Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Letter

I suppose all of us have had a relationship with someone and lost touch. College roommates, co-workers, girlfriends/boyfriends, relatives, and friends - we are reminded of them at any given time. Looking at a book on a shelf can pop the conversation with Mary into your mind.  You’re driving past the restaurant at 5th and Main when you remember the meal you shared with John. What’s Mary doing nowadays? And John?

Generally, I think of her or him as living a normal life, as I am. I don’t perceive any horrible situations because somehow the grapevine would have done its job and passed along the info; and sad but true, bad news travels faster than good news.

I don’t envision anything grand either. Most of us don’t change vastly from who we were ten or twenty years ago. Our trajectories seem predetermined. A dynamic go-getter as a young person is probably still that person, excelling with money and all its perks. Those who have long practiced their faith, I assume, still have peace with their beliefs and are encouraging others. The talented and creative should be deeply entrenched in their passions. The givers are still giving; the haters are still hating… Unless that horrible or sublime thing has happened, deeming someone not recognizable as the person of years past.

The majority - traveling through life on a general path - we’re progressing along at average pace, having our ups and downs, alternating between “one step forward and two back” and “two steps forward and one step back ;” hopefully more of the latter, as it is a pace that allows us to move in a long term positive direction.

Once these old acquaintances enter our minds, we delve into the reasons for our renewed curiosity. Maybe we liked them a lot and wonder why we didn’t stay in touch. We’re lonely and/or bored, perhaps; or simply, our lives have freed up and we have time to renew the relationship. One of my girlfriends is seeing a man who was at college with us after her long marriage that ended a couple years ago. How did they reconnect – facebook, through friends, phone call, text, email, a letter?

Ahhh… you say; a letter. We used to do that.

Letters: I’m told that you’re good at it or you’re not. I’m good at it. The eye-pleasing stationery and the pen that connects to it with ease, the quiet space needed for thinking, transferring my message to the paper… I like that.

Emails: Not the same. Quick thoughts, rapid movement of the fingers, SEND, BAM, it’s gone! Was the intent of the message accurately relayed?  After getting an email from a businessperson and discussing its content with my friend Denise, I told her that it didn’t answer my concerns, though all the concise wording was there. Denise reminded me that writing, especially an email, is not the best form of communication for some, including herself.

“I prefer to talk on the phone,” she said. And as I speak with her often on the phone, I get it. Her honesty and patience are palpable.

Me… I tend to eject every uncontrollable, incomplete thought or sentence from my mouth, possibly sending the wrong message; so…

I’m gearing up to write a letter to a friend from the past.  When we met, we were excited to have each other in our lives, chatting incessantly about the things we had in common and opining about life. We spent time together with our kids and introduced our spouses; it was the honeymoon phase.

And then the conversation and outings became less frequent. We began to see our differences, though nothing disturbed me about her. She was an inspiration – intelligent, organized, good at domesticity, etc. I envied her, which evoked a pinch of self-consciousness here and there.

In hindsight, I wonder why? Maybe it was… the  pending menopause. Ha! (Gotta blame it on something.)

That was nine years ago. Since then, I’ve seen her a couple times; both of us hurried with errands, but stopping to give the quick update, mostly on our kids, and then saying the pleasant good-bye.

Should I write the letter to her, asking what happened? It was a worthwhile friendship. I’m reminded of her occasionally and I’m curious about her life and family. Not seeking a gal-pal relationship; just a dissipation of the cloud of wondering.

Hmmm... What do you think?

Any old acquaintances that you're curious about?

image found here


Midlife Roadtripper said...

Absolutely you should write a letter to her.

I'm not one to talk on the phone. Tethers me even though we phone don't have connecting cords anymore. Email? I will fight with anyone via email. Bring it. I'll kick your ass.

When I want to tell someone how I truly feel? I hand write a letter. My favorite place in any book store or gift shop is the note card/paper section. For on that paper is when my intimate self emerges. My mind --- to pen --- to paper -- you get me.

joeh said...

What could it hurt?

Oh, and emails, the rule should be to write them and then save it for a day and then reread before hitting send.

Barb said...

Yes, of course write a letter and perhaps reconnect. I still write letters and notes to people. I like making my photos into note cards to add a little personal touch. I notice that my children are also teaching their children that notes are much appreciated. I don't expect them, but when I receive one, I know the person took extra time and put some thought into what they want to say. When I get note or a letter, I savor the experience of opening and reading it. Then, I often prop it on my kitchen counter for awhile to remind me of the person who sent it. When my mother died when I was still a young woman, I found a drawer in her bureau full of notes and letters that I and our children had sent to her. She thought they were too precious to throw away. I think that friends are too precious to throw away, too. I hope you reconnect, Anita.

