Wednesday, October 25, 2006

hard letters

I have just written the hardest letter of my life.

And I have written some hard letters already in this life.

There are send-off letters and goodbye letters. There are I love you letters and why don’t you love me letters and please stop loving me letters. There are magazine submission letters and job application letters. Thank you letters for my high school graduation presents, written on heavy ivory stationary embossed with my initials. Letters where I thought I was doing calligraphy.

Letters with the red crumbs of a crushed leaf. Letters with the thin, light blue skin of airmail. Letters that were lost.

When I went to college, my best friend Brad and I wrote letters to each other almost daily. Brad, the artist, cut homemade envelopes from magazine ads. I saved every one of his letters, and he every one of mine. He showed the pile to me a few years ago when I visited. I sat up late on the couch in the remnants of smoke and a blinking Christmas tree, long after Brad and his partner had gone to bed, re-reading my own words, crossed-legged on a velvet throw in my pajamas. I was more confident than I remembered. I was strong. I was eighteen.

I am twenty-eight now. It’s a lot harder to write what I mean, to believe it.

I want to write letters of joy, poems of joy. I want them to be happy. I want them to be me. I have bought a book of postcards of New York in the 1950’s, black and white photographs with perforations on the edges. I will tear them out, write something of my life in ink, something that begins:

I love