FOR MORE NOSTALGIA SEARCH THE TAGS. In the meantime, enjoy. – Paul
Letter to the lighter of 500 fires
It was on a night like this. That’s when all of this began; and everything before it ended. Ten years ago, almost to the hour. We were gathered for your birthday. You were turning twenty two. I was nearly twice that. At some point, prompted by you, we snuck away from the party and you said, “You know that I like you, don’t you?”
That I had guessed, the rest I had no idea about. Sure, I knew you were a storm but I did not know that the tempest you would inadvertently unleash would lay waste to my very edifice of self. That within months I would be led to the brink of surrender. Would put it all to the flame. Willingly. Maybe not gladly but with my eyes wide and clear. Knowing only that it was no longer safe to assume that I would survive the fire – except perhaps as ashes.
Of course, a decade down the road, I can enjoy the hindsight and give thanks that by offering to yield completely I was, in turn, and by slow degrees, completely liberated. For a while the advent of you was the single worst thing that ever happened to me, my most disastrous and complacent folly. If I had courted the dizzying drama of the volatile younger woman I had, instead, set in train a self-destroying momentum. Perhaps that too began as an almost literary flourish – another lovely heartbreak routine – but the reality it soon became was ruthless, relentless and ravaging. Yet I remain profoundly and humbly grateful for the fact that I was somehow able to understand that my only viable path out of darkness was to plunge directly into the heart of that deepest night – and to wrench from the ark despair its final glories. Ecstasy and deliverance.
And that is where all this – these five hundred or so love letters – sprang from. For you so steadfastly refused to allow my love that I sent it out into world instead, where, in the roaring silence, it would never be rejected. Never get spat back in my face.
My guess is that, if by chance you are reading this now, you will regard this blog monument as proof of my obsessional inability to let things go. Perhaps it would be mildly embarrassing or downright cringeworthy. I realise that it seems a bit strange – and even if I were to point out that this collection of letters long ago ceased being anywhere near all about you, I know how absurd and inflated this must all appear. For you it was just a fling that went on a bit too long. For me it was line that divides the man I am now from the one I barely recognise as being me. How differently we each view the same scenes.
If am still the hapless, needy older man fool in your memory – if indeed anything at all – well, no wonder. It could well be that I am just that. Ten years is no guarantee, and half a thousand love letters doesn’t exactly suggest moving on. Nor indeed does the act of writing this. On this night. Your birthday. The anniversary of my immolation.
“Yeah, I like you too,” I said – and in the moment that followed, when we held that deep gaze I will never forget, there was a barely discernable sound. A scratch and a spark. And before long the whole universe was on fire.
The thing is, it no longer matters what you think – or even what is true. The light from our supernova love is still flooding my world with indescribable beauty. It is still an ocean, a wave that transforms, and all these breathless billets doux are testament to its infinity. I send them out with no hope or wish for reply – for they emerge from a node of brightness and simply radiate outwards, as though the love I felt for you, which was too intense for either of us to reasonably contain, can now be expressed without restraint. Can go on forever. If only I could find a means of sharing the wonder of this with you. Then you would know.
Most likely I will think of you in my final hour and, almost certainly, you will have forgotten all but the merest scraps long before then; yet still I wonder how many letters of such love I will have penned by the time I am ready to stop. Because the first ten years have not dimmed the star one lumen – nor curtailed for one moment the extraordinary freedom of surrender.
“We don’t have to do anything about it,” you said.
“I know,” I replied – and we both knew at once what a total lie that was.
Love letter # 409
There is always a certain moment in the changing of the seasons, when the first soft afternoon of spring fills the air with scent and beautiful light, when I am once again the young and hopeful fool who sat beside you in the dappled sunshine. I breathe in and my body remembers the electric shiver of your nearness. I close my eyes and I see you turning your face towards me; and for a moment I am awash and you are the promise of flowers.
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.
