Saturday, September 4, 2010


Though the first thing that popped into my head as I wrote the title of this post was Barbra Streisand and the "corners of her mind" (misty watercolor memories ...), I'm feeling a lot more a lot more Funny Girl than The Way We Were.

I just wrote a letter to D, a high school friend. D was also my senior prom date, and I couldn't help but smile as I recalled that spring 1989 night.

That dress of mine -- hideous. So, so 80s, what with the pepto pink and the hoop skirt, aye aye aye. At least the hoop provided comic relief when I got into the Barracuda at the end of the night--I remember the damned thing smacking me in the face.

The story is true. D and I weren't doing anything at all lascivious, he was just driving me home. But as I lowered myself into the deep, deep bucket seat of D's car, the hoop raised itself--in a rapid and too-hysterical-to-truly-be-mortifying kind of way.

Recalling funny memories like that has been one of the best parts of The Letter Jar project. Recently I wrote to A, who in addition to being my best friend for the better part of 18 years, is by far the best traveling companion I've ever had. Roadtripping all over the country, from Wyoming to Georgia to Louisiana, we've racked up some pretty hilarious memories. I laughed out loud recalling the Savannah port-a-potty to which I lost a t-shirt I'd just purchased, the North Dakota farms we toured on a construction detour and the shrieking noises to which we fell asleep camping in Yellowstone. (We would learn from a park employee in the morning that those dulcet tones were, in fact, mating elk.)

I enjoyed another night of laughing and writing and laughing when I wrote to K, who roomed with me and A my senior year of college. The things we did and said in that apartment (a "quote board," which K swears she transcribed at some point, served to record the "things said")--what a year. My husband had to think I was nuts, listening to me just cackling downstairs as I penned my recollections of our misadventures. Questionable boyfriends. Inside jokes. Too much liquor. Not enough sleep. Memories I wouldn't trade for anything.

(K told me that she too laughed out loud--and got a few raised eyebrows from her husband--as she read my letter, which she has kept for whenever she needs a pick-me-up. I'm glad to share the wealth.)

The list goes on and on. The high school friends with whom I "TP'd." The grade school buddies who were the Farrah Fawcett and Jaclyn Smith to my Kate Jackson in regular re-enactments of Charlie's Angels. The friend who took me in and filled me with gin to help me through my thirtysomething divorce.

Sure, I'd probably stumble across these memories in the--ahem, corners of my mind--from time to time even without The Letter Jar. But the act of sitting down, almost daily, to focus on just one person, brings back so many more memories--and in such surprisingly vivid detail. And I'm quite grateful that some memories aren't just happy, but hilarious--surely the sign of a blessed life.

Funny girls, the way we were.

SHOUT OUT: Just have to thank Twitter's @writerlydee for graciously following and cheerfully supporting The Letter Jar project. Never did I know how many fellow letter lovers there were out there--may your paper be plentiful and your pens never run dry!

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