As I'm reading Chaucer's epic poem retelling of a knight and a woman desperately falling in love, pouring out their medieval-romantic-chivilraic feelings for eachother; as I read that, I must admit I find the love letters in this book much better. Real, normal, detailed, human, modern.
Especially this one:
It is New Year’s Day. I’m sitting in yet another new apartment in downtown Manhattan…My job is the main reason I’m staying…If it weren’t for this prospect of getting paid to travel and write, I could walk away from my life here.
Since I’m sitting here in my cluttered new home, with all the material contents of my life staring at me from boxes, I might as well unpack a thought I’ve kept from you for as long as I’ve known you. Perhaps this too is impulsive, but I don’t care anymore.
I remember a long time ago, when I first met you, we had a conversation out on the balcony of ___ University. There was a point during that conversation when the hair on my back stood up, and I started to feel something for you. I was with Sally at the time, and I remember looking at you across the table and in a few silent seconds I saw an entirely different life, one in which it was you I was with instead of her. It was like looking at something beautiful and forbidden, and I was scared…so I ended the conversation.
The truth is that I still think about that moment. I have thought about it for five years because it was very clear. I don’t even know if you remember it, or if you felt anything, but I'm not getting any younger. I could wonder about this for another five years and you could be married and have children, and even if you did remember that moment, it could be dismissed as some past fancy, if it hasn't been already.
I’m getting tired of wondering about you, Chelsea…I meant that stuff about moving to Seatle, but the real reason was so I could be near you. I didn't know how you felt about me, though, and I didn't know how to breach the subject because it sounded insane. I mean, a guy just doesn't leave a pretty good job in New York and move across the county to follow a hunch he had five years ago…It sounded crazy to me, and I was afraid it would sound even crazier to you.
All I want to know is if you remember that moment, if you were there in that place, if you felt the same thing at the same time, if you ever wonder about it, too?
Happy new year, Chelsea. May it bring you fulfillment, love, and all the things that really matter.
January 27, 1997
Just read your letter...It's only been a few hours and I am still a little giddy, so please excuse me if I ramble.
My Turn: Of course I had a crush on you all the time we knew each other. (It had to have been at least somewhat obvious.) I always felt very connected to you, as if there was something unspoken that we shared on some level. I always enjoyed our talks at the ______, but the "moment" for me happened when we were sitting on the balcony at the Pub discussing the war in Bosnia. Somewhere amidst all that talk of genocide, rape and pillage, a piece of my heart gave itself to you.
I would love to see what could happen with us...But I can't make any promises or guarantees. (Wow, Jason, it's hard to believe that we are talking about this after all these years--Which one os us will get rights to the teleplay?)...If I've learned anything in the past year, it's that life is peculiar and following your heart it the only way to find yourself anywhere the least bit interesting.
Anyway, I've run out of things to say. Or rather, I'm at a loss for words.
Write me back soon.
These letters, besides speaking powerfully about our own lives, reminds me of some of the things I've been reading: Chaucer says that nobody can escape love, nature forces it onto people as she sees fit. Jason could not escape it, and Chelsea never forgot. Paul, the Buddha, and many more have said that love is the most important thing to follow in your life, which is what Jason finally recognizes and Chelsea "learned". Plato says that love is for the moral betterment of both parties. Clearly both Jason and Chelsea's love are based on the intellectual and moral worth they see in eachother, not sexual urges or an unexplainable shot to the heart by Cupid. How does love remember things? Emerson says that our memory, rather than making past events more important than they actually were, gives them the proper meaning they deserve. He would applaud Jason and Chelsea for this.
Love Part 1: Platonic Love
Love Part 2: Aristotle
Love Part 3: Epictetus and stoic love
Love Part 4: Marcus Aurelius
Love Part 5: Plotinus
Love Part 6: the Buddha
Love Part 7: Christian Love
Love Part 8: Augustine
Love Part 9: Martin Luther King, Jr
Love Part 10: Aquinas
Love Part 11: Dante
Other People's Love Letters