Sunday, January 17, 2010
How could anyone throw away a post card? Seriously? I have a box of them and I have another few boxes of very old post cards I find at antique shops or festivals. Some of them date back to the late 1800's when people didn't need an address to write to someone, they wrote the name of someone they loved, someone they missed and the city. Reading these old post cards is like being voyeur into someone's life, tiny glimpses and getting to wonder about the rest and oh how I love to wonder.
You never just know when you will find an old post card that says something that touches you. Years ago I found a post card that was written to an Ida from a Tilly, written so long ago in very shaky writing the front of the card seeming to be an affectionate greeting, more like a Valentine and it caught my eye. Were these two women lovers at one time? Yes even women were lovers in the 1800's, keep in mind men were far bigger assholes then than they even are now. Were they sisters? Best Friends? I have the world's Best Friend so if they were best friends hers was just average at best. Why were they separated and was this a casual note of some thought or was missing her too much for this day and she had to run out and get a card and do the only thing you could do in the 1800's, write a post card. The mailman could have read it, her husband maybe as it sat in the mail box. There was little privacy with a post card so if you were sending a secret message it would have to be between the lines. I miss you, could have been I want you. I miss you could have been, when are you book the ticket to get here. One never knows. Friends have a secret language. I could tell my best friend anything and she knows there are five or six ways to read it. "Oh sure" is seldom good and all is good here, may not be.
I found a set of postcards once a husband building a railroad across the country, all the cards sent to his wife, his family telling them how he was. Never in the hundreds of cards did I find one back from her. He didnt' save them, couldn't, no room but she held hers as women hold anything. I tell men all the time its not that you send flowers, its what you have them put on the card. When you are peeling back the pretty plastic and untie the ribbon, when you've admired the flowers, all the colors and the smell you look for the card. Why did he send them? What did he want to tell you? Make it profound. "I want my tulips to touch your tulips." was a favorite. I've kept them all and the really wonderful cards I keep close to me, close to my heart because those represented time spent being loved, being thought of and all that.
The saddest card I found in Wilmington near the lake house at a little antique store. It was an old old valentine post card. The Victorians made these wonderful in colors of red and blue so vibrant you loved the card maybe even more than the person you were sending them to and it read "I wish you still loved me." From Michel to an Ada Mae. I thought of her, how she would be either irritated or saddened to get this card. I wondered why she kept it and what others thought when she died and they went through her things and found it there. Did she really stop loving Michael or did Michael just need to hear that so he could get on with his life? Did someone else love Michael? Oh the wonder of it all. Did they meet every spring and make love for a few days in some motel overlooking the river? Wonder, more wonder. Finally, did she just have enough and say, "I don't love you anymore." Women say these things to avoid heartache. Women say many things to keep their heart from breaking. He still missed her, maybe he always did.
I knew a man once, I know a man who had an affair with a woman he worked with. His wife a lovely, kind, sweet woman was beautiful but a little demanding and a smidge sarcastic, not always so kind. He met his lover at the office and although she wasn't his ideal woman in a few ways they started this torrid affair meeting at her apartment not far from his office a few days a week. He found love there, high in the sky over looking the city gridlock. He lived for those afternoons of bliss, pure bliss. Years into this she asked quietly over one of these lunches if he'd leave her, his wife, if they would ever imagine, wonder even about being this happy all the time. She did make him happy. He didn't give her an answer. Now this is difficult. Do you give someone the answer they want to hear, to shut them up for a few more afternoons like this? Or do you spit out the truth and its over, just over. He let her wonder. A few weeks later he gets to work, looks for her, no answer. He goes to find her at her desk, its empty. He wanders over to human resources and she's gone turned in a resignation weeks ago and ask that the situation be very quiet, very quiet indeed. In a panic he goes to her apartment and the staff there is cleaning the carpet, not a piece of furniture to be found and of course no forwarding address. Such is life. Such is love. He looked for her, he did, I believe that he did by the way he tells the story, the shaky noise in his voice when he spits out the sounds it takes to say her name. She was gone though, she wanted to be gone, nowhere to send a valentine saying "I wish you still loved me."
I love heart shaped boxes and we are approaching the season of love. Anything can happen at Valentine's day, anything. The bossy republican tells me that this is the mega holiday for me, more important than birthdays (which I hate), christmas (which I'm not fond of), easter (cake anyone?) and even the fourth of july (the south side of chicago sounds like beirut for 3 weeks during this season of kaboom) all together. He's right. I have high expectations for a lover, for a the possibility of it all and dont we all? It's those little special romantic things we cling to, us romantics when we are looking for "just" the right pair of earrings and you know you left them in the gold heart shaped boxes on the bookshelf in my room, the one I have saved because I love chocolates in those little boxes and because when he told me the story about the girl who disappeared he seemed so sad.
Find some way, some how to tell someone you love them or think of them fondly. Write an email, write a poem, find a poem that says just what you want to say and send it off. Read a love letter you haven't read in awhile to inspire you and if you dont have one to read KNOW that it's because you haven't sent one. Love too hard, let's make this the season of trying.