Posted by: GeekHiker | June 18, 2008

Things Found, Part 2

Way down at the bottom of the box, underneath that stack of English papers (which, though I scanned them, I still haven’t decided whether or not to keep), I found something else truly unique.

The rubber band surrounding them was dried and cracked; it fell apart to the touch. The small, colorful group of papers beneath them were practically stuck together anyway, having been held in position for so long.

I knew instantly what they were, though their specific contents were a blur of my old history.

They were a stack of, believe it or not, old love letters.

I don’t think I kept them to be sentimental. No, I think I threw them in the box when moving out of the dorms in college, not sure what to do with the handwritten notes and letters from the girl who had recently dumped me.

She was my first girlfriend, in high school. She would be my last true “relationship” until my late twenties. She taught me a lot, but also managed to mess with my head in a lot of ways too. Ways that I wouldn’t recognize for years.

She ultimately dumped me for one of my best friends.

But, as with any relationship, there were good times during the course of it. Times when you’re young and ignorant and in love, believing that you’d found “the one” who would be the only one forever.

Then you grow up (not really) and you learn (sort of) and you don’t make the same mistakes again (uh, yeah, not so much that, either).

I idly flipped through them, opening up a few and skimming the words, written in her flowing cursive writing (so much nicer than my own chicken scratch) written on colorful school letterhead.

I’m old enough now that they brought no regrets or anger or anything, simply a small smile at the thought of time gone by.

I find, though, that I’m of two minds about what to do with them.

My initial urge was to take them out into the back yard, put them inside one of the old cinder blocks I have back there, and set fire to them.

(Preferably, of course, with one of the amazing REI stormproof matches. I mean, if you’re going to be lighting fire to such a pile of emotionally-tinged paper as this, you don’t want to have to struggle with regular old matches going out in the breeze, now do you?)

As I started looked at a few more, pulling old cards out of envelopes like a Griffen & Sabine book, a more, shall we say, sentimental side emerged. A side that thought maybe it would be better to hold on to this simple, small, innocuous stack of memories.

Of course, I know these aren’t things that probably should keep. She wasn’t the “high school sweetheart” that I fell in love with, and these aren’t letters we’re going to look at in our 70’s and chuckle at our youthful love. No, they’re just old letters from a girl who passed out of my life 14 years ago.

Still, I hesitate.

And so I am torn between the two extremes.

For now, though, they’re just sitting here next to the keyboard as I type this, mocking me and my inability to decide what to do with them.

I guess I could always throw them back in the box.



  1. I’d say, throw them back in the box. I have a few boxes in my mom’s garage that I go through every once in a while, and each time, I throw more things out. Included is a notebook full of poetry, songs, and drawings that my high school X made for me – it is all his personal work, and I have wondered the same thing. Is it weird to keep it? I’d feel guilty throwing it away, would it be weird or hurt his feelings if I shipped it to his mom… so it stays in the box…

  2. I got rid of old love letters years ago. I found a box of them in the attic at my Mom’s house. Reading them made me cringe because I couldn’t believe I was “in love” with such a goofball (not due to the sentiment expressed in the letters but just because they guy really was a goofball). So, after making fun of his grammar and spelling mistakes, I threw them in the fireplace. Now no one will ever know….mwahhahahaha!!!

  3. What I’ve done with things like that in the past is gone through and thrown away some of them (ones that weren’t that important) and kept others. The next time, I do the same thing, throw away a few more, but keep the ones that still seem important. That way, you keep a few that are representative, but you don’t keep them ALL. And maybe in time, you throw away all of them. But if you are unsure about throwing them away now, don’t do it. Maybe just get rid of some.

  4. This post was great…

    Haven’t we all been there? Not sure what to do with the letters/mementos?

    When I first moved home after breaking up with Six Year Guy, I did exactly what you did – threw all the letters and such (well, emails at that time) into a box and shoved them high on a shelf in my closet.

    I still look at them from time to time. The photos, too, which are in their own album, separate from the rest, also out of sight. I struggled with what to do with it all…he’s no longer a part of my life, so why hold on to them?

    It’s not like I’ll be sharing the stories of our great love with our kids someday, because, well, he recently married someone who isn’t me. But, those letters and those memories are a part of me, a part of my past…they shaped who I am today.

    I think they’re too special to throw away. I say, band them back up and shove them somewhere high out of sight…

    Of course, that’s probably just the hopeless romantic in me typing.

  5. I like Lea’s idea. Keep just the ones that stand out. Maybe the ones that make you laugh or make you cry and get rid of the rest. Then look through them again in 5 years and do the same. As you grow as a person, those letters will seem more and more insignificant.
    I do the same with old pics of me and my childhood friends. They’re not in my life anymore, but it’s still so hilarious to look back at our haircuts and clothes, that I haven’t tossed those old photos yet. No, they don’t “mean” anything but they still make me laugh. Good enough reason for me!

  6. First, I have to say I love that you mentioned the Griffen & Sabine books. I read all three in one sitting when I was 18.

    Second, don’t throw away all the letters. You can sort through them, but at least keep a couple. You may not be with her now, but you were once. She was a part of your life. And as a kid who has rifled through lots of saved stuff at my parents’ house, I know how cool it is to find your mom’s or dad’s teenage love notes. It makes them more real; more human. Give your kids a chance to see that side of you some day. Or at least give yourself another reason to smile when you stumble upon them in another 10 years.

  7. Since the Wife was the first love letter situation for me, I have never experienced what you’re going through but, if you want my opinion, I would keep them. I would throw them away only if there were some bad memories/experiences connected with them.

  8. Aly – For the moment, they are back in the box. Mainly because I needed the table to eat.

    Dingo – Wait, what’s wrong with being a goofball? I’m a goofball!

    Lea – I dunno, I’m feeling more of an “all or nothing” urge with these…

    East Coast Teacher – I can be a romantic, sure, but I wonder if I should hold on to past romaticism?

    Charlotte – Well, that’s two. Perhaps I should reconsider…

    Mel – Heh, I remember borrowing The Best Friend’s copies in college. Good advice…

    Homer-Dog – Some memories (particularly the dumping part) aren’t great, but it was too long ago to care about now…

  9. I would toss them. No need for the future love of your life to come across them. While very easily explained, a totally unecessary conversation. Burn ’em baby. You’ll have wayyyyy more important love letters to save for the rest of your life when the right one comes along. Trust me.

  10. Backpackermomma – Going against the crowd, eh? 😉

  11. I burned mine. I felt I had to. How was I going to meet anyone new while still attached to the past? Besides, he didn’t feel that way about me anymore, so I didn’t want him cosmically linked to me, or whatever voodoo reasoning. I don’t regret it either.

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