Dear Stephanie

Or Forever Young Part 3

A postcard I sent to Stephanie in 1993, shortly after I moved to Memphis for college

A postcard I sent to Stephanie in 1993, shortly after I moved to Memphis for college

I was thinking about you the other day, do you remember our production of Our Town for Mrs. Feeney’s drama class? You were Emily and I had to be Constable Warren. Pah! Even over-emoting hams deserve the starring roles, I think. I would have out Stage Manager-ed Hal Holbrook, I surely would.

You know, at the time I thought it was a hopelessly corny play, far too sentimental for my taste. I would have preferred something with herion addicts and a drag queen priest trying to come to terms with the conflict between his religion and his love for Bette Middler with an ending number that would have put La Cage Aux Folles to shame. It wouldn’t have been a comedy mind you, although the people would have laughed but an angsty, dark allegory of the evils of capitalism. One day I’ll write it and you’ll see what I mean.

It doesn’t matter, I digress, but I was going about my day, puttering around my house and I swear I heard you say

Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?—every, every minute?

Back of the postcard pictured above. Sadly, I have yet to write Hero Bob or win the Pulitzer.

Back of the postcard pictured above. Sadly, I have yet to write Hero Bob or win the Pulitzer.

And I said to you, Stephanie-Emily how the hell where we supposed to understand that then? We didn’t have the context, we were so young. I suppose we knew somehow that it was the truth, but how could we ever imagine how fast it all goes by?

But then I thought some more and realized weren’t we saints and poets then? And how do we get that back?

Another postcard, I glued Elvis's face on a tourist postcard from the Roman Amphitheatre. Sent from Germany to Texas where Stephanie had moved with her family.

Another postcard, I glued Elvis's face on a tourist postcard from the Roman Amphitheatre. Sent from Germany to Texas where Stephanie had moved with her family.

Our children are started high school this year. High School! Almost the same age as when we met. We’ll want to shield them from so much and I hope we have the wisdom to know when to let go.

I feel like this is a time of transition for me, too. Looking at the post cards you sent reminded me of just how damn creative we were. It’s as if our minds were racing to make every connection possible, to build neutrons and synapses and all those things I vaguely understand except in remembering the sheer thrill of how it felt when it was happening. We weren’t sophisticated enough back then to censor ourselves and irony wasn’t in style yet so all that poured from us was earnest and joyful.

Do you remember how much we loved The Rainbow Connection? We sang it, you better than I, and meant every word. I was so lucky to have you to sing it with me.

I also loved coloring on my work and stickers. When I edited our school paper, we made it a project to send letters to soldiers in Gulf War 1. I think I sent about 200 letters, almost all of them decorated like that. I got a lot of really nice letters back and one or two perverted ones.

I also loved coloring on my work and stickers. When I edited our school paper, we made it a project to send letters to soldiers in Gulf War 1. I think I sent about 200 letters, almost all of them decorated like that. I got a lot of really nice letters back and one or two perverted ones.

Do you remember our production of The Good Doctor? You were the actress auditioning for the part of Olga in Three Sisters. I can still remember your monologue

There will come a time when everybody will know why, for what purpose, there is all this suffering. But now we must live … we must work, just work! Tomorrow, I’ll go away alone, and I’ll teach and give my whole life to those who, perhaps, need it.

Funny the things that stick with you for years. I can’t remember anything about the quadratic equation but at odd moments a bit of Edith Sitwell or T.S. Eliot will dance into my head. Being surrounded by an ocean of words was the best training for my future life I could have had. And somehow hearing you say those words on stage, I knew that I would remember them and hoped one day to write something that would be remembered, too.

Post card from Germany to Texas, fall 1992. I really freaking loved The Clash. Never stopped.

Post card from Germany to Texas, fall 1992. I really freaking loved The Clash. Never stopped.

The way I go on you’d think we were the most well read, cultured teenagers roaming the earth in the early 1990s. We had the benefit of a good education, but mostly we were just silly. Of course as I write that I’m thinking of Auden, which I really shouldn’t mention but I’ll leave it in to thrill any readers that get the very tenuous reference. Who knew I’d grow up to be the Dennis Miller of humor/weird food/vaguely inspirational bloggers.

Actually, you wrote that in a note once, talking about what we’d all do when we were grown. You said nobody knew then what I’d do and nobody would really know what it was I was doing in the future either. Prescient. You were prescient.

It says I met myself in a dream and I just wanted to tell ya it was all right - L.Reed

It says "I met myself in a dream and I just wanted to tell ya it was all right - L.Reed"

This is wildly self indulgent, but what’s a blog for, right? I wanted to tell you more about this transition, this awakening. It seems as if I’m realizing life again, if not every moment then a damn lot of them. When I asked you to send the photos of the postcards I thought I might be depressed that I was no longer such a free spirit, but instead, and if this sounds crazy say so, I felt as if I were making friends with myself all over again.

I’m not sure what will happen with all of this, perhaps I just create for myself and that’s as far as it goes, but thinking of the possibilities of the mind that felt free to cut, alter and paste the world to suit her fancy is now coupled with experience and patience is exciting.

Being your friend taught me so much and I hope this letter is adequate to being to let you know how much it meant.

Love,

Tracy

PS if anyone in the audience is still reading and interested, I also sent Steph a series of Yahtzee score cards with instructions from the School Stoppers Guide from Love and Rage (I think it was some sort of Anarchist zine I was subscribed to back in the day). You can’t really read anything on the picture, but Steph very kindly typed them out and I’ve posted them on my flickr. Note we did not do any of these things ourselves and it would be very wrong for anyone else to, either.

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