The envelope's postmarked 1984. The pages-I take out are dull and yellow with age. Corners are turned up, ink is faded, brown stains dot the pages- like confetti. The letter folds, are just as crisp, just as lovingly creased, as the day the letter reached it's destination-28 years ago-, at Fort Dix, New Jersey http://www.army-technology.com/ . I lived there, for four months, that year, and I learned that life was different, for a small town girl, on her first trip away from home.
As I unfold this letter-that I hold- a sentence jumps out a me. Mom asks why haven't I written her back yet? Why could I have not written, just one line, to let her know how I was doing? I try to think now, what was the reason, the excuse, for not writing that answering letter, that had meant so much to her-so long ago. http://books.google.com/ (Letter writing as a social practice/Excuses for not writing a letter.)
As I continue reading,tears well up in my eyes, for I cannot answer that long ago question. She is no longer here, to get the answer. I struggle to remember if I ever wrote an answer. And the truth, which makes me feel worse, is that I just don't know.
What made me neglect to write -in a letter-what was going on for me, at that time? I remember flashes of things. Endless training, exercising, studying, training-in preparation-for Uncle Sam's plans for me. Why did I not tell my mom how busy my life was, at that time? How it was changing so much, and seemed so out of my control?
As I sit here, thinking, I realize, I know the reason why I did not write, more. Or tell my mom more. My very time away from home was filled with worry and responsibility. I'd never had so much. And loneliness and a craving for home, which I had been in such a hurry to leave, had filled my every thought. Knowlege of this, though, I knew would have made her feel worse.
In my haste, to not worry my own mom, I had worried her, endlessly. I hadn't wanted to mention that I'd made a mistake, and I that I wished I could come back home- again. Never, would I have mentioned the non-stop flirtation-offers from guys, to visit their rooms- or the girls who got pregnant.
I hadn't wanted her to know that I was miserable. So silence, kept the worry at bay, unwritten letters, kept me from blurting the truth, from wanting to run to my mom and not live the crazy life, that I then faced, as an adult.
I know now, this page I hold,-filled with stories from a letter-were an attempt from mom to hide pain and worry-she felt herself- and an attempt to tell of happier times. So, times when I did not write, were times of worry, and therefore I could not write letters of such reassurance myself. Nothing that would have reassured a mom, filled with worry for her only daughter.
I carefully fold this letter up. I put it back on top of a pile of such letters, written lovingly, and to reassure a daughter, far from home. Each letter whispers of bits and pieces of, two separate, yet shared lives, and thoughts that are over twenty eight years old. I carefully put the letters away. I know that each letter will call to me, and when they do, I'll be ready.