Thursday, 19 November 2009

Pen Pals

When I was a kid, around about 14 years old, I remember we got given the opportunity at school to get ourselves a pen pal. One was through our French lessons, so that we could converse with a French student. I thought it was a great idea to have a friend in France, so signed up. Her name was Nathalie. I remember her sending me a photo of herself, and she had short mousey brown hair. We wrote letters to each other for a couple of years, and I still have all of those letters somewhere even though 20 years have passed. They accepted me for who I was, what I told them and what I looked like.

I signed up for another pen pal called Anita Pearson. She lived in Arkansas, and I had a dream that she was just like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, clicking her red sparkly shoes and being whisked off into another world of adventure. I remember my Dad saying that her name was funny. A neater person. Anita Pearson. Weird how some things stick with you.

Those pen pals mean a lot to me. I never met them but I felt like they were part of my life, and that at 14 years old I'd branched out from my safe family and school environment and had a little bit of grown up in me. I was friends with someone from another country, and I felt like I was finally getting to experience the tiny bit of adult I was craving. I have no idea what those girls are doing now, whether they kept my letters like I did theirs, or whether they ended up on some scrap heap somewhere, blown around by a foreign wind and forgotten.

Things don't change. It's 20 years later, and I have a new pen pal. He lives in San Diego and is probably one of the coolest people I know. We email instead of write, but we chat about our lives, what we do, where we go, who we see. Joe and I met 2 years ago through a social networking site. We chatted, then he left and gave me his email address to keep in touch. We didn't. Then, a few months ago, whilst looking for something else in my mailbox, I found his address. I mailed him. He replied. We whooped that we'd found each other again. We talk nearly every week and I daydream about him living his chilled out life on the beach with his dogs, and how lucky he is that he's able to do yoga and go to beach BBQ's (vegetarian) and playing his guitar whilst I sit here in all my Englishness drinking my tea and moaning about the weather.

What do I know about Joe? We've never met. I know what he looks like and that he's into KISS, heavy metal and music magazines. I know he loves his dogs and that he dresses up at Hallowe'en and gets candy for kids. I know he supports the Boston Red Sox, I know his dad is still alive and in his mid 90's, and that his niece, Grace, rocks! I know we both have pets called Lola, and that he makes me laugh with his American phrasing and that he meditates and works in finance although it's not what he really wants to do. The thing is, I don't know much about Joe, but I know that he's in my life for a reason. We're meant to be talking to each other right now in 2009.

Maybe we'll never meet. Maybe we will fade into each other's backgrounds and one day he'll tell his grandkids that he once had a pen friend from England, long after our emails have been deleted and set free into cyber space. Or, maybe we will meet and our lives will take in another person who we'll physically be able to see and hear, rather than looking at photos and imagining voices.

I know for certain that people are and have been in my life for a reason. Everyone gives me something, whether it's good or bad. I learn something off everyone and those people have allowed, and are allowing me to be able to shape my life into something resembling fulfillment and happiness to the extent that I've never experienced before.

My most precious people are those who accept me as me and don't want me to change. They help and encourage me to be who I really truly am. My true self. They love me and want the best for me. They are unselfish and grateful of my company. You don't find people like that when you're looking, they are attracted to you by the force of nature. You put out a vibe and they find it, like a bee finds pollen. Some people call it cosmic ordering. I call it fate. I believe that my life is already planned out and I'm following a pre-set path. I feel really strongly that in my future something positive will happen. I don't know what it is, but the feeling is always there, wriggling around in my stomach, reminding me that everything I experience is one step closer to reaching it.

Joe wrote this on his blog the other day. It made me really thing about how we should try really hard to surround ourselves with people who love us and want the best for us, and ditch the hangers on. I've done a lot of ditching in the past few years, and my life is far less stressful for it.

Being a parent, this piece is very powerful. It reminds me that I have to love my child unconditionally and accept what she wants to do and how she wants to live her life, not impress on her how I would like her to live it. Big words.

"When I want for you what you want for you, then I truly love you. When I want for you what I want for me, then I am loving Me through you.

So, too, by the same measure, can you determine whether others love you, and whether you truly love others. For love chooses naught for itself, but only seeks to make possible the choices of the beloved other."

-Neale Donald Walsch

Hey, Joe... you rawk! :)

N x

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