Monday, January 11, 2010

Mmm... this internet thing... it might stick...

Last week, while I was still home from the Holidays, I made a BIG decision. I decided to part with not one, not two, but FOUR boxes full of cards. By the way, I don't mean the boxes cards come in in, nooo, I mean bankers boxes.

When we moved from our house in the suburbs to this condo in town, I was tempted to get rid of them, but then saw that we had enough space for me to bring them. So I did. Once settled in our new digs I thought I might part with them, but my current husband only had to say “It’s up to you, but you’ve had them for 40+ years, and we have the space, so, no real need to do it, if you don’t want to…” I decided I would keep them.

You see, since I was born, my mother kept all birthday cards I've received, from the “Congratulations it’s a girl” to the time I was old enough to keep them myself. I had them all. As well as all the Christmas, Valentine, Easter, Wedding Invite, Baby Shower, Thank You, Funeral, you name it I had it.
After our tree and all Christmas decorations were taken down, I did the same with all the cards we received this year. – I know I’m strange or compulsive (whichever pleases you) because each card was in its envelope. I always wrote whom it was from and the year on the back. This year I didn’t do that. I kept all envelopes in a stack in the office, but when came time to take them off the door; I did put them back in their respective env. As you can see here, we get lots of cards. We’ve sent 109 this year and received 55 – not bad at all if you ask me! I just love cards, in case you haven’t figured this out by now.

Since we have to store everything Christmas in an “off-site” storage area, my favorite husband was hauling crates and such back to our condo so that I could put everything away. I had this idea of going through my cards. He brought me the boxes. I sat on the floor and embarked on a long journey down memory lane.

I went through each envelope and card. Forty-three years worth of … trust me it’s a lot! I found money, messages, laughed out loud a few times when remembering an event, etc. It felt good and somewhat sad to sit there and do this. I one point during the process I decided “it was time to let it all go”, so I started piling cards I wanted to keep (and scrapbook with), rip stamps off and piled envelops I was going to shred. It was a long process; it took me three full evenings. But man, what a trip!

Sunday I came across a letter dating back to 1984, from a pen pal in France. When I was in high school I had five pen pals: two in France, one in Germany (to practise my English), one in Spain (to practise my Spanish) and one in Greece (for English as well). I loved to write, and I still do. Using letterhead was always a favorite of mine. I corresponded with these people for a few years, but as we got older we had less time and slowly we stopped writing. I’ve never met any of them, only exchange pictures. One of the French girl and I did get closer (by writing more often, ha!) so when I saw her letter, I couldn’t help but wonder what she’d been up to. That night I looked for her on Bacefook and couldn’t find her. I also Googled her. I was happy to see a few names pop up. I continued my research here and there, trying to figure out where my odds were better.

Monday night, I decided to take a chance and wrote an email to a school district director showing a list of teacher with her name. I basically asked if they’d be willing to help me in finding a long lost friend, who used to live in such-an-area, with whom I was a pen pal back in the 80s.

Friday morning I received an email from her brother. My deductions were right. I did manage to find the right one. She asked her brother to contact me, since her pc is broken at the moment. I was, and still am, so excited. How cool is this? Blends have been, to me, what pen pals were back then. Friends I read.

2009 allowed me to reconnect with some old friends, which made me very happy. I guess I’m at a point in my life, where I need to let go of certain things and cherish others that I care and love.

I must say, it felt great to do this “sort”, since I found cards from old employers one even thanked me for putting up with his shit. I even received an award from a patient at a dental clinic I worked at, for being a helpful receptionist with her and her five kids. Re-reading some of these made me realise I did good, if only as a regular person trying to help others. I’m very happy about. It may not be the best ego-less thing to write, but at I needed this little tap on the back reminding me that sometime we touch people in ways we don’t realise… (geez, that sounded corny in more ways than one…)

12 comments:

tNb said...

What a wonderful trip down memory lane! FOUR bankers' boxes?!? 109 cards?!? Compulsively strange or strangely compulsive? ;-)

As much as I love the ability to reconnect with friends, old and new, just by clicking a few buttons, I do miss the age of paper correspondence.

Marius said...

That's sweet, not egotistical at all.

greenduckiesgirl said...

Okay, I am glad to hear you are scrapbooking with some of them!

One of the cards I got this year was of snowflakes and I am going to turn them into magnets. It should be fun!

3carnations said...

I had several overseas penpals in high school, too! I had one in France who used to write to me in french, and I would respond in english. We both got to practice reading in the other's language.

The only cards I keep now are ones that my son receives.

Barb said...

Here's an idea I read in an article: if you don't want to keep a bunch of stuff you've collected, you can always, especially in this age of digital cameras, take pictures of them and save those instead.

St Jude said...

Well I have the card you sent me saved hun, I was so delighted when it landed in my post box.

kara said...

my mom kept a box of art and report cards from kindergarten to 12th grade and gave it to me this year. i tossed the whole thing. nowhere to put it. it broke my heart to do it, but i figured that if i kicked it tomorrow, someone else would do the same thing.

sometimes it's ok to let go

LeeAnn said...

What a fun trip down memory lane. I tend to keep cards too, though I don't have as many as you. It's fun to do other things with them to keep them around. I too had a co9upel pen pals in high school,but lost track of them. But I also had an exchange student from Chile, she and I remain in contact 35 years later. The computer makes the world so small.

Charlie said...

I don't think it was egotistical at all to enjoy the nice things people said about you in their cards. Except for funerals, greeting cards are supposed to make us feel good.

I think it was smart to keep the ones you liked and can the rest—I call it "de-stuffing."

Stinkypaw said...

tNb: Bah, call me strange... I've been called worse! ;-) Send me your address (by email) I'll write you!

Marius: Thank you.

greenduckies: Of course I'll be scrapbooking with some.

3c: That's how it started for me... my mom kept my cards... watch it.

Barb: I tried that, but it's not the same. I kept a few and rest is all gone. I guess it's my 'black or white' character...

St Jude: Aww, you're too kind.

kara: You're right, sometimes it is ok, but not easy.

LeeAnn: Very true, it's as if there wasn't the "distance" aspect like before when we wold anticipate the mailman...

Charlie: 'de-stuffing' is good, especially as far as my husband is concerned. According to him we have way too much crap. oh well.

Meg said...

That's awesome that you hooked up with your old pen pal! I keep boxes of cards and letters that I don't think I'll ever be able to get rid of. It is nice going back and reading them, churning memories and seeing the difference you made in someone's life at one time.

Michele said...

Yes, sometimes we do touch others in unexpected ways. You are the ONLY, here let me repeat that for those who didn't get it the first time...

YOU ARE THE ONLY PERSON in my life that let me talk about how I was feeling about B when he was in the hospital. You let me vent, and cuss and cry and ramble and not once to you offer anything but a shoulder and an amazingly good listening ear.

I also saved every card and old love letter ever written to me and it was hard to let it all go, but it was time. I think scrap booking them was a great idea! And it is great that you found your friend again!