Assignment: write two love letters to yourself. This is love letter 1.

Love Letter Day 25.

Dear Anne,

I looked at some old love letters we’d written. I was tasked with writing a love letter to you-me-us, and thought I’d reference some source material for inspiration. I wondered if they’d held up. I started by reading the ones we wrote to that one guy. Remember him? And remember the love letters we used to get in return? Turns out they weren’t as special as what we’d sent, but that’s ok. We’ve had a predilection for some really unsentimental men, haven’t we. We’ve received everything from lewd messages and inappropriate photos, to poetry, postcards, mixtapes, and even some love songs. Thank you for inspiring someone’s music. That’s pretty special you know. The love letters will have been worthwhile for the absolute art we’ve become privy to. I go all the way to the andromeda galaxy when I think of the art.

It did appear, however, from reading our love letters, that the best ones have never been sent. I want to note that for the record and repeat: the best love letters we have written have not been sent. Almost as if they are meant only for you.

Remember the books you used to get? Handmade pieces of art. In one book there’s a page made from the rind of an orange. How clever. You inspired that. Let’s cherish them forever. I’m not mentioning this to reminisce myself into a toxicology of nostalgia. I’m mentioning these things because artifacts are forever and I want to give you permission to look. Look openly. It is ok to hold a key in your mouth. It is ok to savor the metal of a chocolate. It is ok to want more. In fact I love how deeply we desire. Let’s never stop wanting this much. My willingness to want has physically transformed me. This year, especially, has been such a deep exercise in willful wanting. I resolve to want even harder with time.

Now I want to write to you in the second person to let you know that often, you are the intended audience of this month of love letters. Yes, you. We’ve grown close over the year. I am you today. You are me forever. I bet readers wondered, though. Who was I writing to? People have asked. Who is the you in this epistolary, Anne? My sister expressed concern. It sounded to her like I was writing in secret to an anonymous lover. I tell her not to worry. Even if this were actually the case, you-I-we are so good at keeping our families safe. That was our job as children, wasn’t it. You did such an amazing job of protecting the family, Anne. My god. Our parents could have been arrested and taken away from us and you made sure that did not happen. Bravo. No one fucks with us. We ride or die for our loved ones. All of our loved ones. Even the ones who leave. Not us. We stick around.

Ugh. I want so much, so badly. Can I have it all? Can I stay and wander at the same time? We know we also value safety and honor. So let me tell you one more time: I am writing to us. Mightn’t I be enough for this desire, because whoever it is, it is always you, me, us, because even when it’s him, it’s me. Even when it’s them, it’s me. Even when it’s her, it’s me. Because even though when I say I am in love with somebody, madly deeply, it is an expression of getting closer to myself. Being with you feels like being alone.

The easiest way for me to express love toward you, is in the voice of a parent. I’m proud of you. Bravo. I support what you do. I think you’re doing an amazing job. Those are the things a parent might say to a child still developing their station in the universe, to give them the confidence to emancipate and see the world for how small it can be.

When I talk to our son, I speak a love at the edge of obscenity. I get as close to his face as possible and whisper: I love you so much. I want to kiss every part of his body and let him know I will never let go. I want to consume him. That is the way I want to love you, Anne. My love for you is the promise that I will never leave you. Never, ever let go of your heart. And if that’s what I happened to want as a child—an all-consuming embrace—it is what I will spend my life doing as a lover, parent, and self. I will be the one to hold your heart in my hands.