When men go off to war, they trade letters to give their wives and lovers. They put their faith in their fellow man and ask, pleadingly, that if anything should happen to me, please tell her I love her. I did something like that in times of peace. With a girl I had only seen once.
Many years ago, I met this girl at a party. She was tall and wanted to talk. We talked for hours. I really thought we’d be talking forever. We talked about AP classes and she asked about my zodiac sign. It was so mundane that I had trouble seeing the magic. I felt it though, holding her hand all through the night, until it got too cold to do anything but hold each other for warmth.
I told her it didn’t matter if I ever saw her again. I told her that what she’d given me in a moment was more than she could ever be. She was the proof I sought. She was the validation the world needed.
You see, about 3 weeks before I met her, I had left humanity. I had read the most uplifting and heart-breaking novel ever written. I gave up on mankind because I saw the wretches that could be and the heroes that couldn’t. She was one of those heroes. To this day, until the moment I wrote these words, that has been the candle of hope at the center of my deepest and darkest secret. She showed me that an angel could descend into a train station wearing a ball gown and direct the dirtiest and grimiest of men to solve a problem.
The girl I speak of is, of course, my ex-wife. I know that to this day, I have never paid her a better compliment. I never once explained myself to her because it was no idle flattery. I hope she reads this and remembers that she was my hero once. When I told her that, it wasn’t a line and it wasn’t flattery. Perhaps after all the good times and the bad, I can at least give her that. She was a statue that stood in front of a temple to the greatness of the human spirit.
It still brings a tear to my eye when I picture Dominique tossing a statue down an elevator shaft.
But back to the letter. I wish I could find it.
I was a nerd. She was a geek. I left that party, not with her parents’ house phone number(this was the land before cell phones). She gave me her screen name. I tied up my parents’ phone line waiting online for her to appear and she didn’t. A few weeks later, I wrote a letter declaring my intentions and asked my friends to forward it along to her or her friends, if they found me worthy. I have no idea if that message in a bottle made it to her, but she signed on the next day, and this just became a fairytale.