Some recent happenings had me thinking a lot about certain painful events from my past. Last night I found myself up late while the rest of my family slept, looking at journals and letters from years ago.
It's amazing to me how much a life can change over the course of a decade. As I looked back at some of the things I wrote as a teenager, I felt amazed at how vividly I still could remember some things, and how many other things it seems I'd almost completely forgotten. Perhaps, in some cases, chosen to forget.
Last night I also sent an email to an old friend of mine, a person I've known since childhood, who once, before I foolishly let spaces in miles and years come between us, was as close a confidant of mine as any friend I've ever had ever has been.
Once upon a time, in those primitive late 20th century days when email and the internet were still newfangled, I was quite the prolific writer of handwritten letters. In the email I sent last night, asked if my friend still had some letters I'd written by hand almost ten years ago, and, if so, if it wouldn't be to much trouble for me to get some copies in the mail.
I wasn't certain my old friend would still have the letters. In fact, I felt like a bit of an idiot, asking this person I now rarely speak with to find something so obscure.
Today, that friend wrote me an email that said of course the letters had been kept. In chronological order. And of course they would be photocopied, in short order, and of course they would be sent.
And then my friend went on to write a very long email that was so very like the letters and emails we used to exchange years ago when we were still children, so much like some of the very letters I had been reading just last night, that, just for a moment, I felt as if the years of distance and change between us had fallen away.
Just as this friend's letters always used to, this one made me smile despite my troubles, not because it was a happy letter (it really wasn't), but because my friend's words made me feel so very much at home.
And I remembered that there were so many things in my childhood and adolescence that made me very happy right alongside all the things that made me very sad. And reading my old friend's voice, so different and yet so much the same, I remembered that no matter how the events of our lives change us through time, there is a core element to our selves that does not change.