darn you nick and matt
What a thing to do on new year's eve (now the first day of the new year!). I read through an old box of letters before throwing them out (and then deciding that some of them can't be thrown away). All because Nick and Matt said that letters should be kept or at least re-read before chucking. Some are nostalgically sad because they're written with such affection that somehow seemed to fade with distance, some are just plain ol' drama sad because they chronicle the implosion of a decade's worth of friendship. Wow, your late teens and early twenties are hard. Wait, I can remember writing some really lame and dramatic letters and emails as recently as June 2007. Whev. Pre-TD. I now have a mostly drama-free life, which oddly dovetails with a letter-free life.
I used to write letters. I used to receive letters. I used to print out emails and keep them in a corporeal form. But now I find oddly comforting the ephemerality of the spoken word and the physical gesture. They are real, they are felt, they are kept as memories but otherwise released to time. These letters feel like heavy, heavy objects to carry around. I used to think that if I didn't document an experience or have tangible proof of something (yes, I feel your love, but will you write it down?) it didn't exist. Ok, so a part of that is being an excessively romantic English lit major obsessed with the correspondence of authors (Bishop and Lowell!) and epistolary romances. Part of it is being a sucker for lame romantic drama tropes and thinking that one day the letters will be like some chronicle of love between me and my husband, as if life were a movie starring Meryl Streep played in her younger years by Laura Linney and directed by Anthony Minghella to be appreciated by future generations.
And then I remember that part of the reason why I never want to run for public office or in any way become famous is that I do not at all want any personal correspondence read by anyone else (ironic that I have a blog, yes), because almost everything I write is banal and meaningless. Besides, because I actively do not want drama or hardship in my life, correspondence, even if we engaged in it, would be extremely banal given that TD and I are not separated by distance or torn asunder by war, and we do not suffer from delusions of third person grandeur such that we would voluntarily inject the drama into our normal, happy, I-see-you-every-day relationship. I really like our phone calls, and I like that we see each other. I like that the affection is expressed in non-dramatic ways. Actions mean more than words. I read some of the love letters. How painfully empty! I think of the pick-up at the airport on Sunday as being ten times that grandiloquent puffery. Words mean a lot, but they don't mean that much in the end, if you don't feel them and live them.
So I think I'll throw away most of the letters. Except the ones chronicling the friendship implosion. I don't know why I'm keeping the most painful of the lot, especially as they chronicle in part some crazy family drama involving my brother. I suppose I could send it along to my screenwriter friend, for safe-keeping, wondering if some part of it (a quip, a plot point) finds its way into some movie. I always tell her my craziest stories. She loves crazy stories and drama, just like me, especially when they happen to other people. She is the one who taught me to see humor in my father's crazy over-the-board apoplectic rage whenever I am careless bad-female enough to leave a sock in the dryer, threatening to throw all of my clothes out on the street to be run over by cars. The cartoon image of a steamroller running over your clothes, turning them into tents does come to mind, yes. So maybe I'll send them to her, so that the letters aren't discarded, but at least they're no longer these metaphorical skeletons that I keep in my literal cloest (in a decoupaged box! I was crafty once).
I was thisclose to writing up some of the letters and publishing poetry I wrote during those years that are like all emo and shit but one of which is well-regarded by an MFA firend. But I didn't.