You who, take a look at what a dork you were as a teenager!
Have you ever received a Box of Life from your parents? You know, the box they’ve been storing in their garage for the past two or three decades.
I got mine two weeks ago. It’s Box #3. Boxes 1 and 2, which I got ages ago, contained early childhood to elementary school: report cards, spelling bee awards, the story I wrote about Grandma and the one Bucky Mulvaney wrote about his horses. Box #3 holds within its dusty, greasy cardboard walls my inner life from ages 13 to 18.
It has Peanuts and those big-headed doll-kids from Betsy Clark and Hallmark. Loopy handwriting. Endless talk of which boys are cute and who likes who and how we weren’t invited to the prom (again). Sorry so sloppy and Always a friend.
You see, my Box of Life was filled with letters I received in junior high and high school. Not two or three or even ten letters. Inside the box, there were (to use an over-used term from that time in my life) really a lotta letters!
Letters from cousins Suzanne and Kathy in Long Beach, from Lisa who moved to (yuck) Lubbock, from Andrea and Thecla, both of whom moved less than 20 miles away. Even my two best friends, Lori and Laurie, mailed me letters from down the street!
Right now I’m trying to figure out what to do with all these letters. I could donate them to a library, the way presidents and other important people do. Decades from now, some graduate student will come across this piece of Americana that Laurie wrote me from Social Studies class:
Are you going to dress up on Friday in your peddle pushers? They’re very, very foxy! Pinhead will find them amusing! (noy) I wonder if Pinhead will dress up? He doesn’t have any hair to slick back but he does have high water pants. Haaaaa! (like a crow) Oh Boy! Mr. Cook is soooo foxy! Boy, his wife must be madly in love with his cowboy boots and high waters.
I’ve also considered writing a screenplay. In one scene, I am sitting on my pink-and-white bedspread with Laurie, reading to her this snippet from Thecla, who recently moved one town over. Our hands fly to our mouths over how loose and fast Thecla has become, and we walk out of the room whispering that we really need to start testing out new methods for getting the guys:
The problem is most of the foxes are older guys who hang out in the bars. I’m only 16 and don’t look 21 so we just stand in front of the door and every time someone comes out or goes in we take a look in with our tongues hanging out. Not really! But the foxes are really in the bars.
So far my most plausible idea is to use the letters as material — quotable quotes — for red Ravine. You know, for those days when I have nothing more interesting to post; no salient information for writers or artists, not even some fascinating tidbit about the turkeys or Baby.
Excerpts from the letters might become quasi-writing prompts in and of themselves. Or maybe, like this gem from Lisa, recollections of a time when letter-writing was what teenage girls did instead of email or texting, when we used P.S. and P.S.S. as if they were going out of style (they were), and when we really didn’t have much to talk about except the weather:
I bought $20 of clothes. Pants and 2 shirts. I wore shorts and short sleeves all day, and its in the middle of Jan. Do ya’ll still have snow? If so send me some O.K.