December 24th, 1899
Dear Gilbert, Dear Diary,
I haven’t quite decided if I’m going to show this to you or not. Perhaps it will remain a page in my diary instead, for my eyes only. Or maybe I’ll choose to save letters like this, ones that chronicle our short periods of time together in between school terms, and show them to you on our wedding night. Though I may not have the patience for that, and will instead just share these inner thoughts with you as you board your train back to Toronto next week for some travel reading. I doubt I’ll be quite brave enough to have you read it in front of me. Watching you read my latest draft of “Averil’s Atonement” on the train yesterday was bad enough.
I feel as though so much has happened in the last couple of days. I was a bundle of nerves knowing I was mere hours from seeing you again the day of the dance, as I think you are aware. That September day you showed up at my doorstep felt so long ago, and while I was excited, impatient for our separation to be over, I was also a little anxious.
As you know, the girls and I had arrived at Aunt Jo’s early in the afternoon to get ready. Diana helped me dress, and Cole assisted her with my hair. At the time, I don’t think I’d ever felt as beautiful as I did while looking at myself in the mirror for the first time, wearing that gorgeous forest green gown of Aunt Jo’s. But I felt infinitely more beautiful the moment I saw the way you were looking at me when you appeared at Aunt Jo’s front door.
Though I didn’t want to appear too keen, I did, in fact, try to reach the door before the other girls when Rollings called up to say you’d arrived. But nosy as they are, the others were all right behind me. I do know Ruby was anxious for Moody to see her in her new dress, though, considering how long she deliberated over the fabrics at the shop. As a result, though, our reunion was slightly more public than I’d have liked.
It was odd to me, really, how shy and sheepish I felt at that moment. We’ve been exchanging letters for months, and yet now everything felt so new again, and my anticipation turned to nerves. (I doubt it helped that, despite my best efforts, all of our friends were right there, watching us keenly with knowing smirks.) I could barely manage more than the self-conscious smile and short greeting of “Gilbert” I gave, standing in front of you. How oddly formal I sounded to my own ears! I wondered a little if you felt that same awkwardness at that moment. Your throat clearing and brief nod when you answered with “Anne,” proved me right in that assumption, I think. I believe I got a more visibly excited greeting from Ben! (He is lovely, by the way, I can see how you two befriended each other)
But despite our mutual hesitancy, I still saw joy in your eyes and in the little smile you gave me as our friends started to turn away. I recognized it as the same joy that I was feeling build in my stomach. And I was reminded of the way we seem to fit together so seamlessly as our group departed, with you offering your arm and my own slipping into its place. It felt... right. Comfortable. I thank Diana as well for knowing enough to quickly take both Ben and Cole in arm to walk ahead with the others. We needed our time to talk, and it was that time (a mere 10 minutes!) walking to the dance hall that allowed us to reacquaint ourselves with each other in person again, in this new light.
You lifted my gloved hand to your lips with a smile and told me how incredibly happy you were to see me again, and all of my nerves seemed to fade away right then and there. You seemed to know exactly what to say to me at that moment. Relief at having you home again and finally being able to explore our new relationship, at least for a couple of weeks, was washing through me.
We lingered further and further behind the others, our walk slow and our conversation easy. It really should not have come as a surprise to me, then, that the moment our friends turned a corner and we were out of immediate sight, that you stopped, turning to me with an “Anne” to interrupt my sentence, and took my face in your hands. But you know how I get caught up in my thoughts.
You apologized after, for kissing me so suddenly. But as I stated then, you needn’t have. I assure you that I felt just as you did––we had been waiting far too long to have that moment alone together. The months in between the two kisses, yes, but also just in the barely 20 minutes we’d been together again. I’d like to affirm that though the evening was altogether exhilarating and left me feeling quite content, I think that it was possibly my favourite moment of the night. Cole came back around the corner to search for us far too quickly.
I suppose this would have been our second date, considering our joint evening spent in the company of Cassiopeia and Andromeda. I think I’ll count it as our first, however, and I could hardly imagine a better setting. The hall glittering with candles and strung with garlands, music wafting into each corner and guests twirling around the dance floor in swirls of colour. It was perhaps the finest event I have ever attended, save for Aunt Jo’s annual soirée. (I must remember to get you there this year if possible) In my beautiful dress, and with you by my side, I felt as though I’d stepped right out of the pages of a storybook.
