Wednesday, April 13, 2011


If you haven't had the privilege of going through the Graduate School Application Process (yes, first letters capitalized is necessary. I almost went ALL CAPS, but decided against it) then I can't really describe the emotional ups and downs that come with it. Anyway, that isn't what this post is about. This post isn't about recommendation letters, applications, fees, acceptance letters, rejection letters, personal statements, or tests. This post is about the who, not the what of the process.

When, in 2001, I moved from Texas to California between Junior and Senior years of high school, I lost touch with a lot of friends. This was before absolutely everyone had a cell phone, or Skype, or texting. This was before (GASP!) Facebook. (Side note/tangent: Mark Zuckerberg is exactly my age so I was in college when he was, and when he invented Facebook. I remember when you had to have a .edu email address to join. I didn't remember that until I saw The Social Network. It also makes me feel like a total underachiever. End of tangent.)

So, back to long distance friendships and the stress of Grad School. I feel very privileged to have kept several relationships going between California and Texas in the nearly 10 years since my move. The closest of these friendships is with my friend Melissa. I met Melissa in First Grade, she was nearly seven and I was almost six (so over 20 years ago). We went to school together from First through Seventh Grades, then she changed to a local public school. But since we were still living in the same city, it was no trouble to keep the friendship going strong. I then continued on to a private high school and she went to a public one. Again, nothing changed. But when I moved to California I was really worried about losing touch, and we both cried on my last night in Texas.

I really shouldn't have been worried. Not a month has gone by since I moved that I haven't gotten several letters from her. And then I write back. Sometimes one of us has something tough going on and writes more than the other, but each and every letter is read and reciprocated. Through the years, email and other electronic forms of communication have become more popular, but we prefer good old snail mail. I can honestly say I have probably communicated with her via email fewer than a dozen times in these 10 years. We chat on the phone and text, but the letters are our main form of correspondence. There is something about seeing her handwriting, the same left handed print that I recognize from our school days, that makes it feel like she is right there with her letter. In fact, when I met her girlfriend a couple of years ago she said, "It's nice to finally meet the person behind the letters in the mailbox".  I feel very lucky to have a friend like her. Our letters aren't always particularly insightful or meaningful in subject matter, but their existence is very meaningful. We can write about boyfriends, girlfriends, work, parental stress, and also about what we are watching on TV, the weather, that we are bored at work, and any number of mundane things. I have several boxes of our letters and treasure them. Maybe these letters are our way of rebelling against technology. (I say this while typing on my wireless keyboard connected to my iPad and published on my blog). Or maybe they are our way of being different. It doesn't really matter.

I'm sure you are asking yourself why I am writing this post now. Well, I'm writing it because this necklace, and the meaning card it was attached to, were included in her last letter.

The meaning card said: 
The lotus flower is an ancient symbol of one's true potential.  Its inner beauty is revealed as its petals open, just as one's hidden potential is fulfilled over time.  Wear it as a symbol of the potential that lives within you.

Nowhere in her letter did she mention the necklace. She just slipped it in there, knowing that this Grad School application journey is all about potential, and she wanted me to know that she sees mine. Because that's who she is. She knows me so well, and can read in between the lines of my letters, that she knows what I need.   And a reminder of my potential is what I needed.  I didn't know that yet, but she did.

I guess I'm writing this as a thank you to her, and a reminder to everyone else to not take friendship for granted. Like any relationship, friendship takes work on both ends. If you find a friend willing to put in the effort, then put it the effort on your end and I think you will be pleased. Also, when you do it right, the "work" you put into keeping a friendship going doesn't feel like work at all. So call a friend today. Or write them a letter. Do something you don't normally do. That's what I'm doing here.

(I also keep her around because she is about as crazy as me!)

(Not to make this about me.  But note my weight loss in the above photo and my sidebar pic. Yay!)

1 comments to blog for:

April said...

This really touched my heart! Sounds like you have a very special friend in your life...and you are so right, they should never be taken for granted! What a treasure!