Somewhere in this house are two shoe boxes stuffed with almost every letter I got in middle and high school. Some are notes from friends and a couple of boyfriends. Some are church bulletins passed between me and one of my friends during the Sunday sermon.
Then there’s more than ten years’ of letters from my childhood pen pal, Wendy. She was a friend from my days at a private Christian school. I stopped going there in the fourth grade, and at some point during the fifth grade, I mailed her a letter, even though we lived in the same city. Why neither one of us actually picked up the phone and called the other is beyond me.
In the ninth grade, I did get the bright idea to write and tell her that we should meet up at the football game between our high schools. (She went to Wade Hampton; I went to Mauldin) A couple of weeks later, I received a letter from her with a return address of Illinois, so we actually did have to write letters. The irony is just amazing.
Throughout the years we exchanged school pictures, prom pictures and graduation invitations from high school and college. I even got a wedding invitation from her, but I lost touch with her before I got married. I always found it amazing that we wrote to each other for so many years. As far as I know, she still lives up north.
Some of those school notes are so funny to think about now. I can imagine them stacked in that box — folded in whatever origami-esque style that was popular then, starting off with “Hey! What’s up?” and ending with corny phrases like “sorry so sloppy” or “freaky friends forever” so that we could make the first letter three lines tall and write the words on separate lines so that phrase looked like an anagram.
Somewhere in those boxes is a note from a girl named Jodi. I met her during my junior year. She had just moved to town, and we had history class together. We became acquaintances during the first month or so of the school year, during which time she wrote the note. Then she started dating a senior football player, and while we still spoke to each other in class, she hung out with his crowd. She was always a sweet person, and she eventually married that football player after they both graduated from college.
Unfortunately, a couple of years before our ten-year reunion, she died in a horseback riding accident. I remember my mom telling me about her death, and my first thought was that she had once written a note to me in history class.
It’s a shame to think that many kids today probably don’t have these old-fashioned, handwritten notes to save as tiny moments of their youth. Many of them are “texting” each other on their mobile phones, IMing each other on their computers or sending e-mails. It all changes and passes too quickly.