“We have the relationship of a married couple, without having the actual marriage and the time to make it work,” was the first line of the letter I found. That line, and the sheer length of the letter was enough to pique my interest enough to shove those pieces of paper into my pocket as I walked into the restaurant.
I was meeting Becky for lunch and as I was walking down Main Street, I saw this paper sitting on the edge of one of those new planters the city put in to make the urban area seem more homey. How planters of trees lined with brick façades make the city less urban is beyond me, but hell, I’m just one person, right? So, I’m walking down the street and on one of these planters I see this yellow paper. As I get closer to it, I see it is actually five sheets all put together in one long letter. The writing was in blue pen, and very small. I’m pretty sure the author was a south paw who was forced to write with her right hand when she was younger. I’ve seen that for years from my students who has to go through that in elementary school. I’ve never understood that concept. I mean, I get it – it’s easier for those early childhood teachers if all their students would write with the same hand.
I picked it up and started reading as I was curious what story this little novella had to tell. I was happily surprised when I discovered it was not some gibberish notes, chicken scratches, or shopping list made by a student, businessman, or bored housewife. It was, it appeared to me, a love letter. Heartfelt, and full of emotion. As I said, I was taken in by the first line. “We have the relationship of a married couple, without having the actual marriage and the time to make it work,” fascinated me. So, there was a relationship taking place in my little neck of the woods that was a non-married marriage. I’ve had those, so I kind of got it. As I entered the restaurant, I saw Becky out on the patio. She motioned to me in an inviting and direct manner. That’s Becky – direct. I love that about her.
When I approached, I took the letter from my pocket.
“What’s that,” Becky asked.
“It’s a love letter,” I responded, as I smiled a broad smile and placed it on the table.
“A love letter?!?! From who, you bitch!?!” was not the reaction I was expecting. It took me aback. . .
“It’s not FOR ME, asshole,” I admitted, snarkily with a bit of sheepishness thrown in to cover my ass. Becky, you see, was the jealous type. She does not like even the thought of me being pursued by others. I’m kind of a looker, so it weighs on her. I kid. . . No, not really – I’m hot. Becky and I have been together for about a year and half and she claims I am the best looking partner she has ever had. Because of that, she thinks any attention I get is sexually charged. I don’t buy it. When men and women interact with me, I just assume it’s friendly. Only one time did I act out inappropriately, and I am not saying it’s OK. Don’t get me wrong. I got caught being inappropriate after Becky and I had been together for a while, and I regret it every day. I hate myself for it, and I hate what it caused in Becky. I love that woman, and I would never do anything to hurt her again. It’s just hard, you know? So, when I walk in to lunch and I tell my wife I have a 5 page, single spaced, extremely small scripted love letter in my hand, I should have expected her to not be happy about it.
“I’m sorry, honey. It’s not mine. I did not mean to call you an asshole. Don’t call me names. You know I don’t like it. I found this out on the street. I was just going to let it go, but I read the first line, and it intrigued me. Some chick is pouring her heart out to someone. The first line is, ‘We have the relationship of a married couple, without having the actual marriage and the time to make it work.’ I dug that and I wanted to read more.”
Becky was unsure about it, I could tell. “You found a love letter on the street and thought it would be a good idea to bring it to lunch? Hmmm. . . I guess that first line is kind of interesting. What else does it say?”
“Well, the next line is, ‘You know I want more from you than you are willing to give me.’ Yeah, this is good. ‘I love you, Sweetheart. I feel I have always loved you, and I feel I will love you forever to come. Yes, I know that sounds cheesy, but it feels real to me. You know the types of conversations we have had over the years. In the beginning it was all intrigue and romance, and I feel we do not have that spark anymore. I don’t like it. I want it back. . . I fucking love you and I hate feeling this kind of disconnect between us. I want you. Forever. I want to marry you, spend my life with you, go to bed with you at night, and wake up with you in the morning. That is what I want.'”
Becky interjected, “Wow, I like this woman. She’s no-nonsense. Wait, how did you know it was a woman?”
“I can tell by her writing. If it is not a woman, then it is a dude who writes like a woman. Heh. Better than a dude who looks like a lady, huh? . . .”
“Not that there’s anything wrong with that,” Becky interrupted with a smile.
The initial tension of my presenting the letter was gone by this point. That whole, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that,” line gets us every time. I really think it will never stop being funny to me. It kind of goes with the territory. . .
