The 21st Letter
Written By: Brayan Del Castillo
As the sun goes down and the night comes. These letters are there for those that allowed me to see the light in the darkness. Understand what is around, to the people the places and the living things around us. The mystery of life is blurred with the emotions we feel, allowing us to give in to what we feel, becoming a different version of ourselves. These letters are those that I have met in my time of travel. The ones that allowed me to be the person that I have become. With the scars on my skin and the mystery of my speech, these are the words I have not said, the ones that show the side that many wonders. I am Thiago and these are the 21st letters.
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
Confusion, Settled in
Overthinking, The normal
Sadness, Thrown around
Escape, What is around
The Blade, Unknown Friend
Thrill, That followed
Adventure, That Found me
Wonder, What is out there
Happiness, Where I found it
Heart, That I had forgotten
Communication, That was needed
Understanding, What I ignored
Curiosity, Killed the cat
The 21st Letter, U
Life has no guide, no to-do list, nothing that allows us to know the direction of which to go in.
To the person that taught me what love is,
It has been about nine months since the last time that I saw her. Not saying goodbye, saying see you later as I made my way to the airport leaving for months. That memory plays in my head, I stood thereafter and she gave me a hug and a kiss, saying no goodbyes see you later and then seeing her car getting smaller into the distance as I stood there. This trip was different than the ones I would go on before, it was the first time that I was going to be traveling completely alone and in a new location, with people I have never met, doing things I am not used to, truly going into a new world. Yet the only thought I ever had through it all was her.
Cheating, to me, is more than a physical connection, it is the emotional connection that you make with others while you are in a relationship. It turned out that in the previous relationship that we had we both cheated on one another, making connections with simple conversations. And making decisions that led to different memories and more. Especially me!
When traveling alone there is always one person that will always be around no matter where the journey goes, it is yourself and for me. The person that I was before was not someone that I can say understood the world around him let alone understand her. I struggled with many things like the letters before in this book. Meeting people that gave a face to emotions, finding new scars through different levels of pain. I had always been surrounded by the opinions and words of others, putting their care before my own allowing me to forget myself and only prioritize others. That led to a great deal of downfall.
They say that people never change, that no matter what they do not change and that it is just a matter of time until someone allows history to repeat itself. That is something that I thought to myself all the time. In the relationship that I had with her, I knew that I was never the best but in the times that I did try to be the best it made her smile in more ways than one. Moments that I was not at the best, were the moments that I knew I had to work on, it was the times that I allowed my emotions to take over without truly understanding myself and the situation around me.
While I was working over there and not talking to her I did everything that I could to make sure that I was dealing with everything that I needed to work on. From fighting my demons of the past to the anger and the scars that I have. I made sure that while I was working I hustled more than anything to do my work and work on myself to the point that I would change from the person that I was before to the person that I am now. While working on myself I stumbled upon a castle. With the stone walls and a great entrance that had the vines and the flowers blooming on it, it seemed as if it was the entrance to the castle of royalty. It was common to see castles in Wales, there were so many around, but this one had something that the others didn't. This castle had a staircase that took over ten years to build, the detail and architecture of this castle were truly breathtaking. As it was breathtaking there was something about it that attracted me to go once a week. I knew that the more that I would go the more I am able to see a castle, hoping that I could learn more about it from the people that work there.
During my visits, I talked to different people, walked in different rooms, and saw the history of others right before my eyes. It was not until the lady in the garden. To this day I do not know if she was a visitor or an employee, something truly attracted me to go and talk to her. She was definitely older than I myself, but there was something that told me I knew her or had met her before. As I approached her area she said, “The peonies are truly beautiful when taken care of.” I wondered why she was saying that but hey she was not lying. To this day as I write this letter, I wonder why she said that there were no peonies around her at the time.
It was an organic conversation held over the colors and beauty of the different flowers that were sitting all around us at the time.
