On Saturday afternoon in preparation for my trip to San Juan, PR, tomorrow, I was taking down some summer clothes and swimsuits from my closet storage. In the process, I knocked over one of those copy paper boxes. I knew that this box had been moved from apartment to apartment, city to city, for a long time, but I didn’t know exactly what was in the box. I only knew (well, thought I knew) that there was some important stuff in there. In the spilled contents of the box, I saw random stuff – old bills, bank statements, solicitations, and magazines. My old tax files were in there from 2005 and 2006, so that was good to discover. There was also a plastic grocery bag in pile of stuff, that had not spilled from the box, and was still tied closed.
I sorted out what was being dumped, what was being shredded and what was being recycled. I re-stored the tax files and then sat down on the floor of my closet to find out what was in that bag.
My eyes first went to the red, blue and yellow envelopes of years of birthday cards, the cream colored envelopes of graduation invitations, picture cards of birth announcements and the rolled-up, crumpled and cried-on obituaries recalling the lives of those who are always on my mind in some way, like my cousin Cassandra.
But underneath those items… The first one was dated September 1993, postmarked from Jackson, Mississippi. It was a letter from Mrs. B.
Mrs. B has known me my entire life, I mean – since forever. Since I did not want to leave “D” in four square. Since I picked who I was not going to be friends with at school that day. (I may have been a jerk as a kid.) Since I participated (competitively!) in spelling bees. Our parents were friends so we grew up together. The nature of our friendship has changed and developed as we have, and we’ve remained “sisters from another mother” for over 30 years. We went to elementary but not middle and high school together, and she ended up going to Jackson State University for college.
October and November 1993. March 1994. There were more letters from Mrs. B., each telling me how classes were going, how much she missed friends and family, and informing me of her latest crushes and new arrivals or discoveries of fine guys around campus. Back then, if a guy was real fine, we would say he was OOEY-FI. I cannot even remember where that came from, but I saw it and cried laughing at the things we used to say!
The next cluster of letters was from Momma C, who was at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I met Momma C in Honor Band in 8th grade. I think we sat next to each other. We went to high school together and ended up becoming roommates when she transferred to my second (and last) undergrad school. Good times!
Momma C’s letters started in 1993 as well, covering details about parties, guys, and on-campus life in general, and also including updates about some of my other high school friends. This was because she has always been the “glue” in my high school crew and also because one other crew member went to SU with her. To this day, I call Momma C to find out the haps with everyone else and she provides me with all the news I can use.
It was through these letters that we shared everything – from the important to the mundane – about our collegiate experiences. You had to stand in line all day to register for classes? I did too! But then my (first undergrad) school started telephone registration in my second quarter there, and I didn’t have to go through that anymore. Your cafeteria has a WAFFLE MACHINE??! What?! I don’t even think we had a caf, and if we did, I’m pretty sure it was for athletes only. I can’t remember. And I surely don’t remember anything about a waffle machine! Anyway, what’s a good weekend for me to come visit?! 🙂 I was and remain always the traveler.
This was back in the day, when long distance calls cost a fortune, no one had cell phones and there was none of this unlimited long distance calling — or email! This was how we communicated with each other, until we met up at home for a certain weekend or holiday. I’ll still occasionally send my friends and family members notes on my stationery. I really like receiving non-bill, non-solicitation mail and figure they probably do too.
Later that Saturday afternoon, I recalled to two friends here in DC the discovery of these letters and how we communicated back then. We laughed hard and reflected upon how far technology has progressed in just the time since we were in college.
But after I laughed with them, I reflected upon how far my friendships with Momma C, Mrs. B and all of my close friends have progressed in the time that I’ve known them and how our priorities and conversations have evolved as we’ve matured. Growing as a person is where it’s at, and I am so thankful to have people who can share the experience with me.
NOTE: I’m off to PR tomorrow, so there may not be a Free for All Fridays post this week. I hope to be able to post on Monday. I noticed that I can schedule posts in the future! Stay tuned for Free for All Friday’s post this week.