By Heather Osteraa

Valentine’s Day is upon us! Is anyone else in the holiday spirit out there besides me?

No? Just me…?

Well, for those of you who need a little romantic inspiration, “Love Letters” by A.R. Gurney is playing at The Western Stage this weekend. A two-person show starring real-life couple Mark Shilstone-Laurent and Adrienne Laurent. The play uses the epistolary form, which is often used in novels. It means the story is told through a series of letters, notes, cards, etc. [Definitely had to Google that]

While researching the show, it occurred to me that my fiancé and I have never written each other a single love letter. Or any letters for that matter. I guess if we were to collect all of the love texts and love instant messages over our 10 years together, we could maybe come up with our own epistolary play? But somehow I think it wouldn’t have the same essence as A.R. Gurney’s version.

I’m lucky enough to have been alive before the total take-over of email, instant messaging, and texting. It was middle school and exchanging notes with friends was “like, totally cool.” Sometimes we’d write full narratives. Sometimes one piece of paper would be exchanged back and forth, one statement at a time until you had an entire dialogue written out, complete with multi-colored pens, word art (to show emphasis, of course) and plenty of PG-rated swearing for good measure.

Exchanging notes and letters with BOYS, however, was the PARAMOUNT of romance [Boys or girls or aliens or whoever does it for you]. Do you remember how it felt to learn that someone liked you? A real live person liked you. And if you were lucky enough to get a note from a boy (or whoever), you ogled over his unique handwriting, his sense of humor. If he had bad grammar or poor spelling it didn’t matter because he LIKED YOU. And let’s be honest – we all smelled the paper to get a whiff of his scent.

I still have a box full of these letters, notes, scraps of paper. All of them too precious (and hilarious) to part with. Not because I have any remaining flame for these former first loves, but because there is just something so utterly and profoundly romantic about love letters that just doesn’t exist anymore. In our digital age, it’s so easy – too easy – to communicate with each other. In the blink of an eye, our words are written, sent, and read. [Regrettable impulse emails, anyone?]

Whereas, the time it takes to write something by hand, carefully and meticulously forming every letter; the fear and hope that they will enjoy reading it; the anticipation of receiving a response; the delight of hearing their voice when you read it… Only the good old fashioned love letter, people!

If I still haven’t convinced you to feel the warm fuzzies, I recommend seeing “Love Letters” this weekend, February 11th and 12th at 7:30p on Saturday, 2:00p on Sunday in the Studio Theater. Part of The Western Stage’s 2017 SpringFEST lineup of pre-season performance projects.

$5 at the door benefits the Monterey County Rape Crisis Center.

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