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Long Lost Love Letters

Long Lost Love Letters

 

[Sent]

Hey Andy,

I think you’re the only person I know who would write me a physical letter. But, at the same time, it’s so…you. I don’t know how to explain it.

First of all, congrats to us on our A+ photography essay. I couldn’t have done it without you, partner.

I have one story to tell you that I don’t think you’ve heard. I can’t guarantee it’ll be as interesting as the one you put in your last letter but here goes nothing.

When I was little, my mom decided I had too much excess energy. She didn’t want me to form destructive habits, so she signed me up for kickboxing classes at this place not far from our house. The classes were two hours long and I went four times a week. I got pretty good and when I was twelve, I was allowed to spar. My parents signed the forms and the lengthy waiver and I was set. My first “opponent” was a girl about three years older than me who was in a bunch of my classes. I was tentative, not because she was older than me but because she was much smaller than I was. But half a minute after we started, I realized that didn’t matter and that she was not going easy on me, and that if I didn’t want to get my ass kicked, I should not go easy on her. Anyway, I ended up getting kicked in the ribs a few times which hurt a lot the next day. I only landed one good hit, but that’s okay. It was exhilarating and the adrenaline postponed any pain I felt. After that, I’d spar with people once or twice a week and eventually, I entered a few tournaments. I usually came in the top five, never first or second, but I was happy with that.

I know we’ve talked about this in person but not in detail. Tell me about which uni/college programs you’re applying to and more specifically, why?

I’m applying to creative writing programs at UBC, TMU and UCLA (my mom is still set on moving us down to the U.S. to be closer to my grandparents so she “strongly encouraged” me to apply to at least a few schools there). I also applied to journalism programs at UofT, Stanford, and Berkley. I think my dad is disappointed that I didn’t apply to anything more “intellectual” like psychology or some math or science-focused program. He keeps saying, “But when you were a kid all you ever wanted to be was a surgeon,” and I have to keep reminding him that my grade eleven biology teacher, Mr. Kolfden, ruined my chances at getting accepted into a science program after he gave me a 62%. Besides, things change. As much as I admire surgeons, becoming one requires a lot of schooling and self-discipline. And the profession sounds incredibly taxing.

Honestly, my thoughts about post-secondary and all the big life decisions I’m supposed to be making can be summarized in this poem. I hope you don’t relate.

F.ar as the I can see

U.ntethered, understood, unsure

T.rying to figure out who I am

U.ntie me from the endless

R.ealizations

E.xpectations

Okay, I can’t think of anything else to talk about but I’m sure we’ll think of more to discuss tomorrow, we always do.

-Beck

P.S. The pasta dish you described sounded incredible. You should send me the recipe.

 

[Unsent]

Dearest Beck,

I just received your letter and it’s honestly embarrassing how much it has me smiling. I almost can’t believe you wrote back to me, and I know I will have to draft a serious reply eventually, but for now, I just need to get this out. The word love is so tricky, because it feels too intense, to love is to commit and love wholly. I also feel like the word “crush” is too childish and temporary. All I can say is that I have feelings for you and I wish more than anything that you feel the same, and while I can hope in the deepest recesses of my mind, I know that you don’t. If there’s such a thing as love, I imagine it comes as naturally as my friendship with you. There is not a subject that I don’t want to exhaust, to turn over a hundred times just to know your mind as well as you do. I can’t really express the joy it is getting to know you and know myself in the meantime. You’re kind of the whole reason I attend that stupid English class, I mean it’s not like I’m trying to go to university or anything — when you asked me in your letter I could hardly even remember the names of universities. I know I’m no genius, and I’m okay with that, but sometimes I get really down because I know I’ll never do as well in school as my siblings or as any of my other friends. You are the only one who makes me feel smart. When we aced that photo essay assignment I could’ve cried. You gave words to my photos that I couldn’t express myself, and it started feeling like maybe I do have something to say. I guess to make my parents happy, I’ll just copy you and apply to the same schools. I hope you don’t end up going too far, selfish as that is, but I know you’ll do great things, and I’ll be happy even if you do end up moving to the States. You are brilliant and I hope that one day I can know half of what you know, and write the way you write. You’re not just my friend but someone who I look up to and admire, and of course it would be creepy if I ever told you any of this, but it can’t go unsaid. I mean I’m sure it’s written all over my face when I look at you. Who knows, perhaps I will send this to you someday, and we’ll laugh about it.

