October 15, 2004

Moments in a Box

Moments in a Box

By Tenzin McGrupp © 2004

"Someday, people will catch up to the way you think, and eventually figure out what you've been talking about all these years. And it'll be like we finally got the punchline to a joke," the girl with the seashell eyes used to say to me all the time in her sweet drawl.

Was she right or was she just being nice? Either way, I missed the long letters that she used to write to me. No one wrote real letters anymore and they have been replaced with the informal coldness of e-mail. Sure, with the internet you keep in touch with more people from all around the world, but the sincerity of the words has lost its stellar luster. E-mails are rarely saved and often deleted after first glance. Letters were something you kept in a box or in a drawer somewhere and stumbled upon on a rainy Saturday morning. It was a physical piece of correspondence, a tiny museum of words and ideas, hand written, of course, so you could see the emotion and the thoughtfulness of each scripted letter and each word in every sentence as they flowed back and forth to the keen eye of the reader. I missed the letters from the girl with the seashell eyes and snazzy smiling face scribbled next to her name on the back of the colorful stationary she used.

Sometimes she sent two letters a day and I always laughed and got high when my hand reached into the mailbox to pick up each one. Warm thoughts flooded my stomach when I saw the postmark. Every time I opened her letters, it felt like it was Christmas morning and I had awoken to find hundreds of presents, all for me, wrapped underneath a huge Christmas tree. Her words made me smile. Her words made me want to see her. Her letters were full of love and happiness and I imagined a huge smile seized her face while she scribbled down her thoughts to me, as a bright sun hung high in a clear Texas sky. I was impressed by the way she wrote, not because her letters were perfect, but rather because she took the time out of her busy day to write lengthy and detailed letters. Her words were true, honest, and flowed smoothly because they were not used improperly. She never wrote anything she did not genuinely feel and her words used to jump off the page and smother me with little baby kisses and I would giggle, reading them over and over before I would commit each one to memory and put them away in an old cigar box that used to hold Cuban cigars that I had smuggled in from Canada.

I used to write her long letters, too. I wrote about my dreams. My letters to her were dream journals. She often joked that she was going to save them for publication one day. I wondered why anyone would want to read about my odd dreams. Most of them made no sense. Like the one dream about the purple humpbacked whales. I would sit along side a dock and toss small pieces of dead fish chunks into the ocean. One by one, the purple whales lined up to feed. They were hungry but maintained a strict line. They each took a few minutes feeding, then swam to the back of the line. I never understood why they did that or why the bucket of dead fish parts never seemed to empty. The more and more I scooped out and threw into the water, the bigger the bucket grew. I tried to toss the entire bucket in the water, but it was too heavy for me to lift by myself.

Tenzin McGrupp is a writer from New York City.

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