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Monday, January 08, 2007

"My senses exist to witness your beauty"

I have a box of letters under the bed. One of my secret desires of old was to be someone who inspired love letters, and it's very satisfying to have fulfilled that. The oldest is from 1994, and the latest are ones from Tim, our anniversary letters to each other.

I went in it last night to see what it contained for the purpose of writing this post. Otherwise I hadn't looked at it in a while. Usually the box existed for post-breakup self-confidence boosting. If ever I was down about someone rejecting me, or wondering if anyone would ever be interested again, reading through the old letters was good for that.

At home over Christmas, organizing my old things, I came across two enormous boxes filled with all the letters I'd ever received from childhood up through college. I was a prolific writer back then, and so were my correspondents. (I think the box filled with three summers of letters to me at camp was the same amount as the rest of my childhood combined.) Since college was included in that collection, I found a few from a guy I had wanted to date but never did.

Reminiscing is only good if you have no regrets. Though I'd like to have none, David was one.

I met him early in the first semester of my senior year of college. LeAnn and I lived across the street from a laundromat, and we went together to wash our clothes. It was manned by a short, muscular guy in hippie attire with long hair and thick sideburns. Too bad David was so short, for he was exactly my type. Nonetheless, I found ways to flirt with him as LeAnn hissed at me to ignore him. The next time I did laundry, it was early afternoon and the place was dead but for him. We sat in front of the TV, watching a soccer game on the Spanish station, and he wove me a hemp necklace with a melted copper squiggle of a pendant. In the midst of it all, I started dating someone else. We hadn't had The Talk yet, so when David asked if I wanted to go to a poetry reading with him, I accepted. I wasn't sure how to handle things (hadn't yet developed skill enough to date multiple people), so I had a talk with the other guy, and we determined that we were exclusive. So the date ended up being a nondate, and I told him about my boyfriend when we went for drinks after the poetry.

But still. There was something there. A few months later, he went to Egypt to study field mice for a year (he was a bio grad student), and he wrote to me frequently. Once he even called me to hear my sexy, throaty, cold-induced voice. I took over his place at the laundromat, and eventually started working with his best friend Doug.

Doug and I become good friends, and eventually he strong-armed me into dating him. (I say that because I had utterly no intention of dating him. I was still hung up on his best friend.) David visited one week, and I found out later that Doug had given him strict (if paranoid) instructions to stay away from me. That was the nail in the coffin--for both me and Doug, and for anything with David.

As the years passed, I'd occasionally Google him, and once I discovered him living in an apartment not three blocks away from where I had just moved! Or so I thought. After leaving a message on his machine, I wondered if that was really his voice, and then a few weeks later, a guy returned my call and it wasn't him.

Oh how I wished things had gone differently. Being with him instead of Doug (who turned out to be controlling and insecure, a real bother), or having a second chance. I daydreamed about randomly running into him at a bar in Chicago, for I knew he visited often. Finally, after way too long, he faded from my thoughts, and I only Googled him if the subject came up of old flames.

So I didn't like reading the ancient letters I found from him. They reminded me of things I didn't want to think about, because there was nothing to be done about them. I think regrets are stupid, and I don't want to think about having any.

But Googling is a good thing. I finally tracked down a photo of him online, and it completely erased any lingering thoughts I'd had of him. Whew. Aging is sometimes unkind.

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