20 Something: A Love Letter

Mon Amour,

The feeling I get when I’m with you is like walking into a used bookstore. Specifically the clearance section. Not because you are cheap or unwanted. You are infinitely dear and deeply desired. I say the clearance section because it is always in the back corner. The farthest nook. Coming to you is like skipping through the delightful scent of old paper. That musty scent of pulp novels and newer, more “popular” fiction to get to the real treasures. With this heady aroma, I reach you, but finding you isn’t so easy. There are so many stories around me that beckon to be read. So many pages that have been thumbed, dog-eared, perhaps even stained with the memories of others. Each is more precious and enticing because of this.

But I won’t be distracted by their allure. I may flip through their pages, catch glimpses of their tales. Yet it is your story that I wish to know in its entirety. You are the one I wish to take home. You are no less cher for coming at a discounted rate. For I had to search for you among the rightfully cheapened copies. The sub-par stories and threadbare narratives that surround you. Your front cover calls to me, and your back synopsis teases. You open your pages to me, and I love the story they reveal, including the smudges from other women’s fingerprints. I can’t wipe them away for you because they are part of you. And I love all of it. Every line of your history, even the unwritten bits. The subtext. The story outside of the story. It is all you, and you are magnificent.

I cannot promise to keep you forever. Perhaps someday your beautiful worn pages will no longer charm me, and perhaps I will even forget the story they contain, though never completely. I will leave some mark, as did those others before: a careless spaghetti splotch on page 93, or a bookmark placed at my favorite chapter, or even a minute tear to the margin of page 32 in a fit of carelessness. I will try to handle you with the utmost care, but sometimes we hurt the things we love most.

But maybe we’ll get lucky. Maybe like Gone With the Wind your story will be one that I never tire of. Maybe I will keep you with me for the rest of my life. There’s no way to know. But that’s the best part of reading a new story: seeing where the journey takes us.

Loving you is like walking into the clearance section of a used bookstore and finding the perfect novel that everyone else missed. I can’t wait to read it.

All my heart is yours,

Your beloved reader

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