My wife brought me a treasure the other day. That was how she introduced it: A treasure. She led me by the hand into the living room where she picked up a piece of paper. It was a dense piece of single spaced type, littered with strike-throughs and attempts at correction. But not many.
It was a letter I had written to her thirty-six years ago. Back in the eighties. The early eighties. Bill Clinton was taking a break between his two terms as governor of Arkansas. The Falklands War raged on for several minutes. Chariots of Fire won Best Picture, forcing everyone to run around in slow motion to the strains of Vangelis. Commodore released their sixty-four bit home computer. I was using an electric typewriter to write papers for my college courses as well as the occasional letter to a friend.
That was the girl who had headed off on her own collegiate journey. She had sent me a typed letter, and I felt compelled to respond in kind. All these years later, there were so many sounds and phrases that rang through. The inside jokes. The attempts at wisdom deflected almost immediately by sarcasm. The lack of paragraph breaks. This was my voice.
Still, I couldn't help wondering how this scrap of our past had survived all these years. Was it sheer tenacity on the part of the paper on which hit had been typed? Was it a happy accident that it slipped into a folder with other more important documents? Or was it somehow a message from beyond that brought us back to that place, before the turn of the century was a discussion point? Were these silly ramblings a revelation of any sort?
Yes and no. I could hear my own desperation to connect in those pages. I would not have presumed that I was in love at that point, but I was busy scattering my feelings about this and that in a spray that permeated the entire letter. I wanted someone to know what was going on in my mind, if not my heart.
As we approach the twenty-fifth anniversary of our wedding, I understood the historical significance of all that mostly legible wordstream. It was a love letter that I hadn't been clever or brave enough to recognize or rationalize. It was a message that traveled across time to land in our living room to be read and reflected upon. Together.