“Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
I rejoice that things are as they are…” (Ash Wednesday , T. S Eliot,)
Today was spent looking through a barrel that I sent to Jamaica before I left the States (and only just became acquainted with again), reading through old cards and letters, and cooking steamed fish, while listening to Barrington Levy on repeat. Writing that it sounds like the day wasn’t very busy (and it wasn’t), but it was at once, fun, tiring, draining and rewarding.
Cards and letters—1) It’s fantastic to receive a letter or postcard—the many stamps, your name in print, the anticipation of opening something that was special enough to have been sent. Even the smallest news, once traveled over many miles, grows in size. It seems my friends and I wrote many letters; there were numerous letters (12 addresses!) all with varying messages.
There is a letter from my brother, dated February 2, in which he writes about his first impressions of Hong Kong, where he’s now lived for well over a decade—“People spend most of their time working and shopping. I may just take some vacation and see some other countries (Thailand, Indonesia)—too bad you can’t come visit, but I guess there are better things to do than tour Asia with a brother for a chaperone.” He then goes on to give advice about what to do in my first year of college, sadly, none of which I took.
There’s an article about overcoming procrastination from my father, in which he highlighted the word procrastination. He also wrote, “Don’t put off reading this,” which makes me chuckle, because I didn’t read it for about two weeks.
And, there are the others that are just humorous; 1) VPL sent a 27th birthday card, and wrote, “Much love and happiness, and by the way, you’re old.” (Huh? Did we really think 27 was old?) 2) NM, the most consistent writer, sent 5 and 6 page-long letters, to almost every address, about her mother-in-law, living in a different country, her views on marriage, and our shared time in college. 3) A friend from work sent a letter while I was away on vacation recounting all that had happened at the job (Contempo Casuals)—the very last place I was thinking about. 4) A friend met in London wrote about “some guy” she was dating, who’s now her husband and the father of her two children. 5) A Brazilian friend, who’s more like a sister, sent numerous photos and cards of places I should visit when I next visited Brazil—“Florianapolis, Santa Catarina, you’d love to know this place.”
Then, there are the letters that speak of major life changes: 1) the early years of my of my cousin’s first son—“K is mad big. He just was christened two weeks ago. He’s either eating, trying to sing and talk, or running around destroying the crib.” (K is now in high school and taller than me.) 2) There’s a letter from my mother, after her first few months back in university, “I had a bad case of writer’s block and had a million pieces of little notes, but then the floodgate opened and all was well. Will send you copies of the papers. School is exciting, but this is still the honeymoon period, don’t know what the future will bring.” (She graduated with flying colors.)
It was great reading and re-reading letters from family, friends, and former students, all of whom professed love….but, then the letters stopped in 2006. I wonder did the letters stop because everyone simply resorted to emailing one or two-line emails, or because I was negligent in answering the letters? It also struck me that I had such an abundance of letters and postcards, because my loved ones and I were never in the same place: the children being born, the guys that were just “some guy” I never met, the new houses bought unvisited, and I wonder, was it enough to keep in touch, write letters to each other that trickled into the thinnest stream, and not partake in any of life’s events?
Yet, there are so many letters with well wishes, with warm words, that I think it’s more than worth it to be loved, even for a breath, in a certain place, a certain time. There’s a signed card with the messages: “I loved to know you. We will remember you!” –Ruiva, and “You are so cool! I hope you be happy!”—Ingrid. As simple as it sounds, their messages made me happy.