I fell in love with my husband over his love letters. They came in the mailbox nearly every day, sometimes two in a day if the delivery got backed up a bit. We lived a long ten hour drive or a short $109 flight apart (back when you could actually get a $109 round trip ticket and an extra bag or two of honey roasted peanuts if you asked nicely). The airline we flew regularly is no longer in business, and the drive is considerably shorter now that it bypasses all the small towns it used to meander through. The only thing that is the same is the amount of time it takes to get a letter in the mail to someone…and we don’t find the need to mail letters much, being under the same roof and all. But I loved those letters, those scraps of papers and napkins and doodles and thoughts that arrived in my brass mail slot each day. I loved them for the element of surprise they held…they were never formulaic. I was just as likely to get the inside slip of paper from a fortune cookie as I was to get a four page missive on yellow legal pad paper. I think I got a few notes on cardboard drink coasters, with the faint ring stain of the glass that sat there while he ate and drank with friends. I always knew that I was in his thoughts, that he was looking forward to the time when I’d be occupying the stool next to him and using a cardboard drink coaster of my very own. It’s not that we don’t have our own kinds of surprises anymore…flowers appear when least expected, and of course my favorite surprise (actually, it’s probably too common to be a surprise, but still fantastic) – arriving home to a clean house or the completion of a task around the house.
There will always be that thrill of the envelope though, waiting to be opened and revealed – just now, it’s more likely to come from the four-year-old in the house. She draws something up and then folds it neatly, perhaps even wraps it in another colored paper and liberally tapes it with scotch tape. There’s no telling what the picture might be. Sometimes you recognize something that is exactly suited to you – something that you treasure or were thinking of or looking forward to. Sometimes it doesn’t seem to relate to you at all, the reason locked away behind her furrowed brow. I love these “letters”, I still get a certain thrill when she finishes a picture and adds “Mom” to the top. I know then that she was thinking of me while she was drawing and writing…for that period of time she was occupied with thoughts of what I might enjoy, what I might like, what I might remember. Or perhaps she spent the whole time drawing thinking of other things, pleasant things, like the actual building of sandcastles that she recreated on paper, or the different color flowers at the garden that she has put down with pastels. And then, when she finished and took a moment to step back and look at it, something made her think of me…and she added my name. Like the slip of paper in the fortune cookie eaten at the end of the meal, or the coaster slipped into a pocket…both making their way back home, and into an envelope and sent on their way to surprise me with their simplicity and their thoughtfulness and their presence.
This surprise envelope is waiting until Sunday. The anticipation is killing me….