I wish I could have saved every dance on my metaphorical card for you, though I know that would have caused gossip. I suppose I do have many, many nights with you by my side to look forward to in our future. But could not the fine people of Charlottetown and Queen’s Academy understand the significance of the evening? I did enjoy my time dancing with Cole, Ben, and Moody (and Diana, of course), though I resented Charlie’s invitation, and that Roy Gardner’s as well! It seems only Mr. Gardner himself is unaware of my antagonistic feelings toward him. He thinks too highly of himself. At least you have now met the man, so you can better understand my written words about him!
But he, nor Charlie or even Billy Andrews could have spoiled the evening for us––in spite of the need to keep Billy far away from Josie all evening. I can’t tell you how proud I felt when you and Ben offered to take a few turns around the dance floor with her. Despite her popularity at Queen’s, I know Josie felt nervous about Billy being there and about what he might say to the other guests. She continues to be rather haughty at times, but thankfully she and I have mostly managed to bury the hatchet in the last few months at school.
I’ve gone on a rather lengthy tangent, I’m afraid… but my point was that the evening couldn’t have been any more perfect, since it included me being in your arms. I felt as entranced as I did that day in the schoolhouse at dance practice, the first time we danced together. How grateful I am that it was not the last. I also particularly enjoyed it when you came up behind me and took my hand with a squeeze, pulling me toward one of the balconies overlooking the water. Some might be scandalized to know we spent that time alone together, unsupervised, looking out at the snow drifting down and your jacket draping over my shoulders to keep out the cold. I was certainly on the receiving end of a glare from both Diana and Ruby upon our return. They know as well as I do how easily and unfairly gossip can ruin a girl’s reputation. But I will treasure that time we took, to be with each other and to simply talk. Talk about our lives over the last few months, in more detail than we could possibly put into a letter, and talk openly, face to face… I think more so than we ever have before. The number of important conversations we’ve had under open night skies is growing; I see a pattern forming.
The night passed by much too quickly altogether. Too soon did the clock strike midnight, signalling the time I must shed my glass slippers, my fine gown, and leave the ball. At least I, unlike Cinderella, was able to depart with my prince (until we reached Aunt Jo’s house, anyway). I found it difficult to sleep, anticipating our reunion at the train station in the morning. I paid for that lack of sleep when I arrived home at Green Gables yesterday and it came time to assist Marilla with dinner. I started nodding off over the potatoes I was meant to be preparing!
Happily, this train ride was much more pleasant than our last train ride together (which I do take responsibility for). I was in far better spirits, and though I wish we could have sat next to each other rather than across, I did quite enjoy each time I looked up during the conversation to find your eyes on me and a smile on your lips. Anyhow, I am just as guilty and I doubt we were at all subtle about it.
Even still, it feels a little surreal to me that you are home and we are... a couple. So much seems to have changed for us both since the summer, being immersed in two completely different lives as we pursue our academic ambitions. But Avonlea, our home, remains much the same. And no matter how much changes, you will always be familiar to me, Gilbert Blythe.
I’m already counting the days until you have to return to Toronto. January 1st. The first day of a new century, only eight days from now. Is that truly it? I daren’t tear you away from Bash and Dellie too much while you’re home, and from your duties on the farm, but is it selfish to say I want to steal all of your time for myself while you’re here? I know it’s not even been a full day since I last saw you. But I miss you. I am eagerly anticipating our Christmas Eve dinner tonight, even knowing how awkward it could now possibly be, and knowing of the teasing Bash will undoubtedly subject us both to. I can’t even imagine what Matthew’s reaction will be to that. I know he is happy for us, but I get the impression that seeing me as all grown up and courting is still relatively new for him.
I think I’ll wait until tomorrow to give it to you, but I hope you love the portrait I had Cole draw of me for you. I quite like how it turned out, and with my hair pinned up, it reminds me a little of the portrait my father drew of my mother. I hope it will come to find a home on your bedside table in Toronto. I’m excited for you to see the spinning top I had Matthew make for Dellie as well, as we discussed. I did my best painting it since I’ve come home, with paints Cole lent me—my hands are currently stained in shades of green and blue! I should really try to get that off before tonight. But I love it! I hope she gets enjoyment out of it as well.
Marilla calls, so I must leave my reflections for now. Until tonight. We have more memories to make.