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.