Today I returned from taking my overzealous dog to yank my arm off or choke himself on his leash to sniff and pee in spots, or a “walk” according to my FitBit to pause at the mailbox. Typically I get a pile of the usual: local coupons, a credit card offer or a medical bill. Or on a really good day there’s an Amazon box on the steps. Granted that holds diapers or Chlorox wipes, but that’s better than a bill.
I knew inside was a letter.
I, like many others depend on email and social media to keep up with friends and family. I text friends or family and even begrudgingly call now and then (because if you know me you know I don’t do idle chit-chat).
But these letters have a history. My childhood best friend and I were instantly attached, both being shy bookworms and the only girls on the block. We shared dates with our Cabbage Patch dolls Kelly and Cassandra, we built tipsy sandcastles with rusty Tonka Trucks and plastic shovels in the sandbox . We laughed often and we were almost always at each other’s house, unless we were spending the day fighting. Those days we would each sit in our own back yards until dusk, sneaking glances at the other one and pouting until one of our older brothers took pity on us and ended the fued.
And then when I was in second grade I sat on the cement stairs by my front door scratching a scabby knee and cried while watching her family drive away in their wagon, waving until I could no longer see the car.
While some friendships would end, ours just changed. We wrote letters. I’m talking multicolored pens and notebook paper novels about our daily life or challenges or experiments with writing. We’d mail Christmas and birthday gifts to each other. When she taught in Japan I would get beautiful origami paper letters sent to my college dorm room.
There was nothing better than seeing her handwriting on an envelope. This woman has known me since she was born. We both spoke French at one point, we both spent hours writing novels we (well, I) never finished, we took Creative Writing courses in college, and every time we meet or write we learn new pieces of each other’s lives and sometimes our own.
The letters are not penned as often now. Sometimes it’s a Facebook post or an email, just a quick message to let the other one know we were thinking of them. But my entire body sighs in comfort when I sit down with a fresh notebook page, choose my color of ink and write the magic words “Dear Sara.” Or, even better, seeing my name on an envelope in the mailbox.