I was running this afternoon when a lamp post caught my eye. There was a message taped, a love letter. It said it was the eleventh of fifteen, a public message for a special person. There, typed, was a poem, about how the writer’s love was real. His or her need was real. That both the love and need were undeniable, but more importantly — insatiable, a desire compared to the myth of Sisyphus, that will never reach its summit. The writer concluded by saying this person was going to be loved and needed “forever.”
It then gave directions for the next letter of the series, number twelve: a few blocks over. I changed my path and ran those blocks, even though they were in the other direction. I had to see what happened. I was on the love letter scavenger hunt. I was rooting for the writer. For romance.
I arrived at the next location. But unfortunately, there was no letter. Not at any of the corners. Not on stop signs or telephone poles or mailboxes. I ran to the next block, hoping I could find letter thirteen.
Nothing. The letters stopped. There were flyers for yard sales, lost cats and parking restrictions, but no letters covered in packing tape.
It made me very sad at first, thinking that whomever these confessions of love were written for might not have found this path, might never have known how much he or she was loved. But then I thought about it, and tried to stop immediately going to the dark place.
Maybe the missing letters were pulled down by the beloved, and are already placed somewhere safe. I like to think that letter fifteen concluded with a proposal. Or, considering the day, the very last page informed the object of devotion that he was about to become a daddy. Another loving need that lasts forever.
I don’t want to think of jaded hipsters yanking these love letters from their posts. I can’t stand the thought of a woman on her daily jog lost in thought, not noticing the typed words of devotion just inches from her eyes. Or worse, some guy who can’t seem to get rid of this girl he tricked into thinking he loved her, now can’t even go a block without having to remember that someone out there believed what he said, and now she’s doing everything she can to let him know she’s his. Or worse than that: the entire thing is a trick. This is Hollywood, after all. That letter might have been a forgotten prop from an indie film, or a psych experiment and someone was filming me from a nearby apartment, to see just how many jogging girls will go those three blocks in the wrong direction to follow the love story. See, I can spin it into something that resembles the opposite of love, but I don’t want to. I don’t want to give up hope. If I don’t believe in it, it’s like I killed it myself.
And if it’s real, if I indeed stumbled upon a true scavenger hunt for the heart, I want to think that love that strong hits its target, and right now two lovers are sharing one pillow, hands entwined, breath slow and matched, as they sleep together on a warm summer night.