When my wife and I first met, we had a very romantic summer together. We met at the university, and at first she saw me as just a young boy (I’m six years younger than her), not worth the investment. But, I was very persistent, and showered her with attention. She was just on her way out of a semi abusive relationship, with a guy who threatened to commit suicide, were she to leave him. At the time I thought it was my effort that convinced her to leave him anyway, but today I know that she’s very strong willed and took that decision all on her own.
Shortly after we met puppy love and all, I had to go to the US to study. I had taken that decision before I met her, and it felt too late to back out at that point since everything was prepared already (and it felt like an important life experience that I wanted in my luggage). She was already an exchange student in Sweden (She’s from Vietnam), and her studies were finished when I went abroad. Convincing her to stay was hard, but I managed to talk her into staying in Sweden and wait for me, promising that I would talk to her everyday and never talk to any other girls while away (I’m an introverted geeky shut-in, so that part was easy as pie).
When you’re an inexperienced young nerd, who fall madly in love with “the one”, you tend to stop caring about things that are “cringy”. So when I had any free time in the US (I lived in an apartment in “The flats” in Atlanta, for the record) the only thing I did, was write letters. I love to write, and I love being creative. I gave up drawing for writing a long time ago, so most of my content is text, but there are a few graphical elements involved in my letters. Anyway, so I decided to write her a letter at least once a week. The content, amount of text and how much creativity was put into it all depended on what I had to do in the courses at school at the time (Any group work or test coming up would of course make it harder to write a lot). I have a pretty bad handwriting (working with computers for twenty years will do that to you), and writing neatly takes some extra time and effort for me.
Anyway so I managed to find all the letters, and with permission I was allowed to use some of the content for inspiration when writing. I wont be disclosing too much here, and any names and addresses will of course be blurred out, but there are a few cute pieces that I feel like sharing.
When I had the time, the letters contained more than text. Sometimes I made a game, or a puzzle. And one time I sent her a chain letter (or maybe you would call it a Chinese whisper?), hoping she would find it fun to continue the story and send it to a friend (She never did, as far as I’m aware).
It’s funny when you look at something like this. This is something I did nine years ago, and when I read through the content, I can recognise my cheesy imagination, the nicknames we used and some of the topics I talked about, but there’s just so much I had completely forgotten about. Some of the games or images I drew for her had been completely erased from my memory. Looking through this, reading everything; it makes it hard not to cry. I don’t want to damage the paper or the text, so I have to keep it further away from my face (No regrets having eye surgery to get perfect sight. Makes it so much easier to read from a distance).
The first letter I decided the share, was actually the first one I pulled out from the pile today. She didn’t know any Swedish at the time, and I didn’t know Vietnamese, so I wrote in English. The text below is the letter in it’s entire cringy self.
Sorry for the late letter, but I have had so much work lately and fixing the map of Europe was not an easy task.
Anyway! Have a look at the map, and find where you are on it. See all those countries? All of them are full of opportunities and adventure. You can pick any country you want, and I will go with you there. You see, the location is not that important for me, as long as I can be with you and that you are happy and safe.
Here’s a fun tip for you. Use this map, or any other map that you find useful, and mark the countries where you have interviews, and that are possible countries where we might end up eventually.
There are so many changes and jobs out there in Europe, and just because you lose one opportunity doesn’t mean that there wont be others. There will always be others, and you WILL find the right one for you!
I will always be here to help and support you, and when I come back you will have both my full support and the full extent of my love <3.
And you wont have to read these letters with my horrible handwriting! =)
See you soon love ❤ //Cherry sun
So to get some context, when I wrote the above letter, she was looking for a job. She was looking for jobs all over Europe, because she hadn’t decided to stay in Sweden at that time. Sunshine was the nickname I gave her, and Cherry sun was the one she gave me. Now, remember before you judge. Puppy love! ; )
It’s funny how my situation changed during the time I wrote these letters. Most of them were either very fine paper or really thick paper for the games and puzzles, but there are few that stand out from the masses. One very short letter was written on a receipt from a store called “Publix”. The content is short and not that interesting, but it basically says that I couldn’t find any paper to write on, and that I was in a hurry so I had to keep that letter short. Another similar letter was written on a receipt from a store called “Target” which was pretty close to where I lived. Did most of my weekly shopping there.
In the next letter I switched to serial killer mode since I was running out of ideas. Yeah, you know those creepy letters that serial killers or kidnappers always send to people in movies? The ones where they cut letters from different papers and magazines to make up the letter?
So the content of my letter was as follows.
I’m running out of ideas, so things will get freaky from now on! = )
With the following attached to it.
In hindsight, yeah that’s pretty creepy (stalker warning!). But she loved it! I’m romantic AND I can be a pretty awesome serial killer. How about that? That was the whole letter though. I’m only including the letters that contains really special things worth mentioning. The puzzle that I present further down in the text, was sent one letter per piece, with a letter attached to it. The letters in those cases were mostly weekly status updates though and not that interesting.