For what seemed like hours we walked the garden talking about life and what brought us to the castle. She was a teacher for the youth and she was working on a project to make sure that she can help out different families that did not have much. It was something that resembled what I was working on in my free time in Europe.
There was a sudden change in the atmosphere as we were approaching the end. It felt as if she was ready to ask me a question. She introduced herself as Chloe, she mentioned the previous days that she had seen me visiting the castle, it was strange this was the first time I ever saw her. As she built up the courage she asked me what does love mean to you? She can see that I have a love for the work I do, there was no ring on my finger indicating that I was in a relationship, there was a ring on my right ring finger. She asked me what does love mean to me, what is it that I feel?
The million-dollar question.
What does love mean? What is love?
Love is the oldest four-letter word I can think of, yet it is the first word that can warm up a heart. Love a soul's recognition of its counterpart in another? The comfort that a person can bring through love.
What does love mean to me? What is love?
Love is many different things, has many different definitions and meanings for some, to me Love was not just what I felt, it was someone that managed to truly show me what love means.
This is what love means to me:
Many things that can bring us happiness by the sight of it, a warm feeling, or even those butterflies we once believed flew away. Love is many different things all in one. Love to me means that someone can feel a collection of every emotion all at once in true harmony. That is why we hear many people say to do what you love, you will not ever have to work a day in your life.
What is love?
Other than a feeling, to me, it was a person. That person managed to take me through every stage of love and still come to the same conclusion.
Love is a person to me for it is the person that taught me not only what love is, what it means to love, but gave me the clarity of love. Maybe not while we were together, during our time apart, I know that if our paths ever cross once again that I will show her more of what love is. I know that with her help I was able to grow. In order to grow stronger sometimes one needs to be broken. In a weird way, it was as if I broke a bone, and the bone healed to be twice as hard. It was the same as being with her, although there were different moments that broke me it allowed me to grow stronger than before.
I knew that I could not answer the question about what is love? For me. I knew that I had to tell the story, I could see it in Chloe’s eyes that she wanted to know the story about the person that taught me to love and the one that also broke my heart into many pieces.
When I first laid my eyes on her she was across from me.
Over the counter, getting ready to take my order, yet my words did not come out, they were stopped by the fact I had to catch my breath, my eyes had never seen someone so beautiful. There was something in the look of her eyes, I sank as I stared into them, seeing a future, yet also seeing the past.
As we grow up we want to make sure that either we are with someone who will love us like the love we see our parents have or the love so great that it is deeper than the ocean blue. I knew that I had to get to know her to even be seen at all, unlike others I ran into that friendzone, I strongly believed being friends and best friends with the ones we will be with, if not then the clash of not being friends will cause unneeded problems. So I made sure I got to know her, the ins, the outs, and her order from in n out that I can still remember.
A NUMBER 2,
Animal style burger with no onions
Fries with no salt
And on a hungry day we get animal style fries but of course no onions, and no salt.
While getting to know her more and more I got to show her the side of me that not many people see. It was the caring side, the soft side that I have hidden by the layers of the past, the scars that I have, the memories that consumed me, and the person that I hated to say that I was. Yet it was she who was bringing out the best of me. And I didn’t even see it at the time. But she was seeing me.
Love for me is her, there are three memories that I can always look back and say that those days were a day where love was not a word, but actions of an entire day, a day where love managed to make its way to the surface and change the course of time.
The first kiss.
A day that was more special than anything that I have ever held dear to me. It was a day that started out with me at work, a closing shift. In the area that I was working at, it was popular to have a lot of those last-minute customers come in and want to get things done. It was a mobile store that I worked at the time and as I counted the tills, arranged the store for the morning crew, which was going to be myself, I made sure that I had everything set up. While she waited at the coffee shop next to my work, where she worked, doing some homework at the time. She texted me if there was something that I needed, from a drink that I may want to maybe something to eat while I worked. The little messages to make sure that I was taken care of and ok. Was something that I didn't really expect at the time.