“What’s next?” Becky asked, referring to the next line of the letter.
“I don’t know – hang on, I’ll find it. ‘I know you wanted it, too. At one point, you told me we needed to be a rock. You told me we could do this. We could do life. You wanted to do life with me. You’ve not wanted that with anyone else. Just me. I am sorry.'”
“Hello ladies. Can I get you something to drink?” I was interrupted by our waitress. Nikki was our very favourite waitress here. Every Wednesday at lunchtime, she knows where to find us. . . Oddly, I forgot we’d not yet ordered. I looked at Becky, and she nodded.
“Hey, Nik, what’s up? I’ll take that caramel latte thing you gave me last week, and Becky wants her Dr. Pepper. . . as always.” I winked and Becky at that because she knows how much I HATE Dr. Pepper, and unfortunately, it is the only thing outside water she will drink.
“Dr. Pepper – yeah, I know,” Nikki said with a smile as she reached around the corner, grabbed an already prepared glass, and placed Becky’s drink in front of her. “I assumed, but I didn’t want to be TOO presumptuous, so I figured I’d hide it until I knew for sure.” That girl has a GREAT smile. When she shows her teeth, the entire room lights up. Becky smiled back, I smiled back, then Becky looked at me and we smiled at each other. I love that.
“Do you know what you want to eat?” Becky asked as our focus wandered back to Nikki and the menus we had placed on the table in front of us.
“Ummm, no. Can you get my drink while I look, Nikki?”
“Sure,” she said with that beaming smile. “I’ll be right back.”
“What do you want, honey?” I asked.
“I don’t know either,” Becky replied with a hint of melancholy in her voice. “I kind of wanted a BLT, but I don’t want the bacon. I’m back down to what I was when we met and I want to stay that way. I fucking hate being a woman. We look at three slices of bacon and gain five bloody pounds. How does that even work? Uuuuugghhh. . .”
“Whatever. That’s lame. Get the damned sandwich. Let’s go halves. I’ll get something different and we can share. What else would you want?”
“I want the BLT. Go ahead and get whatever you want. . . OK. I need to get over this. Help me, OK? From here on out, I need to remember I can eat whatever I want. I work hard enough. I’ve never been in this good of shape. It’s just a bad habit, I guess. So, that’s the deal – from here on out, I eat what I want, because I know I can. You need to help me, OK? OK. . . Deal.”
That’s how Becky does it. She thinks out loud until she comes up with something, and then that’s the final decree. It’s fascinating to me. And it works. So, from here on out, she really will eat whatever she wants. And, if at any point she questions herself, she will look to me, I will confirm the original thought, and tell her it’s OK. She’ll believe me, and we’ll move on. Utterly fascinating, I tell you.
“Here’s your latte, Sweets.”
“Thanks, Nik. OK. Becky wants the BLT, but instead of Mayo, she wants just mustard, OK? On sourdough, and make sure the bacon is extra crispy. We’ll wait the extra 3 minutes. . . Oh, and she wants a salad with your house dressing. I’ll take a patty melt, on rye, extra ‘kraut and add some grilled red onions, please. I don’t want fries, either, so can I get onion rings?”
“Yeah, but you know they are an -”
“. . . extra dollar. Yeah, I know. That’s fine.”
“Ha. OK. So, we have a BLT, no Mayo, with mustard, bacon extra crispy, salad, with house dressing. Do you want it on the side? No? OK. For you, hon, we have a patty melt on rye, extra sauerkraut, grilled onions – red, and onion rings. Apparently, you are not planning on kissing anyone this afternoon, huh? I’ll be right back.” After that last little jab, Nikki laughed out loud at herself, grabbed our menus, turned and walked toward the kitchen.
“OK, where were we?” I asked as I reached for the letter.
“She was saying something about doing life with her, um, boyfriend?”
