Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The World's Last Pen Pals

In 1988, I wrote to the Australian consulate fishing for a pen pal. I was in love with marsupials, and I also hated my life and constantly thought of far-flung lands, far away from the war zone of Fowler Junior High. I received my very first letter from Merryn in March of that same year, and we wrote furiously back and forth across the Pacific, sometimes every single day. I couldn't wait to race home after school because opening the mailbox to find her letters was the highlight of my day. 

Reading about life on a 2,580-acre sheep farm in Armidale, NSW gave me a glimpse outside the hell I was living and allowed me to imagine I might one day escape. She wrote about riding horses past roos, gum trees and noisy galahs, and always how Presbyterian Ladies College was screwing her up. She'd nobly try to convince me that working at McDonalds was not uncool in Oz, or that I shouldn't commit suicide but wait and do it later because just think how much worse life will be at like age 24. We'd sign our letters "friends forever" and I'd receive awesome mix tapes with songs by stars no American had heard of: Johnny Diesel, Jason Donovan, Bros, Kylie Mole and Minogue…

My dad took me to meet her in 1990 and since then we've only met in person a handful of times, but in all these many years we have never stopped writing. It's several times a year now instead of several times each week, but opening the mailbox to see my name written in her messy scrawl is still the highlight of my day. And today she's 40. Happy Birthday, Merryn. You're the lady love of my life!

No comments: