I attended a seminar at the National Writers Workshop last spring entitled Writing Life Stories. The speaker, Bill Roorbach, gave us an assignment, a prompt if you will. He suggested we write a letter to someone we haven't seen in a very long time and explain ourselves. Simple enough. And yet I'm looking at the screen thinking, "Can I really do this?" Here goes.
It's been ten years since you left. Ten years since we last spoke. And yet here you are in my thoughts, in my blog. Blogs didn't even exist when you left. Why am I writing about you here? Shouldn't this be private, just between us? Maybe not.
What have I been up to? Well, since you asked...I stayed here. Right where you left me. Well, not right where you left me, on the other side of town. Way on the other side. I have a different job, a different home, some new friends, but a lot of the old ones are still around too. I've grown up a lot. I am a very responsible person, except when I am completely irresponsible and do foolish things. Sometimes alcohol is involved, but sometimes not. Sometimes it's just me going with my gut, and my gut being horribly wrong.
My dad died. It's been four years. I still can't believe he's gone. I can't tell you how much I miss picking up the phone and hearing his voice. Today for example, it was cooler than it's been and I thought, "If I called today, he would tell me to stay warm, the weather's changing." I'd give anything to hear him tell me to bundle up, because "You always come down with something when the weather changes." Isn't that crazy? I wanted to call my Dad and have him tell me to bundle up. Of all the things I would want to hear him say, that's all I can come up with now? But that's what he would say, that was one of the ways he would tell me that he loved me.
He was sick for a long time and we were all with him when he passed. I'm blessed to have had him in my life and to have been there when he left his.
Now, let me tell you some good things before you get to thinking that everything has been a mess for the last decade. I live in an adorable apartment, I have a good job, I have some of the greatest friends in the world, and a loving family to keep me grounded. Plus I'm writing again, which I think is a huge deal.
After you left, I wrote a lot. I kept a journal for years. Then I slowed down. When my dad's health got really bad, I stopped completely. I didn't write for a long time. I couldn't write. I wouldn't write. I know, I always write when I'm hurting. It usually helps. But this was different. How was I going to write about this pain without everything inside me going haywire? I thought I had nothing left to say, no words to say it with anymore. I was wrong. I had a lot to say and about a million words at my disposal. I write for work, I write on my blog, I write long letters to people I will probably never see again, I write short cards to people I see all the time. I think I've gotten better as a writer. I even went to a national workshop for writers. And there were some "real" writers there. I guess that makes me real too. Like the Velveteen Rabbit or something.
You've been on my mind a lot lately. That's not so surprising, considering that I've been looking at the stuff I wrote when you were here. I've been tweaking it, posting it, showing it to people. I've been wondering what to do with the book, my book, our book. Should I try to get it published? Is it enough that it exists? These questions are slightly rhetorical, since I think I already know what you think.
Thank you, by the way. For always encouraging me, for being a fan of mine, for everything. Really. I know back then things sometimes seemed a mess, but you know what? I think back to that time and smile. We were young, slightly crazy and slightly a lot of other things. We were supposed to be a mess. Maybe time has colored my memories, but I think, for the most part, we had fun. I relish the good times and I appreciate everything I learned from you. And, yes, I miss you. And...yes...I love you still. Because we grew up together and because you were the first person I felt that way about. And because when you weren't making me crazy, you were making me happy.
Someone asked me once what I would do if you walked back into my life today. Well, once I got over the shock of seeing you and released you from a giant hug, I guess I'd ask you what you've been up to for the last decade. We'd probably end up at Rudy's, because that's where we always ended up. They have real food there now. I know that sounds like crazy talk, but it's totally true.
There's a lot more I want tell you, but I think that's enough for now. In a nutshell, I'm thirty-five years old, living completely alone for the first time in my life and trying to make the most of things. I'm not at the top of my game, but I'm not, as you once put it, "in a foxhole with shells going off around me." I'm not a superman, or a decoy. I'm just a woman in transition. I know there's a bright side somewhere. And I know I'm going to get there soon. I figure as long as I get out the door every morning, anything is possible. I know, I'm still a closet optimist. But that's what you loved about me.
I hope this letter finds you well and happy. And someday, I hope this letter finds you.