Tucked in a pocket behind a Unicorn Cafe bench, there is a journal full of letters to lost loves and law school, odes to delicious muffins and Tums and elaborate drawings of cities. College students, 8-year- olds and the elderly have been filling its pages for years.
Cafe owner Tracie Dahlke, 31, left the journal there in 2006. “I love valentines and so I was like, ‘Let’s have people do a community love letter,’” she says.
She wrote the first letter to get it started and then let people discover it on their own or through friends. The original journal, an otherwise unused Christmas present, is now filled with letters that Dahlke enlarged for the cafe’s Valentine’s Day display. She left a new journal in the bench this summer.
“I love the anonymity of it and all the different aspects of love that are ad- dressed,” says Dahlke. “Some are really sarcastic, some are filled with passionate desire and others are bitter.” She is still deciding what to do with the journal, but would like to make it available to others. Her first step is the art project, and she hopes it will inspire people to contribute more. Dahlke has considered self-publishing the letters or posting them in a blog.
“I feel like some of the people who wrote in this want [to have] it,” she says. “Because it’s a collective, it’s a different, interesting, fun book.”