I found a box of letters from decades ago and started going through them. I had completely forgotten I had tucked them away when we moved, but when I recently found the box marked “JUNK” I remembered. They were letters from high school and college that I didn’t want the kids to see because I wasn’t sure what was even in the box. JUNK would indicate nothing of value to them, but was my code-word for value to me.
So on a rainy afternoon, I opened it. What I found made me laugh, made me cry and made me want to reach out to that girl I was decades ago. There were letters from my parents, my brother and old boyfriends. There were letters from friends with whom I’ve since lost touch and friends who have remained in my life.
There were memories – oh the memories! – that I had forgotten. How I had loved and been loved by a particular college boyfriend whom I broke up with after about a year, sadly breaking his heart, but knowing it was for the best. He had written me copious letters proclaiming his love and making such elaborate plans for our future which was too soon for me. A good man as I look back, but I wasn’t ready for that at the time. I have often wondered what became of him because I hope some really good woman has him because that’s who he deserves. At the time I knew I wasn’t the woman for him even though I tried. It wasn’t him. It was me. And that’s not a lie. I just didn’t want to be put on a pedestal for it was too far to fall and unfair to me and to him.
There was another one who wrote many letters I had saved and now 30 years later we are in touch as friends which I appreciate. Interestingly enough, we have talked about our break up and how we are both happily single. But I doubt there would be any reunion except as friends which is fine with me.
There were a few letters from girlfriends who were on vacation or lived far away from me because that’s how we communicated ‘way back then’ because long distance calls were costly and there wasn’t texting nor emailing. It was fun to read our letters and how silly we were about family and boys. Again, the memories came flooding back in such fun ways!
The letters from my family though were best of all because I could hear their voices in each letter and it’s been a long time since I have heard them since they’ve passed away. And my brother’s letters found me wanting to hug him again even though we’ve had our differences. I realized the family dynamic was really flawed back then (and maybe always) so it was good to see how far we’ve come in repairing what had been a dysfunctional childhood.
All in all, it was a good trip down memory lane. I shredded much of it, but did keep a few that meant a lot to me. I’m that kind of girl who likes the physical letter and not just a photo of it. While I may never read them again, they are tucked safely into my filing cabinet, but now they’re not labeled ‘junk’ but ‘memories’ instead.
Have you ever stumbled upon old letters? How did you feel about them?