It was usually someone far away, in Asia or Africa, that would write to you and say incredibly
Mine was named Nguyen something or other. Forgive me for not remembering, I think it was in the 5th grade and shortly thereafter I discovered boys.
Besides, her handwriting intimidated me.
Oh Ng, it's been a while, hasn't it? You see, when I first heard we were going to be writing to a new friend in a foreign land my mind jumped ahead. Way ahead.
We'd be great friends! We'd stay in touch for ever! I'd write to her about boyfriends, and concerts and college! And maybe after high school we'd meet somewhere exciting! Like Florida!
We'd go to each other's weddings and send pictures of our babies and, and, and...
And I wrote to her. Once. Then I moved on. But I never forgot good old Ng.
I haven't thought about her in years though, to be honest. But lately I was thinking about my friendship with Miz Karen and there were some parallels that brought Ng to mind.
In my other life (the one that pays the bills and causes incredibly stressful moments) I run a business. Several years ago, when I was a bit sassy-er and perky-er and all kinds of other -er, I ran a help wanted ad.
And it was clever.
Don't ask, I have no clue what it said. But whatever it was, Miz Karen came a callin'. The funny thing is, she wasn't even responding to my ad. She just called to tell me she liked it.
We chatted for a bit about work and family and nothing really, her throaty laugh and smiling voice enchanting me as we talked.
And we became friends.
Karen, how many years ago was that?
I've lost track of time but I can tell you this, we still chat on the phone regularly. Sometimes life gets in the way and we lose touch for a few weeks, maybe months even.
Then her number pops up on my caller ID and I smile just knowing who's on the other end of the phone. And I can still hear the smile in her voice when I answer.
She's one of the most positive people I know, in spite of some physical challenges she has faced this year. Always happy, always perky, always willing to lend an ear to whatever ails me.
Sometimes when we talk I can picture her sitting at her desk, a heavy oak desk with curved legs, her computer tucked underneath as she sits in a kitchen chair that belonged to her grandmother, painted bright blue with tiny pink handprints on the seat, courtesy of her niece.
Miz Karen chuckles as she twirls a curly brown lock between her fingers, wrinkling up a nose dusted with freckles. We compare notes on what delightful antics our stupid cats are up to, how much trouble kids get into these days and why men are the lesser species.
Picture a cross between Elaine from Seinfeld and Lucille Ball. Only taller.
That's Miz Karen.
At least that's how I picture her.
You see we've never actually met.
Miz Karen, who spells words phonetically whenever possybull (she used to be a teacher, it's entirely intentional), loves cats more than people and has no problem telling it like it is, is quite elusive.
I have to admit I was a little jealous when I heard that a mutual friend (that I introduced her to, by the way) met her this summer. For half a second I was a little miffed.
The truth is though, I'm ok with it. Don't get me wrong, someday I will meet Miz Karen, I really will.
We will drink tea and eat cookies and oooh and ahhh over pictures. We'll stare at each other and wonder why we hadn't done this sooner and then fall apart and giggle. She'll snort and tea will come out of my nose.
Someday we will meet.
But for now... in this day and age of technology and google-ing people and digital cameras, well, a little mystery is exciting, don't you think?
Oh and hey, Ng, if you're out there, send me a hello...