Love letter # 403
In my fantasy this is how it goes: I post this and somehow you read it – and of course you know right away. After all, what else could it be? Who but you? Who but me? Because we were both there when there was nothing else. When the whole of existence seemed to pivot on our touch. When we found ourselves at the centre of everything and the wave we made rippled outwards, washing the whole world with our loving. Or whatever else people chose to call that holy flood.
You could argue that it wasn’t love – you could even say there is no such thing. In the end, it might just be a word. A sound we make when we refer to that particular form of longing, that sense of connection, of seeing the other and being truly visible in return. To a universe without semantic distinction. Or the walls that normally stand between us. From this vantage, it matters not what language we wrap around it – only that it was. That it was forged by us. Made of an electricity that overwhelmed us both. That made us high. Brought us low.
The details of the drama don’t matter either. Time has scrubbed them back to a lustre. Distance has rendered them tiny. But oh my love … how the light still moves every atom in my body. Even when the darkness is pitch. And how the vision remains – its colours like crystal. Yes, I breathe in and you are next to me. I shiver, and it is the buzz of instant recognition. No, not even memory – but presence.
Who knows what kind of fire we started. Perhaps it makes no difference to know one way or the other. Maybe it was the star of our unknowing. A flower opening just beyond our conscious understanding. The benign and terrible mystery of a realm beyond the I. The pulsing, beating signal of our ultimate unbecoming. The great and impassive ocean in which we are all dissolved.
I have no neat answers – no pre-packaged wisdom to declare or meme friendly inspiration to share. All I have to say today is that something has travelled across the years, outlasted disenchantment, survived the erosion of faulty recall, and it has reached me intact. Alive. Sublime. Can you feel it still? Is it there with you too?
Something we create – or encounter – when we love each other as we did does not founder upon the reef of human flaw. For it is standing my hairs on end right now. It is why I am writing this. So that wherever you are and whatever may ail you, you can know without a beat of doubt that the love I helped you conjure from thin air is always there with you. Barely even a thought away. Here. Now.
Love letter # 344
On a short break, lingering at the café I usually go to, and all I can think of is you. The colour of the sky, the edges of chill in the pools of shade, the goldening of leaves. Just like the autumn of our wanting all over again. The promise not quite realised. The moment having passed.
Why did we never walk across that space? How did the gravity between us fail to pull us into collision? What manner of terror kept us from having what we both desired?
I used to shatter awake, bursting out of dreams straight into thoughts of you. I could smell you in the air. In those days you were all around me. That glorious fall of our longing. The very nearly season. The almost hour.
And right now, in this hour – the blue of afternoon so deep and rich, the remains of summer ever paler and cooler – I am in your sway once more. As though you were across from me, smiling that smile of yours; and all I can feel is the tremor of ancient madness. The dammed up distemper of almost touching you.
I drink my black coffee in your honour and look at the empty seat opposite.
Later, I will reflect on this, ask myself why this ghost still hovers. It’s not as though the years have not been filled with other loves, with all kinds of distraction. But I already know the reason. For I have tasted many things, ‘cept the sweetness of your limbs.
Love letter # 329
Facebook told me it was your birthday, so I posted the usual blurb on your Timeline – but
it really said nothing about how seeing your name and remembering you triggered me.
With a thought I was seventeen and seeing you again in the gold autumn light after school. You were so close to me but you may as well have been on the other side of the universe. I was paralysed. Your beauty, my desire – how they conspired to strike me dumb.
I think now about why I never said anything back then. I guess I was so utterly afraid you’d say no. I just couldn’t stand the idea that someone I adored might think nothing of me; or at any rate not enough of me.
The funny thing is I don’t regret it – because even now you are an angel in my estimation. You still hover like the promise of indescribable ecstasy. A girl undiminished by the mundane erosion of relationship. A dream not woken by uglier realities. I can think of you and still hear the bell ring. It vibrates the cells in my body. The memory electric.
I do not know if you ever thought fondly or romantically of me, yet what a treasure you have given me. With your terrifying beauty. With the distance you so perfectly maintained.
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 # 389
It was a just a random thought. Something in the ether had brought you to mind – and then there was a flood, sweet like oblivion, and I was in the trance of remembering. Almost with you once more.
