By MARIANA ZEPEDA ’14
If you’ve seen “Letters to Juliet,” you know that, each year, thousands of letters arrive in the town of Verona, Italy addressed to Juliet Capulet. These letters are full of emotion, anguish, love, doubt, fear—in them, people from all around the world bare their souls to Shakespeare’s young heroine, asking for advice on heartbreak, unrequited love or loneliness.
In Verona, there’s a group of women masquerading as Juliet; they call themselves “il Club di Giulietta” (Juliet’s Club) and volunteer to send replies to every single person who has written to Juliet. Every year, in honor of Valentine’s Day, the Secretaries of Juliet select one letter and award the “Cara Giulietta” (Dear Juliet) prize to the most beautiful letter sent to Juliet. This person is invited to visit Juliet’s house in Verona to attend a ceremony and receive the prize. This year’s winner is 43-year old Annika Langa from Sweden.
Many of the letters are handwritten and folded into the cracks of the wall outside Juliet’s house. Yet Juliet’s secretaries also correspond with people through email. On its website, the Club di Giulietta posts short notes or letters that they’ve received.
Yes, Valentine’s Day has devolved into a mass-marketed Hallmark holiday. At this point, though, it almost feels cliche to hate February 14. There’s something refreshing (dare I say love-affirming) about reading some of these letters to Juliet, which range from sweet to whimsical to slightly disturbing. So, in honor of Valentine’s Day, here’s a selection of some of those letters:
I watch all my friends have boyfriends and get asked out when it seems I’ll be forever alone. I’m only fifteen and while I’m not actually interested in any boys at my school, I just wished that someone would find me beautiful and like me. It’s really hard being the one who no one ever takes notice of and it’s crushing my confidence.
So, Juliet, how do I get myself out there? How do I get a boy to like me? My biggest fear is that I’ll never learn how to get a guy and end up a crazy old cat lady.
I am finished.
I give up.
I am done.
I find that I am semi-likable but totally unlovable. I am in love with a woman who only likes me as a ‘friend’ and nothing more. She is not attracted to me at all and has let me know that (albeit gently).
How does one shut down the wish for contact? To accept that physical and emotional connections are no longer something to be even dreamed of? To make that part of your heart and soul die and so be silent? To fully know and grasp that you will be as alone while you are alive as you will be in that grave after death?
I feel like I’m missing something and maybe it’s love. I never allowed myself to open to someone else. Maybe because I never, like, ever, thought of myself as a pretty girl compared to the others. I grow up watching all the love stories and reading them, since I am a huge book lover, and always thought that one day that would happen to me. You see, my parents are married for 26 years and my grandparents were married for over 50 years. Is that any doubt why I was born like that? Most of the time I feel stupid because it seems like I’ve missed lot of opportunities of finding love for being too shy.
Maybe my life is passing in front of me and I can’t see it, or be a part of it. My friend says that life it is an open book and I can write whatever I want in it. What do you think? Am I so wrong to want a career, a life of what I love and a real family, a love that comes once in a lifetime? I mean if they are real. Perhaps I’m just being silly, perhaps I’m not.
Thank you so much for reading this letter, Juliet.
All my love,
I know this may seem kind of weird, but I hope you can help me. You have helped a lot of different people from all around the world and I don’t want to be an exception.
First of all I want to let you know how much I admire the extent in which your love can go, dying for someone you love is a big act of bravery and I don’t think I would do that for anyone. Or maybe I would.
You see the love I feel is not normal because I love someone which I shouldn’t. I shouldn’t love her, because I am a woman too. I should like boys like the rest of the girls, but she is so perfect. I mean who wouldn’t love her?
You and I are similar in something at least, our love is forbidden. But you still got the boy, didn’t you? I think that my fate isn’t going to be like that, my parents are that crazy kind of people who don’t understand equality, they don’t know that part of myself and I don’t think they would understand it.
So dear Juliet, what should I do? Please, please help me.
My favorite reads simply:
Giulietta: L’amore non esiste.
(Juliet: Love doesn’t exist.)