By Lucy Perrone, Blog Staff
In fifth grade, I created my memories box. Now stuffed to the brim with what may look like a random assortment of junk, the shoebox contains important artifacts from my elementary to high school years (the most entertaining and awkward to look back on). Although its contents have evolved to include school photos, movie tickets, corsages, and more, my dear box’s humble beginnings originated with love letters.
Until college, letters were my primary form of intimate communication. I’ve never been good at verbalizing and communicating my feelings. I let issues fester and I’m an angry crier – well, just a crier in general. Even when I’m in the right and I know exactly how I want to articulate my argument, tears well and eventually spill onto my flushed face. I also get anxious expressing any sort of loving feelings, romantic or platonic. I was even uncomfortable saying “I love you” to my parents until well into high school…avoidant attachment af! I still have yet to get to the root of this problem–you’d think seven years of therapy would do the trick – but I do remember most of the love letters I’ve sent and received.
My first love letter was sent to my kindergarten crush, Redacted 1. Redacted 1 and I were in different kindergarten classes but I thought he was by far the cutest boy in the grade, so naturally I was in love with him (he did have huge doe eyes). I used tan drawing paper and pastel-colored crayons to write “Redacted 1, I love you and I mean it!” (now a running joke in my family). Redacted 1 of course wanted nothing to do with me (his loss)! The irony of all of this is that Redacted 1 was arrested and jailed a month before our senior year graduation for molesting a seven-year-old at the bouncy house center where he worked. Clearly, I’ve always had bad taste in men.
After the rejection (or lack of reciprocated feelings from Redacted 1) I took a little hiatus until third grade when a new boy joined my class. Naturally, every girl had a crush on the boy that just moved to Ms. Fields’ third-grade class and I was the lucky winner of his affection. We would “flirt” in class, whatever that meant at age 10, and pass love letters through my younger brother. This reciprocal crush lasted about a year until Thanksgiving rolled around and he wrote to me that he was going to ask his parents if I could come to their house for dinner. Me and my fear of commitment, from a scarily young age, freaked out and got the ick (first of many times!) and essentially ghosted him via lack of love letters. All of this is well documented through a combination of the memory box and a deliciously detailed diary. Redacted 2 and I continued to go to school together through high school (we’re actually neighbors at home) and are still relatively good friends to this day.
In 5th grade, another new boy moved to school (I’m sensing a pattern), and won my affection in what was the most riveting love triangle of 2013–juicy, I know. Redacted 3 was the hottest commodity of the fifth grade and I once again won over his heart through expertise flirting and calculated love letters. To make matters slightly more complicated, another boy, his friend, also had a crush on me. I played the two of them like a fiddle like the little baddie that I was. During class, the three of us would pass notes through my right-hand wing-woman, Maddie. They both attempted to win me over with gifts, all of which are still in the memory box to this day: gift cards, Justice jewelry, detailed drawings, and flowers (expertly dried and preserved for the last 11 years). Then on the last day of school, our fifth-grade graduation to middle school, I had to choose between them: the ultimate Sophie’s choice–Lucy’s choice if you will. I, of course, knew I was going to choose Redacted 3 the whole time but loved the attention of the two boys. Without cell phones (unimaginable I know), our romance faded over the summer and then rekindled in sixth grade when he asked me to the dance. We eventually fizzled out and he went on to seriously date one of my best friends during quarantine, while I have remained single since the eighth grade.
If you couldn’t tell by now, my romantic peak was elementary school, it has truly only gone downhill since then.
In high school, I used letters to tell my friends, specifically my best friend Kaylie, how much I loved them. We were (and still are) all tragically depressed and holding on for dear life, so secret letters that I would sneak into backpacks were the perfect way to express their importance to me without having to verbally express anything. Sophomore year of high school, I went through my first heartbreak and Kaylie wrote me a letter (that I still have) that made me bawl until my eyes were practically glued shut. Later that year, a different guy I was seeing cheated on me with his ex-girlfriend. Naturally, my reaction was to write a letter and read it to him on the phone. Definitely sounded unnatural but it was empowering to read him an essay on all the ways he was a piece of shit (and yes there is a recording of this call somewhere in the depths of my camera roll). Junior year of high school, I met a boy on Instagram (just as sad as it sounds). He was my first (and maybe only) love. I lived in California and he lived in Virginia so our relationship was purely over facetime. He did eventually fly out to see me but by that time we loved each other just as friends. We also communicated often through letters and playlists. Though we never dated, I think that internet relationship was the most communicative I have ever been and the most cared for I have ever felt by a “partner.”
I am now in my last year of college, and not many letters, love or otherwise, have been sent or received. My parents send me the occasional card and care package (my dad makes a fantastic chocolate chip banana bread). I always think about writing some, especially abroad, but life gets hectic and letter writing becomes my lowest priority. Additionally, I’ve gotten slightly better at communicating my feelings verbally. I actually told a boy (ew) that I liked him (extra ew) in person a few weeks ago! It didn’t go well…but hey at least I did it. I’m sure I’ve written some letters to myself as a sort of cheesy journal prompt, but nothing meant for the consumption of others. Honestly, I’ve become a voice memo girly–not sure if that’s better or worse. I want to write letters again but my brain feels fried at all times–if not from schoolwork then from w33d. I considered writing this boy a letter but the embarrassment of him getting to forever have an extension of my inner monologue in his memory box keeps me in check. I did however make him a playlist that was delivered without the slightest hint of appreciation. Down horrendous. Part of me wants to write a letter to try to cleanse any sort of feelings so I can move on with my life, and part of me loves to wallow in an all-consuming crush–it’s been about 4 years since the last one and it’s a nice distraction from my, at times, bleak reality.
I think Justice-clad, Barbie movie obsessed, 10 year old me would be sad to learn I’ve stopped receiving love letters–although I think I’d be slightly more concerned and disillusioned with various other aspects of life in 2022. But I’m also a big believer in what goes around comes around, so maybe if I put more letters out to the people I care about, a love letter confirming that I am super sexy and super self-aware will be delivered via white dove through my window in return. Though it’s not really a disappointment that the magic memory box that once contained love letters is now bursting with other trinkets. Rather it’s a testament to the evolution of a dynamic life filled with other forms of writing and other forms of love!