So last letter before I start piecing together the puzzle. The reason for posting the blurred version of the letter is because my handwriting is hard to read in the picture, but I still want to show the “design” of the letter, which I was pretty proud of when writing it (I still am!).
Hey Sunshine! ❤
Do you remember the first time we met?
In ************, playing with the amazing flying ring. I made a bunch of new great friends that day, and I met the most amazing woman ever, who later changed my life in many great and amazing ways. I actually remember when I said hello to everyone of you as you showed up, and I especially remember seeing you just a few hours before. I think you were going to ****** or something. I remembered that as ***** introduced us and we said “hi”. I obviously don’t fall for every beautiful girl that I see, and since I had decided not to flirt while I studied, your beauty was something I had to try to resist, and simply think about you as *****’s beautiful friend.
But during the days that followed, I got to know you some more, and I realised pretty fast that you were special. I just wanted to know more and more about you. After the BBQ-party that we had, I completely ignored my “no flirting”-rule. I was without doubt, in love with you <3.
There were so many new and interesting people that I met that day, but none of them interested me more than you. The more I talked to you, the more I wanted to know and the more I fell for you. I noticed instantly when we started talking, how very sweet, kind, and smart you were. I had so much fun talking to you.
Days, weeks and months passed, and I eventually declared my love for you. Pathetically enough over Skype, but we had a lot of distance between us at the time. We fell more and more in love, and from the moment that I had met you and until the day that we parted, I had some of the best moments in my life. Right now, as I write this love letter, our love for each other is being put hard to test. But I have never doubted our love and I know that we will handle this just fine. We have done pretty well so far.
You are, without doubt, the woman of my dreams, and I want to spend all my time with you, and make you as happy as humanly possible.
You will always have my love Sunshine.
Keep shining! ❤
Quite a roller coaster of emotions reading all these now. I haven’t read these since I wrote them, nine years ago. Anyway, so in many of these letters, I included one or several pieces of a puzzle. Now bare in mind that this is highly personal and specific to our topics and humour. Most of this wont really make sense to most, but it made sense to us (And it still does!). Some of you might recognise some of the jokes, as it was stuff from the Internet that we found hilarious at the time. And I know, it’s not really a great puzzle, but I had fun doing it, and she had fun putting the pieces together as they came.
I don’t know why the bull in the upper right corner is upside down. Design flaw I guess. Now, I can quickly explain two of the things here. The sinking boat is from this joke.
And the flying disc in the lower right corner is a toy we used to play with in the park when we met. We really liked it and played with it a lot through the years (It flies SUPER far). The other references are not that interesting, but the park with the cliff is a park we spent a lot of time in, and we used to sit on the cliff during the evenings and just enjoy each others company. Real Hollywood romance, just like I wanted it. The waterfall is a tiny waterfall in the area where I come from. It’s mostly a joke because I made it look a lot bigger when I drew it, since she thought it was such a disappointment when we went to see it.
So, going through all of these letters was pretty hard for me, but I think it’s an important part of me processing the fact that she’s leaving me after all this time. Reading the letters made me really think how perfect we were for each other, but it also somehow makes it easier to prepare myself for letting her go completely. Some may think that this process could be unhealthy, but this is the best way I could think of doing it, and while it’s a mix of feelings, it also feels pretty good to get all this nostalgia hitting me.
Anyway, so the last letter I sent her (I’m pretty sure this was the last one), was the below one. Nothing that special, but it was a very happy letter with a lot of feelings, that’s why I made it a bit different with larger letters and less content. I was overexcited, because it was just a few days before I was leaving the US to go back to her. Again, sorry about the censorship, but some parts are just too personal or just too embarrassing.
Going back home was torture, because Europe had a horrible time with the snow when I was flying back. I got stuck at Newark Airport for three days. With hardly any sleep I stood in queues the whole day just to get the information that no flights were going towards my destination. Well, eventually I came home, and boy was there snow. The trains didn’t go, so my parents had to find a taxi that was willing to drive in the storm. We managed to get back anyway, barely. When Christmas was about to come, I wanted to introduce my then new girlfriend to my parents, and invited her to celebrate Christmas with us. She had to take a train in the storm, which took several hours to arrive. A friend helped me pick her up from the train station, forty minutes away by car, and drive her to my parents. We almost didn’t make it back since there was just so much snow and we almost got stuck several times. Anyway, so she spent Christmas with us, and from then on nothing could separate us.
Or so I thought back then at least. I’ve learned my lesson from this, to not be so naive. I still want to be romantic and believe that I can succeed in love, but I need to be a lot more honest with myself first, to achieve that. I will save these letters forever, as a reminder of our precious time together. This divorce has taught me a lot so far, but it’s not over yet, since I still need to help my ex-wife find her place in the world. She’s planning to move to Australia, and I want to help her as much as I can. Anything to make sure she ends up in a good place, but it also takes a lot of energy from me, since we have to live together for a while longer in my new apartment; until this is sorted out.
I just want to get on with my life.