19 May 2011

To a Lost Pen Pal

Dear Beth Rockney,

I'm trying to remember the particulars of how we met and became friends, because I think these two events were separated by at least a year during which we did not see each other at all.

At an age when I did not yet appreciate a writing friend, I signed up for a writing activity during summer camp. To the best of my memory, the counselor in charge of this enterprise told us to go sit in the forest and write something. He or she may or may not have suggested sitting quietly and waiting for the setting to inspire. All the campers went and found a rock or stump to sit on. I don't recall what I wrote and I vaguely remember swatting insects during the process. At some point I made your acquaintance and observed that you had a suitable sense of humor; we could be friends. But you lived at base camp and I lived at outpost and our only other shared activity was the campfire where it was too dark to find anyone you knew. Let's face it, we were looking for boys anyway.

We both ended up at L--- High School, and what was the name of that ridiculous play? A Midsummer Night's Scream. The closest I come to describing it is an episode of Scooby-Doo written for the stage and (gratuitously?) incorporating Shakespeare. Yet somehow this experience sealed our friendship, and when I moved to California before my sophomore year, we entertained each other with long letters and multiple postscripts.

This correspondence was a highlight in a sad time for me. My mother put up with my endless rendition of Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" played in a living room with no other furniture but packed cardboard boxes. I remember describing to you the awful carpet of this, our rented house, along with a litany of other things I was unhappy about, I'm sure. Then, at some point, we didn't have as much in common anymore and our exchange slackened.

I've reached a point where I appreciate a writing friend. If we get the chance, it would be nice to exchange letters.