What struck me was how physical it was. It was as though I could sense the gravity of you next to me. Feel the fire in your gaze. Hear the lovely crackle of your smile. Know the warm scent of your arm across my shoulders.
I know it’s all been said before – but still the power of it catches my breath. Still I shiver with the sheer downhill rush of loving you. Still my walls are breached. For a moment I am mad like I was when we were crazy together. Utterly undone by a beauty I could not contain with explanation.
Perhaps it does not matter that we did not make it work – for even if for a solitary season we both knew everything worth knowing. And all the songs were ours. How can I possibly forget, when even a hint of your ghost has me dancing like this again?
Love letter # 509
The memory of you is all the proof I need. We both know it didn’t turn out ideally for us – things in the way, human frailties, etc – but there is one thing I will never forget. The connection we had. That almost magical, mystical recognition. Like a permission to be. Whatever the gritty, besmirching details were, they are but specks on the lens; and in the right light I can see right through them. As I do now. So that instead of regret I walk in the grace of your continuous beauty. For which I can never thank you enough.
Love letter # 336
There was a place in time where the light shone bright and brief for you and I. Today it illuminates our memory. Now we stand looking across the line of our separate lives. Two strands, fluttering near in the chance of a breeze. How much has changed – yet what remains! A thing so pure and unsullied. The very spark itself. Sun still sparkling on the back of a turquoise sea.
The blind, egalitarian river of time is sweeping us downstream, disrupting our private summer with the grit of a common autumn. Yet – next to you – even for this serendipitous minute – the bloom is heady with the scent of promise; which, going unfulfilled, becomes a brand new sweetness in a secluded garden of bittersweet treasures. Where even the years shall not dim its loveliness.
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 # 257
Yesterday, when you were standing next to me, it was obvious. Today, more so. The thing we had. The way we resonated. So deep and wordless. Yet still we walked away.
We remember well the saw toothed grit that made the gears grind – the noise that drowned the song. The salt in wounds that made those tiny cuts scream. The things undone that built into a storm. All the reasons in the world to cut a cord. Slam a door.
So why, after all these years, did it take no more than a moment to feel again the motion of the quiet and beautiful stream that once flowed so magically through our blood? Why, in the wake a thousand squabbles, is our connection still so alive?
I cannot know the answer to this – maybe I dare not know – but what was obvious to me was how I felt in your presence and how I fell to pieces when you sailed away. How I knew for sure what I had missed. What it was I gave away when I turned my back on 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 # 382
The days are fine. It’s the evenings that do it. Somehow make the years intolerable. As though time itself had ground us down. We used to seem like angels – now we seem like dust.
And so I wonder – are we held together by what we used to be? By the lingering fantasy of you and me? Those two wonderful creatures that defied the world with their improbable love and set out to make a lifetime theirs.
When did we stop being them? When did the distance nestle its way between us? Perhaps it was when we stopped looking.
Yet tonight I am most definitely looking. Peering out across the falling darkness to try and see the light still shining in your eyes. To reach out to one I fell in love with. To say once more to that beautiful soul … I love you, I love you, I love you.
Love letter # 298
There was a time when tiny little treasures made the big world bearable. A time when dark hours filled with light. It was the time that I spent with you.
Our lovers’ pact may well have been made in error – but what beautiful, wishful fools we were. Perhaps we even sinned against the very idea of together – but oh what glorious damnation we embraced. And what broken down angels we became.
For there were nights – so dark – when I slept in particular splendour. They were the nights when you stayed. The days when I woke next to you.
When you said that you loved me – when you smiled at me that way – no possible harm could come. This was when all the loose ends were either tied or of no consequence. The time when we ruled the world. When we were we.
Love letter # 156
When I was young I dreamt of you. I imagined things that made me shiver. Whenever I sat next to you, so close to touching you, I was riven with a desire I knew I could not act on.
Your cool exterior. Your haughty distance. This is the very image of beauty I have carried with me across the plane of the years. The measure by which I have measured others. The weight of my longing. The colour of my love.
