500 Love Letters

What would you do if you had to prove that you loved someone? What would you do if in order to be with the man or the woman you loved you had to first prove to a skeptical third party that your love was genuine and not a convenient ruse?

This was precisely the situation in which chef/author Tiberio Simone found himself when he sought to marry his wife-to-be and gain citizenship in the United States. As Tiberio explained to me in our upcoming interview, he had led a rough and dangerous life to this point. He had been homeless, a male prostitute, and falsely accused of murder. Not exactly an attractive candidate for citizenship, and precisely the sort of person who might fake a marriage to get out of trouble. So what do you do? How do you prove that you love someone?

Tiberio’s proof was love letters. Though he had little formal education, during their courtship he had composed 500 love letters to his fiancé, which he presented during his hearing. The immigration officials were convinced, and he was granted his citizenship.

Many years later, Tiberio would sit down to write his first book. He was much intimidated by the process. “I am smart,” he told me. “I know I am smart. Smart people like other smart people and I like smart people.” But was he writer smart? He did not have a high school degree, he reminded me, and he had never written.

“But you had,” I said. “You wrote 500 love letters.” His face brightened with understanding. They may not have been ready for publication, but those letters directed him toward the source of all the best writing the world has ever read. All writing at its best is a love letter. Though often disguised as a poem or a story or even a blog, they are love letters all the same, proof enough of what we believe our lives are made.

If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual and group conferencing.

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