What I Did for Summer Vacation, Part III

Continued from Thursday, September 9 post.

Two short posts this week to finish out my summer vacation reflections.

It was a summer of images and letters.

Independence Day, Belize, 1994

Each of the women left with me a small stack of photos from our time in Belize. Tricia left me a bundle of the letters I had written to her over the years, a record of new living situations, dating misadventures, graduate school, my grandmother’s death, Oaxaca, the return to Albuquerque.

Letters have tied me to these women.

Avi's Wedding, 1997

When we returned to the U.S. from Belize and gathered for Avi’s wedding in Oregon, we decided to initiate a circular letter. I would write to Avi. Avi would add her letter and send the packet on to Vicki. Vicki to Tricia. Tricia to Jennifer. And Jennifer to me.

Chillin' in Jemez Springs

Our agreement was that no one could hold the letters for more than two weeks, and for the first two cycles, we were diligent. I think Vicki was the first to write, “I would like to not apologize for having kept the letters so long.” I realized then that the letters were an extension and expression of our friendship, that holding onto them did not mean we did not take them seriously or that we did not care, but that we cared enough to devote to them the kind of attention they deserved.

Giggling Springs

Each time the packet returned to me, I reread the entire thing, starting with my own letter. Sometimes a year passed before they returned. Sometimes longer. Sometimes, even after writing a complete letter with a beginning, middle and end, I held the letters because something inside told me I had more to say, a longer postscript. I started a letter in the fall of 2003 about a short, tumultuous relationship that was about to crash. I finished in January 2004, a few days after my Grandma China died. Sometimes the repetition of themes, the ways I struggled with the same issues—relationship angst, worry over my future, wondering when/if I would have children—embarrassed me. Other times, I hardly recognized the woman who had penned the sorrow on the page.

Castle Demolition, Henry Rael

The letters were in the apartment the night of the fire, in a wire holder on my courtyard-side living room windowsill. A week before the fire, I held the packet and contemplated putting it in my carryon, imagining the time I would have in Oaxaca to write, especially the second week, after Henry returned to the U.S. I decided against it, and for now I can’t think of a compelling reason why. Maybe I thought it best to use those extra days to work on my book, or if I found some time to devote to friends, it would be better spent with the amigas and compañeras I do not have access to in the States. Whatever the reason, the letters stayed. Not only my last one with the long addendum, wondering when the universe would deem me ready to be in a solid relationship, but all of my letters, dating back to that first one on blue construction paper with my collage Christmas tree, dated December 1997. Dearest Women, I wrote. It’s how I started all of my letters. Dearest Women. This is how I will start the letters again.

Look for Summer’s conclusion on Thursday, September 16.

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Published in: on September 14, 2010 at 12:00 am  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. How sad. Of all the things I heard you loose in the fire, that was the saddest.

  2. I didn’t know. I now have a pit in my stomach. So many things to say about transformation and burning and how your hearts contain it all, but really I mostly mean I’m sorry. I know how important those are to all of you.


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