“Oh, I don’t know. . . I can’t tell. Probably boyfriend, I’m sure we’ll find out. A-hem, ummm, ‘You’ve not wanted that with anyone else. . . Just me. . . I am sorry.’ OK – we’re here. ‘Sweetheart, we have been together long enough to know each other’s desires, dreams, wants, wishes, you name it. I know you. You don’t get that. You used to. . . You know me. I deny it, because I feel you can be so mean to me sometimes. I HATE it. I hate that you throw out shit to me that feels so sophomoric. We do not need to be like that. It’s not helpful, it hurts, it causes harm. Now, I am not placing it all on you. I’ve done it, too. I know that. I say shit all the time I regret. Stuff I want to take back as soon as it leaves my mouth. You, on the other hand, do not ever take it back. You say whatever crosses your mind, or at least whatever you feel like sharing, no matter how vitriolic it is. You actually verbally throw things right in my face, and I have no idea what good you think can come of it. Maybe you just feel better after getting it out. I really don’t know. What I DO know is it hurts me. A lot. I said something at the beginning of this letter about us having the relationship of a married couple. I believe that. Fully. We know each other’s whereabouts. We have keys to each other’s apartments, and to each other’s cars. We know most of the same people, our friends are similar, even our siblings like each other. We are married. But. . . the shittiest thing about all of this is your idea that we are not a good mix. We are – and I think you really DO know it. You’re just afraid. And I don’t want you to be.'”
Becky spoke up here, “What did I miss? She’s confusing to me. Does this other person not want a relationship, or yes? Are they breaking up, have they broken up? What’s the deal about being a rock, but then not being married. I’m confused.”
“Hold that thought, here comes Nikki”
“OK, BLT for you, love. Stinky breathe for you,” she said as placed my plate in front of me.
“Thank you, peanut gallery. Can I get another coffee, please?”
“Sure, hon. I’ll be right back.”
Nikki went back to refill my latte as Becky took a bite of her sandwich. “Oh, yeah. . . That’s good stuff right there.”
“You’re funny. . . Ummm, it sounds like she and her boyfriend have gone through some hard times. She wants their relationship to be like it was. Something’s gone down that has made them not as strong as they once were. Well, that’s how it sounds, anyway. We went through that. I know what it’s like to be in a position where I want something to be like it was before bad things got in the way.” I paused here, “I love you, Becky,” was the only thing I could think to say right there.
As Becky took a sip of Dr. Pepper, to wash down a bite of her sandwich, she responded, “I know you do. . .” She’s not one to say, “I love you,” often. Because of that, it means a whole lot when she actually does say it. She used to say it more. It’s OK, though. I know she loves me. In fact, I believe she is in love with me. She’s told me I am in elite company when it comes to that department, actually. She’s not been in love many times. Me? I don’t know. I know I am in love with her. I think I’ve been in love in the past, but does it count if the people with whom you think you’ve been in love turn out to not be the people you thought they were? I thought I was in love a decade or so, ago. That turned out to not be true. I loved her, but I was not in love with her. Hmmm. . . anyway.
I asked Becky if she wanted me to keep reading the letter. She told me to continue, so I did. “‘There is nothing about me you should fear, Sweetheart. When you and I are together, I feel unlike anyway I have ever felt. So do you. We have shit, and I know that. Shit I’ve created.'” It was at that line, I realized this letter may very well hit closer to home that I’d imagined when I picked it up and read that first sentence.
I continued, trying not to allow Becky to see my hesitation. “‘But I also know what we can be. You’ve said we could be huge. I think we can be, too. I know you make me want to be a better person. . .'” I felt a tear start to move down my cheek as I read that line. I tried to grab my tissue, slowly and carefully – I did not want Becky to see me crying.
“What’s wrong, honey?”
Damn. She saw. . . “Nothing. I’m OK. . . Don’t interrupt. ‘Sweetheart, I cannot put in words how I feel about you. You are my life. I think about you every moment. When I eat, I think about you. When I drink, I think about you. When I pee, I think about you. When I sleep, I dream about you. When I listen to the radio, I think about you. Yesterday, I was driving and Van Morrison’s, Brown Eyed Girl came on the radio. I don’t even like Van Morrison, but I fucking love that song, because it reminds me of you. But, you see – I need no reminders. You’re already in my head. If I think about it from an outside perspective, I would think it is too much. But guess what? It’s not too much. It is just what it is. I think about you always.'”
“That’s a bit much, don’t you think? I mean, this girl sounds crazy.”
“I don’t think it’s crazy at all, Becky. I think it’s sweet. She obviously loves this person. She’s freaking pouring her heart out in this letter. She seems vulnerable to me.”
