Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pandora's Box

This morning I opened my Pandora's Box -- a small, antique trunk of letters I've collected since I was young -- half expecting the letters to burst forth on fluttering wings. The letter writing, and the collection, began with my first serious correspondence with my best friend, Suzin, at the end of 7th grade.

After she moved with her family back to West Germany, we wrote each other almost weekly for years. These letters, still scented with perfume, offer a passionate reflection of girlhood friendship that seems more reminiscent of an 18th Century romance than any modern day text messaging could capture:

Already three years have gone by since we last saw each other, but our bond has become stronger and healthier! Nothing can separate us now. Our friendship is so special, that no one can describe or touch or disturb it. Not many people in the world have this kind of luck, this kind of priceless treasure, this kind of love. Not even the Atlantic Ocean could keep us apart, so what could? 
Suzin's cards and long letters, mostly folded in thin aerogramme blue envelopes stamped Mit Luftpost, now stack almost a foot high. They were followed by the blue-lined binder paper scrawl of my first love at eighteen, ecstatic about the start of our three-year letter exchange over long-distance:
You wrote me two letters! When I finished the first one I forlornly poked through the mail, wishing there would be another one. When I found it I couldn't believe it. I can't wait to write back tomorrow. I'm going to tell you everything in this letter too.
My college friend, Brian, writing his return address as "Me, Myself and the Other Guy" or "Meaningless Existence Sprouted From Nothing", expounded on his philosophies and soul-mate searches: 
Your poem! Strange that I had recently gotten into poetry and then my mailbox responded with a call from a close, distant soul that is somehow attached to mine. Nonetheless this lone soul was encountering similar experiences at the same time.
Rarely now do I add to the paper bunches, held together with rubber bands or colored string. There are the birthday cards, the love notes from my partner, and old letters sent from my grandmother's collection: my mother's descriptions of early married life on Greenbrae Boardwalk or in Brazil in the 1960's, and my father's tales from his first trip to Europe and Israel just before.

Maybe some day I'll use the letters as background for a story. Maybe I'll return them all to sender. For now, reading the words of those who have known me, or those who came before me, helps me to remember who I am and where I've come from. 


Yurika said...

I miss that excitement and joy from finding a letter in the mailbox, opening the envelope and finding handwritten words from someplace else, from some person's heart.

soulyluna said...

Beautiful dose of nostalgia. We are learning to write "the friendly letter" in our class of second and third graders. It's a joy to be reminded of that feeling of finding tangible thoughts in a mailbox. It also reminds me to always write back to my students for every little note or letter they give to me. I am enjoying your blog immensely.

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