you wrote a story that you sold to me

today i read a love letter written by ronald reagan to his wife, commemorating 20 years together.

the whole article in question focused on the art of writing love letters, the importance of communicating romance with pen and paper. the author wrote 52 notes to his wife over the span of one year.  and i couldn’t help but feel like a spectator at a zoo, fingers pressed against the glass, outside looking in.  a mythical creature behind inflexible walls, dragged in from the wild to be watched but never known.

then i looked up the term “cynical romantic,” because i can think of no better description for myself.

there is always this part of a person, after crushing defeat, that says i will never do this again.  and you think you might have lost this capacity to believe that love is ever anything but an illusory compilation of desire and fear.  that everything eventually becomes water in your hands.  that there was never a lighthouse in the storm, just a desperate mirage that pulled you in to become wreckage against unknowable cliffs.  and you know that if you stop romanticizing it for even a minute, the gold paint will peel off slowly to expose nothing but lead- a broken and cheap imitation that fooled you for years.

so i realize that men who get close to me have always wanted something from me.  and i think i could give myself away in pieces, and never think twice about being hollowed out by loss.  that i could feel nothing, and treasure nothing, and never be fooled again by the ruinous perception of need.

and this is why i am cynical.

then, there is this other part.  this part that excavates itself from me in truetype fonts.

i have been writing love letters my entire life.  i have penned poems, verses, stories about this one person, this phantom love.  boys have pressed against my body, and their fingers have interlocked with mine, but no one has fit the prose, not truly.  no matter how much i wanted them to.

i remember a time in my past life, when i said “i want what i write.”

and he sneered, “fiction?”

my heart broke then, as it always did, as it always has.  and i stopped writing that year because everything i typed felt like a codified lie. the one about a girl who has been searching for love between dog-eared pages in a library book.

but deep down- and certainly bruised, so much worse for the wear- there is a fire still burning in that hollowed-out space.  i know that i will wake up one morning beside the man whom all these love letters were fated for.  and he will not be fiction, but flesh-and-blood, an imperfect human capable of perfect love.

and this is why i am romantic.