What if you had to write a letter, right here and right now, re-introducing yourself to someone you once held dear?
Let’s say you once had a very dear friend, the kind of friend you could talk to about anything. And life intervened, taking you in different directions, and your contact–at first fervid and frequent,–became leaner and more and more intermittent, until finally even the holiday cards dwindled and stopped. You missed that voice, that connection, but oh, your life was busy.
And years went by.
And then one day, you get a friend request, or a Twitter follow, and there’s that wonderful person! Back in your life, if only in a virtual kind of way.
But you decide, the two of you, to reconnect through handwritten letters. And you win the coin flip: you’ll go first.
What would you say?
Maybe you could start by describing the place in which you’re writing. “I’m sitting here in my dining room,” you might write, “and the morning sun is gentling in through the bay window. The house is quiet, and I’m ignoring a basket of laundry that needs to be folded. My crazy little dog is snuggled up next my feet, snoring deep people snores.”
Or you might be on the deck, in the sun, chasing an elusive morning breeze, or at your desk in your office, with the ringer on mute…But you write so that your recipient can picture your setting in the mind’s eye, and you can go on.
On, maybe, to more of the physical–would that dear friend know you today, passing on the street? “You’d recognize my hair,” you might write. “It’s still the same sleek auburn–but these days, I get it updated once a month at the hairdressers.” You might write about how your daily uniform has changed, the jeans and tees given way to khakis and polos or three piece power suits. That you’ve traded in stilettos or designer sneaks for comfortable working shoes. Are you plumper? Leaner? Bespectacled? Contact-lensed?
Now the person on the other end of the letter sees you, too.
And then you can go on to the important stuff–the beliefs you’ve shared, the values you hold, the things that make you happy. “Remember how we used to say marriage was a bourgeois institution?” you might write. “Well, I’ve come to see its value…” And then you might describe the union that has brought you such unexpected happiness. You might write about what travel has taught you, and how you chose your current job and what you’ve learned from doing it.
You might write about beliefs you still hold dear, and how life has reinforced them.
And in the writing, you’ll share the people you call family, the passion that drives your days, and the things that bring you joy.
Then you might tell your friend what you remember most, what you loved best, about the old times. “Remember when we’d go to the ice cream shop on Sundays?” you might write. “We were usually a bit hung over, but the hot fudge would soothe us, and we would have long conversations, coming up with solutions that would save the world. We’d always end with a sigh, saying, ‘If only they’d ask for our opinions!'”
You add a few words, maybe of hope for reconnection, and you send that missive off, looking forward to a response. And you’re richer for having enjoyed the chance to think about who you are, what you value, how you’ve grown and changed.
What if you wrote a letter today to an old friend, reconnecting—even if that old friend is really younger you? What is it you would say?