323
Your walk. The hypnotic sway of it. The quiet way you dance, eyes closed, seemingly oblivious to anything but the ecstasy of music. The subtlety of your smile. How you seem to know something the rest of us don’t.
And then there’s the distance. That spectral horizon your eyes always drift out towards. As though you do not really belong here with us. Grubby, stupid humans.
Sometimes, I’ll be honest, I am in silent awe. Your beauty has a quality that obliterates expectation. Destroys complacency. Melts away the trivia of detail. Maybe it is a kind of test. If so, I submit to the rules of the examination. Not merely as a stumbling and hopeful stooge of desire but to hold up the mirror I know you’ve been searching for. To see you. And give you a reason to look.
Love letter # 886
Of course I lashed out at you. It’s what injured people do. Defend the ground they think is theirs. Blame the other.
Neither of us were saintly, let’s be frank. Our dynamic was both destructive and self-affirming. Over time and poorly chosen words we both threw up barricades. The patterns became deep ruts, tracks from which we could not divert.
So we went around in circles – vicious ones indeed – until …
Now, from the distance of healed up cuts, I can see how easily things could have been different, how I could have made other choices. Truth be told, I knew it back then too but I was stubborn and prideful, too convinced of my ‘rightness’ to understand what I was about to lose in order to gain or maintain some delusory upper hand in a ridiculous stand-off that never needed to happen in the first place.
Whatever you were, I was a fool. Worse – arrogant, even spiteful. I loved you, I really did, and that made me afraid, and in my fear … well, y’know.
I recognise all this now and apologise for my part in our ruin. I can only hope that this may still mean something to you – because it does to me. Even after everything.
Love letter # 345
Sometimes, just the thought of your name tears strips off me. Or a line in a song. The scent of a bloom. A trick of the light. And sometimes just because. Because it was what it was – and you are who you are.