Saturday, May 07, 2011

Love Letters??

Today I received an interesting comment/question from an anonymous reader. Normally I send anonymous comments straight to the trash, but this one was pretty tame. Mr. or Mrs. Anonymous wrote, "Under "interests" in your profile, you list "love letters". Are you serious??"

Apparently, Mr. or Mrs. Anonymous knows me personally. I have a few suspects in mind already, but I digress. To answer the question, the answer is yes. I also understand that it will stun many people who know me to find out that I am interested in love letters. I actually mentioned this in a program that I gave to a Sons of Confederate Veterans camp several years ago. To my amazement, one of the members spoke to me after the meeting about his collection on the subject. We were the last two guys in the group that I would have imagined would share that interest.

Over the last 42 years, I started at 16, I have written more than my share. I also have several books that are collections of love letters and a couple of books that are how-to books about love letters. I mentioned this in a post in March titled "We don't write anymore". I also mentioned a Valentine's Day story that I would write later. Several close friends, probably including Mr./Mrs. Anonymous, have heard this story, but I will tell it anyway.

In January, 1977 I was working for the Waffle House. I was sent to Atlanta from my home in Tampa to fill in for a district manager who would be out a month for surgery. A couple of weeks before Valentine's Day, I realized that I might not be home in time for it. So I decided to write my girlfiend some love letters. I went to to store and bought envelopes and stationery. I went to the Post Office and bought a roll of 100 stamps. Then I settled in at my room at the Holiday Inn and started "100 reasons I love you". Over a two week period, I finished the project. I mailed a few everyday, so that she would not get them all at once. I actually got back to Tampa late on February 13. I had arranged to take her to dinner on Valentine's Day. I picked her up at her home and we headed out to dinner. As we crossed the high center span of the Howard Frankland Bridge on the way to St. Petersburg, she turned to me and said "I got your letters". My head almost exploded!! Dozens of hours of work and all of the money spent and all she could say was "I got your letters." Are you kidding me? She didn't break up with me for several months, but I could see the handwriting on the wall.

In my briefcase, I carry an article about love letters taken from Reader's Digest in 1977. I later bought the book the article referenced, but I still read that article periodically.

Who is my favorite love letter writer? Hands down, it is Napoleon. He wrote incredible letters to Josephine. I am fascinated by his relationship with her. She was a few years older than he and came from a completely different background but, they shared a relationship of intense love. Maybe even a love-hate relationship, but that is the danger of intensity.

In one 1797 letter Napoleon spent most of the letter chastising Josephine for not writing to him. Then he closes with these two paragraphs;
"In truth, I am worried, my love, to have no news from you; Write me a four-page letter instantly made up from those delightful words which fill my heart with emotion and joy.
I hope to hold you in my arms before long, when I shall lavish upon you a million kisses, burning as the equatorial sun.

In a 1796 letter, Napoleon wrote; "The day when you say 'I love you less", will mark the end of my love and the last day of my life. If my heart were base enough to love without being loved in return, I would tear it to pieces."

In the same 1796 letter, Bonaparte writes;
"I have not spent a day without loving you; I have not spent a night without embracing you; I have not so much as drunk a single cup of tea without cursing the pride and ambition which force me to remain separated from the moving spirit of my life."

"Burning as the equatorial sun." "The moving spirit of my life." "If my heart were base enough to love" If I could write stuff like that, I could give up my current job. Yes, Mr./Mrs. Anonymous, I am interested in love letters.


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