This idea was another collaboration with my brilliant sister-in-law, Liz, who can't stop having good ideas.
Letters Never Sent: I'm thinking of it as a home for wayward letters, all those notes or thoughts or wishes that simply can't be delivered to their proper place. I'm going to write them from time to time and share them here.
And I'd like you to write them, too.
A letter to someone who made you laugh while you were waiting in line at the grocery store. Or to your best friend from elementary school who lit up your life when you were eight ... but you can't remember his last name! Or maybe to your late grandma who was the best, best lady and there are things in your life—happening now!—that you want to write to her about.
I have a PO Box here in Portland, Oregon, waiting for you letters. Send your letter!
My first letter. To—whom else?—a barista ...
To the Barista—
Thank you. And I'm sorry. I rushed away from this nice conversation you started with me while I got my refill. I know it seemed like I was brushing you off ... lots of "uhuhs" and "for sures" while I walked back to my seat outside.
But really I rushed out because I'd left all my things—ALL of them—on the table, on the sidewalk, in my new town. There was a letter, my purse, my freaking camera.
The greater part of me is a champion of the good in people, and their trustworthiness. It's that part that pulled me out of my chair in the first place, and walked me away from all my valuable things. It's also the part that wanted to stand at that counter and chat with you about tattoos until whenever-who-knows.
But a worried fragment of my brain started to tug almost as soon as I stepped back into the shop. And so you started talking and I started speeding things along until I found myself back outside, everything in its place; and me wishing, of course, that I'd stayed to talk.
It's such a small moment! Maybe you didn't think anything of it. But I have one of those minds that carries around little memories of regret; and when I find them again, they're always so fresh. It's a quality that seems to have almost no merit. Except that I do tend to catalogue—along with the memory—a new facet of empathy.
So the next time someone seems to be brushing me off, I'll maybe allow that some other thing is pulling them away.
And you ... I'll be back. I was the chatty barista when I worked in a shop. It endeared your little space to me even more to think I could enjoy those conversations with strangers again.
The Lady Who Rushed