Have I missed a January blog? [Become! Believe!] seems to have been the last of the last, or have you problems you’ve not told me about which are holding up the flow? No secrets, please — we need each other, my friend.” This, yesterday in an email from my dear “pen pal” Jean in Australia.
Yes, I’ve problems I’ve not told her about, and the reverse is probably true for her too.
My days fly by so quickly that I didn’t realize it’s almost mid-January and I haven’t written one blogging word. I’ve been fogged in, but to paraphrase myself, “Wherever I went, here I am now.”
Jean and I, and husbands Steve and Peter, met on an Alaskan trip in 2006. We bonded at once. Though Jean and Steve have lived in Australia for forty-some years, they’re still English subjects, as is Peter who has lived in this country fifty years.
Jean and I decided we would be “pen pals.” But when I returned from Alaska I started sending emails to Steve’s computer, knowing Jean didn’t have one. She hated the idea of typed letters, snail or email. Wasn’t too long before she was a convert. She even got a laptop — “machine,” she calls it — for Christmas.
We’ve had a spirited correspondence ever since, all of which I’ve saved to Word files, some 1132 pages, 654,648 words. That’s two to three John Grisham novels’ worth! We think we’re going to collaborate on an epistolary book one day, though neither of us likes reading them!
We share funny stories, talk about our travels, favorite books and movies, and our love of ballet and gardening. We often bemoan the fact that we don’t even live in the same hemispheres, much less the same country, state, or neighborhood!
My friend is a woman who knows her mind. She’s a gourmet cook, a stitchery whiz, a master of beautiful wrappings and card-making, a gardener, a creative soul with a wicked sense of humor. We’re a lot alike, except, well, I just put food on the table, avoid even sewing on a button, and can’t wrap a package prettily to save myself. I can type really fast though, while she hunts and pecks.
While on a trip to New York City a few years ago, Jean and daughter Karen traveled out of their way to visit us, and I’d hoped Peter and I could’ve gone to Australia to visit them by now. But Steve has had health issues for several years, and Peter’s failing memory is pushing him downhill like an avalanche shoving a snowman. Steve has soldiered on, stiff upper-lipped through all, but these days Peter is only occasionally his former self.
Jean and I prop each other up remotely, more than ten thousand miles and sixteen hours apart. We rant, we moan, we cry, we laugh, we feel better, we get on with our lives. So her questioning me about “the flow of my blogs” and her warning, “no secrets, please,” prompted a 4000-word, eleven-page email. I’d hardly been in touch at all since well before Christmas.
With that email sent, I resolved to write a new blog post…after I made the bed and did a tidy-up. It was 11:15 Friday morning. I neatened my underwear drawer too — yeah, I know — and considered my socks before returning to my desk.
The last time I straightened my closet, seven years ago, I’d told Jean about it. We were still getting acquainted electronically when I wrote: “I think you’ll identify with this. I’m a really tidy, organized person for the most part, and I know you are too. Even the junk drawer in my kitchen gets cleared out often, the bits, segmented into trays. Well, recently I decided to tackle my dresser drawers. I started with the one filled with pantyhose. I culled ruthlessly and found some I hadn’t worn since I “dressed for success” in suits more than nineteen years ago — navy, which I no longer wear at all, dark thick ones for upstate New York winters, frog belly-pale sheers that have been out of style for how long? Eight packages had never even been opened! In all, I had seventy-nine pair of pantyhose, only twenty-four of which I kept. Most of those I’ll never wear since I hardly ever get dressed up enough anymore to need them.”
OK, whew, just seventy-two more words and I’ll have fulfilled my resolution to bring my blog into the new year.
Now I can go upstairs to introduce my new “Happy Socks” to my boring socks. I bought four pair recently. Their vivid polka dots and stripes are brilliant, ecstatic, deliriously joy-making! My feet needed the fun and so did the rest of me.
I hope your new year is as bright as my new socks.