In 8th grade my Spanish class got a box of pen pal letters from a class in Mexico. My teacher, Senora Wahl, passed out a letter to each person in my class.
Can I even say 'my' letter? Maria (I think this was her name, honestly I had to delete a paragraph on this blog where I tried to remember the details from her letter, but then I realized I didn't really remember and was just grasping and straws an really just describing my own life. The irony is, I probably have that letter still somewhere in a box of memorabilia in a closet in my mom's house.), who wrote the letter that was handed out to me, wrote it without knowing who would receive it. So by the magic of coincidence and where I was located in the classroom seating arrangement that I became Maria's pen pal.
Senora Wahl assigned us to write letters back. She suggest we introduce ourselves, write about our families and daily routines. My letter was forgettable with my Spanish 2 skills employed in full effect. To make up for my mis-conjugated verbs, I attached an 8th grade wallet sized photo of my acne filled, braces face. However awesome a 2 inch photo of my 13 year old self was, the piece de resistance was the friendship bracelet I made out of embroidery floss which I scotch taped it into a wad on the back of my photo. When I put my letter into the collection box in Spanish class, people were impressed by my addition of a friendship bracelet to my letter. (even though I tried really hard to hide the bracelet by taping it in a was on the back of the photo. [I had a thing about avoiding attention in Jr. High.])
I never got a letter back. I don't know if the letters even got sent to Mexico? I know Senora Wahl meant well, but now in my own adulthood I know that is ti annoying to find time to go tot he post office with it's long lines and constant stamp up-selling. So, I get it, if the letters never got sent. But what if the letters did get sent and Maria didn't write back to me. Did she not like my photo? Was I not the dream American pen pall that she wanted? Or was I? And is she still wearing that friendship bracelet that she received almost twenty years ago? I don't know. I do know that I survived and eigith grade continued. But what about Maria? Does she wonder the same way about her letter that she wrote and then handed to her teacher to sent to a school in North Dakota? Does she think I didn't write back? Does she think that her teacher never sent the letters too? Yes, Maria, your letter did get sent, and I wrote back to you. You do have a pen pal. But we will remain pen strangers.
Lost pen pals. It's different for me because I got a letter first. Maria wrote to no one. She wrote for hope.
Or she wrote because it was a homework assignment.