More than 40 years ago, I had a boyfriend who was studying in the United States, and we wrote to each other for about four years. But because of circumstances, we stopped our correspondence and lost touch.
Ten years ago, we found each other again on the Internet and communicated through e-mail. At times we’d talk as well on our mobile phones.
He told me that he still has all my letters, which he kept all these years. What’s more, whenever he moved from state to state, he brought them along, as well. He is married, and his wife knows about our correspondence.
I destroyed all of his letters for the simple reason that I had nowhere to keep them. I am also married.
My question is: Do I have the right to take back my letters? Can I suggest to him or give him permission to destroy or burn them? Who is actually the rightful owner of these letters—the receiver or the sender?
We are senior citizens already so, when the time comes, I don’t want my letters to be read or scrutinized.
Possession is 90 percent ownership. But you knew that. So, you actually have no say on the fate of the 40-year-old letters you sent to your then boyfriend.
He can always argue that he was the beneficiary of these missives in the four years you were communicating with him. Would you have even thought of retrieving them had you not gotten reacquainted?
Why this worrisome treasure hunt all of a sudden? Do you feel you’re in danger of being blackmailed or that your almost half-century-old relationship will be paraded on social media and bandied about?
Did you write anything to warrant such fears? Perhaps divulged some incriminating adventures only you and he would know? Confessed something you’d be ashamed to be read by your near and dear when you’ve reached the deep chasm in the great beyond?
Or are you all of a sudden suspicious of your ex-boyfriend’s loyalty to that long-gone association?
Whatever you wrote there was written in your youth, in the first flushes of love. Youth is that transition of not being a child anymore but not yet having the maturity of a woman. Nobody can fault you for being honest and brave and willful and passionate at that time of your life. You probably will never be that exciting and adventurous again! Is that what you’re afraid people will find out about you?
Your ex-boyfriend thought them worthwhile enough to have kept these mementos through the years and this late in your lives. Weren’t they bandied from state to state even with his wife’s knowledge? Give him credit for that.
Don’t diminish whatever you had with this man you loved once upon a time. You’re suddenly behaving like this distrustful old woman who is unexpectedly behaving like an insecure kid and worrying about what others would still say at the autumn of her life.
Own up to the foibles or misadventures of your youth. It was fun then. Let it continue to still be fun now—if only through your memories.