Monday, October 26, 2009

Write Away Seminar: Love Letters

Teenage Sweethearts

We were lingering on my porch when Ken said he had a knock-knock joke for me.

"Knock knock." "Who's there?" "Terrify." "Terrify who?" "Terrify tissue?"

And then he did. Our braces knocked together, and I discovered later that my lip got cut. What did it matter? I was in love.

I was 14 and he was 16. We were in the ward Roadshow together which involved lots of practices. Mom would drop me off at the old Holladay 8th ward, knowing I was being supervised by my church leaders. I would go in one door alone, and out the other with Ken. We walked to the cemetery holding hands. During our on-stage moments, we rolled up in the curtain together and giggled. He sat with me in church and put his arm around me (without touching my shoulder, of course, but I knew he wanted to) with my dad watching.

It was an on-again, off-again romance. Off during school, on in the summer. Off when he had another girl-friend. On when he saw me at Sunday School. It was good enough for me.

Then he got his mission call to Sweden for two and a half years. There was a flurry of going-away-parties, and I was invited to his house for a farewell dinner. His grandparents were even there. If this wasn't a proposal, I didn't know what was. Obviously he wanted me to wait. I was invited to go with his family downtown to the Assembly Hall the night before he was official. We sat through a testimony meeting of 300 missionaries all declaring their love for family, girl-friends and, oh yeah, the gospel. I waited for two hours to hear him say, "I appreciate Marty" in front of everyone. When I heard those words, I knew. I would wait.

Every week I wrote faithfully, outside under our lilac bushes, or sitting at the desk which displayed my Ken doll dressed in a suit and tie. It was all very romantic. I kept him up-to-date on all the neighborhood news, and included little quotes and scriptures, cartoon clippings, jokes (kind of like my blog.) He was way too busy converting Swedes to write back, but I was understanding and patient. The perfect girlfriend.

A year or so later I went to BYU. All the girls in my dorm were writing to missionaries, and some of them were waiting, too. I noticed that they huddled around the mailboxes when the postman arrived, and joyfully snatched their letters from his hand. Their boyfriends must not be converting anybody, I thought. They had so much time to write.

A roommate commented that I was being duped. "Why are you still waiting?" she asked. "He never writes." Irritated, I told her he wrote when he could, but deep down I started feeling exploited. It wasn't considerate, I realized. He was totally rude! After stewing over it another month (without any mail) I carefully composed a Dear John. All my roommates contributed phrases, and I sent it off in a huff.

The response came quickly. "Oh. Sorry I didn't ever write. I didn't know you were waiting."

Homework: Do any or all or be inspired.

~Write a letter to a person who's been rude to you. Let it all out. Do not send it.

~Have you ever written a letter you regret sending? Write about that experience. Prompt: "I knew I shouldn't have sent it the moment I dropped it in the mailbox. It was to_______"

~Write a mushy love letter to your true love. If you don't have one at the moment, write to the one who will be coming along someday.

Write away!

P.S. I'm home now, and anxious to read your homework assignments again. Leave a link.

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kenju said...

I'm very big on writing letters when you are mad, and never sending them. Email has made that all too easy, however, and I have sent some I later wished I hadn't.

audrey said...

This was a fun post. Thank you for your thoughts...


Diane said...

Welcome home. We missed you. Thanks for carrying on class anyway.

You were well rid of Ken! I laughed and thought of how easy it was (is) to misinterpret words and looks to mean whatever we need romantically.

So glad I'm out of that stage of life!

diane said...

I don't even write the letter to the rude person. I just let them have it face to face. I'm good at confrontation.

I did write my honey a nice love letter for our 25th.

Good story.

Kay Dennison said...

There are dozens of letters I never mailed -- maybe three should have been mailed. Oh well.

Laura said...

love love letters! Here is one of mine:

it may include some bribing...

tawnya said...


dalene said...

this one has been going through my head for a month now. it felt good to get it on paper, even if it will never be sent.

thank you.

J, K, L, and D said...

I totally wrote a letter when I was angry the other day...then tore it up into little pieces. It was soul-satisfying.

~j. said...


debby said...

a bit of a push for me. which is good.

love, my way