I am nothing but the words I put on paper, I’ve realized. It’s a valuable thing to me. I find value in other people’s words, even if they aren’t seen as important to the the person who wrote them.
I went to an antique store in town the other day, searching for a special pot for my plant. I didn’t find what I was looking for, but I found some old letters from the Vietnam War. They were from a woman to a man. I bought them thinking how lovely it would be to read the exchange of words from two people. Husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend, mother and son, sister and brother, friends.. There is something very romantic about not knowing what you will find in a letter from a stranger, weather it’s actually romantic or not. Curiosity and mystery compelled me to buy them.
As I excitedly opened the wrapping as soon as I jumped back into my car, I found that the envelopes were empty… No letters. Only twelve letterless envelopes, neatly cut open to reveal the lack of content inside.
I can say that I was extremely and utterly disappointed.
No returns. The antique store swindled two dollars and fifty cents from me.
There is still something special about these old pieces of paper, they still hold value.
I think that people look too much for outcomes and forget about the obvious things that are right in front of them. So I looked at what I had before me.
I did a little research while I looked at the envelopes, and knew that a story could still be pieced together if I searched a little bit. I actually found very helpful information! I have the address and names of the people, so It was easier than anticipated. I suppose I was not swindled, and honestly not disappointed like I was at first.
This is what I found out about the letters:
There are eight letters from the same woman, Mrs. Riley Calcote, to Charles R. Calcote, who is a Master Sergeant in the Air force during the Vietnam war. He was located on a base in San Francisco in a communications squadron while Mrs Calcote moved from Houston Texas, to Palestine Texas, and to Allen Kentucky.
I have letters from 1968 to 1969. Oct 23, 1968. Nov 3, 1968. Nov 26, 1968, letter 56. Nov 27, 1968, letter 57. Dec 9, 1968, letter 63. Dec 10, 1968, letter 64. 1969, letter 87. March 18, 1969.
You must be thinking how I find this enjoyable. Looking at a stranger’s life and wondering about them. Why is it important? Why would you spend your night looking for information on someone you don’t even know? Because people fascinate me as much as they scare me, and their words and ways are beautiful and can be observed with a romantic eye, or an artistic eye, or even simply a curious eye. I am always wondering about what other people are thinking and feeling. I know that what you see in someones visage cannot compare to what you may see inside of them. Words can be the windows to the ever-feeling heart and pensive mind.
I will keep looking for letters in the overstocked antique store. I am sure I will find some form of writing. Until then, I will have to imagine what Riley said to Charles in her many letters to him.
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