October 1st 1899
Dearest Matthew; Dearest Marilla,
Before you ask, before you worry, I want you to know that I am doing well. More than well, in fact. I can picture the two of you hunched over this piece of paper, skimming my words (Marilla, I hope you have your spectacles!) to try to locate any indication that there is an oncoming disaster. Rest assured, I am still safe, warm, well-fed, and, above all else, intellectually stimulated. As it turns out, the only terrible part of college is that there is a distinct lack of the two of you, not to mention Belle, Buttercup, Pride, and my snow queen. I even miss Jerry, if you can believe it. It seems that lately my heart has become more prone to missing people.
Prior to leaving for Queen’s, I had been dreading having to wake up in the morning without the cacophony of our chickens’ squawking, Matthew’s heavy footsteps clomping down the stairs, and the sound of the kettle clanging against the stovetop as Marilla put the coffee on. The noise has become something of a symphony to me over time and I had low expectations for my ability to rise without it. Surprisingly, however, I have been springing out of bed without even the slightest of hesitation, much to the consternation of Diana, who is most certainly not a morning person. She isn’t used to waking up with the sun like we are, which has been heartily amusing to me, especially because mornings are so full of beauty and joy and light, aren’t they? But Diana can’t stay mad at my cheer too long, for the very same reason I have been leaping up in the morning and for the same reason I am writing you this letter.
I admit that I have been putting off stating the purpose for this correspondence despite the fact that I know, logically, that you will be filled with joy on my behalf. The less sensical, more emotional part of myself is afraid of something I can’t quite place my finger on. Still, I imagine the build-up is worse than the reveal will ultimately be, so perhaps I will cut myself off now and simply write it down.
A few weeks ago, I told both of you that I am in love with Gilbert Blythe. As it turns out, Gilbert Blythe is in love with me too, and because of that, he did not propose marriage to Winifred Rose. Instead, he wishes to be with me. I know this because he showed up at my boarding house to ensure that we were finally in the same place, both physically and in our hearts. And it turns out that we were.
Even though I have had some time to adjust to this, writing it down feels impossibly momentous. We have been sending letters back and forth, Gilbert and I, and he says that he’s going to write to you asking for your blessing to court me. Matthew, Marilla, you were both there the day I realized I love Gilbert and therefore have a firsthand understanding of how much joy his confession has brought me. Even so, I want you to know with indelible certainty that nothing in the world would make me happier than to receive your blessing. In the days following what I had assumed to be his rejection, I know you saw how irritable, hopeful, skittish, and sluggish I was, all at the same time. The two of you handled it beautifully (and I pray that you never have to again), which makes me anxious to have your assurance that you do not resent him or me for this turn of events.
It was a long, twisted journey to each other, but I believe this is where Gilbert and I were supposed to land all along.
Perhaps I should be angry that he nearly married someone else, or perhaps I should feel nervous that he will change his mind. The two of you know more than anyone else that I have never felt beautiful or particularly worthy of the romantical kind of love. I have lived my life giving all of that energy to friends and family, something I pride myself on. But now that Gilbert feels like an inevitability in the chambers of my heart, I have come to understand that I have the capacity, the most wonderful capability, to hold all of that love within myself for everyone. Nothing and no one can lessen it. When a new person squeezes themselves into my heart, it doesn’t make less room for anyone else. So it doesn’t need to be stated, but for my own edification, let me express it again: I love the two of you endlessly and always will.
You, Matthew and Marilla, are my dream come true, my north star, my family. I chose you. You chose me. And when Gilbert decided that he loved me too much to marry someone else, even if he believed that I would never return his favour, he chose me as well. Without ever expecting anything in exchange, he chose me, and isn’t that just tremendous? That is the kind of love that comes with certainty. That is the kind of love that makes me feel safe, makes me trust him, makes my heart pound and my feet feel like they have been lifted off the ground.
I have been thinking a lot, lately, about what it is to grow. They say one “grows up” or “grows out” of something, whether that thing is a phase or a habit or a feeling. I always held the belief that growing would inherently accompany change. It is only now that I begin to suspect they are not direct parallels. I feel much the same as I always have, but sharper, somehow, and as though I possess a greater depth to the colourful hues that have always been inside of me. I am growing, I am learning, but no matter where I live or what becomes of me, I am and always will be Anne of Green Gables.
All of this to say—many things that I dreamed of are impossible. Auburn hair, unfreckled skin, the ability to move mountains with the sheer force of my will. But many things that I had thought were impossible are now irrevocably true because of the home you gave me. The chance to belong, to stay still, to have meaningful friendships, the priceless gift of being steadfastly loved by the most wonderful boy I know, and the ability to maintain my truest sense of self because I have realized I like her. I like who I am. All of the qualities that so many have attempted to stamp out of me over the years, be it my imagination or my energetic countenance or my love of the natural world, are qualities that I will grow with, but never again will want to change.
One day, I suspect I will have grown with Gilbert for longer than I have grown without him. Perhaps my newfound certainty comes from this, because the way I feel about him is the deepest proof I have that we are able to grow without having to change who we are.
Kiss the Avonlea sky for me and tell it that I miss it—but never, ever as much as I miss you two.
With all my love,