Seeing you again – after forever – has made the decades contract to the tiny circle of a warm embrace. I open my eyes and you are there in front of me, that smile of yours still so dazzling.
And your daughter – she carries your spark in her laughter – such that my memory is ablaze. Tonight I am walking with you once more in my dreams, awash in the undimmed shimmer of your mystery, shaking like the foolish boy who loved you in terrified silence all that time ago.
I have nothing to lose now – our paths will diverge again – and so I can say now what I never could back when: how I adored you. You were the treasure of my nascent love and you remain the still perfect idol of my flawed recollection. Even the years have not dulled the splendour of your young form.
These ramblings, I realise, are irrational. But just to say them out loud. To think that you might hear me. That this might make you smile that gorgeous smile of yours. The smile that cracked me open and led me to realise that to love one another was the highest possible honour that could ever be bestowed upon mortal beings.
Love letter # 241
It’s the things you don’t prepare for that get through. That picture of you popping up on my slideshow. You reading the card I gave you, wearing the scarf I bought you. How could I have known that I would never hold you again?
I believed we were closer than ever on that day. I thought that after all our struggles we had made it – that we had finally found a way to make our desires and our personas live together. I recall the way you looked up at me after reading whatever romantic gush it was I had scrawled in that card and your eyes were full of tender welcome.
Yet within a week it was over. Not officially – but I felt the cord snap – saw that the walls you built around you were higher than ever. Perhaps because I got too close and it seemed too real. And I got sad and you got defensive and everything rolled out the way it did.
I wonder if we are the better for it now. Wiser, happier? Or just resigned? (Is there a difference?)
All I know is that I saw you just now – pixels on my screen, rooms in my heart – and I was set on fire. The song is right: there is a light that never goes out. And it’s you.
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 # 138
Earlier – quite by chance – I saw an older version of you. She sat across from me on the train. I was on my way to work. She looked like she was on her way to Hell.
For a second I wondered if I was looking through time. At you as you might be. But no – it was just the shape of her face. Her mouth. Her deep water eyes.
I tried to catch her gaze – smile – but she didn’t respond. I allowed her knee to rest lightly against mine. I sent as much warmth as I could but she was locked into her world. I certainly wasn’t in it. Maybe no body was.
And when I was sure it was not you – I knew in a flash that it was me. I was the one locked inside self, overwhelmed by the incessant babble of I.
Me. Always me. My drama. My karma. No wonder I recognised it. Her wall against me was my wall against everything.
Everything but you.
Love letter # 78
These were the nights when I used to dream of someone like you. Now I walk with that ambiguous phantom: memory. Beneath the sound of laughter, deep in the smell of skin and humid air, ghosts of dead summers – the long faded evenings of your favour.
Yet for all that distance, it’s all so close. The hairs on my forearm still stand up for it and the yawning hunger still grips my chest like gravity. We think our love is a grand idea but really it’s a physical presence. It’s in our muscles – and no amount of years will ever dig it out.
Mostly, it’s dormant – but tonight … alive like fire.
Even if in the dream of a deluded fool, I walked again by your side and my love was as warm as the beautifully falling night. By daybreak I will be back to normal but here in the insect buzz of hot midnight, you are still my queen and I am still yours.
Love letter # 201
Yes, I still love you like you never went away;
And I still love you like I did that very day.
It’s like the time between is nothing but a blink
And all of our wounds are pale like faded ink.
There is no space for bitterness and blame,
No self-reproach or shallow shame.
I only wish for light to shine
That we may see and not be blind,
That you may fly just as you wished
And I might fade – and not be missed.
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 # 149
I remember the flickering light, the bass drum deep and physical, the whites of your eyes, the way your hips moved – the promise of their exhausted, sweating sex. We felt so cool then; so hot, so untouchable. Now we watch TV and worry about the kids. Life turns. The tracks play out, the lights come up and it’s time for dawn and headaches. But I look across at you – and I’m still dancing.
