Digital Get Down: Love letters


Laken Howard, Columnist

Love letters are like a myth in this day and age. The closest thing to a romantic note I’ve ever gotten was a Myspace breakup message back in 2007. It’s hard enough to get a guy to tell me he likes me in a text message, let alone in an honest-to-God, handwritten love letter. You can imagine my excitement when I stumbled upon a guy’s OkCupid profile a few weeks ago and saw these words: “You should message me if: You want to write letters.”

Granted, I knew they wouldn’t technically be love letters because two strangers can only really be in love if they’re rom-com characters. Nonetheless, I was giddy at the prospect of getting to know someone in a more old-fashioned and romantic way — it would be quite the break from the humdrum OkCupid usually lends itself to.

To no one’s surprise, I’m sure, I decided to message him and take him up on his offer. Luckily, he wasn’t kidding. He actually began to make plans to write letters with me, but we ran into a roadblock: I wasn’t about to give a random man my address, so we had to figure out how to get the letters to each other. He lives in Skokie, so I made a joke about leaving mine on the “little nugget Yellow Line train” one day. He countered with a much more practical solution: to leave them in certain library books and let each other know where they are. I found this idea more than adorable because I love books, so I eagerly took him up on it.

I began furiously writing, shutting myself away in my bedroom like a recluse. In a stroke of brilliance, I decided to write my letter in three parts and create a scavenger hunt of sorts. I poured my lifeblood into those letters, telling him about my childhood up until what I do with my life now. The three parts were roughly divided into my time growing up in Kentucky, followed by my experiences in high school and college. I carefully selected three of my favorite books to put them in and even took extra care to decorate each letter with stickers and house them in colorful envelopes. It may have been a bit much, but if I was going to write someone a letter, I was going to do the damn thing properly.

Fast-forward a few days to the Tuesday we had designated the “drop-off day.” The general plan was not super complicated. He would go to the gym around 5 p.m. and drop his letter off on his way; I would go to the library after my class to pick up his letter and drop off my own. Then, finally, on his way home from the gym, he would stop back at the library to get my letters. The hiccup occurred when my 3:30-5 p.m. English class got out early, so I headed to the library first. We were texting, and I mentioned I had already placed my letters when all of a sudden he got nervous and seemed thrown off. The idea was that it would be a blind drop, with us not meeting each other until later. Instead, I was sitting in the library waiting for him to come so I could get his letters because it was too far for me to walk home and then come right back. I could tell he was nervous, though, so I agreed to leave and just get his another time or have him mail his letter after all.

We were sort of corresponding prior to him going to the gym, and it wasn’t until several hours later that I realized he hadn’t ever mentioned picking up my letters. I sent him a text to ask if he got them, to which I received no reply. A couple days went by, and I was getting a little worried; sure enough, I noticed he had deleted his OkCupid profile.

My main concern was that he had read my letters and for some reason been so repulsed by my very existence that he felt he would rather fall off the face of the earth than ever speak to me again. I was a little angry because he could have at least done me the courtesy of letting me know he wasn’t interested, right? I let it go though — what had I really lost besides a few hours of my time and some paper?

The next time I was near the library, I thought I should check to see if he even took my letters: I could hardly imagine my letters being that offensive and off-putting. It turns out, he hadn’t even gone to get my letters. For whatever reason, he must have totally chickened out and just decided he wasn’t ready to talk to — let alone meet — someone from OkCupid. Luckily all three letters were still safely in their books, so I could retrieve them lest some strange person find them, read my life story and decide to stalk me (probably shouldn’t have signed off using my full name, but I thought that was more romantic.)

So, alas, The Most Romantic Thing I’ve Done came back and bit me in the ass. Now it’s just another tragic tale of a kind of weird guy who didn’t follow through, just one more contact in my phone I’ll never use again, just one more disappointment. Fortunately, it’s pretty hard to hurt my feelings, and I’ll try anything once, if only to spitefully blog about it later. You’re welcome.

— Laken Howard