Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The One With The Dear Gladys Letters.

Dear Lover,

I'm going through letters at work.
Ones dated 1919 through 1922.
Three years of correspondence between a woman.
Named Gladys, from Boston.
And a handful of men, back from the war and scattered across the country.
All in the perspective and slanted handwriting of the men.
Men, I'm sure, who wore suspenders.
And bow ties.
And tilted their fedoras as a hello to ladies who walked by.

These 200 plus letters.
They're filled with faded lines of friendship.
And flirtation.
And loneliness.
And yearning.
And uncertainty.
And sepia-toned photographs with rubbed-away corners.

There are moments when I squint.
Uncertain of colloquialisms and abbreviations.
And Billy's honest and humble chicken scratch handwriting.

There are moments when I melt.
At the curve of Harold's "Decidedly Yours."
At the flighty, yet funny words he weaves.

Moments when I feel for Ralph.
With his striving to be wealthier and better off.
With his heartfelt lines and then absence for weeks.

And moments when I don't want to read on.
Because Stewart has compared her to a "cousin."
And I just know that's the last thing Gladys wants to be called by this hopeful suitor.

I sit here.
My fingers interlaced between these antiquated slips of stationery.
Reading and wondering.
Of what could come next.
When I thumb for the next yellowed corner of the next aged letter.
And slide out the slips of paper.
And unfold its pages.
And read, "Dear Gladys..."

There's the inevitable emotions that follow.
Love at first sight.
Unrequited love.
And confusion and misunderstandings.
Moonlit drives.
Late night walks.
Frustrations and jubilations.
Dances and flings.
And "I'd really hoped you'd come to call..."

And isn't that life?
This correspondence between lovers.
These cream-colored envelopes tucked within a brown box.
Hidden away in an attic for years and years.

And I wonder.
Will there ever be any resolutions?
And propositions?
Amidst all these communications and mis-communications...

But all I can do is continue to read.
Until that moment.
When I get to the final letter.
The final correspondence.
The last one.
Perhaps, even The One.
The man who's slanted handwriting, Gladys has allowed to call her "Sweetheart."

And so I have.
Read the last one, that is.
And despite all the drama that filled those lines.
I can't help but find these letters, these lovers, so very simple.
Ordinary.  Everyday people.
Never in the papers.  The history books.
Their story never made into a movie.
No Zelda and Fitzgerald.
But something so near perfection still.


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