While I was reading, I did not notice Nikki bring me a new drink. In my mind, the coffee next to me had been there the whole time. It was cool, tepid. So, I picked it up and took a big swallow. It was so bloody hot, I burnt my mouth, my tongue, and I felt it burn all the way down my throat. But, I swallowed so fast, I could not stop it. “OWWWW, FUCK!!!” I dropped the cup and almost spilled it over the edge of the table, but Becky saw my eyes as the coffee started its burn, and she reacted quickly enough to reach out and grab the cup before it tumbled to the ground.
“Holy shit, are you OK? Here, take this.”
She handed me her glass of ice water. “No, I’m not fucking OK,” I snipped at her as I grabbed the water glass and put it to my mouth. It had one of those little slivers of lemon in the top of it, and as I tipped it back, the lemon got stuck on the glass and water spilled all over me. Well, that was a fine sight, I tell you. Becky stopped the coffee from going everywhere, but the water sure made a mess. I tipped the glass upright and tried again, moving the lemon out of the way with my recently scorched tongue. The cold of the ice hurt the burn in my mouth, but it was one of those hurts that I knew would feel better in just a moment.
It took a few seconds to register what had just happened and as my adrenaline started to mellow out, I looked up at Becky and say the angry hurt in her face.
“I’m sorry I yelled at you. It wasn’t directed AT you. You just happened to be the one who talked to me at that particular moment. I’m sorry. . . That really fucking hurt.”
“It’s OK. Are you OK? What the hell happened?”
“When did Nikki come back? I didn’t know I got a new cup. I thought is was going to be cold, so I just took a big swallow and gulped it down. Sorry – I made a mess. Thanks for catching my coffee,” I chuckled at that last sentence.
“Yeah, you know me and my cat-like reflexes. . .” Becky can be kind of snarky sometimes.
She cleaned up the spilled water as I redirected back to the letter, “So – it’s kind of emotional, isn’t it? I don’t think it’s too much. It’s kid of sad. But, not melancholy sad. I actually like it. It speaks to me. It’s how I feel, a lot of the time, about me and you. I think about you all the time, Becky. I feel you are MY life, too. Don’t you feel anything in it?”
“Yes,” she responded. “I actually do like the idea of it. It’s the way she writes. It’s very, um. . .,” she paused here, looked up in the air, took a deep breathe, turned her head to face mine and moved her eyes down to the table before she continued, “sappy. It seems sappy to me. I get that it is an emotional letter, but it seems to be too much. The emotion is outweighing the message. . .” She breathed again here, “It’s OK. Nevermind. I get it. . . It just takes me a minute. I don’t really get that kind of emotion.”
With a sigh, I responded, “Yes, I know. It’s a problem for me.”
“I know it is. I’m trying – really, I am. I don’t really think she’s crazy, you know. It’s just too much for me right now.”
“No, I get it.” I was interrupted by Nikki returning to our table.
“Girls, how is your. . . what happened?” she asked as she looked down and saw the pile of wet napkins on the table.
“I burnt my mouth with my coffee, the proceeded to spill the water I was trying to drink to make my mouth feel better. Becky cleaned it up.”
“Oh, bummer. Well, do you need more napkins, more coffee, more water?”
“No, I think we are good,” Becky interjected. “Can we get our check, please?”
“Sure thing, Becky. Sorry about your coffee,” she said to me, pausing briefly, before she made her way to wherever she needed to go to get our bill.
“Thanks.” I turned back to Becky. “What were you saying?”
“I was talking about the sappiness of this letter. I don’t want to read any more of it, OK? I get the idea. I like it. I’m going on record to tell you I like it. I like the sappy. I like the emotion. You caught me at a good time. Maybe it helps you just burnt yourself.” She snickered a little, under her breathe, at that one. When Becky smiles, I smile. I cannot help myself. It is her eyes, her lips, her nose. Everything about her smile lights me up.
“You should smile more.”
“I smile a lot, ass. You’re just rarely on the receiving end of them anymore.”
At that, she burst out into a full blown laugh. I tried to be bugged by that comment, but I could not help but be amused. So, I joined in the laughter. We sat there, together at a table, on a patio, in a restaurant, on Main Street, laughing.
Nikki came back with our check. She had credited me back for the lattes, because I had burnt myself. We thanked her by words, as well as by cash. When servers take things off of bills, I just simply give the difference to them in their tips. I like Nikki. She’s one of the best. I love Becky, she IS the best. Finding that letter and sharing it with Becky was a good thing for me today. This morning, I did not feel all that well. This afternoon, after reading the letter, crying, burning myself, and laughing with my wife, I feel rejuvenated.