Sunday, October 6, 2013
I would say this broke my heart.
Where, I wondered, had these old friends gone? These writers of letters (real letters, oh, real letters) sent to me from France, Peru, California, South Carolina, northern Pennsylvania, Boston; slipped beneath a dorm-room door. These smart, funny, sly, forgiving souls. These moments of angst. This precious raw stuff of real life.
They are coming to see me, they write. They remember me, they write. They don't actually hate me, they tell me. There's a book I must read, they implore. Did you really just say that? they ask me, and I wonder, What? What did I just say? All these years ago, what did I just say?
There is a boy who will only call me Bellen. There is a boy, indeed there are two, proposing marriage. There is someone who thanks me for words I wrote to her in our high school yearbook. "They saved my life," she says, and I want to find her now, make sure she's all right now, make sure her story turned out okay in the end.
These letters are devastating, beautiful, actual, true. They have been living, all these years, inside an envelope inside a box inside an attic. The only reason I found them yesterday is because a certain niece asked me to help her with a school project and I (worried about overwhelm) said a grudging yes.
But we had fun, didn't we, Julia? And you gave me back all these years.