Whether recalling old loves or pondering the early days of current relationships, our memory is frequently romantic; and although our nostalgia can be deceiving, it is also heady and sweet. As such, the recollection of lovestruck yesterdays provides perspective, offers insight and (if we allow it) can mire us in useless regret. Nostalgia is like a drug. Use wisely. See below our ten most narcotic examples.
Love letter # 27
Whatever happens, some things will always be crystal. The ordinary grind of days will not dull them; they are safe in my fondness.
Like the way we kissed in public – like air violin in your apartment – like when you first invited me to your room.
No matter that the romance has cooled, that habit has supplanted impromptu joy – at least we once had angels for friends.
When even the music has stopped, or become wallpaper, it is the memory of dancing that yanks me to my feet.
Please forgive me if I seem to look through you sometimes; it is the wondrous creature still brilliant inside you that I am seeing.
Sure, the past is gone and our youth worn to spidery lines; but we always have the echo of splendour – it’s right here in our hearts – beautiful still. Like you.
Love letter # 38
Before you were someone else’s wife, before I was a ruin, we were children.
You are a distant angel, carved out of memory. It seems impossible that you are now only half an hour away – that you will be seated across from me. I will walk in that door, I will spot you, you will smile. Maybe you will brush your hand across the back of mine.
I never said it then – I never could. The words got mired in my dread. I adored you.
Okay, it was a hormonal teenage thing – but even now I can feel it in my body. It is a tide. It is the ocean itself.
I’ve seen your picture online – I know what the years do to a beautiful face. But I wonder – do the years put out fires? Perhaps we just retreated into the surrounding dark and left the embers glowing. Perhaps this is the morning.
Forgive me if I get ahead of myself. I bear no expectation – it’s simply that the long silent sweetness wants to whisper through the tiny cracks, to at least exhale its tender treasure.
And that is what is this letter is for. I hope that I have courage to give it to you.
There – I said it.
Love letter # 51
I saw a girl who looked like you; she made me tremble. With a trivial turn of her head, with an accidental glance, she took an old man’s composure and made wide eyes of it. She won’t even remember. I do nothing but.
The children are playing now, the ghosts are out of their cupboards; scattered around the room like the disinterred photographs that lay on my table. Your eyes staring up at me; that wonderful glow of yours. Us.
I am no fool – but God I wish I was. I wish that girl was you – you as you were, come to take me back. This distance between us – measured in years and circumstance – it could melt to inches. Couldn’t it?
I know the theory. No turning back. But what if we left the diamonds behind? What if we were just too young to know? I might be ready for you now. You might find a space for me. All those things we were afraid of – did they not turn out to be simple spots of rain?
And to think, I had put your memory away. Grown up, moved on, etc. Yet here I am – one girl on a crowded train away from writing crazy emails to a love I last kissed a thousand years ago. Tells you something, I guess.
I don’t believe in miracles – but I’d like to; and I’m old enough now to admit it. I’d trade away my hard won self-determination for another half hour, for the merest chance at resurrection. This damned wisdom I carry around; it has only taught me one thing. The only thing worth knowing.
That I would rather be with you.
Love letter # 84
Talking to you now, after all this time, I am reminded of what it is I miss: emotional availability, compassion, unabashed honesty and the withholding of judgement. These are the qualities that still typify you and I. Even now – long after the storms that broke us up.
Perhaps it is an easy thing to be calm with distance. Only natural that some of the original warmth should return after the angst of parting has subsided. Yet I cannot help but feel it is a deeper and more lovely thing than a simple cooling of the heels. For I can see now that the little wars we fought were over nothing. That it was never our love that failed. It was something more mundane. Details. Vanity. Fear.
And now – much later than I should have – I can say without hesitation or caveat that I love you more than anyone I ever knew. More than myself. That you recognised me I – and allowed me to see you.
I say this not as a matter of regret or apology, or even as a way back to you – for we both know that would be nostalgia gone mad – but as a long overdue honouring of the years we shared. It is clear now that we really did have something. A thing now patently lacking. And we both know how we lost it.
Yet I do not dwell upon this. I think instead of the beautiful, slender thread that still crosses the oceans between us. Of the door always open. Hearth still aglow. Love undiminished.
Even at the end of everything, this light I shall see by.
Love letter # 137
I did not love you because you loved me. I loved you because you were wonderful.
I did not kiss you for your kiss. I kissed you for your splendour. We did not dance because we had to. We danced because the music…
You weren’t the one I hoped for. You were much better. I never saw you coming. So glad I was blind. So glad you caught me out.
I do not say this to explain. I say it just to say it. Because it’s true. Because you’re beautiful.
