Love letter # 451

I am sending you this with some reservation; not because I harbour any shame but because I realise that the culture of suspicion we currently live in does not really encourage us to express ourselves in this fashion. Especially one as old as me to one so young as you.

However, I am not writing to gush ridiculous, besotted fantasy or furtive lust but to remark upon something that is truly wonderful about you. In fact, not just you, but your boyfriend also. In short, when I see the two of you together I am filled with a kind of sunshine. There is a palpable beauty in the air between you. Simply to know that such a thing still exists is, for me, cause for a kind of hope.

Now I’m not so nostalgic and rose tinted as to accuse you of being perfect. Surely you two have your troubles and most likely you keep them well out of sight. I imagine also that you and he are prone to same excesses, shortfalls and denials as the rest of us. Yet what a treasure it is to see the light that passes between you and the tenderness that beams in your lovely smiles.

Whatever the future holds for you – either as a couple or individually – please know that the gem you share is not only rare but a thing of both power and grace. You may well lose it at some point – none of us can ever be truly sure about these things – but I believe that simply to once have held it your hand will carry you both forward when times are darker than they are now.

You are indeed the lucky ones and I pray only that you extract every last nuance of joy and understanding from the good fortune to have formed such an obviously beautiful union.

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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?

Ode to the checkout chick

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 # 319

Solstice. Winter. The darkness in its pomp. The daylight shivering. So far from you. Wanting so much to lie upon the damp earth and be consumed. To sink into the soil, feed the naked trees. Give my life to something greater. Greater than my futile pride. More beautiful than my ridiculous vanity. Something like the love that still lives inside me.

In this frigid grey I see you so clearly – turning your head to smile back at me – your eyes so warm with tenderness. That knowing laugh of yours. The way you hinted at deeper and more wonderful things. The permission you gave. Not to do what others do. Not to want the folly of gold and glory, or the shallowness of wisdom. We never asked to be feted, nor approved of. We only ever wanted the unblinking and egalitarian oblivion of the light. To have all the shit washed off. The walls destroyed. To hear the music wherever we went.

Amidst the bare knuckled trees I linger and in the thickening dusk I call across the impossibility to listen out for the echoes of your astonishing beauty. I breathe in the viscous wet scent of fallen leaves and rain drunk dirt. I hear the song of celestial time – its overwhelming and magnificent simplicity – and I am ready to whisper my assent to the immensity. If only to be nearer. To you. To us.

So now I shall close my eyes and in a blink of blackness the wheel will have turned – and in a heartbeat the light will have come back to me. And I will not be here.

Love letter # 461

Of course this is a bit ridiculous. I mean, it’s so out of step with the modern age, isn’t it? – all this still loving you after all this time. I can almost see the look in your eyes, the shake of your head. Why don’t you just stop!?

Why don’t I just stop what? Thinking of you with tenderness? Feeling that incredible wave that first came over me when we were together? Understanding the irreversible knowing of love?

I know, I know – but what is love? Isn’t it just a kind of poetic selfishness, a euphemism for hormones and evolutionary imperatives? Maybe it’s those things as well, I wouldn’t doubt it, but here’s what it also is – for me at least. It’s that breathtaking connection; the one makes it seem, just for a moment, like you are breaking from the cell of the ego and really seeing the other and, in that, something profound about the nature of self.

So of course I still love you – how could I not? I still love all those who wandered into this channel, who opened the floodgates. The teenage siren of misty eyed memory, the undergraduate beauty I swore I wanted to die for, my ex-wife … and you, the one who blew the covers off everything.

I’m saying this to you now just in case. Because we never really ended, did we – it was just that drifting apart was easier, more sensible. The terrain never burned, it just got vacated. Left behind like something a little too difficult.

I fully get why this might appear absurd, even a bit crazy, but the kind of thing we had makes it worth the risk. Maybe I want you to unequivocally say it – the last rites and all that – but what I really wanted say was this: the light is still so dazzling and beautiful and humbling some days that I would rather risk the shuddering finality of no than the unbearable idea of if only.

Love letter # 350

We are, both of us, old enough to understand that some things can’t be fought – won’t be solved or made better with either wishing, ideology or just ‘going along’. It’s true, I could simply use you for the sex and kindness you are offering; but then, what happens when the deed is done and the generosity starts to seem one sided? And what kind of person would that make me?

Much as this moment is awkward, awful and a wrench for us, in a month – six months, a year – we will both be glad it happened this way. I realise that this is an easy and perhaps righteous thing to say but I also think that you know it’s true.

I will not apologise for not being ‘in love’ with you but I will say sorry if I inadvertently gave you hope or caused you pain. Maybe I tried too hard to be kind and, in indulging this weakness, I twisted the knife much more than it needed to be. I tried to limit what I knew had to be your suffering because, selfishly, I wanted to limit my own. I do not claim noble self-sacrifice as a motivation.

Yet neither do I wallow in the vain drama of middle class guilt. We are, none of us, perfect or above reproach, especially when feelings are high and desire clouds our judgement. I know that you came at this with the best intentions – with love, compassion, openness, good humour and a giving attitude – but if anything we are both at fault for failing to best manage the mis-match and losing our beautiful, extraordinary friendship along the way.

Love may well offer us everything we wish for but in its brightly shining eye it also blinds the mere mortals in its sway and asks us to render everything unto its power. We are but two more fools paying the price.