A stack of love letters

Written by hootenannie on May 8th, 2008

Yesterday, I spent upwards of 5 hours shredding documents at my work. I filled 6 Hefty bags full of confetti, and succeeded without getting a single paper cut. I only jammed the shredder once, and wound up completely sweaty from the heat of the hulking machine. At financial companies, they don’t mess around with their shredders – they invest in high-powered, serious beasts.

And so, feeling incredibly satisfied from my completion of the monumental shredding task, I was reminded that I had a stack of papers at home that I have been meaning to shred. I brought them in today, ready to feed them to the grating teeth of the destroyer. Some old bank statements, credit card applications, and…

Some letters. Letters from ex-boyfriends.

I’ve had this stack of letters for a while. While dating each of these guys, I saved cards and notes, and printed out certain emails, positive that these words were going to be important memories to share with our hypothetical-someday-grandchildren.

I don’t know a girl who doesn’t, on some level, think this way.

When I moved out of my apartment in Seattle last summer, I purged myself of so many unnecessary things. But for some reason, I bundled up these letters. I couldn’t get rid of them. They reminded me of the existence of love – and that maybe it could happen for me again.

Recently, I started feeling like maybe these letters – filled with once-meaningful, but what I now see as cheap words and empty promises – were weighing me down. Why was I holding on to them?

I mean, really: these are the same guys that propelled me to write a song that ends, “I don’t have much heart left to break.” Why keep any – any – remembrance of them? Good riddance, right?

So I brought them to work today. To shred the hell out of them.

But before I did, I took one last read-through.

And call me crazy, but I cannot destroy these letters.

Some of the kindest words ever bestowed on me are in these letters. I had to re-read certain paragraphs, baffled by the pure goodness and generosity and love that had, at one point, been poured out onto me. I had forgotten how these words felt. These words bring life. And though I am not expecting a resurrection of romance with any of these guys, these letters make my heart believe in the connection between two humans. They remind me that I actually do have a lot of heart left to break.

And that’s a good thing.

Maybe someday, I will shred, burn, bury these letters. But not today. I can’t do it today.

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