love. so many years ago.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Yesterday afternoon I went on an expedition at my father's house—through the one box in the attic marked "Beth," into a single manilla enveloped claiming to contain the worldly letters I received during my junior year at Penn.

I would say this broke my heart.

Where, I wondered, had these old friends gone? These writers of letters (real letters, oh, real letters) sent to me from France, Peru, California, South Carolina, northern Pennsylvania, Boston; slipped beneath a dorm-room door. These smart, funny, sly, forgiving souls. These moments of angst. This precious raw stuff of real life.

They are coming to see me, they write. They remember me, they write. They don't actually hate me, they tell me. There's a book I must read, they implore. Did you really just say that? they ask me, and I wonder, What? What did I just say? All these years ago, what did I just say?

There is a boy who will only call me Bellen. There is a boy, indeed there are two, proposing marriage. There is someone who thanks me for words I wrote to her in our high school yearbook. "They saved my life," she says, and I want to find her now, make sure she's all right now, make sure her story turned out okay in the end.

These letters are devastating, beautiful, actual, true. They have been living, all these years, inside an envelope inside a box inside an attic. The only reason I found them yesterday is because a certain niece asked me to help her with a school project and I (worried about overwhelm) said a grudging yes.

But we had fun, didn't we, Julia? And you gave me back all these years. 


Melissa Sarno said...

Two marriage proposals! I would very much like to hear the story behind those someday, Beth : ) As we consolidate our apartment and rearrange, I am finding myself in a similar space, each weekend, rummaging through closets, desks, boxes of letters and keepsakes. It's emotional, strange, sad, heartbreaking, beautiful, all at once.

Serena said...

I agree with Melissa -- two marriage proposals, there must be a story there. I've only ever had one. I have one box of my school letters, diaries, etc. And I have been curious about those people in them and even found some on Facebook!

teabird said...

Thank goodness, some of us still write letters and diaries - on paper, with ink - although we rarely propose marriage...

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