I write letters to people and never send them. It stems from a long time ago in a land far away when I was just finishing my undergraduate work at Auburn. I was really depressed, I mean in the toilet, swirling around in need of a plunger, depressed. My parents recently were divorced after 25 years and I just couldn’t think of a future without the stability of my family (although dysfunctional) unit.
My dad, who is none too empathetic with tears of sadness, actually suggested I go and talk to someone. I did. It was good advice. The sage I went to said to write letters to people and get things off of my chest. I began writing letters and never sending them. I didn’t write angry letters. I just wrote to the person of the day with more reflection.
I still write letters to people and below is a note I wrote to one of my favorite people. We were always at a miss – missed chances, bad timing, crappy excuses, but of all the people in my life at the end of my college career, this was the one person who brought me home to Ohio. Two children and two careers later, I re-visited the place of our missed connections. Ohio University. The question that hangs in the balance is if I should finally send this letter. For real.
Here is the never-sent letter:
I went back to OU…
I don’t know why but the colors were different. Not green, like I remembered them, but more hazy and old-looking like my grandmothers house the last time I was there. I just don’t know what to think of that place anymore. I think I put so much emphasis on how it was not a good place for me but maybe I was not a good thing for it…
One of my favorite students is there now. He reminds me so much of you – the dark hair, the confidence, it is almost startling for me to think how he is seeing the colors of that place. Probably close to how you did or do in your reminiscence.
Oh what I did. Because of naivety, maybe, because of stupidity, sure, because of being overly self aware, definitely. Sorry for that.
I think about you sometimes. In the dim of night when the lights have faded and winter moves in close, too close. I think of the times we talked and you were so full of your goals and I of what I thought was important but really was not at all…
I think of your loss. Your father. I can’t believe I could not share some events with you like when my uncle did the same thing and how I went off a deep end afterwards and have never quite recovered. Or when my other uncle was killed and I just didn’t know how to deal with the reality of the entire situation. I am sure that you would have had some words, something that you could have given to me but you were no longer there.
My overall mission of this note, this freedom, is to tell you that I took your friendship for granted. It proves the old saying “you don’t know what you’ve got…” And it also makes for interesting thoughts and memories, doesn’t it?
I have to go back to Ohio U in April. I am sure it will be like the last time, when I expected to see you every time I turned the corner yet you weren’t there. I will go there again as a (gulp) teacher to learn and be scrutinized by my older peers. But that is OK, I guess. I will probably see a glimpse of us as we were proud and young and free and waiting for what we expected the world to give us.
I miss you, friend.