Yours,

Andy

 

[Sent]

Hi Beck,

Happy midterms! I don’t know about you but it feels like I’ve lost everything but my ability to churn out APA papers, it’s honestly maddening. The holidays can’t come soon enough, then we could hang out back home again, and I won’t have to fight your professors for your attention. I also am writing because I wanted to clear the air. I know we had a bit to drink last weekend, and there were some things said that I wanted to set straight. You know how I felt about you and you also know that I’ve been seeing this guy consistently for a month now, and I feel like this has thrown a wrench into things, because, try as I might, I can’t decide whether you meant what you said to me over that bottle of Soju. I was debating for a long time whether to bring it up, and I guess I am. So here. I’ve been feeling like some of the coarseness between us that started when school did has been smoothed over this year, and I don’t want another awkward development to ruin things. You are my friend first and foremost, and I can’t bring myself to wreck that, but in my head, I’ve been tearing apart everything you’ve ever said to me and I am suspended between two possible ends, both seeming so unbearable. I wish I could somehow be with you and without you, that would satisfy the need for you to be alone and my need to be in your company. I know you don’t need me. You need yourself since you have denied yourself comfort for so long, and I’ve held myself like a child for so many years that it’s time I finally make myself vulnerable with another. I know you can’t be that person, as much as it pains me, and I think you know it too. You know that I will always love you, and you mean more to me than I could express in any cliché or turn of phrase. I don’t have the vocabulary (I wasted it all on my PHILOS 2A03 paper) to capture the depth of my emotions. When I talk about you it’s like taking a picture of the moon, it feels so inadequate compared to what I have in front of me, what I see so plainly, and I can’t hold all that I think and feel on one sheet of paper, or even in one shitty photograph, so I’m going to stop talking now. Just know that if you meant it, I forgive you, and if you didn’t, I forgive you, but you know my answer.

Out late with you in Autumn

In the yellow halo of the streetlamp

The flies are flitting and windswept

Donning the same lazy sweetness

As cosmic dust in the sunset.

Remember when you used to write me poetry in high school? I miss it.

Yours always,

Andy

 

 

 

Andyyyyy,

I miss you!!! How has your trip been? And more importantly, when do you come home? Thanks for the postcard and the gorgeous photos, by the way. The one of you at the beach was kind of adorable.

You’re so lucky to be escaping the weather back at home. It’s been rainy and hot for the past week and I’m done with it. Yesterday was the first day in a week and a half that it wasn’t raining. The trade-off was that it was 33 degrees with the humidex so by the time I took the bus home from work it was so humid that I was dripping in sweat. I stood the entire time because I didn’t want my sweat to seep into the chairs. So gross.

On the topic of gross, my parents have been arguing a lot and then making up by making out. More than upsetting, it’s irritating. It puts me on edge when I hear their hushed squabbling, sniping back and forth at each other, and failing to be discreet. And then I’m just thrown off guard when I walk into the living room or kitchen and they’ve got their tongues down each other’s throats. I’ve been hiding in my room a lot to avoid both the arguing and the PDA.

I can’t say that there is a part of me that isn’t jealous as well. I mean, here I am, alone and stuck inside in the middle of summer. I’ve been invited to a few of Mia’s parties (Mia from school) but I’ve been too busy, too tired, or too uninterested to go. Plus, I’m sure it’d be boring without you.

I know it’s been months since you sent your last letter, sorry I haven’t had time to reply. For all your frustration, your hard work paid off. I loved your philosophy paper. It gave me a completely new perspective on the justice system. I mean, not that I was ever an avid supporter of it, but it just opened my eyes. You talk about how you wish you were smarter, but Andy, you’re a genius, and I hope you never forget it.

About that weekend…I don’t remember much of what I said if I’m honest. The Soju kind of took over, so if I said anything stupid, I’m sorry. I’m happy for you and… shit, what’s his name? Kyle? He seems like a good guy. I’m sure whatever I apologized for, I meant it. You’re too good for me, and we both know it.

