Friday, June 5, 2009

Inspire Me Thursday: The Lost Art of Letter Writing

In 1995, when we were 24 years old, my husband (then new boyfriend) moved to Hamburg, Germany to work on an experiment for his PhD thesis in nuclear physics. Now, Al Gore had already invented the Internet at that time (remember that infamous quote?), but email wasn't in every household yet, and unlimited calling plans didn't really exist yet either. So, being short on cash and resources, we were forced to develop our young relationship via letter writing.

I remember some months, when the letters would come fast and furious. And others, when they trickled in. Our letters speed reflected the ebb and flow of any relationship, only in ours was done in writing. I would run to the mailbox daily, heart pounding. If a letter was there, I would hold it close to my heart and run back to my apartment to read it over and over again. If no letter came, my heart would drop and I would tread heavily back to my home. For awhile, letters didn't arrive. A male neighbor friend, who had his eye on me, would wait by the mailboxes everyday and try to take advantage of my disenchantment with a long distance relationship during these letter-free weeks. He would offer to "cheer me up" by offering to take me out to dinner. I refused his tempting invitations. I later found out that those letter free days were a time of crisis for my boyfriend. He wasn't sure he could continue a long distance relationship anymore.

My husband tells me he experienced the same highs and low. He talks about how the office secretary (through whom I sent my letters) would get excited by the brightly decorate envelopes I would send him. They would usually be covered in Star Trek stickers and glitter. A tongue in cheek joke for my scientist boyfriend.

Halfway through my husband's stay in Germany, I flew to Europe to visit him and he asked me to marry him. We were married a year later.

We still have our letters. We are lucky to have documentation of the beginning of our love story. For our 10th wedding anniversary a few years ago, I had two of our letters to each other blown up to 16" x 20". I framed them and they hang in our bedroom. To remind us of how it felt when it was all so new. There have been times, after a fight, when I have sat on my bed, facing those letter and rereading them. They remind me of why we work to stay together. They remind me of the man I feel in love with.

One day, I'm quite sure, my daughter will be embarrassed to see those letters. No teenager wants to know their parents have a romantic life. But I also hope that one day, those framed letters, might be proudly displayed on our great-great child's wall and, when visitors ask about them, they will proudly tell them they are the letters of their great, great grandparent's love story.

To read more about the Lost Art of Letter Writing, or to submit your entry, visit the Inspire Me Thursday website.