As the time for closing came the opportunity to have some time alone finally presented itself. We talked about what to do or where to go. As I helped her with what she was doing, I could see the beauty that some might never get to see, the focus that comes with her, the eyes that she makes by squinting when she trying to figure something out or the way that she looked up at me saying “what” just because I have been looking at her. No kiss ever has been shared between each other at that time. As I was about to drive her home it seemed that some of her friends had shown up at the coffee shop, now we had to escape which made everything a lot more fun.
As we made our escape, having Bonnie and Clyde rush. We finally made our way to her home, as we drove around we talked. Never a dull moment, there was always something to say, many different things to talk about. I thought it was great to always hear her stories even if it was just about the day that she had. We parked under the night sky to see the stars, I turned to look at her while she stared at the stars, seeing how she shines brighter than the stars in the sky. I had been able to get close to her as we both stared at the sky.
Before I made the move for a kiss, she stopped and said, “once we kiss nothing will ever be the same again”. It was so strange for me to hear someone say that before we kissed, but she was not lying. To this day five years later I can say that nothing has stayed the same. I have somehow been planted with a piece of her that does not detach but connect harder and harder to my damaged heart.
She told me before the kiss
Once our lips meet nothing will ever be the same
I opened the doors to my heart
And you walked in
Allowing me to fall deeper in love with
The only women
That spent her time
Making her way back in my life
Now it was my turn to make my way back
For the connection shared
Is as deep as the depths of the ocean
In the drive back from the beach
Having you asleep
And holding your hand and not letting it go
To the moment I dropped you off
There was a connection between you and i
Not like any other
Allowing us to be each other's halves
In the battle through life the good and the bad
Out of the 7 Billion people on this planet it felt as if it was only us two in the entire world, surrounded by stars being able to share the connection and experience the first touch as the flame that lit the future of ups and downs and crazy twists.
Nothing is better than going a day out to the beach, feeling the cool breeze, the slight taste of the saltwater going around. It was one of the first days that we went to the beach together, allowing one another to be closer to each other as one. We walked and went down different paths to go down to the beach. It was a time that we shared the love and connection that we both had for the beach and the ocean blue.
A day that I managed to capture a picture of but one of my favorite memories and videos. It is the video of the day having her walk to the beach as she touched the shore with her feet. She turned to me and smiled and took a slight two steps to get closer to where I am. I saw she had the smile that she gave and in the look in her eyes let me know it is me that she saw and not anyone else. That day we had a moment and we were not even prepared to get in the ocean but we did anyway.
We went in with no hesitation being in the water with her was nothing but a moment of bliss. Having her in my arms as we took every wave together, having the wave bring us closer and closer to one another, allowing our hearts to come in sync. We laughed and joked on our way to shore talking about random things and memories. It was something that we did not expect out of that day but it was a day that brought us together in a different way than expected. As the sun was setting we walked back to the car getting ready to go back and get something to eat. As we talked about where to go on the drive back she reached over to grab my hand.
As the traffic got heavier on the 405 we enjoyed the songs on the radio, or at least I did. As she had fallen asleep, as I tried to move my hand back to me and get two hands on the wheel, like an upset little baby she woke up and said don't take my hand away and fell back asleep. The little trail of drool came down on the side of her mouth, the little snore that she gave off and the slight movements to get more comfortable. She was truly sound asleep. I got to her home and she woke and immediately apologized for falling asleep on me. All I did was smile because she had the little stain of drool, the messed up little hair, the soft little voice saying sorry, and the confused look of how did I get home so quickly. As she got off all I could think of was those times I got woken up on the drive back from a party and the little sidestep takes overall because the body has not been able to wake up all the way!
