I hope you don’t think I’m being unfaithful to the Fancy PaperGirl Mailbox. But I do have a kind of official (okay, really official) pen pal. I’m not going to tell you who it is. That’s for you to wonder. But I will tell you that that this person and I have many things in common.
We are both quilters. That’s how we met. We both love the American quilt: what it represents, what it can do, what it hasn’t been able to do, yet, and what it can be, if given enough time and space and attention.
We both work actively in the quilt industry (#clue) and do various things within it. I think it’s fair to say that we’ve had unusual career tracks, if you could call them “tracks” at all; we’re both trained in disciplines other than Fiber Arts, Family and Consumer Sciences, or any other quilt-related courses of study (not that there exist such courses of study, but hello, let’s make that happen.) Neither of us — however surprising in my case — learned how to make quilts at our respective mothers’ knees. We picked up quilting later in our still both young-ish lives.
We have both felt misunderstood at times, for different reasons. Really, though, they’re the same reasons. When you feel misunderstood, it doesn’t matter how you’re misunderstood; it just hurts when people say mean things.
Okay, key differences:
- He’s in museums. I’m researching inside them.
- He’s good with the phone, a better friend than I am or ever was, at least re: text message/voicemail reply time — and this is why we write letters.
- He owns bow-ties.
We dash off a postcard whenever we get one from the other, picking up a conversation right where we left off. For example, I wrote to him about a big crush I have on someone that I’m not going to try and blog about/pursue, ahem. I told my penpal that the crush gave me energy, that I wasn’t going to do anything about it, but that it gave me a driving energy that felt really good. A week or so after I mailed that sentiment on a repurposed piece of hotel stationary, I got a postcard from my penpal that said only:
I understand your crush. My friend Glenn would say we are built that way. (We = the type of person you and I are.) So I say take whatever drive you can find and run with it.
Of course, just as in any good, long conversation, we frequently will introduce new ideas, new thoughts into the mix; it’s not just call-and-response. The other postcard that came with the latest batch said:
Interesting movement of dilemma. Life is either:
a) pure biology, a.k.a. you die and that’s it, or:
b) There’s more to it, a.k.a., our efforts are towards a greater good (or bad.)
Choosing one of these should dictate all future actions. Instead, I’m working on a personal legacy, which doesn’t answer either. Which one?
Indeed, [PENPAL], I think about this a lot. But I’m going to break our letter chain (for a moment, hang on) and answer you here, tomorrow.