We’ve been talking about weighty subjects here of late. Thank you for being kind and respectful. Today I think we’ll talk about something a little lighter. Maybe it will be a peek into who I am and why I’m the person I am. Don’t forget: I’m still always weird.
When I was a kid of about 7 years old one Sunday I was reading the funnies (comics- I don’t know the word you’d use). At that time it was a stand alone section that wrapped around the whole paper that was so heavy I could barely carry it in from the front steps. I excitedly read through all my favorites: Peanuts, Family Circus and others I can’t remember. At that time there was a small section each week that changed. Sometimes it was puzzles or information about animals. It was kind of the education section of the funnies. This particular week there was a picture of letters with international postage stamps on them and a paragraph talking about pen pals. There was even information about a company who would match you to an international pen pal. I haunted my mother for the rest of the day. I had to get a pen pal. I had to have a friend from a faraway land. My mother knew me all too well. I wasn’t going to be quiet and go to bed until she had helped me fill out the form. I suspect she also knew this would help with my reading and writing. A good student I was not.
A few weeks passed and to be honest I’d probably forgotten about the whole event. But little did I know things were happening. My name and address had been sent off just about as far away from my house as it could get. One day my mother met me after school with an envelope in her hand. It was a letter from my new pen pal who lived in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia! Immediately when I got home I sat down and wrote my reply. My first question was to ask if she had a koala or a kangaroo. Of course she did not.
This was a pivotal event in my life. She was a live human being I had contact with who lived in another country on the other side of the world. She told me about her school and her family and friends, books she liked to read and what she did in her free time. We were so much alike even though she lived in a foreign place. We exchanged photos and eventually a cassette tape so we could hear each other’s voice. I have no idea what she was saying but I heard her voice!
I don’t remember what the conversation was that I’d had with my father but whatever it was it spurred him to buy me a big poster sized map for my bedroom wall. He was probably trying to make the point that my new friend couldn’t come over to play on Saturday afternoon.
Over time we lost touch. Her mother had died when she was very young and her dad when she was a teenager. She was sent to live with relatives. I never heard from her again. Glenda if you recognize this story leave me a comment. I’d love to reconnect.
Over time I added more pen pals, a couple in England, one in Belgium, one from France. Getting to know these people taught me that inside we are really very much the same. We love our families. We go to school. We do hobbies. We take vacations or holidays as they say some places. The differences are minor and have more to do with geography and experience.
Did you have a pen pal when you were a child? Was it as eye opening for you as it was for me?
This one thing changed my view on people. No longer did I think of those who live in other lands as strange. They were just strangers I hadn’t met yet and I really hope to meet as many people as I can. We are all unique and we have so much to offer to one another if we can just see beyond the differences. Know that whoever you are, wherever you may be I wish the very best for you and yours.