I’d forgotten what was inside the heavy old box at the bottom of every desk I’ve had for the last quarter of a century.
When I was a young Butchster-misunderstood-art-school-geek, wayyyy before the internet, I exchanged hundreds of intimate letters with a penpal in NYC, a brilliant Jewish Lesbian 40 years older than me and just as isolated. After 5 years of banging our hearts out on old-school typewriters, we finally met. Then I understood why she was so isolated. The woman was cantankerous as hell! I went on to create my family and find my tribe, thanks for the internet. But I loved my friend, and even though I purge books and try to keep my ephemera tidy, I just don’t throw people away.
So today I opened this mystery box while cleaning. Ten pounds of beautiful familiar letters spilled out with her little arrows and scribbled comments in the margins. I still know her address by memory, including the zip code. She would be 90, and I wondered if she was still alive. So I googled. Would you believe my old penpal still lives in the same apartment and still has the same phone number for the last 25 years? So I called her. I told her how much she meant to me when I was young, and I still had all her letters. She is elderly and housebound now and was as delighted to hear my voice as I was to hear hers. So I am going to send her a letter today to honor all Hallmark endings.
Someone is gonna have to throw that box away when I am gone though. I hope they thumb through and read a paragraph or two. Such beautiful words she gave me.