Saturday, February 14, 2009

Love Letters

Most people are probably familiar with the movies or stories where a daughter or other relative goes up into the attack or goes through an old dresser and finds a stack of love letters. The stack is usually about 3-5 inches thick and tied with a pretty ribbon. I'm wondering if that image is approaching the status of anachronism. Phones started to kill the idea of love letters, and all the opportunities for instantaneous communication that the Internet provides are in the process of delivering the finishing blow.

Even though I fell in love in the age of the telephone, certain circumstances made it such that it was not really a possibility for my husband (the CH) and I to use one. He was in Japan for a year of our "courtship". During his year alone, he didn't even have a phone because having one required a huge deposit at that time. Even if he had had one, it cost $1 per minute at that time and we couldn't have afforded it. During that year, we exchanged copious numbers of cassette tapes which we talked to each other on. We still have some of those cassettes, but very few relative to how many were exchanged. We had to record over them because we couldn't possibly save them all without going broke. We easily traded eight 90-minute tapes per week (apiece) with each other.

This is the approximately 10-inch stack of written correspondence we have saved from over the years.

You'd think that would have been enough correspondence, but it wasn't. What is more, the correspondence didn't stop after we were living together then married. When I was going through the letters, I found that there was a large number of Valentine's Day, birthday, and holiday cards. We also used to write each other letters from work early in our days in Japan when we had down time. That means we were writing to each other even when we saw each other every morning before work and every evening afterward. There are also some letters which each of us wrote late at night when we couldn't sleep and our partner was slumbering mere feet away in the next room.

31 cards in 18 days

There is a wide variety of correspondence in the stack pictured above, but there was a sequence that I wrote which I completely forgot about. The CH and I were married on April 1, 1989 and had a short honeymoon. Shortly after that, he flew to Japan to look for a job in Tokyo with the plan that I'd follow after he'd secured a job and an apartment. While he was in Tokyo from April 11 to April 29, I sent him 31 postcards from California. There were obvious days when I sent more than one card. For some reason, on April 14, I sent 4 cards. Note that we had lived together for a year before marrying, but being apart even for almost 3 weeks was nearly unbearable.

These days, we don't do this anymore. That is, we don't write each other late night letters, letters from work or give each other holiday cards. Somewhere along the line, we stopped writing it and just said things to each other. It wasn't that our passion was any less (far from it), but the ease with which we expressed it increased and we didn't feel compelled to write it as often. Still, looking through that stack of correspondence makes me consider the value of having such a romantic and nostalgic record of our relationship.


Sherry said...

My husband and I spent a good deal of time having a long distance relationship. I have several very thick stacks of love letters, all tied up with pretty ribbons, tucked away in the attic of my Dad's house. Everytime I go home I drag them out and consider bringing them back to Japan with me, but then the kids would read them and I want that to be private. I guess they will get into them someday, but maybe I will be dead by then. We did tapes too but not quite as many as fast as you.

Girl Japan said...

I saved them all even now, the little "post it" notes, the cute love letters on back of envelopes = ) I thoroughly enjoyed this post Orchid!

'badmoodguy' is mike said...

That is awesome. I believe that this is what is called "true love". :)