I started writing letters to my future husband five years before I met him.
I don’t know what prompted me to start compiling a book of letters to him. Maybe, while at a sleepover, my best friend mentioned she was writing letters to her future husband. Perhaps I found the idea in one of my many relationship books or happened upon a blog post about it. For whatever reason I picked up a new notebook, wrote my phone number, and “Please do not read!” on the cover, and began writing letters.
I filled this notebook with letters for the next five years. I wrote my last entry two months before I met my hubby.
As a teen, I had visions of wrapping this journal, and giving it to him on our honeymoon. I pictured his eyes streaming with tears as he carefully read every letter, overwhelmed with amazement.
That’s not exactly how it went down.
I gave him the notebook about a week ago. It was packed up at my parent’s house in my old room, and I just recently transferred that box to our apartment. I gave him the notebook (of which I had already told him about) while we were sitting in the living room. Tears did not stream from his eyes. We did not romantically pour over every entry. He did note the importance of the moment, and gave me a hug, and a smile. He opened a few letters, and we laughed at my high school romanticism forever embodied on those fervent, pages. The letters were not quite as eloquent or romantic as I had remembered.
Despite the fact that the letters were not exactly as important as I had previously pictured, keeping a journal of letters for my future husband was one of the best things I have ever done.The surprising truth is that this notebook impacted me a lot more than it impacted my future hubs. He appreciated the journal, and what it signified. He read through my letters, looked at my pictures, and opened my notes. The letters, to him, only told him of a character he already knew in me.
However, writing these letters ingrained a lot of truth into my bones over the years, and provided me with a tangible way to love him long before we set eyes on each other.
In the Midwest, young girls used to work with their mothers on putting together a hope chest. This traditionally cedar trunk symbolized them preparing, and anticipating marriage. They would fill this trunk with clothing, household linens, and other homemade items.
My old notebook, filled with dog-eared letters, old pictures, and faded valentines was my hope chest. I did not sock away linens, dishes or clothing but I did tuck away my hopes in anticipation of the future.
This vessel of letters served me in ways I can only now appreciate. When I felt blue that everyone but me seemed to have a man in their life, I would pull out my journal, and feel immensely better after writing a secret letter to MY boyfriend (he was, after all my boyfriend, he just did not know it yet). When Valentine’s Day came around and there were no roses or love notes for me I would make or buy a Valentine’s Day card for him and write a saucy message asking why he forgot Valentine’s Day again. When I missed him before I met him, I wrote out prayers for him, for his day, and for our future together. When I happened upon a name I loved, I would tuck it away in my list of “future baby names”. When I read a good book or saw a great movie I would write him about it. Sometimes months would go by without me penning him a letter, but then I would return again to update him on my life.
I carried a secret with me throughout the last few years of high school and into college. That secret was that I was already taken, I just did not know by whom yet. I was just waiting for him to actually reveal his name–details, details.
When I read those old letters, now that I am married, I can trace our lives before I ever knew how to pronounce the Tongan word that what would become my new last name.
When, as a sixteen-year-old, I started my journal of letters to him he was 3,500 miles away, working construction in Maui as a twenty-four year old who had no interest in returning to the mainland. When, as a nineteen-year-old, I prayed for him, he was deciding to go back to school and get a college degree. When I thought about him as a twenty-year-old he was visiting a college I had attended the year before. His path nearly crossing mine on multiple occasions. When I composed a poem for him as a twenty-one-year old, he was attending college classes twenty-five miles from my work place. I did not know it yet, but his path was on route to intersect mine in a small history class only a few months later.