Anita said...

I tried putting a comment on your blog but my phone is fickle to say the least, ha! So I'll leave it here.
Kris, a blogger friend in Michigan... her comment follows:

I wanted to say I'm rather torn on this subject. I've tried to restart some friendships in the past that have faded away for no particular reason. And upon rekindling the friendship, that spark we had in the past will flame up for a time, only to fade away again. I've come to realize that friendships have lifespans just like everything else. Some are in for the long haul, some may be made thru shared circumstances, such as the hospital room when loved ones are sick...there's a bond...and sometimes a deep one, but life goes on from that point. I wish I'd learned this sooner in life. When it happened in younger years I'd take it personally..."Why don't they LIKE me any more?!"... but at the age of 62 I still have people come and go in my life and I take it a day at a time, thankful for whatever friends I have for the moment.

LL Cool Joe said...

Hmm I'm not sure, sometimes it better to move on. Sadly friends come and go, they were a part of your life at that time and they may not fit into your life as it is now. I think I'd put my energy into making a new friend, one that relates to your life right now.

Anita said...

JEN said, "Letters are lovely to receive."

Abby said...

I want you to write the letter. I believe that you are good at it, and this would be the best way for you to contact her. It doesn't have to be "pushy", just a getting-in-touch. Written communication is so rare these days, a letter is special.

That said, I'm also wondering if the friendship maybe just ran its course, as some relationships do. I have a very good "lost" friend that I miss, but we stopped hanging out because I moved away. I just assume we would still be "gal pals" if I hadn't moved, but who knows?

Mari said...

I think you should write the letter. I bet she would like to get it and may be having the same thoughts herself. I know I've had the same thing with an old friend and I think we just drifted because situations change, but recently she has come back into my life and it's a joy!

Tabor said...

I do not know that I could ever write the letter as that is too bold a gesture for me. I am a secretive person in some ways. I would also be concerned with where it might lead and how I would have to relinquish control. These are childish reasons to not write. I think you should do it because she will be immensely touched by such a gesture. This post really touched my heart and mind and I thank you. I have had some similar thoughts as I go through an album on an afternoon or think about a memory. I regret the drifting apart of old friendships and blame myself. I do not seem self-centered to those who know me, but I am a bit cold at times and that is a good way to lose a heart-mate.

Linda Hensley said...

It's so good to see you post again! I'm a letter writer (and emailer), so sure, write the letter. She'll feel appreciated, and it feels good to express positive feelings. I reconnected with a couple of long lost friends a couple of years ago and was thrilled to find that I still like them just the same as I did back when, or maybe even more now because their youthful idealism is now ingrained into their practical adultness. We live far apart, but it feels good to put them back in the "active" folder. We can never have enough good people around us!

yonca said...

Hi Anita. I like letters but social media has clearly changed how we interact and communicate with each other.When we first heard of Twitter and it's 140 character limit, we wondered how in the world we could convey something meaningful in ~25 words. Social media allows us the luxury of easily connecting from all walks of life. Anyways, I have some friends that I enjoy to email most of the time. Receiving a letter from them would also be nice.

ShadowRun300 said...

I have a friendship that ended much the same way. Every Christmas though, I get a generic card from her with no handwritten note, and every year I send her a card filling her in on what's going on in my life, and offering my phone number should she like to get together. She has never called.
So while I think a letter to her would be therapeutic for you, and likely well-received by her, it's very possible the friendship has just run its course. BUT, if you never write, you will never know. Perhaps she's been looking for the chance to get in contact with you.

Bryan Jones said...

It is a shame that the letter writing seems to have drifted to extinction. Electronic communication just doesn't convey the same intimacy.

Munir said...

Once I left India after getting married in 1971 I wrote letters to afew friends for some time. Then it seemed very natural that we lost touch. Now I wonder what every one is doing.My brother found some of his high school friends onface book and they have become grand fathers like himself.

Hilary said...

I think if she keeps coming back to your mind in a positive light, you should try to stay in touch – at least from time to time.

I semi-recently reconnected with an old high school friend. We exchanged the catch up emails and learned about the paths our respective lives have taken. The new-old friendship has stayed in that venue only.

I do believe that email can be very revealing about a personality. Sure, it can be difficult to get your intentions across without facial expressions but it allows you the freedom to take your time and say precisely what you mean.

So, contact your friend. There may just be more you need to share with one another. If not, what's the harm? But you're a fine and clever blogger, Anita. You inspire discussion so easily. However, I'm pretty certain you've already made up your own mind about what to do. ;)