Remember the Pen Pal? I believe it’s back. The craziest part is that it has reappeared in the form many disregard as ‘Facebook silliness.’
This came to me most recently as I summed up thoughts with a few dear friends in Arizona and Washington DC. Through the gift of both PM (private message) and texting I can connect with these friends (Pen Pals) at any time of the day or night.
Truthfully, ‘chat time’ as in talking on the phone or even better the uber cool invention of Face Time would be much preferred. Fortunately (yes, fortunately) the majority of my friends are employed, juggle multiple children and manage activities as well as a household. Translation: they live full, blessed lives so ‘chat time’ is hard to come by.
I recently tried explaining it to a girlfriend who happens to be single with no kids. As we discussed friendships from childhood and the ‘last time I spoke to…’ I could not help but just be honest. My commute to work is literally four minutes. My kids are not in bed until 8 o’clock on weekdays, a bit later on weekends. Holding phone conversations in private actually has to be ‘scheduled’ with my out of area friends. It saddens me, of course. My friends, the people who truly know me, however, get it.
In comes the Pen Pal and all its glory.
Like many mommies my head does not shut down for long. When something crosses my mind, off goes the text or PM. This of course is all dependent on the time of day and length of thought. The comfort lies in knowing my words will be seen when they awake or get a break in their day. The words sent are vast in scope and vary in length. Some days it’s a simple, I’m proud of you, thanks for being there or what the heck was that?
As a parent, there’s also the ‘sharing’ of I can’t believe my 9-year-old… This of course is normally returned with an ‘I’m with ya sister’ or ‘how about when.’ It’s comforting to have this little army of support at your fingertips.
A few of my friends have their own ‘tone’ on my phone. Sure enough when their text comes through my daughter knows, ‘up there’s Jane’ she’ll often say. She likes Jane’s text tone, it causes her to dance. So needless to say when Jane shoots over a text, we all smile a bit. When possible we include the kids in our text exchanges, it just seems to make it all the more fun.
Sometimes however, when night falls and the house is quiet… is when one of two things can quite easily happen among myself and a few of my friends. We either quickly revert to giggly 12-year-old girls or we solve the problems of the world. There’s just something amazing about still being able to have that ‘girl time’ even when life and circumstances make it next to impossible. Falling asleep after a good belly laugh and wiping tears from laughter, yeah, that’s just good stuff.
When we’re young, sans responsibility and ultimate commitment we take friendship for granted. Hanging out with friends is just what you do. Talking on the phone or sharing lunch is just par for the course of everyday life.
Then we ‘grow up’ (said with a huge grin). Life happens differently. One girlfriend and I recently had to schedule two coffee dates spanning two weeks apart and we still aren’t caught up. It never ends in all honesty. Yet in between and above all things we manage to stay connected.
The beauty and the blessing of course is in knowing that if push came to shove, if the moment of ‘need’ arose these are the people who would place their lives on pause and be there.
When I was a kid, I always loved having Pen Pals. Getting the mail was so exciting. Seeing my name on the envelope and the post mark from the sending city, it just made me happy. Today it’s no different. I love waking to a ‘Notification’ or seeing my phone blink letting me know words are waiting.
Simply put, I’ll never truly be a ‘grown-up’ and I’m especially grateful that I’ve found my way into a club full of people just as content to live and laugh like we’re still kids. Enjoy it!
Teresa Hammond is a former reporter and current circulation manager for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.