I’ve been reading and rereading the same letter on and off for almost a year now, it’s neatly folded up and tucked away in my desk drawer and each time I open the drawer I find myself reading it again. Mum found the letter at home, tucked away safely with all my teenage treasures, clearly I’d always planned on keeping it.
The author of the letter is a once dear friend, a friend I flatted with, a friend I shared my teenage years with and a friend who I’m no longer in contact with.
Merry Christmas and all that stuff.
… I always thought of you as too popular to lower yourself to my level. Thanks for picking our group.
The letter is a bittersweet read, it breaks my heart to think we’re no longer friends and that I don’t know why, but at the same time there’s a sense of joy that I once had such a good friend.
It serves as a reminder this letter, a reminder about perception versus reality, a reminder about the power of friendship and a reminder about not taking things for granted. It reads as though I was the cool kid at school blessing the less popular kids with my presence, the letter paints me as some delightfully kooky gal pal that’s friends with everybody. The truth, when I had no friends at school, and was walking around aimlessly one lunchtime it was her… she was the brilliantly friendly, non-judgmental and wonderfully warm hearted person that let me tag along. I literally just popped up out of nowhere.
“You will always be my Dee – my friend that was such an inspiration throughout mean and difficult times.
you were a role model in some ways – a walking talking demonstration
on how to shove Peer Pressure up my ass and to be what I was inside [sic]”
It’s amazing she thought that, thought that I was walking talking demonstration on how to ignore peer pressure. I had always just wanted to be liked, not necessarily loved by all, but at least liked. My fear used be that I would disappear forever and nobody would care or notice. I literally thought “what if I died and nobody cared?”. At high school I figured I was nothing special… I wasn’t the smartest, I wasn’t the prettiest, I wasn’t the sporty kid, I wasn’t well liked. I felt average.
Fast forward almost twenty years and here I am, okay with just being me. I’m okay with not being the absolute best but can acknowledge I have skills and talents. I focus more about truly being the person this letter was addressed to, she sounds kind neat.
I only know secondhand what the letter writer is up to these days, it’s been well over ten years since we’ve spoken and somehow I feel like I’ve failed her. I failed the person who thanked me for helping them survive high school, when I’m totally confused about how I managed to survive myself. I still don’t know why we aren’t in touch, or perhaps I’ve blocked it out. Clearly I did something, and the fact that I may have hurt someone who wrote to thank me for being their friend breaks my heart.
“…You put up with my quirks…”
Someone I was friends with thanked me for putting up with them!! I’m still wrapping my head around that. I’m still trying to decide what that says about me. Did it seem like I was “putting up” with something? because that’s not how it was. I was stoked to have such a varied and caring group of friends, all totally different yet bought together by uniqueness. We all had different hobbies and different life goals, we each came from very different families and all ended up living very different lives.
As I reread the letter yet again tears well up in my eyes. I know I have been a shitty friend in the past. I know I’ve pushed away great friends. I know I can be painfully stubborn. I know struggle to apologise and move on, and I know as a result I’ve lost some great friends. I read and reread this letter to remind myself to be better.
“Dee even though I have my life planned out in a straight line, I know wherever you go, whatever the hell you do you WILL do well. Doing well not just money-wise but doing what satisfies your soul. Whether it be buying a gypsy truck and travelling the world doing palm readings or being an executive in Auckland, I know that you can be content. Always make yourself goals that will make you happy.”
I had forgotten all about this letter until Mum returned it to me, but it now lives safely in my desk draw. I pull out the letter and reread it on a regular basis, laughing to myself about those so called big adventures and high school dramas. It makes me laugh to think how much has changed, yet at the same time how much has stayed the same.
As I read and reread this letter yet again my 2018 goal is clear, to be the original Dee. The Dee this letter was to, and the Dee I want to be. I’m worrying less about other peoples perception of me, and just focusing on being me… being someone else is far too time consuming.