Dating : I Learned Writing Through Love Letters

h2>Dating : I Learned Writing Through Love Letters

Image: Author
Harry Hogg

After many long years I re-read her first letter, and remembered, as if it were my first reading, its fine musical intervention into my life, carrying its own breath, long lines, short ones, setting lost images. It was the first of many beautiful letters I received from my wife during our marriage.

There had been many such letters, just not recently, and all written with the sound of the sea close by. Waiting still, years on from that first letter, I busy myself with household chores, each year touching up the paint around the house, green and yellow, her favorite scheme, and walk out every day.

Other letters talked of places visited, Rome, Amsterdam, Ruth and Knud’s bar; words that recalled a child’s smile, given from the window of a passing bus, that left her in tears for its beauty. But the letters I loved most were those that spoke of her love for our home, the times she spent in the garden with snow on her ground, the creaks and sighs the house made during winter’s nor’easters, sitting close to the fire with the comfort of my arms around her.

She writes, …these sleepless nights, I wait for a sign, a sound, a whisper… echoing the words I have loved and known so well. I trust in your compass to find me, turning you inland to step on snow, knowing tomorrow my footprints will be gone, but never from your heart.

I place the letter down on the table, under the blue and white Anemones, and stare out the window across a shoreline shrouded in mist. Out of sight, the waves bring a mingling of her auburn hair, while tricky tides fondle her breasts. It is absurd to feel grief and let so much joy be undone. Turning from the window, collecting the letter into my hands again, I read on…

And this time, my darling man, long after the doldrums of you being away, you come home to replenish my love’s energy, make my sentences spiral like blue delphiniums, ever higher, reaching out, impervious to a bland day happening beyond this window. You are my home, I feel centered, powerful, happy in the wholeness of your love, its dignity and security captured by your light and shadow.

We were childhood sweethearts. If I could turn back a day, or a thousand, and find a single line that summed it up, it would say: all for you, everything I have made from my life and with my life: here it is — what I have done down forty years from crying over our first child in the cradle, to sobbing in the spotlight of your absence, every laugh and long sigh in between was but preparation for just now.

I earned my toys, my tinsel, and my time with her. I kiss the paper on which her words still shine.

What we had in common was a love of the written word. It seemed we also have an appreciation for the part of the world we lived in. Though we found Glasgow a little too tough, preferring Paris, arm in arm, in and out of the beautiful fashion shops.

Today, I miss going into shops. Choosing La Perla underwear from the lingerie section. I believe in that stuff. Most of my life has been lived out near the sea, which shows itself in my work more than any other subject. But I knew lingerie through loving.

I never wanted to be a man in a woman’s imagination. I am not anything more or less than I say. If there is beauty, let it not alone be responsible; for beauty is made up of two things, what you give out and what is returned.

As a writer, being taught by love letters, and not teachers, taught me that writers are always reaching out in some way.

What do you think?

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