A parcel arrived in the mail the other day from my dear friend, Shanna. It was a gorgeous tie-dyed tee that reminded me of a similar shirt I had as a kid and wore as often as I could. There was no note to explain why she sent me a shirt, but I knew why she had sent it. Last month, we celebrated our 21st anniversary. Well, to be specific, our “friendaversary”.
21 years ago, I got a letter from a girl named Shanna in Virginia. I remember opening it on the floor of my family’s cottage in Malone, NY (Lake Placid, basically). She had gotten my name from a “friendship book” you would pass around in those days of being Pen Pals (you filled your name on a blank page, gave the details of what you were looking for in a pen pal and sent it off with another letter). Shanna thought she’d write me. I liked her instantly, and wrote her back… but not having an envelope on hand I remember grabbing a magazine, finding a cool ad and making an envelope from that. (A tradition we’d continue to do over the years.) I sent a reply back…
Back in those days, I wrote to people from all over the world. I loved getting a letter and learning something new about someone far away, the anticipation of what their news was, it was just fantastic. You shared things you couldn’t share with your classmates or siblings. As the years went on, Shanna moved across the Ocean for school but came back eventually… we talked about meeting up numerous times, but it just never worked out. But we continued to write, maybe the odd phone call, but we never stopped talking. And then one day I got an invitation… to her wedding close to her home in Texas. This was not a time to find an excuse as to why we couldn’t meet up. I HAD to go.
The photo below is the first photo we ever took together. At the end of a day where we got to hug for the very first time. This is the only photo from that trip where my hair didn’t expand 89 inches because Texas weather did odd things to my hair.
We have experienced heartbreak over the years, loss so painful they still hurt years later. We have experienced breathtakingly beautiful moments. We have our differences, but we love each other a ton regardless. And it’s all chronicled in our letters which I still have. Which I will always have. They chronicle our lives in a way that can’t be replicated, they chronicle moments we forgot about, they contain seashells from when Adam proposed to her on their vacation. Shanna and her hubby Adam are the parents now of two adorable children, whom I cannot wait to meet. Well, I kind of met Josalyn …. she’s the one in the baby bump Shanna sported in the photo below, when we were in New Orleans for my birthday. (My bump is attributed to those deeeeeelish beignets.)
Shanna is atop of a list of the wonderful, creative, strong and fierce women I know. I have a small group of close friends and I am so lucky Shanna is one of them. Shanna is my cheerleader from afar. Annnnd… now I am crying so I’m going to go get a tissue, and you can be thankful you’re not witnessing how much I am crying now because I’m an ugly, ugly crying mess.
Shanna, I don’t know if paper and pens will exist when we become senior citizens, but I’m certain we will find some way to write each other be it on a moon rock or space debris. I LOVE YOU, LADY!!!