Love letter # 220
Where did all the time go? I blinked and a year went by. I turned around for a moment and you were gone. Gone like summer. I tried to live on echoes – on the faded scratches you left in your wake – but I came up dry. Gasping.
For now the glory is memory – that faulty vault of you and I. The slow sinking ship of days is taking on the weight of its own demise – replacing the heady details of your nearness with waterlogged statues.
Yet even in the vast and glimmering sea, little signs of you. Things I still cling to – but know I must yield. There is no forever for you and I – just this: the magnificent and relentless tumble of nights into days – seasons into years – years into oblivion.
Your tender beauty is the ghost of everything. Your lost laughter is the song that plays over and over. How glad I am to know such gorgeous spectres. If I am to be haunted, please let it be by you.
For time is the eraser of all traces – save for my love. Save for my love.
Love letter # 312
It was one of the Bronte sisters: While I loved, and while I was loved, what an existence I enjoyed! What a glorious year I can recall…
That’s how I feel. Every spring is that spring. Every pretty girl is you in that dress – the sun shining through it, your body a magical silhouette. And every lovely song is like the trace of your beautiful sigh. These things never leave me. They are nothing like ghosts.
Until each and every one of my memories is finally and irrevocably exhaled, you still dance around me. And when I think of this, there is no bitterness, no sorrow – just a love as fine as mist – and the light that makes everything shine.
Love letter # 318
Looking out over the glassy sheen of the bay earlier – people walking along the shore, the air as soft as it’s been for months – and there you were. In the crack between seasons. Through a window in a wall of time. Winter verging on spring. Afternoon fading into evening. Cool blue light to mellow gold. Love on the fringes of despair.
Has it really been so long?
It was this time of year. You like the promise of flowers. An angel in the pale, warm light. Your eyes like a fire – burning me up. Your kiss like the heavenly flood. Me gone to water.
Tonight, I swear, you are with me. I am inhaling you like incense. My memory electric. Tiny shivers on my forearms. Wondering where you are. Knowing that all this is merely the visitation of an edited ghost – a narcotic trail of heady vapour stripped of all its contradictory detail – but swooning in it anyway. Just like my first sight of you. That moment when we both knew something that no one else had ever dreamed of. When we made the whole world new with our intemperate love.
And now…here it comes. The inevitable night. With its veil of emptiness.
Love letter # 354
Time may well erode my memory of you but not how I remember. I have already forgotten the sound of your voice, the curve of your waist, the scent of your freshly washed skin. In truth, I can barely picture you now, let alone recall the soft weight of your touch. The factual traces are scarce. Only the bias of tenderness remains.
Is it an illusion to think of you thus? The common folly of nostalgia – the edge and the grit worn smooth – edited by years and foolish yearnings? Indeed, to think of you at all, with even a scintilla of fondness, maybe regarded as a form of poetic madness. Yet what beauty lives inside this wistful distemper. What subtle glory dwells in the act of blurred futility. For sometimes it is the knave who stumbles, lost and longing, upon the unlikely nook where treasure lies – disguised, yet still able to catch a sparkle of the remnant light.
Love letter # 368
Once we had that classic thing; you know how it goes – you and me against the world. Sure it was a delusion but at the time it was the most powerful and wonderful thing there was. I felt as though somebody, at last, got me. That quirky take on things that was mine – it was yours too. Together we were everything.
Now, when I look back, I am tempted to see the ashes of dreams – but I always stop myself. For that dream is alive. It lingers in the crease of your smile. In the way you look at me. In the arch of an eyebrow. These days we only have it in brief fits. Yet we still have it.
I try to remember this when we’re fighting.
Love letter # 501
Suddenly, as though a door had opened somewhere, the years have been compacted; then squashed up against now. All our time together has melted and now we’re just sitting here – you a million miles away, me choking. Our drinks have arrived; our food will be here soon. Will we eat in distracted silence – like we did last week?
I watch the couple over by the window; so young, so utterly unknowing. She looks at him with velveteen wonder. He can barely breathe for the beauty of her. All the fires burn for them.
I smile at you. You raise an eyebrow, acknowledging – not connecting.
Turn around, my love. Look back in time. Not so long ago that was us. We were the dancers – and the music played through our fingers. We couldn’t keep our hands off one another. We used to leave the meals half uneaten.
But that was before everything. Before the years, before the banks, before the future got in the way. We owned nothing then – and no one owned us.
I want you to love me again, not just put up with me. I want your sweat on my skin. I want your bitten lip. I want that 4am promise kept.
I wanna love or die.
We are not here to pay the bills, my angel. We were sent for fire.
Leave with me now, right through that door. Leave the dollar bills on the table and for once, let’s be hungry, not merely starving. Kill all the phones, open up the jets, burn off the scales. It’s us, after all.