-Beck

 

[Unsent]

Beck,

I passed you today, I can’t tell you how hard it is to pretend I don’t see how you hate me. Maybe hate is a strong word, but I know if we weren’t bound by politeness, you would scowl, scoff, do anything but show the cringing smile you flashed at that moment. It’s like you think I’m taunting you as you pass, like I’m trying to draw your eye when really, I’d also prefer to never see you, to go on remembering you, because, in truth, you seem much nicer in my memories. Your smile is easy, unaffected, and your words aren’t choked, snuffed out before they leave your lips. It’s hard to imagine that we’re the same people who were pressed together in class that wonderful, wonderful year. That I was so flustered getting ready in the mornings, hanging about at lunch where you might pass by me. I even loved the fact that you didn’t love me. It was something so innocent that the place we are now would seem impossible, and while I think of you with a pang, there’s nothing to grieve because nothing ever was, and I think that’s the part that you hate. I know I hated it for a long time. So I pass you and say nothing, like nothing has always been said between us, and smile. While I blame you for so much, it isn’t hateful to me like it is to you. You’re spiteful, but I don’t know whether I am the subject of your spite or you are angry with yourself for missing all that I had for you. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think of it sometimes. Of course, I could never say anything, never speak, only smile, smile at the face I see in my memory, not the one who sees me as a cruel or mocking image. I must say that I liked us, and I know I’m partly to blame. I wish it weren’t this way, but it is, and you hate me, you hate me, you hate me. Or maybe it isn’t hate at all, but fear. Seeing me existing, living a life where I am not in your control is frightening to you. Like a bullfighter encountering his foe outside the bullring. It’s worthless even thinking about it because I can’t ask you, I can’t say how much you’ve meant to me, I can’t send you this letter, I’m in no one’s power, not even my own. I’ll put my thoughts in the shoebox under my bed like all the rest I buried for you.

But still, God knows I wish you well,

Sincerely,

Andy

 

[Unsent]

Dear Andy,

There’s a lot that I want to say to you but most of it will remain in this letter, which I will probably never send.

I’m so confused by everything that happened and how everything went so wrong.

If I scowl at you in the hallways it’s because I’m trying to wipe the old version of you from my mind. Because when I think about that version of you, of us, I can’t help but grin. You were wrong, in your letter; I don’t hate you, but I resent you. I resent how you told me you cared. I hate that I told you I cared about you constantly but never told you I loved you.

It hurts that we got so close and things never worked out the way they could have. But let’s not forget. You pursued me. When we met, I wasn’t looking for love. Hell, I wasn’t really looking for friendship either. I had a lot going on with school, work, and university applications. I didn’t have the time or energy to devote to getting to know a new person. But then we were assigned the photo essay project in English. I was so mesmerized by your photography and so intrigued by your outlook on life, that I couldn’t help but want to be your friend. And suddenly, with you in my life, everything was more interesting.

For months, I didn’t even realize you had a crush on me, I was that oblivious. I was in denial because I didn’t want to ruin our friendship and I was happy enough to flirt here and there without any strings attached. I guess I didn’t expect that we’d get close enough throughout the year that we’d stay in touch after high school. And I fell in love with you as you were falling out of love with me because, by the time I realized, you were already moving on. Bad timing on my part, I guess. But I couldn’t not tell you, because I couldn’t live with that secret. And it was fair of you to reject me, but then you made it seem like I was just supposed to get over everything so we could go back to being friends. Which hurt. And it was never going to happen.

And now, I feel like you’ve spun it so that I’m the one who ruined any chance at friendship after our falling out and that’s just not true.

I miss you. I miss being able to just tell you things — about my day, my life, everything — like how I’ve been binging Avatar: The Last Airbender, the animated version before the live-action series comes out. Or that my parents are finally getting a divorce, surprise surprise. And every time I see you, it just reminds me of when we were close.

Wish you weren’t across the world

I hate how everything unfurled

I miss you but I don’t miss us

I miss you but it wasn’t love

 

Not everything is meant to be

That’s including you and me

Best regards,

Beck

Authors

  • Charlotte Ligtenberg

    Charlotte Ligtenberg is a young photographer and writer from Toronto. She's always had an eye for art and a love of writing. She runs her own photography business and has big dreams of one day being a world renowned photographer. She enjoys writing short stories, poetry, essays and other works of fiction.

  • Madison Grehan
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