I believe in unsent letters; the torn, hidden, collected remnants of thoughts had in the most pure moments. They’re so pure that the vulnerability is too much to allow. The foreign mind meanderings committed to paper, in the form of a rushed letter, are so intrinsic, and the emotions they reflect so raw, that I know he won’t understand. Or maybe he will, maybe that’s the problem. The provocative need to express myself to him is often too great to nurse with time, it’s got to explode. I’ve got to think and care too much, just for a while, until the pages are full and my head is empty. Empty until the next time he sends me nakedly into new, unfamiliar corners of my mind to discover another deep, overwhelming reason to unfold for him. Better on this unsent letter than under his invasive gaze.
The most intrinsic letter I’ll ever write is also the most intrinsic letter he’ll never read. While my mind is on fire with him, shouting “Santa merda!” around its bends (where the corners are smoothed over with him) he’ll be completely ignorant. I like it that way. He’s the pull behind my eyes, my headaches in the evenings, what fills the space when I’ve forgotten something, but he wouldn’t know that to use it against me, or take me up on it and mess it up, because the only proof is burnt or shredded or thrown out the window or drowned in a lake or hidden where he’ll never look or stuffed inside my big mouth that aches to come clean, but won’t.
Some things are too dangerous to let slip. Some things are too meaningful to trust another person to interpret. So I write it out and I seal it up. I don’t address it to 119 W. Pine Grove Road, Pine Grove Mills, Pennsylvania 16868. I don’t try to make it smell good or any of my signature shit because he’ll never have it to smell or open or read or analyze or understand or respond to. I don’t have to anticipate his reaction or care what he thinks about it because it’s mine to keep from him. The fact that we go together like sphinxes and riddles, or that sometimes it feels like he’s ruining any chance I’ll ever have to feel this way about anyone else, or that I’d rather not be anywhere remotely close to in love with him, everything is bound by DNA, in separate envelops devoid of any conclusive markings, and sealed in a box made of cedar that I plan to bury at my earliest convenience.
I strongly believe in the ability to hide how I feel; to decide how vulnerable I’m willing to be. Despite how weak being such a fortress makes me, I believe in the importance of stringing my dramatic, in-the-moment emotions through a mighty filter, avoiding their effects on us both until I run out of new ways to confess the same things.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.