Love letter # 400
When I was there I could never have imagined being here. Now was not conceivable then. There was us. There was that. When a thing is burning – it is burning.
And now: remnants. Things that once were. Not even bones – just ash. And silence.
I look for your mark on me and find it faded. I have almost sweated you out. A few last drops. I think I can make it.
For you will always be inside me – you’re a part of who I am. Your voice is one of mine. When I am dancing – you are singing. And when I am flying I see your feathers.
Love letter # 190
… and now that I don’t think of you, you see fit to invade my dreams. You are the ghost in my sleep, tiny spectral fragments dislodged … like some final, unexpected echo … and I wake up shaken; staring into a dark that now contains you.
I am not investing you with mystical powers – nor suggesting that I am in your thrall. Your power over me is long gone – high summer turned pale. All I am saying is that you are somehow still inside me – perhaps you always will be. I may well be a rock these days but I was carved by your passing.
… yet were it not for these dreams, I would not be writing this, for I am as much in your past as you are in mine. We both know that even the ashes have been scattered – all traces of fire kicked over. And we’re cool with that … aren’t we?
Don’t worry, this isn’t me reconsidering – it’s just my way of saying that I loved you once with everything … and even now there’s something. Me wanting the most for you. Me praying that wherever you are and whoever you’re with that you wake up smiling, your eyes sparkling like they used to blind me.
… and if sometimes you miss me, maybe I will see you in my dreams.
Love letter # 111
You came back to my thoughts today; although the truth is you never left them. There may be a thousand miles between us now but that space is nothing, erased by the light falling just so, bridged by half a melody.
Whatever happened happened – I see no need for blame, feel no cause for shame. We were imperfect but for a moment at least we wore the raiment of angels. When you kissed me I was king – and when I adored you, what a star you were.
Yet with all this distance, all our closeness turned to silence, all our knowing just guessing … I can still feel what it was that made it shine. It was always more than just the turn of your head or the miracle of your favour. It was a promise momentarily believed. It was a kind of finding.
And if this is a kind of loss – darling, it’s still sweet. For in the illogical maze of my thinking you are still dancing in front of me, your eyes are still the brightest lights I’ve seen.
I might still hold a candle for you – but by its softening light I now walk forward.
Love letter # 333
Suppose I meet you again and you’re beautiful. What then? Will I blurt it out, hoping that maybe the years will simply wash away and we’ll be like kids again? Or will I just look – nod, smile, share stories, politely kiss you good night?
They say you should never meet up with old sweethearts – not at our age. Sentimentality can make you do stupid things; not to mention the middle staples of loneliness, nostalgia and dwindling opportunity.
But I can tell from your voice that you, like me, have a barely disguised hope. You must know it’s absurd. I certainly do.
Yet here I am. And here you are – sauntering in from the past. Is this what they call going backwards or … ?
Love letter # 195
It doesn’t feel like a lifetime – but it is. One minute we were new – and now … here we are, kind of silent, wondering.
We looked away – surely it was just for a moment – and when we looked back everything had changed. The same – but different – and somehow, time had passed. That almost touchable day that was just yesterday is now years away.
And look … even the angels are getting old.
But we are more than remnants of half remembered splendour – because we are still here. Because I still love you – even if it looks like I don’t – and you must still love me – even though I swear it’s not true.
Is it just that I can’t do without you? Maybe. But there are worse things than that. At least I’m not cold. And I adore your beautiful smile.
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.
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 # 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 # 18
That song came on the air – you know the one – and I was plucked from the sky. In a beat I was back on your floor, lying next to you in a world we made up with secret signs.
I closed my eyes so that I could see you again. Your gaze close and liquid, your index finger tracing my jawline, your mouth so soft – whispering coded affection. And god I loved you – like not a moment had passed, like I was about to enfold you once more.
And right there – stranded in that gorgeous music – surrounded by unblinking strangers – ecstasy and despair came together. I was both the lover in brilliant flight and the grounded fool left longing.
I wanted you. I wanted you. I wanted you so.
