Although I took your mother to the eighth grade formal, wrote her a letter every ten days for the next few years, and talked for a couple of hours on the phone with her at the end of every month when your mother knew how many talk-minutes would be expiring on her phone plan (once they started the rollover minutes plan though…),we were still not an item. All that already sounds like a long-distance relationship to me, but neither of us ever brought up the idea of dating – me out of fear of rejection and her for who knows why.
Even though I adjusted just fine and made friends in high school, I continued to cling to the idea of your mother as someone more than just a penpal. I would frame pictures I had of your mother and openly set them on my desk and book shelf, which is a bold move to do in front of parents and should be considered a reflection of how strongly I felt about her.
It all finally came to a head our junior year when I typed a single-space, ten point-font, seven-page letter to your mother professing what I thought was my love for her. This was The Letter. I expected a love letter in return and us finally becoming a couple.
What I got in return was a short letter with no mention of love or relationships and a note to listen to the CD she had burned for me. On that CD was the U2 single “Stuck in a Moment”.
To paraphrase the lyrics of the song: “move on”.
I was sad, torn, and felt all kinds of teenage angst, but I never said anything. I pretended everything was exactly as it should’ve been. A few months later, as if to reopen and salt the wound on my heart, your mom started dating a nice gentleman whom she went to school with. I would subsequently start dating someone as well and this led to a long period of neither of us being single at the same time.
It wasn’t until your mother and I started dating some ten years after The Letter when I finally brought it up with your mother. “If you loved me all these, how come you never wrote a love letter back to me when I wrote one to you?”
“What are you talking about?” she asked. “You never sent me a love letter.”
“You don’t remember that ten-page letter I sent you in high school? It was the only one I ever typed to you!”
“Well yeah, I remember it. But that was no love letter!”
She dug up The Letter for me, which should be read with a bottle of Pepto-Bismol in hand. Sure enough, as usual, it seemed like your mom was right as I read page after page about the philosophy of Bad Religion, a punk rock band I religiously listened to back then. I talked about their cross buster symbol, I talked about how religion separates people, but I didn’t talk about her or an us.
I finally found reprieve on the last page where there was some semblance of sweet everything’s, words of adulation, and of course, a “Forever yours” closing.
How funny (and inaccurate!) memory can be. I lived so many years of my life under an impression that was hardly true. I’m glad your mother saved The Letter despite the embarrassing implications. It is why I want to document everything here because there will come a time when your mother and I look back on these years of our lives and no longer remember it as clearly as we do now. So rest assured these letters are as accurately biased with my perspective. I will say your mother does read them, and she always gets a great laugh out of it every time.