Disney and the Chef
There are many memories that were shared with Disney, it is true that at the beginning I was a huge fan of it and then there was that time that we broke off then it started to change the way that I looked at that mouse. Yet that is what I told her but honestly, I was a big fan of going to that park with her all the time. It was fun and not only that I got to see that side of her that I truly enjoyed. I know that there were and have been many different times that she went to Disneyland without me and with someone else but there were times that I did the same thing. Going to Disneyland is fun with others but going to Disneyland with the one person that you love is what makes the difference.
I took this picture of her in her MU hat and her grey Disneyland sweater. I stood off in the distance and she was on her phone replying to her mom. It shows how frustrated she was because of what was going on at the time. But the memory of two minutes after when they finally called for the funnel cake that she had seen on the Disneyland Instagram page that showed was going there on the grizzly. She managed to get so happy within seconds of eating that. It showed me how much food brought a smile to your face. It was not just food but the memory that food brought to her and that is what made me happy. It was at that moment that I knew I was always going to cook for her as much as I could.
That is why one day I made this special dinner for her. She was a true fan of Italian food. It was her favorite next to eating sushi but she would not eat it that much because she knew that I was not a fan of eating fish. Which I thought was so thoughtful. The meal was a pasta filled with three different kinds of cheese, in an alfredo sauce with some rosemary chicken, sautéed garlic string beans, and the caesar salad as a starter.
The Secret Ingredient
No matter what there will always be something true
Cooking for you, unlocked the passion
A passion in me that allowed me to express who I am
Allowing others to go on a journey with my food
Having their pallets be taken down the train
Connecting everything as it goes
From the ingredients used
To the memory, I tried to recreate
I cooked for many people all over the world
Yet I only ever wanted to cook for her
The moments in the kitchen where
I would catch you staring from the corner of my eyes
Seeing her crack a smile
To the little bit of drool
It was the eagerness to try the food
Sticking the fork to get a piece
Or hugging me just to get a taste
Dancing in the kitchen to our favorite song
Cooking allowed me to be a chef
Allowing me to tell the story of the day I cooked for her
Nothing will ever come close to the dish made that day
I will always need my secret ingredient.
Disneyland has the ability to be able to take the current world and erase it with the happiness of rides, a company of others and like-minded strangers, and the never-ending lines to go on everything. But what it makes it so special is not that it takes away, or the food that not seen every day, not even the rides, it is the little memories that are made with the people that go even alone, it allow the ability make a great memory from the little things.
That is why I walk to the parking lot with her on my back or in my arms when her feet are tired. Or the times that we waited in line to have me take a picture of her more than a hundred times even if she was not satisfied. It never made me angry or upset to do it over and over again it was something I truly enjoyed. I got the chance to capture how beautiful she really is! There was one day, in particular, that was her birthday that we went to Disneyland. It was a day that I did my best to make it the best by taking it in at the same time. I can remember how surprised she was. I enjoyed my time at the par with her and did not complain about anything like I usually did back then. I took all the pictures of her beauty no matter what the reason was for her not liking some pictures and locations. That day I understood everything that came down to her, I put my own selfish thoughts aside and made sure that I was not only listening but understanding.
Before getting into the next memory Chloe stopped me and said “ so these memories of her are what love is to you?”
I can see that memories might not be the best examples but the first kiss allowed me to understand that it is hard for someone to truly open up. It is not easy to put the trust into a single person hoping that everything will be turning out ok. The beach allowed me to see the value in comfort. How comfortable can someone truly be with you to the point of falling asleep and not letting go of your hand allowing the drool to fall down the side of their mouths? Times shared in place to show me that it does not matter where anyone is, as long as you have the person that you love, it makes that place truly special.
It was never about the mouse
The never-ending lines
The rides or the hour’s spent at the park
Disney was only something because of someone
Who became my lobster
Showing me the ins and outs of Disney
Not just the drinks or the food
The simplicity behind the complexity
Quality time spent together
Random conversations held inline
From the shows we watched, the drama that happened to her coworkers,
People, we watched, or places we planned to go
It was a location that allowed us to escape the world that we were in
Allowing it to be the two us
No matter being surrounded
The little moments that gave me the big picture
The big picture that gave me the little details
All because of a mouse.
