I’m the master of writing letters that I never send. They sit in my desk drawer. For months. Sometimes years. And overtime they are shoved to the back. Out of sight. And out of mind. Until a couple of years pass and I decide to do some desk drawer cleaning. And then that rectangular envelope, containing old memories, reappears. Staring up at me. Reminding me of a name from my past. Maybe it’s a friend. Maybe it’s an old acquaintance. Or maybe, and more likely, it’s a former love. Something that once held meaning eventually becomes clutter. And then, just when it’s about to be thrown out, I pause. And I take myself back to thoughts of that person as I read my own words. Words intended for another. Words that were never sent.
During my latest cleaning binge, I found a number of old letters. One was a birthday card for a friend. The envelope wasn’t addressed, but there was a long note written inside the card. We’re still friends to this day. I plan to keep that letter and give it a stamp in a year. It will still read as fresh and new for her next birthday. As I continued my drawer digging, I found another unsent note. Stuffed in the waaayyyy back was a typed letter to an ex-boyfriend. It was very dramatic, and not entirely friendly. I decided to shred that one. Some words are truly never meant to be read. Next up, an oldie but goodie. It was a love note from a lifeguard who had a crush on me when I was sixteen. He thought I was really something back in the day when I wore my hair in a curly ponytail and dressed myself in a fashionable Benetton rugby (a staple in every girl’s closet in the early 90’s). He meant nothing to me now, but I couldn’t bring myself to throw out that letter. It was the only love letter I currently possessed. And it was a reminder that I once “had it.” Whatever “it” is. After that find, I continued my discovery of desk drawer relics. And there it was. The grand dame of old letters. It was a puffy envelope that contained a letter within a letter. And tied to one of the letters was a CD of music. Music that reminded me of this person. Apparently I had a lot to say to this would-be receiver. I knew what the package contained without peeking inside. But it had been a long time since I wrote the words. My words. Words that were never sent.
With a hesitant curiosity, I nestled into the corner of my room with the puffy envelope. I was about to travel back in time with my memories. With my words. With my thoughts that were once full of life. But were then shoved to the back of my desk drawer. Would my memories come back to life again? I carefully opened the letter that was sealed with a gold hummingbird sticker. The hummingbird is generally symbolic of joy and happiness. I suppose I felt a little bit of both as I read my words. The girl who wrote this letter cared deeply for the person who was meant to receive it. She championed and rooted for this person. She wasn’t afraid to express her feelings and thoughts about the relationship. She felt joy, and also sadness, when she reflected on their moments together. She believed that there was a soulful connection between them, which she deemed as rare. There were many memories that resurfaced from the words in that letter. And the rest of the day was spent soaking them in. Until it came time to put the letter back. Back in the drawer where it had been resting for a long time.
Do you ever struggle over what to do with memories from your past? Maybe it’s a first love, the wrong kind of love, the best kind of a love, or your one true love. Are old memories meant to be shredded? Or shoved in a drawer with the ability to access them every now and then? Can they be recycled and come out fresh and new some day? Or should they just be left alone? Living as an old memory. On a piece of paper. In a desk drawer.
I don’t have the answer to those questions. Or maybe I don’t have the answers you’re looking for. But I do know this. Some words are meant to be stored away. And others should be shared. By their very nature, memories can always be retrieved. But here’s the part where you have to answer your own question...
Once these memories are in your possession, YOU decide whether or not they are words that will be sent.