|So I'm telling this boy, one of the boys that lots of these love letters are to, about this project. "I'm writing three hundred love letters and sending them to strangers. The letters are going to be glued to the outside of the envelopes, so that the mailman, and presumably whoever the recipient lives with, will be able to see and read them. The letters aren't to the strangers, they're to people I know." The boy looks at me. We're walking around, after work, deserted streets. He says, "I don't understand. Why are you doing this?", and I answer vaguely, talking about crossing space and the kind of intimacy that I believe is lacking from our society. And I'm left thinking: Is this project complicated or simple, idiotic or interesting?|
Letters and letters and letters. Letters about a moment in time, our paths crossing, to a cute boy that passes on the street, or an old woman feeding the pigeons. Letters to old friends, "Remember that time...!" Letters to lovers, letters about fucking or falling in love for real, or love that can never work. Letters to people hurting, letters that are offers of help, fan letters. Letters to family (the hardest), letters to the people who make my day better in a hundred small ways every time I see them, crush letters, of course, big crush letters.
So: what is this project really about? Of course, it's about love, and relationships, which anyone who knows me can tell you are about the only things that I'm interested in. Well, not the only things, but two of the main ones. At the start I had one very simple goal: by the end of this project I wanted to be able to write a love letter to anyone, a stranger on the street, or someone that I have nothing but scorn for. I wanted to be able to pull out and vocalize the small thread connecting me to them, them to me, the something in them that I found beautiful or real and the something between us that existed beneath everything, acknowledged or unacknowledged, forgotten gestures and moments, strange and rare affinities. In the same way that part of art school training is training your eye to take in and process the world around you, to stop and notice things, to learn how to really see , I wanted to train my heart to really feel. Some romantics are wincing now: how can you train your heart? It's a lot like training your eye: there was always that crack in the sidewalk, you just never noticed before the way that the lines trace like lightning bolts, the starkness of the light grey concrete, and the blackness of the crevices, the perfect intricacies of it all. There are always connections between people, things to admire in people, trust that goes unnoticed, small kindnesses, shared silences. There is always so much to see, and there is always so much to feel.
There is so much we don't talk about, so much we have trouble believing in.
And of course, because this is the way things work, I'm only about halfway through the project as I write this piece, scheduled so that it will come out when the project is finished. So I can't tell you if I've accomplished my goal or not. I can tell you I am often filled with doubt, that sometimes I think I should be writing parallel hate letters, that I wonder how much of love has to do with projecting your desires onto the people around you, that I wonder if there is really anything at all at the bottom of all this. What can you do? Hope, keep trying, see if it works out. Which, in the end, is a big part of love too.
Wish me luck.
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