Letters in My Head
Updated: Jan 10
"Letters in My Head"
Often, letters are utilized as a method to achieve closure. In this theological book I read, after the narrator’s wife passed, he was able to ease his mind of the horrible tragedy by writing letters to her, allowing himself to have some sort of an outlet to talk to her, even if she didn’t respond back. Over time, his letters grew more infrequent as he progressed in his efforts to move on; he suffered less and less as each new day came.
My letters to you, however, formatted in short monologues, (though, since only having been “performed” to myself in my head, rather, soliloquies) operated in the realm of “meanwhile,” of “I’ll see you again,” this feeling that I am to document everything while you’re gone and then recite it to you later. Instead of gradual “goodbyes,” these letters were placeholders and preparations for future conversations I’d actually have with you when we met again, in person.
But, we didn’t; we won’t, ever. In contrast to the narrator’s healthy utilizations, I used them as an addict does, my inability to give you up being fed its fervor with letters I pretend you receive or will soon sometime in the future.
Sometimes, I actually send them, and that’s the worst. They’re in the form of emails. And when I send emails, you must respond because it’s only the polite thing to do, and, being the decent enough person you are, sure enough, you do so. And so, instead of achieving the closure I need, I continue to let you be a part of my current life, updating you on the developments of Sophia. I get false hope; I set myself up for false lies. Because you’re there living on the other end with :)s and exclamation marks I over-analyze.
It’s funny because it’s almost like I predicted this would happen, and I subconsciously tried to stop it. Once I hit the send button on the un-edited, un-revised 2-in-the-morning impulsive email, I immediately followed it up with a spur-of-the-moment, uncapitalized reply that stated, “no, honestly, you really don’t have to reply to this. sometimes I just say things for the sake of saying them.” That second message--it’s like I knew the consequences I would be facing; it’s like I knew I would regret it. I wanted to mimic the narrator, writing open letters to his wife without expecting anything back, and achieve his subsequent peace of mind. The only problem: you’re not dead. And so you reply with the three perfectly written paragraphs I proceed to read five times over because I can’t believe it’s real.
Though imperfect, the letters constricted to the confines of my head were better for me because you were inanimate; you only existed through my imagination and my old memories of you. You were dormant, never evolving from that snap-shot photograph of the last time I saw you. I easily grew tired of you because I already knew everything there was to know about you, that I could have the chance to know about you. You, simply being a picture painted by me, were stagnant and unmoving; though I placed you in new positions, new circumstances, and gave you new information about myself that you proceeded to react to, the stripped-down, plain you never changed.
But now, with a letter sent, breaking from the confines of my little, personal world, you respond, and you’re the current, up-to-date you. You bring up new things. You add to the discussion. I can’t plan your reactions and so I don’t know what to say; I actually have to interact with you as if you are a real person. I transition to a state of improv when, before, I could rely on knowing your next move and your next witty statement because, though they came from your mouth, they were all my words. Now, disoriented and in disarray, I say dumb things; I wish I could undo an email five minutes after I’ve sent a follow-up. I don’t say the things I want to say, and, even if I do, it doesn’t fit in; it doesn’t make sense in the context of my message. I’m lost; I’m confused. I’m refreshing the page to make sure it sent. I’m worried that you don’t think I’m smart or that I don’t have any opinions of my own. I’m living, not simply daydreaming about things I would have said in some alternative universe but actually saying them here, now, to you. You’re a physical, real-life human instead of a figment of my imagination.
And so the hope revives itself. The crack of possibility that had been gradually declining has finally been torn open again, now an open, bleeding wound. It can’t be squashed, not now. I can’t grow tired of you because I just renewed our connection in the physical world, because I added an element to our relationship, because I get to correctly assume new personalities and passions to your once stationary self. Now, I can’t get over you. In a moment of impulse, ignited by pure, uncontaminated nostalgia while I lay in my childhood bed, I let you back into my life.
I should have just kept to the letters in my head. When I published them to the concrete, material world, they let you exist in my present instead of my abstract past, causing all the severity in emotions I had begun to get rid of come crashing back.
Two months later, I feel lonely in my dad’s office. I tell him to take a detour because I have a sudden need to just see you. I don’t even know if you’ll be there. Stopping at the red light just two blocks away, he asks me if I am sure. I get scared, and I start to cry. What the hell am I doing? I tell him to turn around, and we drive back to our house.