Sunday, February 01, 2009

pen pal

Have you ever had a pen pal? Did you stay in contact with them for a while? Did you ever meet them in person? Well, I have a pen pal and here is the story (as short as I can make it).
The year was 1990 and it was a very hot summer as we remember it. Mandi and her family were traveling back to Pittsburgh from the outer banks and Jamie and her family were taking a vacation out east. Both families were stopping in colonial Williamsburg for what seemed to be a history lesson (boring for just about every 10 year old). "Aww, mom why do we have to go here." The place was a courthouse, not sure which one and what the significance was (maybe where they signed the Declaration of Independence?) but they asked for volunteers and I raised my hand. Good, they picked me I get to do something rather than just sit here and get a history lesson. I sat down next to a little girl about my age and we got to wear some funny hats. How silly we felt but "we had each other". Two strangers made more comfortable through laughter about the situation at hand. (Maybe my brother and sister got to wear hats too, I don't remember, I wasn't concerned about them at the moment.) After the courthouse lesson was over both families could be found outside milling around figuring out what to do next. Let's go somewhere fun I thought, but I knew the history lesson was about to continue. "why don't you see if that girl wants to be your pen pal" my mom says. Okay, but that means I need to go talk to her. Quick before she leaves. So, with that I went and asked her for her address (I wonder if this is how guys feel when they ask girls for their numbers, all nervous and stuff). She says, "sure we can be pen pals" (exact conversation was not recorded, I'm making up the details) and someone suggests we take a photo together, so we do. I have not found the photo in my stash so I'm thinking that it's at my parents house with all their other photos from the "Out East Vacation". (Mom if you have a second could you look for it? Look for two little girls about the age of ten, one wearing blue and one wearing pink. Otherwise I'll look when I'm home in April.)
I wrote my new pen pal a letter and hoped that she would soon return my correspondence. A couple of weeks later a letter arrived just for me, from my new friend who lived in Pennsylvania. How cool! She was glad I wrote because my address got washed with her pink shorts. Mandi and Jamie are bound to be friends for a long time. They exchanged 20 questions for a while in order to get to know each other better and then moved on to other things. Talks about boys, homework and moving on to highschool. The death of loved ones, the joys and trials of young love, college, marriage and the possibility of meeting together again in person after 14.5 years of growing up. The place, Panera Bread Co. in Pittsburg PA, December 2004. Wow! Was this for real, are we going to meet again. How weird will this be? Not weird at all really! I had my husband by my side and he was going to meet my long lost pen pal, she had her fiance by her side to meet me as well. (We also had Kristin and Cory along for the ride too...they were the reason we went to PA in the first place.) It was great to sit and chat and catch up a little bit more in person.
Fast forward to January 29th 2009...the place, San Antonio, Texas. Mandi had come for a conference, Naomi and I went to pick her up from the Auditorium downtown to come to our house for dinner. Because of the circumstances at home with Greg being gone to a basketball game for the evening, Mandi was able to stay for a couple of hours. It was the first time in the 19 years of knowing each other that we got to sit down and have a one on one/face to face conversation (once the kids were in bed), and the first time we got to spend more than 45 minutes with each other. It was VERY COOL. I told Mandi, that she and I have the coolest "how we met" stories out of all my other friends. (Julie, ours is right up there too!!!) We had a great time catching up and it was strange how natural it felt. It's not like we write/wrote letters every day but it just felt like I was talking to my long time friend....and I was.
Thanks so much for coming over and spending some time with us Mandi. I know that Naomi had a great time with you and loved that you read her some books. I can't wait till we can hang out again! Don't be a stranger if you ever come to Austin to visit Matt's friends! I'll make sure to post the photo from 1990 as soon as I find it! I'll also look for the one from 2005. Here's our photo from 2009...it was late please excuse us.

Thanks for sticking it out till the end...sorry it was so long!

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