Keep In Touch
Lately, I’ve been thinking about relationships. About how fleeting they so often are. Sure, there are the short-lived affairs with the mediocre men I regularly fall for (Please tell me I’m not the only one who does this!), but there are also the more meaningful encounters. Friends from college. Work colleagues. Friends from your first recovery group. Relationships that, when we are young, seem as though they’ll last forever. You assume, like student loan debt, once you’re in, you’re in it for the long haul.
I have a massive pile of postcards, and birthday cards, and thank you cards that I keep stuffed in a box in my closet. I’m not an organized person, or an especially sentimental one. I’m not really sure why I keep these cards around, why I’ve dragged them from Chicago to New Jersey, to Las Vegas, to Los Angeles, to Alabama, to Ft. Lauderdale, and now to Arizona. Maybe because they are handwritten, and therefore physical talismans of love? Maybe because handwriting feels like a dying artform? Maybe because I, myself, am terrible about letter writing and when I hear of someone who does this regularly, my respect for them instantly swells?
Each time I moved over the last decade, I packed sparingly. Nothing beyond what fits into my car. But I always take the cards. And just recently, because I’m working on a memoir, I decided to dig. To shove my hand deep into the abyss, hoping not to discover mold or a colony of bugs, and read these notes. Many from people I don’t speak with anymore but who, at one time, I would have taken a bullet for (or, at the very least, a broken arm or something).
I don’t know what to call the feelings this brings up, the sort of melancholy that comes with aging and knowing that many relationships do only come to fruition for a specific reason and, often, last only a season. How when we scribble Keep in touch on a tacky postcard from Vegas, we know that we may never hear back.
A birthday card from my friend Vicky. In it, she wishes me a happy birthday. Although there is no date on it, I know it’s from 2014 because she closes it with, Let’s run soon! I miss you.
I can’t remember the last time I ran. I think once, in 2015, before I left for grad school. I fractured my ankle in my first year of grad school and life got sedentary really quickly after that.
I read the card and I wonder if I’ll ever get back to running again. Was I ever really a runner, or was it a dream?
A postcard from David. I don’t remember a David. The card is from Monument Valley in Arizona. It’s wintertime, just like it is now, and he tells me we should visit the southwest after we visit Cuba.
I never planned a trip to Cuba with a man. And I drank and dated so much in my early and mid twenties, I know this could have been anyone. If I’d come across this postcard a few years ago, I might feel embarrassed by the fact that I don’t know who this dude is.
But now it only makes me laugh. It makes me miss the recklessness of being very young.
There are more. One from a teacher when I was living in Alabama. He sends me a postcard every month and each month, I mentally beat myself up for not sending one back, ever. Why I never do, I'm not sure.
And there are several from friends I no longer speak with, friends I assumed would be tethered to me for a long time. And now I rarely think of them. We lost touch. Or I had to push them away because a relationship got too toxic. Or I can’t even say, because I don’t remember.