I have lusciously sweet plans for Friday, my first-ever Valentine’s Day with David. Romantic culinary wizard that he is, he’ll be recreating the restaurant meal we shared on our 6-hour first date. (And I have a few decadent surprises up my sleeve, too.) But I was inspired last night with the idea for a more unusual Valentine tradition that my precious man has enthusiastically embraced. We’re going to write love letters to one another, seal them up in envelopes, and hide them away . . . not to be exchanged or opened until Valentine’s Day, 2015.
Why not exchange and read them on the spot? Love letters are easy and fun and habitual for both of us, but I’m going for something a little different here. It occurred to me that when we write our usual love letters, we’re already—as we’re writing—imagining the recipient reading them. What might we say if that weren’t the case? The most enthralling aspect of this relationship for me has been the radical honesty we’ve each willingly brought to it. But I’ve noticed a fascinating phenomenon: As we’ve progressed as a couple, each of our respective capacities for authenticity has steadily deepened.
For so long now, “authenticity” has been my buzzword, my mission, the holy grail of my daily practice. I thought I knew all the tricks for coming clean with myself and others . . . but now the exquisitely safe container of this beautiful partnership is giving me the opportunity to stretch my authenticity muscles in ways I’d never come close to experiencing before.
When I conduct writing workshops to lead students inward, I tell them they MUST assume, while doing the writing exercises, that no one will ever see their words. Later, of course, they might decide to share something, but writing while imagining being read is writing in shackles. It will never produce your most raw, uncensored truth.
David and I have prided ourselves on our mutual transparency since the very beginning of our us-ness. Yet we both recognize it’s snowballed beyond what either of us could have then imagined. What cavernous depths of authenticity might we be expressing a whole year from now? Projecting ourselves there in our imaginations is what will fuel Friday’s letters.
Ever the practical one, David asked how we were going to remember a year from now where we’d hidden the letters. So I opened my electronic calendar and wrote myself a reminder note on the date February 14, 2015.
I don’t know yet what I’ll write in David’s letter on Friday. And it will be 367 days before I find out what he writes in mine. But I know it will be real, and I know it will be true . . . possibly the truest either of us has ever been.