Tuesday, January 11, 2011


I was delighted this past weekend to find in my mailbox a letter from K, whom I babysat some 25 years ago.

As a babysitter I probably dispensed valuable advice such as "Don't touch the oven because it's hot" and "No, Barbie doesn't want to go swimming in the toilet."

But with her letter, it was K's turn to impart wisdom:

After going home as an adult I realized that the grass is not always greener. At least we have the memories to warm our hearts and keep us young.

I had waxed nostalgic to K about our hometown in Western New York, how as a Chicago suburbanite I missed the slower pace and seemingly purer nature of small town life.

K, herself now living in a busy metropolitan area in the South, acknowledged that her life can also sometimes seem too busy. But, she added, our recollections of the old neighborhood aren't necessarily the reality: on a recent visit she witnessed how the economic recession has ravaged the area, leaving it run down and boarded up.

It is amazing how things change.

K is right. As I pondered her words -- and marveled at how I was receiving counsel from the little girl who used to beg to stay up for the first few minutes of "Dallas," so she could dance to the theme song before going to bed -- I realized my hometown is probably not the only place where the grass isn't greener. Were I to literally see so many of the locales that I figuratively revisit in my letters, I'm sure I'd find the vegetation less lush than it grows in my mind's eye.

The point isn't, as K pointed out, to try to recreate our beloved memories but instead use them as fuel and inspiration. Which, of course, is a compelling argument for stepping out of the past in order to experience -- and make worthwhile memories in -- the present. As Kacy Crowley sings in "Kind of Perfect": someday these will be our old days, let's make them worth remembering.

Indeed. In writing more than 200 letters I have been blessed to be able to reflect on some exquisitely beautiful -- vibrantly green, if you will -- people, places and events, and I look forward to doing the same in another year, or 10 or 25.

AS GOOD AS ESPRESSO: I started my day today by writing to a former coworker. Remembering her unique combination of discipline, diligence and humor was just the inspiration I needed to start my week. Thanks J.

1 comment:

Renee said...

Hi.I just found your blog & I'm not sure if you happen totake request for your letter jar,but I do hope you can make room for possibly 1 more letter?My daughters and I have a goal of collecting 2,011 letters from around the world and would be so thankful if you could help us out...it can be as short or as long as you want.Here's our blog: