Love Letters Live On
Sure, putting pen to paper has been nudged aside by emails and texts, but the power of romantic notes remains, no matter the medium.
Nicholas Sparks’ latest cinematic tearjerker, Dear John, chronicles the epistolary romance between a young soldier (Channing Tatum) and a college student (Amanda Seyfried) he encounters while home on leave. They’re separated by fate, but vow their eternal devotion in passionate love letters.
Watching a trailer for the movie (out Feb. 4), my mind wandered to the stash of love letters tucked inside my dresser drawer. OK, OK, this is 2010. A lot of them are actually emails I’ve printed out. Yes, I printed them – judge not ye who keep thine in Saved Mail folders!
Like most women I know, I’ve preserved those bits of paper – remnants of loves lost and found – clinging to the inky evidence that I was/am/will be adored beyond reason. But not beyond words.
This is a concept so elegant in its simplicity, yet so rarely grasped by men: The greatest gift you can ever give a woman – castle on the Amalfi Coast notwithstanding – is a love letter. Your heart, poured onto page, is something we will keep long after the roses have wilted and the Swatch watch, Juicy Couture tracksuit and Wii console are sold for pennies at a garage sale. Romantic missives are proof of devotion in the most intimate way imaginable.
Case in point: Two summers ago, a purple plastic bag was found on a bus in Bristol, England. Inside the sack was a large stack of love letters – several tied up in pink ribbon – written between 1963 and 1974 to a stunning raven-haired woman pictured in photographs found alongside the correspondence.
Writer Michael Thornton instantly recognized the enigmatic woman as his former landlady, Miss Anna Paton, and wrote about her and the tale of those love letters in a touching story for The Daily Mail.
It turns out Anna – who has not spoken out since the bundle was found – kept close to her heart faded love letters from her beloved Xavier Pi-Sunyer, a Spanish doctor with whom she was madly in love years ago. Although Xavier was married to a wealthy girl from Massachusetts, he and Anna were “quite literally, besotted with each other,” as writer Thornton recalls. While Xavier could never be with Anna officially, he wrote her love letters for more than 10 years. According to the article, the letters all began, ‘To my love’, and were signed, ‘God bless you my darling, my lover. X.’ And even though he would later deny the affair, she carried those love letters, mistakenly left on a bus seat, for more than three decades.
That, my friends, is the power of putting a passionate pen to paper.