“I am awfully greedy; I want everything from life. I want to be a woman and to be a man, to have many friends and to have loneliness, to work much and write good books, to travel and enjoy myself, to be selfish and to be unselfish… You see, it is difficult to get all which I want. And then when I do not succeed I get mad with anger.” Simone de Beauvoir
When I was in 9th grade, I met a girl named Audrey who was in 8th grade, she was super sweet. This was back in the days of “Junior High School” not “Middle School”, do you know the difference? Middle School is grades 6-8, Junior High is grades 7-9. Since I was in 9th grade when I met Audrey, the very next year I went to High School and she was left behind in Junior High. When I got to High School, I was not popular (by most standards). Yes I dated a quarterback/captain of the football team so I was that kind of popular but I was too weird and too much of a loner to really be considered popular in the typical way. My quarterback boyfriend went to a different school in a different city, I lived wayyyy out of my school’s district, far from most of the other kids who lived in the district and I was just a solo dolo, a tortured soul trying to find my way.
When I left Junior High and went to High School, Audrey wrote a letter to me every single day for about two years. A letter, in the mail, every day with stamps and stationary and envelopes! For two years. Like I said, she was super sweet. This was the mid 80’s before email and texting. I never wrote her back. Not one letter, not one word, not ever. I’ve felt pretty bad about that since 1986. Seriously. I have often wondered about Audrey and wondered if she got married, has kids, has a great life, if she ever got mad at me for not writing back. I read every letter and kept them until adulthood when I moved out of California and had to lighten the load. I still remember her address, I looked at that return address so many times on so many letters. I have a weird Rainman memory for stuff like that.
I am notoriously horrible for keeping in touch and I think it started all those years back. I am so good at letting go, though. I can let go in the wink of an eye and never look back. My gifts weren’t given in equal portion. I’m saying all of this to say that someone challenged me to write a hand-written letter to someone, in cursive, no less. It was on The List. So I did. I hand-wrote a cursive letter to Audrey Beaman, the girl who thought I was cool in 1985, ’86 and ’87, when I didn’t even think myself cool yet. She is 44 years old now. I went around and around wondering if I should write to her as the 45 year old woman that I am today or as the 15 year old girl that she took the time to pen a letter to every single day for two years. This is what I came up with:
Long time no hear! What you been up to girl? This is what I’ve been up to…
1986 – I met Todd and we dated and I loved him! He was the star quarterback at Encinal. We broke up and he married someone else and is still married. Awesome.
1987 – My mom and I moved from Oakland to Alameda and I decided to switch high schools during senior year. My logic was that I would have all of my Skyline friends and all of my Alameda High friends and I would be twice as popular. It didn’t work out.
1988 – I joined the Army in the beginning of my senior year of high school.
1989 – I was a foreign student ambassador and visited Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macao, Japan and Korea and lived with host families. I had never been so far for so long by myself and once I realized that I could do this and that there are good people everywhere, it fostered a life-long love for travel, people, places and experiences.
1990 – I went to war. The war was only 31 days but I stayed much longer than that and learned to live in a tent like a professional camper. I slept on a cot, showered and bathroomed with other women at all times and didn’t have any privacy or any ice cream for what seemed like a lifetime.
1991 – My baby boy was born two days after Christmas in Akron, Ohio
1992- I realized how much I hated Akron, Ohio and came back home to California
1993 – My grandmother died on July 24. She suffered with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s for the last few years of her life. My mom was her caretaker and I got to spend a lot of time with her. It wasn’t all sad, she was happy around my baby.
1994 – I started college, majoring in Biology. I wanted to be a Pharmacist.
1995 – I visited Israel. No matter what you hear on TV, it was beautiful and peaceful. Until the last day, when someone decided that it would be a good idea to burn down the city of Jerusalem.
1996 – The man I loved the most started using drugs and that never ends well.
1997 – I got accepted into UCSF School of Pharmacy but didn’t have the money or the student loans in time to attend. This was a huge heartache in my life for many years but I am finally over it and realize that everything that has happened has always been for the best whether or not I realized it at the time.
1998 – My son’s father kidnapped my son and I didn’t get him back in my life on a permanent basis until 2005.
1999 – I lived a pretty surreal life. I worked for the Oakland Raiders and also did part-time gigs at bars and lounges nightly promoting liquor sales, of all things… I don’t even drink. I worked as a spokesmodel, it was loads of fun! I was very popular in the Bay Area and had a great time living it up.
2000 – My First Son came back to me (provisionally) on the same exact day that my Second Son was born, coincidentally the same day that my grandmother died 7 years earlier.
2001 – I went to Paisley Park and met Prince (yeah that guy that I used to love way back when you knew me in the 9th grade). He was crazier than bat shit and we didn’t get along very well, but I get it now. And he was right. I guess I’m the bat-shit crazy one now.
2002 – My First Son was snatched back to Ohio through legal and custody confusion and I went through some DARK nights of the soul. I doubted everything that I knew myself to be and I thought about your words and the words of other kind, caring, people often just to get through.
2003 – I became a vegan and re-discovered yoga as a therapeutic, healing tool.
2004 – I thought I might marry, but it didn’t work out and I am still unmarried to this day.
2005 – I decided that the only way to win a fight was to stop fighting altogether and moved to Ohio to be near my First Son.
2006 – I met a guy that I actually met a long time ago in Ohio when I was 19 and we dated for close to 7 years.
2007 – I worked as an electrician and challenged myself physically and psychologically on a daily basis. I loved this job more than I have ever loved any other job in my life. Every single day was an adventure.
2008 – I almost cut off my thumb at work with an electric saw and pretty much ended my career as an electrician right there on the spot.
2009 – I tried to learn how to swim for the first time. That was a no-go.
2010 – I went back to college again, this time for Mechanical Engineering.
2011 – I worked in New Jersey and enjoyed my proximity to New York City. I had a blast for the short time that I was there.
2012 – I graduated from college and moved to New Mexico to do something new job-wise, and I’m still there now.
2013 – I was in love with love and everything was great in my new state.
2014 – I started to fall out of love with the newness of everything and got super bored with the life I was living.
2015 – Went through more very dark nights of the soul and made up my mind that I would have to change for things to change. So I’m making changes…slowly.
2016 – I challenged myself to do one new thing every day this year and to write about it.
I read all of your letters, Audrey, but I was a self-absorbed, teenager who didn’t take the time to write back. I hope you understand. I appreciate you being my friend. I hope you are having a great life. On the slim chance that you still live in this house or your family still lives there, please write back. I would love to hear from you. Peace to you.