It was the 80s when I started dating my husband. It was a simpler time. Not just because we were younger and just falling in love, but also because it was an era that, in my opinion, was more conducive to love and courting.
My husband is fantastic, but when it comes to expressing his feelings, he’s generally not a man of many words. I guess he leaves that to me. Yet as I sit here surrounded by his old letters and cards, nostalgically reading and rereading his words from almost three decades ago, I realize how untrue that statement is.
My husband’s handwritten love letters, from an era before email and text messaging, were filled with emotion, with meaning, with love, with yearning, and mostly, with vulnerability.
There is so much I had forgotten about our early days together, about the things that were important to us as individuals, and as a newly evolving couple. I’m even more astounded that I could have forgotten all the emotions and words my husband used to express so freely.
I had forgotten about a time that was just about us, before the gift of family, the burden of responsibility and the drudge of routine started to weigh us down, with less time and less energy for each other. Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband and family and wouldn’t change that for the world.
Yet, as I sit surrounded by mementos and old letters from my husband, I yearn for the era of pen and paper to return. It’s not that I don’t love my smart phone and my Mac and Facebook and text messaging and Skype and Twitter and all the amazing communication outlets available today.
But I’m sad about all that we have given up in our quest for instant communication.
Will our children have boxes of old letters to look back on when they are married a quarter of a century? I doubt it. Aside from the fact that no one prints out text messages, Whatsapp messages or emails to keep, there is so much more benign written communication to wade through these days.
When things are scarce or rare we regard them differently. When you had to wait a week or two for a letter to arrive in the mail, your heart jumped when the mailman finally delivered that letter, addressed to you. When phone calls, especially overseas calls, cost an arm and a leg, hearing your loved one’s voice on the phone once a week was a joyful treat you looked forward to.
The world moved slower back in the 80s. The instant-gratification culture that our kids live in hadn’t been established yet..We were more patient and more true to ourselves. We had fewer media outlets trying to mold and shape us.
I know, I sound like an old fart. All that’s missing is for me to tell my kids, “When I was your age I walked 10 miles in the snow to get to school,” which thankfully, I didn’t. There was a bus.
But maybe it’s only with age that you can appreciate youth and the simplicity of what was.
What I know for sure is that I’m going to use this trove of love letters to remind me of what attracted me to my husband, and why I fell in love with him. We may have gotten older and wiser with the years but I think we also build up layers of protection that hide our more sensitive and vulnerable selves.
I’m going back to pen and paper to express my love; I’m going to make it my business to find the time to return to the heart-to-heart expressions of my youth.