The question is,
What is love?
For me love is having someone care for you, be there for you in the great moments and in the worst, supporting you in what you do and making sure that when you look at them you are able to say you are home, someone that can truly understand you for who you are not for the version that they want you to become.
I have not been home since I left to work in Europe, it is weird although we did stop talking while I was over there for the mistakes that I made for not being able to be a true Adult when I needed to be. This was the first time that I was going to be away from everyone I love and everyone I know. Truly diving into the unknown to wait and see how it could change me. It was all over with an email of me the back and forth of what seems to be a regular fight.
While being together I always had a fear of losing her, yet this was not fear but rather insecurity of my own. I was not a fan of her hanging out with certain people or her friends, to the point it seemed controlling. Where I should have been more supportive I was tearing things down, where I should've been understanding, I was oblivious. My time away made me realize that the reasons for these problems were not because of my fears but rather my insecurities of myself. It led to unnecessary problems and more situations that caused fights, I knew that in order for me to understand or ever change I had to change myself.
It was love that allowed me to see that I had many different things to work on. Yes, it was not easy to look in the mirror and say that I was wrong for the things that I needed to change.
While my days in Europe are coming to an end I was given the pleasure of going to new towns and meeting new people. As I was able to connect with them I knew that the conversation of life was always something that came to be. I started with simple questions of work and hobbies that later led to people wanting to know more. I took this opportunity to not only learn from others as I was working but to talk to them about certain things that I myself needed to work on.
No matter the town that I managed to go there was always the focus on what I needed to do. It was a constant time of battling between my own insecurities and who I was. Through time I started to understand that the main reason why I was full of all of these insecurities is due to the fact that I did not understand who I was and what I wanted to do in the future and with everything in between. I knew that I wanted to be working in different fields with many different people but I did not know the person that I was, by not knowing that it led to having all these insecurities not only that but also being someone that was not taking the relationship as serious as I needed to in every moment.
We work so hard to be a different version of ourselves for others that we forget who we are in the moments that matter. It was true for me, for I did not battle the demons that I needed to nor did I confront the problems that I had. I buried them deeper and deeper hoping to one day flood them with the person that I was trying to be rather than the person that I am. It was the influence of others that blurred the vision of who I was.
It was not until I focused on the love that she gave me and the love that I had that allowed me to truly change. It was not just the definition of the word love but rather everything that came with it. Every feeling, every thought that came to be, it was love that allowed me to see the person that I am and take all the different versions of myself and throw them away and focus on the single person that I wanted to be. Me.
Loving her was one of the best things that have happened as well as one of the most annoying and stressful times. But that is what love is, stress, and having someone to annoy. I saw that the way that she annoyed me asking for more time to be together asking to see one another more often was all about the love that she had for me at the time and the love that I ignored. It was the little moments of love that allowed me to truly understand it. It might be late for me to ever be with her again but the love that I managed to see in her is the love that truly allowed me to love.
As we grow up there are different versions of love that we see. From the love that our parents give to one another to the love that we see others give to one another. There are many different definitions of love but the definition that she managed to give me can be explained with what to me are simple memories that managed to never leave my heart. Allowing themselves to sink deeper into the cracks filling in the missing tissue connecting the walls and allowing them to stand taller, for others to be threatened by, not tall enough for her to take them down and walk right in.
The versions of love that she grew up with and I grew up with has similarities, yes there were some that should not have been there in the first palace but they are, one thing for sure that I see the main thing in the similarities in the fact that our parents showed us that when some of us truly love one another then there is no extent to nothing that we would not do to be with one another.
It seems that we search for that in many different places and in many different people but it is always the first ones that we truly fall in love with. That allows us to be infatuated with them in everything that they do. Yes, there were different moments that could have been different but being apart from one another being able to live life without one another allows us to see the world in a different way. In a way that shows the words we left, the damage is done, and the love we had.
