The first letter I wrote to Anna

I sent this letter 10 years ago today.

We were engaged 5 months later.

This is a weird letter to write, I've been trying to start it for several days now! I've mulled over lots of monologues I could send, but then I begin to worry that I'm getting too deep or too off-topic or too inappropriate and throw it out to begin another one. I think I'll try for shorter and simple for now - please excuse my clumsiness.

To be honest, I didn't expect our fathers to complete their initial correspondance so quickly. I think I had this fantasy that a new job opportunity would roll around within a month or so, and I'd be all moved to Omaha and getting ready to start the serious business of finding a wife at around the same time our parents were wrapping up their opening dialogs with each other, or something like that.

Among other things, I'm fairly certain that God is working on disabusing me of my own life-scheduling abilities. I'm trying to learn the lesson gracefully.

Your father suggested that we begin by communicating to establish a friendship, which seems quite reasonable. I would appreciate being able to write back and forth with you on any topic, but I do want to make my intentions clear.

I have observed a tendency among many people in our generation to pursue friendship with someone of the opposite sex, with a vague goal in mind that they would pursue a romantic relationship after they've been friends for a while, if they feel like it.

I'm not against communicating for the purpose of adding to my repetoire of friends, but that is not my goal here. I would like to pursue friendship with the goal of searching out whether or not it would be wise to consider marriage to each other.

This doesn't mean you have to throw all your chips into the pot now, of course. If it turns out at some point that marriage wouldn't be a good idea, that's fine! I just don't want any ambiguity about my purposes.

Does that seem reasonable? Does it seem too business-like? My sisters would probably call this letter too matter-of-fact and devoid of emotion, but this isn't something that I want to risk messing up because I went about communicating sloppily! (Not that emotional communication is necessarily sloppy, of course... aaand I think I'll end this paragraph now.)

What would you feel comfortable talking about (if anything)? Have you thought much of marriage before now? I'm afraid to ask too many questions in the first letter without giving you a chance to weigh in on the tone of the communications, so I'll hold off on any more in this letter, but I would love to hear about the projects you enjoy working on.

One last thing I'm curious about: I saw you got an awesome banjo, and am curious if you've decided on clawhammer vs Scruggs style for picking yet? I've been getting pretty big into bluegrass this last year, and I can't get enough of Noam Pikelny's banjo playing!

In retrospect I'm glad I was clear about making it about "should we get married or not" from day one. It made everything simpler.