Siempre Estimado Ricardo. Mi siempre querida Ines.
In a Saturday morning antique market in Mexico City, I purchase a bundle of letters that have been tied together with a frayed white ribbon. An epistolary courtship from 1907 — a time when an unmarried woman would not be left alone in a room with a man. I suspect this immediately but several letters in and the hunch is confirmed. Ricardo and Ines saw each other every day at 4 p.m. in the presence of her sisters. Each letter mentions an ailment or there is an inquiry about the health of the other so much so that I begin to write them down. Barely a quarter of the way into the stack, I note a stomach ache, sore throat, tooth ache, day of crying from general emotional distress, and a twisted ankle from a tumble Ines takes down the stairway of the Gran Hotel Mexico in Veracruz. Solo usted me podía mitigar mi sufrimiento. (Only you could mitigate my suffering).
They saw each other every day yet they wrote daily because letters were the only way they could be intimate with each other. More than a 100 years later, a stranger is all up in their business.
Dear Ines y Ricardo: I understand the hidden message enrobed in your corporeal concerns. This was how you touched each other's bodies. Your letters live in the antique nicho I picked up in the Santa Fe flea market in the late 1990s and that I once filled with bird nests. Your words are on display, yes, yes, but your love and concern is more than just a decorative object and more than just raw material for cultural historians to explore pain, love, and the body.
Dear Rose: I have a new found love for the Oxford comma.
Dear Ricardo y Ines: You can meet here anytime and I will excuse myself from the room and leave you in peace.