“P.S.” the letter from my then-fifteen year old sister MCV says, “tell me about Mr. Understanding, or whatever his name is.”
She had the name right.
In preparation for Valentine’s Day, I rooted through a box of old letters from my love which I thought we should shred for posterity’s sake due to their salacious nature over a bottle of wine on the 14th . What better way to light love’s fire than to kindle it with passion from the past? Not to mention a little multitasking? I have been checking out http://www.Unclutterer.com for tips on how to organize myself, particularly my paperwork. (I have an entire closet of labeled, clear plastic boxes which contain photos, old correspondence, medical claims, and crazy crap like x-rays). Instead, I came across a Valentine scrapbook I used to make for him and a bundle of letters from 1987. Well, I thought to myself, this will do, a recycled valentine, perfect for these recessionary times.
Some of it, indeed, made it to the shredder but not the letters I was looking for. On Friday afternoon I plunked myself down on the couch with a dram of scotch and began to read through the bundle of letters. There was a valentine card from my grandmother and another from Thing 1’s godmother. These I set out on a table for the impending holiday. And then there were two from my teenaged sisters, each dated a day apart. A few redacted highlights from each, below:
Mood Ring Momma’s letter: “Well, from your letter, I gather that this Mr. Understanding cat is a good deal. I hope that this “perfect” guy doesn’t have any flaws, ‘cause if he does you’ll certainly find them!! HA HA!”. [I don’t think she was really kidding].
MCV’s letter: “I am tired of listen[sic] to Mood Ring and I’m tired of her “senior idis” sp?. Example of one of our conversations:
MRM: Would you do my chores?!? I’m tired, and even though I don’t have homework, I want you to do it! (a little exaggeration but not much).
MCV: NO! I’ve got home work to do, and I’m also very tired.
MRM: [Expletive!]. Don’t you dare ever ask to borrow anything from me again and you can just forget about me taking you anywhere! You’re such a jerk. I’m getting tired of you being a princess!”
I read these letters in their entirety to my sisters yesterday in a conference call so they could revisit their estrogen-charged teenaged selves. As a reforming packrat, I have long wrestled with my many boxes of memories, physically and spiritually. Why keep all this stuff? What purpose does it serve? The long-distance laughter we shared over the phone made lugging those letters around several continents worth it and truth be told, we wouldn’t have laughed so hard ten years ago. Twenty-two seemed about right.
Likewise the trip down memory lane with my valentine, Mr. Understanding, over cups of coffee in bed. Compiled twenty years ago, some of the scrapbook’s pages were scarily prophetic, particularly those about a travelling life. The parts of the book I wanted to x-acto knife out, Mr. U objected to, saying, “They [the kids] can read it after they graduate from college. It will be nice for them to know how much we loved and enjoyed each other. ” For now, the book is going in the safe. I’ve shredded medical claims from 1999 to compensate.