Between the Pages


If there's one thing I complain about regarding modern technology, it is the demise of the snail mail letter. We still send a limited number of cards, but actual letters have been replaced by email, texting and Facebook. And that, I feel, is a shame. Because there's a certain impersonality and impermanence to electronic mail or comments. There are few (if any) painstakingly handwritten letters anymore to be filed away in someone's keepsake drawer. Or tucked away in the pages of a favorite romance novel...like the set of three letters I rediscovered today.

During my time as a used bookseller, I found all kinds of crazy things stashed in between the pages of books: grocery lists, handmade bookmarks, business cards, cash register receipts, prescriptions...but my favorite discoveries were always letters. The letters I saved. And while cleaning out my office papers today I found my favorite letters of them all: a set of letters between two obviously young people written in 1984/1985. If the handwriting didn't give away the fact that these are teenagers, the content definitely would. But they are still incredibly sweet.

I've included a few excerpts from each letter. Anywhere you see this: [...] I've removed text from the original letter. (ie shortened for length). I've also corrected spelling somewhat. Poor Dennis was a sometimes phonetic speller.
Dearest Sheila,
I didn't want to say anything, but I have to know. When we kissed did you feel everything that I felt? [...] I heard the song Against All Odds this morning. I have always thought of you when I hear that song, but it never really applied to us. My new  favorite song is Hard Habit to Break. That song seems like it was written for me to give to you. The words are what I have been trying to say to you. In my eyes that song will always be from me to you. Sort of silly, but true. [...] I never thought I would ever feel you touch me again, let alone kiss me. Every time I kiss you I am lost in a maze of memories. 
Love ya always, 
Dear Sheila,
Listen I'm not angry with you and I am sorry that I was rude to you. I just planned our lunch to go a little differently. [...] It felt good holding you and kissing you. My house is empty Monday through Wednesday. Maybe if we make love it will bring us closer together. I already feel close to you. I'm in love with you but you are so tempting. I guess I will just have to wait until you want it bad enough to cut school. I don't want to blow it with you. If I start screwing up let me know. Why don't you say I Love You at the end of your letters?
There is only one letter from Sheila. This one dated May 15, 1985—nearly seven months after the last letter from Dennis. Because it is dated in May, I'm making a huge assumption that both Shelia and Dennis will be graduating soon. I can't tell if it was ever sent. It was found with Dennis's letters above.

May 15, 1985
Dear Dennis,
Hello sweetheart. How are you? I am sorry I haven't written sooner. I have had a lot on my mind. I love you and I have decided that I am ready for our commitment.  

In other words Dennis, I will marry you. I want to spend the rest of my life with you.[...] If you still want me, I am all yours. 
Love Always,

Isn't that sweet? I'm assuming these were mailed by the fold lines, but they could have been passed as notes, too.  Dennis is so darn earnest it breaks my heart.

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