Time does not heal – don’t believe them when they say that. Those two years – they have not dimmed a single star. The ocean I loved you with still has the power to wash me away. I drowned in that song – just like we used to swoon.
So many if onlys … playing over like the chorus.
Is there a point to all this? I don’t know. Maybe I’m just hoping you’ll remember our days as fondly as I do – not so that you’ll suddenly want me back but so that you, like me, will be able to conjure up such splendid stars for the price of a song.
The angels don’t always sing happy tunes – but boy do they sing.
Love letter # 20
Afternoon sun – early autumn – breeze like a sigh. As I walk, it’s like you’re beside me – still at my shoulder – humming madly.
Oh you difficult witch, you had me spellbound.
It’s only now that I type it out – girl, do I miss you. But at least I know what the empty space is now.
Funny how the sunlight reminds me.
Love letter # 199
You used to seem like the sunshine, like the light pouring in. You were girl the song was about. You were the one.
I used to count down the hours, set the very time by you. I was the fool who knew the sacred sea. I was very nearly the one.
And we were almost perfect. If only those little cracks …
But the clock will not go back, no matter how hard I wish it. We are where we are – and you’re not here.
The truth is uncluttered – the bed is half cold.
Yet you still seem like starlight to me. That was the part I got to keep – and to this day it still makes the night time shine.
Love letter # 11
I know it’s been a while but would it surprise you to know that I still think of you? Would you be amazed to learn that I still sing your name with shivers?
Once all the hot angst of splitting had gone and I could feel again the soft melodic beauty of you and me, my heart found the space to miss you every day.
I know that every couple has their troubles – and we sure had ours – but love lives longer than squabbles. Those things I felt were worth the fight – I can barely name them; but I can list the thousand things I adored you for.
So now – after all that empty bluster – I know exactly what to fight for … and if it be your will, I most certainly will.
Love letter # 85
Yesterday, a friend of mine asked, “does it ever go away?” and I had to say that it didn’t. Even now, after God knows, my breath still catches.
I could not, with any confidence, nominate the precise moment when you carved your name inside me but I can tell you now the letters still bleed. It’s not that I pine it’s just that I catch myself with your gestures; beautiful tricks you taught me. And I think to myself – ah, there she is.
It’s then that I understand – you might be a lifetime away but you are always here. Part of me is constructed of the things you once gave so freely. To this day, they are the better parts.
Maybe I don’t miss you at all. Maybe days go by when I don’t think of you but when I do … it is like wine … and just for a moment I am giddy again, whirling around with you.
So yes, it never goes away. It just becomes a river – feeding all that rain back into the sea.
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 # 28
I am no saint; I know there were days when bitterness almost had me by the throat. I would listen to my fellow divorcees and I would share their complaints. But not for long – because I could not forget that things in our house were never that bad.
Yes, we ended. Yes, we bled. But no – we did not use the knives.
And now, years down the track, when certain things trigger me, I recall you with a warm buzz.
So much of me is you in trousers. The things I do, the food I buy, the bed I still sleep in. All that time we had – it didn’t just fade to nothing. Okay, so I no longer sport that band of gold – but I know where it is and some nights I hold it in the palm of my hand just to honour everything.
You married a boy but you left a man. In some ways I almost owe you my adulthood.
And of course, the biggest lesson was the end. Had to be really; because I took you for granted. I assumed you would always be there to open the door. I sure learned.
The empty hallway, the crushing quiet when I clicked out the light, the freezing cold space beside me. I thought some terrible things in that abrupt and awful vacuum.
Maybe now I’m wearing rosy glasses, forgetting the shit we both tried to deny, but I’d rather that than carry round a heart made of stone.
I’m not writing to woo you back or any such foolishness; I’m writing to honour you. To say a simple, if somewhat poetic thank you. The fact that we had it all, (or deluded ourselves that we did), keeps me from the common sourness.
You showed me the world in your eyes, in your incredible tenderness, and in doing so, you cut the chains.
I can but pray that I gave you something half as wonderful.
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.