Thursday, August 31, 2006

Cool Water in the Desert

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.


Andrea said...

My childhood friend Becky only lived in my town for a year, but it was long enough for us to forge a deep friendship. Most of our contact with each other has been through letters the size of novels (hers always signed professing her love of the New Kids on the Block, mine simply ending with, "Love, Andrea".) and then through email and later, my blog. We don't actually talk often, but when we do, it feels like home. It feels like Friday nights staying at each other's house trying to scare each other with creepy stories, and Saturday mornings fixing our hair to go out bike riding and find adventure. It reminds me that while she's not near me, she'll always be near me. In fond memories and in my heart.

Dawn said...

The seed of who we are always remains at our core. We just use different things to decorate it at different times.

Her Bad Mother said...

I would so love to track down some old friends and get copies of the letters that I'd written. Words that I've forgotten. Wow.

Do post about it when you get the letters. I'd love to know how they read to you...

Raquita said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Raquita said...

my best friend from high school and I are distant friends now, she lives in our college town, i live here. we never quite got back the high school level we got a bit closer after I had Cammy but then we drifted again. I don't know that we will ever find our way to a friendship that satisfies the ache that I got when she chose to disapear

Lisa said...

You are so right! I still shoeboxes filled with letters from my best friends and boyfriends from high school. Boxes and boxes. They are treasures -- each and every one of them.

Anonymous said...

I have kept every letter anyone has ever sent me. I used to be such a letter-writer.

I miss that.