I know that I was not ready to see the love that was being given to me at the time. It seemed as if I ran away from love at different times. That is where a lot of problems arise for different couples, the fact that one loves too much and some others love too little. There are moments that we do not understand the love that is being given so we instead try ways to push it away. The love that was given to me was more than I ever expected but one that I knew that I would one day grow to the care so much and I cannot live without.
Now that I see what once was I can only sit here and think of the person that I am now the decisions of my past self. I guess that is the funny thing about life, there are sometimes lessons that are just lessons or people that are truly meant to be in your life. I wondered if it was her that was a lesson or someone that was meant to be in my life. I cannot help but look into the night sky and wonder where she is and what we would be doing if we stayed together. Where would we be going to explore and the thoughts of the future that we can make together?
I can look back in those five years and only focus now on the moments that made me smile. No matter how much I try to take her away from my mind I know that I cannot forget it is not easy to forget her, for I do not want to let go of all the memories that I made with her in our time together. Love is not about being happy with someone all the time it is about having someone that you can look in the eye and say that I hate that I loved her so much, for that person does not make life easy they will make it hard at times by annoying us and having little fights.
Little fights to little things are all that managed to make the difference in my heart being able to fill the empty void with those memories. To the day that I did not let go of her hand or the day that she managed to not only take the heart that I have but the heart of my family for they saw the love that we both had for each other.
I never understood at the time why it was that she managed to always be there after we broke up. Going to me more and more making sure that I was able to see that she was still there in my life. Even in the times that we would go months on end without talking to each other, there was something about her that stood out. That through remembering these memories it allowed me to see the insecurities that I had allowed to hold me back.
I know that in the moments of being together I was not as mature as I should have been. I wondered to see if it was the connection with the letters before to this letter now. Being someone that has been looked up by some yet forgotten by himself. I know that the journey that I started to become a better version of myself. It is one that is as long as life itself, it is about the hard work that has to be put in the endless hours of hard looks in the mirror to make sure that I continue down the road that I truly need to be on.
“Love is a person…for you” Do you believe that there will ever be a day that you cross paths with her again,” Chloe asked me as we approached the end of the castle and my time to go back to work.
Yes to me love will always be the person that I first fell in love with, it will be that single person that managed to not only allow me to fall in love with them but the one that also took it away. If it was not for her sending me the email saying that she will be going on her own path and that we must now walk different paths was the wake-up call that I needed.
The idea of being okay with the person I was before was allowing me to see that I was settling for the mediocre version of myself when I have to always strive to be the best. The best version of me, the version of me that can be there for others while never forgetting who he is or what he wants to accomplish. Through meeting others I saw myself in many different people, the person I was to the person I wanted to be, every single one of them looked me in the eyes and trusted part of who they were to create a future that was different than the present. The little seeds that were planted allow me to grow, constantly showing me a different perspective on problems I once reacted angrily to. To take the moment of knowing that in life in this world, it does not matter how once starts but what matters most is the journey to the end. I know my time one day will come, it was always with what I will one day leave behind, ensuring that those that were once in the same darkness as I once was, blurred by more opinions than one, worrying so much on being the version that others wanted me to be instead of focusing on the person that I am.
Love is being home
The home was never a place but a person
No matter where the world may take us
The home will always be the moment I looked in her eyes
Being transported to the ocean blue
A first place where we made our own
A location to escape and be together
I knew in order to protect my home
I needed to protect the foundation the root of the love
I needed to decorate the interior with attention
I needed to color it all with understanding
I needed to make sure that she knew what she meant to me
Until the night of the hurricane
Sending everything crashing down
Separating us with such distance
I continue to travel in search of her
On my days I return to pick up the pieces
Where it all was destroyed
I rebuild a new home
Better than before
Even if I will live here alone
This will always be the 21st letter!