February 7, 2014

Letters from my SELF.

New Years Eve was rushing up at me again. But I could feel a creeping despondency all week threatening to derail me. To defy it, I decided to go ahead and host my usual Impromptu Black-Tie Potluck New Years Eve Party. Make-up, high-heels, dress and perfume on, I pushed that vulnerable darkness down and threw open my arms to greet my guests.

I have an old friend named Pascale Girardin; Pascale and I grew up together, meaning we went from wild young women in university to responsible mid-lifers. The foundation of our friendship was laid in our twenties, most of which time we spent being insane rollerskating punklets, dating guys, partying and doing art.

I hadn't seen Pascale in a few months - she's pretty busy running her high-end ceramics company, traveling around the world and creating fantastically beautiful installations in hotels, restaurants and fashion houses. As I type this, she's designing what will be the world's tallest *something top secret*. Is that not the cool? She is a true and original talent.

So anyways, when she showed up at my party I was super happy to see her. We settled on the chaise longue to catch up; this turned into reminiscing....

Pascale was reminding me about that time in 1983 when I talked her into going to some tacky downtown bar to ply free drinks from unsuspecting tourist dudes; being poor artistes we had to be inventive about partying.


To escape their eventual expectations we climbed out the bar's toilet window and went to Les Foufounes Électriques to hang out with our friends. That's back when Les Foufounes was new, decrepit and sooooo coooool.

We used to be so crazy.


I suddenly felt my happy-mask dissolve. The tears welled up...


I frayed and fell apart at my own party.


I had been feeling lost lately. As I mentioned before, the creeping darkness can be tamed but it always comes back. When you grow up, get married, have a family and spend years and years perfecting your craft, dedicating yourself to earning money and raising the kids...even if you find happiness in that, you do somehow forget who you were when you were newly formed. You look around and you can't remember how you got where you are now.

All of this came out in the safety of Pascale's embrace, on New Year's Eve.


She let me cry and made some comforting noises. The party went on.

*     *     *     *     *

Later that week, Pascale came by to visit. She opened her bag and pulled out a bunch of old letters.

"I was leaving my place and I just thought I'd grab these. They're the letters you wrote to me when we were travelling..."


"Look at these things! This is who you are, JC."


I blinked.

Pascale went on, "I don't know how, but the mailman always managed to get these crazy letters to me in Georgia, San Francisco and even Australia! Look, this one's written completely diagonally..."

I opened one. And in my handmade pencil and ink marks on paper, partly written and partly drawn, I saw "me".


In a case of seemingly random serendipity, Pascale happened to reach deep into our past and bring me back my self. 


The self I thought I had lost.


She has always been a great friend.


The HUZ went up into the loft and brought down all my old shoe boxes full of handwritten letters from Pascale and many other friends from before I was married; before the days of faxes and emails! Pascale and I spent the rest of the evening poring through them, making new memories from the old.

Here's some exerpts from my letters to her.

I was obviously obsessed with sex. No change there.
I was confident.
Vapidity reigned! This is a rather terrible drawing.
Too funny not to share.

It's been brilliant for me to reread my old letters from my self. I think I will return some of my shoebox letters to their senders so they can have a peek at their own pasts.

Have any of you ever done this? Those of you who have never written or received a hand-written letter, should try it. Email, texting, and Facebooking doesn't even come close.

Thank-you Pascale.


16 comments:

  1. I have a few journal entries, copies of letters I wanted to keep, and outpourings from the heart that I just had to get on paper. I haven't fundamentally changed, as I see you haven't, but I have grown, that is for sure. I love the idea of sending some of your letters back to their owners - we could all do with a little perspective.

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    1. You nailed it. The perspective was invaluable to me.

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  2. Mr2Half and I still have a sampling of the letters we wrote to each other. We wrote so many that it became cumbersome to keep them all. Over the years we would pull them out and read some and discard some along the way. He has always said he knew it was going to be an extra good letter if I used the "good blue stationary." He knew I would give a lot of thought to those letters so as to not waste the expensive stuff. To this day, I like to send paper cards, and sometimes, I send family members a real, on paper letter just for posterity.

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    1. I love that you and Mr2Half do that reminiscing every so often through your letters to each other.

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  3. Oh, I just love this. After my mom died, I found a box that she kept of all the letters I ever sent her. It made me remember her through remembering me. If that makes sense. And then just two days ago (see we're on the same wavelength) I opened my drawer of stuff I stuff stuff into and read through all these random notes. It makes you get back in touch with that little piece that gets lost.

    And that's a great friend -- there aren't many who you can cry on like that.

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    1. Wow...that's an incredible perspective to see yourself through your mother's eyes. I just cried. THANKS A LOT TAMMY.

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  4. I love these kinds of posts. Especially in this winter of neverending winter. I think everyone could use a visit from an old friend. Thanks.

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    1. Thanks Chris...real stories are the best. I'm going to try to do more of them.

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  5. So cool that you (and Pasquale) kept all those old letter. I truly regret not keeping all my old correspondence. Nice post, love your drawings, too!

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    1. Yeah, I don't know why I was saving them. Maybe I just knew that someday they'd be 'worth' something - I mean value in terms of meaningfulness. I'm so glad Pascale kept them too!

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    1. I am glad you liked it. Thank-you for taking the time to tell me so Diane.

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  7. Very nice story, made your frere-cadet cry. In some ways it's nice to lose yourself, but not lose touch. Great to have a friend, who has held you close, so close that they saved the letters you sent them as keepsakes for themselves of you. And great enough of a friend to share their keepsake with you. You were lost, and no, your friend did not find you in a box, what was saved helped you find yourself. Lucky you. I have saved boxes of letters too.

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    1. I'm glad. We'll have to do an exchange soon. Thanks for stopping by to read this bro.

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  8. Hi Birthday Twin!! :)
    I read this over the weekend and was crying with you, happy tears, WTF tears, you've got a friend tears.

    I don't mind getting older, but I do miss the old me sometimes. It's nice to have friends that remind you of that gal isn't it?

    I loved this. Love you.

    HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY MONTH (I'm celebrating all month, aren't you? ;) )
    xo

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  9. Loved this! A few years ago I had a similar encounter. I finally reunited with a group of HS friends. I was feeling lost, too grown-up, to responsible. they reminded me of stories about myself, how crazy and fun I was. It was such a shock to think I had forgotten, no not forgotten, put that part of me aside. never again.

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Cuz You Rocketh.