Yesterday I was doing laundry and piddling when I came across my journal from my final year of marriage and the months of separation until the divorce was final. I took it to the closet and stashed it out of sight on the top shelf. Then I saw it. An old popcorn tin filled with letters from when we were dating. Those letters had been there for 18 years … 18 years.
Of course I took them out, unfolded them and quickly skimmed them. “I miss you.” “You are the best girl a guy could have.” “We should talk about our future together when I get back.” “I love you.”
We were so young. And so dumb. We were 23 when we got married and had barely lived away from our parents, much less experienced life as adults.
Instead of putting those letters back in their hiding place, I took the tin full of paper and ink and memories and once-upon-a-time love to the patio and set it on fire.
I watched the sweet words curl up and become ashes after the fire. It was as if my heart was being cauterized. Sure, as I thought about what we had for a while, a tear rolled down my cheek. I wiped it away and stirred the scraps in the tin again, making sure every envelope and sheet of paper felt the fire.
After I was satisfied that every piece burned, I poured water into the tin and headed back inside.
Throughout the evening I peeked out the door, watching as the ink, ash, and paper froze.