In the days before over-sharing, we waited for a letter, to fall onto a mat, and perhaps stay there all day, unread. We steamed exotic stamps from fragile paper, tucked lines away in patterned boxes to be taken out in futures yet decided, and re-read, returning us to moments in uncanny memory. Sometimes parents sent postcards that had dresses sewn into photographs of matators or flamenco dancers, where children left at home could trace the design and wait for parents to return clutching plastic bull. Sometimes mother’s would leave because they had to, and send letters from all their travels and daughters who missed them, would save each one, re-reading the familiar handwriting as connection to missing love. Sometimes father’s would take their own life and leave behind legacies of secrets, drawings, doodles, margins of tiny words, yellowing and browned, for son’s to pour over and devour in longing to have, just one more moment with him. Sometimes love would die and a letter would be all that remained, testament it did once exist, in hand-built mobiles carved of wood, with tiny letters adorning each figure, and miniature notes tucked in the hems, love letters without love, as potent now, for their enduring stubbornness. Reminding us, we felt it once, if not now, then at least, once.
In the days before over-sharing we sat drinking hot tea in cold weather, in cafes that charged too little to really make money, the owner glaring if we stayed too long in precious seat. We smoked because we knew it was bad for us and we were too young to really understand or care, our minds cut with anger and rage growing into ourselves, not quite there. Our fingers smelt of turpentine and clay, our hair matted from the last time we sexed all night and rushed to school without brushing, we carried our histories quietly in tangle, we didn’t post them bright and vivid, we didn’t update, tweet, status or blog. We lived. We lived it.
In the days before over-sharing he left me for someone else, and I never found out who. I imagined she was beautiful, of course she was, her cheekbones must have been sharper, her breasts firmer, her skin tauter, she was of course, an imaginary rival, not one in a photo to revile and build castles of revenge. He was gone and I never saw him again. People could disappear. They could change their name. They could burn and dissolve. Mystery abounded. We just didn’t know, we just didn’t know, everything.
In the days before over-sharing she had a baby and I wasn’t told. They thought me too fragile, too bitter, having lost my own. When we met, the child was two, she’d grown and bloomed without my knowing she even existed. Words were exchanged, letters written in absentia, I gave her my toys, I gave her my heart, she gave me a picture of her palm prints and I framed it next to the mobile. Love was naïve and trusting. Love was broken and listing. We did things we couldn’t quite remember because nobody took a photo. Was it that park he touched me in public, or the other? Did we go from there to his house, or did we wait and think it through? Did I really drink as much as that, or was it my sister? My brother? What happened that night I slept on mountains of coats, in Camden? Was that man who cut through fog, real or something remembered incorrectly?
In the days before over-sharing like pollen we broke apart, away, we fell, we picked up, we walked in opposite directions, forging life, sometimes lonely, often wondering, what happened to her? What did he do after that? Our questions became thick trees, our histories were imperfect and patchy, when it rained things got wet and soggy, sometimes they lost shape and dissolved. I know I was there, I know we were there, I can walk back in time and place myself, and describe it, and recount the words, but I have no proof, I am only basing myself on recall, winding through time like well worn twine. You did love me, I have your word, here written in ink, fading but still bright, stamped with your saliva and fingerprint. We made a life, we died twice, the sun set and you met someone better, less sorrowful, stronger in their pull toward, lightness. I jumped out, of focus, into despair, the rains came and battered everything to dust, we picked up, we started over, we lost our pasts, we carry with us, fragments here and there.
In the days before over-sharing who knew everything? We didn’t care to. That’s not such a bad thing, said the seeker, for else, how should we garner pursuit if all is laid out, without mystery or purpose