As it has been across most of Texas, San Antonio has spent a rainy cold weekend, for Texans, too cold to venture out. So I spent my afternoon unexpectedly nestled in my bed covered in 92 letters that Steve and I had written to one another while we were dating.
As I wrote in my last blog, it was one of those unexpected moments that swept over me before I knew what was happening. Thursday I did what I swore I’d never do...I gutted up and decorated for Christmas before Thanksgiving. Yes, I’m having 14 for Thanksgiving dinner and my table is set, pumpkins, acorns, autumn leaves and all but if you look across the dining room you will find garland, nativities and lighted Santa's. It makes me crazy...and I did it!
I knew the week after Thanksgiving would be very hectic and I knew time was against me so I bit the bullet and bulldozed my way into the attic to grab Christmas decorations. I need to explain that we have this wonderful, incredible walk-in attic. It always made Steve crazy because about ⅓ okay ½ of it is full of my Christmas decor/junk. So I decided that as long as I was up there I would purge, as I decorated. Every Christmas box I carried down, I also carried down a box labeled “Miscellaneous.” By Saturday night my house was decorated and my garage was full of unwanted items to be given away. I had been so productive!
Toward the end of my scourging I found a large Tupperware bin labeled JMB Treasurers. Thinking it would be stuff from childhood I took it downstairs and opened it up. On top lay neatly packaged some of my children’s baby clothes. Beneath lay letters...oh my, letters Steve and I had written to one another during our 18 months of dating. We had both kept every letter and card and at some point I had placed all 92 of them carefully in this bin to store them as treasurers. I took several out and read them, oh how the tears welled in my eyes. My heart literally ached as I remembered that excitement, that overwhelming desire to be with Steve. That love that began and grew and was at first fun, then consuming, then so serious we had to make very difficult decisions that concerned both of my children. All of those first new exciting feelings flooded through me and I was right there, 20+ years ago, in love with this enchanting man. I placed the letters back and shut the lid of the box, I couldn’t allow myself to go there, to that place that I cherished so very much.
Today came, cold and dreary. I tied up all my loose ends, polished some of my silver ornaments, added a few bows and thought constantly about that box...it was calling to me. After lunch I grabbed a blanket and the box and headed for my bed. Here I spent the entire afternoon reading and reliving 18 of the most thrilling and wonderful months of my life.
Within those 92 cards and letters, I sent Steve 6 different birthday cards on the week leading up to his birthday. One of the letters was a Western Union telegram from Steve telling me he was thinking about me. Many were silly, flirtatious and fun...it was a long distance relationship. We spent every night on the phone, and that was when long distance calls were pricey. Steve didn’t care we would talk for hours and then write.
My letters were long and wordy, I wrote things like “I’m so comfortable with you...you allow me to be myself.” In time I would write of the loneliness I felt when we left one another. Steve was living in San Antonio and I in Midland. In one letter I wrote, “It’s hard to leave you at the airport. I feel empty and lonely, unsettled without you.” I wrote how fun it was to be with him, how dangerous I thought he was. I felt more like I was 16 than 40.
We both wrote of our excitement of upcoming trips Steve planned for us. Trips to Santa Fe, New York, San Francisco not counting all the flights I made back and forth to San Antonio. We spoke of meeting each other at the airport gates and counted the days until we would see one another. One of Steve’s letters, “As I write, there are just 5 nights (and just 125 hours) until I can see you and hold you.”
Steve would send me airline tickets through registered mail along with brochures of the hotels we where we would stay. I can still remember the thrill of going to the mailbox and ripping open those letters to discover where our next adventure would take us.
Many of my letters thanked him for the amazing trips, the fun we had, how I loved discovering all the facets there were to him. Both of our letters spoke of how much we missed each other and couldn’t wait until the next time we were together.
Steve’s writing touched my heart then as it does now. Reading his words today, how could I not have fallen madly in love with this passionate, caring, sensitive, very desirable man? Let me share just a few of his words.
“the prospect of discovering all the very nice things about each of us is very exciting”
“I like to have things to look forward to. It’s very nice to have you in my life.”
“This thing we have going is very exciting.”
“I want to be a nice thing in your life now and provide whatever you want from me--”
“I enjoyed learning things about you and in doing so learned some things about myself.”
He made a list of The Top Ten Reasons I needed to go to New York with Him.
“I don’t know if I have ever heard anything that means more to me than hearing you say I am your best friend.”
“I want a place in your life as well as in your heart.”
Oh how I reveled in those written words. I would read them over and over again until the next letter came.
I came across this letter that I wrote to Steve about a month after we had been “dating” and I think it sums up even now...20+ years later exactly how I feel about this man I so love.
“You remain so very different from anyone I have ever known. You are intricate and you operate on so many various levels that I find discovering who you are such an adventure. You are funny, witty, quick...It’s fun to learn of your little quirks--your great love for cotton socks, your even greater passion for crunchy peanut butter on a spoon at odd times of the day. The intensity in which you park you car in inexplainable spots so that you can be assured of leaving with great ease. I like the way you make people feel good about who they are--”officer” seems the most perfect example, although I could list a dozen, no maybe a “zillion” ways you have enabled me to feel very special about who I am.”
Today I had a date with my husband. I heard his voice, I laughed at his sense of humor, I saw inside his heart. I saw his beautiful shining eyes and gorgeous smile and I almost felt his arms incircle me.
I have wrapped and sealed our letters and stored them safely away. Maybe in a year or so on another wet cold rainy Sunday afternoon I will revisit them again. For now I feel fully blessed that I loved and was so loved and we never took one another for granted.