Tuesday, July 3, 2012

closing the separation


My best friend lives more than 2,000 miles away. We met when I was five and she was six and she and her family moved into a house that was only a few hundred feet from mine. We were separated by one house, and the family that lived there graciously let us cut across their yard instead of walking down to the street, around the yard and up the other’s driveway. They must have known that when girls need their friends, the fastest route is the best. 

In church we sat together and made the pew tremble with our giggling. This always made my mom embarrassed, but I don’t remember her splitting us apart to keep it from happening again. In school, a grade separated us (she was one above me), so during the school year we walked each other to the bus and said goodbye at the entrance to school, then joined each other at the end of the day. 

During middle school, those tenuous years when friendships seem fragile and a small separation can unravel what was formed over nearly 10 years, we wrote notes to each other during the day, folded them up and handed them to each other when we got on the bus in the afternoon. Mostly they were filled with musings on the boy we liked (yes, for a short time we liked the same boy and miraculously our love for each other — and the fact that he didn’t know that either one of us was alive, really — helped our friendship to outlive that crush). 

Those notes formed a foundation for our relationship, which would endure further separation as the years passed. When she graduated from high school, she went to Kenya for a few months and wrote me letters faithfully. In college we emailed and visited and made each other mix tapes with the names of the songs and artists written on a handmade cover (I wish I’d had the foresight to keep those!). Now visits are rare, time zone differences make the phone difficult, and with three kids and one on the way, she’s usually brief on email. Every once in a while we still send a hand written note across the miles, because we both agree that in the absence of the other, nothing is like that familiar handwriting that we’ve been reading for twenty years. Hers is as familiar to me as her voice and her dark curly hair and happy eyes. 

I thought of her when I found this lovely stationary this morning. I like to make cards to write to loved ones, but there is just something about writing sheets (is that what you call them?) that makes me want to write a long letter. Maybe it’s because I know the thrill of receiving one, the way it can close the separation, however big or small, and bring someone right to you.

(I especially like the ones with flowers and the life is poetry set.)

1 comment:

  1. Lovely. I just started a letter to my grandparents on special Japanese stationery and it feels good to use it!

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