When I began this blog, I swore it wasn’t going to be an extension of my old one…that it was going to be something new and distinct.

For the past few days, I have been immersed in the “Terms…” archives, copying off the old posts in preparation for closing up the place. I’ve come upon gems and turds… Some that make me sigh, “Damn, I can write!” And some that underscore the wisdom of not transferring all the old stuff over here.

This one is a gem. It was written way back in the days when I had, like, two very occasional readers. I’m going to break my own rule and post it here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003
11:40:00 PM PST

Old Friends

I was looking over my ancient journals, trying to find a poem I wanted to share here. Instead, I found this. It is the draft of the goodbye letter I wrote to my one girlfriend back in the midwest when my husband and I left for Oregon nineteen years ago. Terry and I had been friends since first grade. I was 29 years old when we moved away…

I’m afraid I have to fashion my own goodbye, or feel I was being untrue to myself. Each time a member of my family tore away from me to journey out West, there was no proper goodbye—only a sort of “We’ll be seeing you” or “We’ll keep in touch.” Never a release of the sadness of parting. Never an acknowledgment that a time of closeness was ending and a time of distances beginning.

I have learned through the absences of my sisters that distances do change relationships. Much as we hope against just that when we embark on our separate journeys, and much as we swear to each other that it WILL NOT happen, still it must.

Sometimes I have yearned so achingly for what once was that I thought I would drown in uncried tears. Perhaps that is more than a small part of what causes me to make my own journey now. And yet, I leave someone behind who would tip the scales toward staying, if that were the only reason for going.

We are given family from birth, with no option to say we want them or we don’t. We grow to love them because we know nothing else. But we choose our friends. Long ago, and it is long ago, you and I chose each other. Through the years, it has often looked as if one of us had outgrown the other, or as if some storm would finally destroy us. Yet, somehow, we never seem to have really had the choice of reversing our decision to love one another as sisters. Love is often stronger than whatever life can deal to it.

Please, never forget that our friendship has always been something absolutely special to me…at times it has been my lifeline to the rest of the human race when I would have thought that humanity had abandoned me.

Our friendship will not end here. It will simply change here, in ways we can’t understand or foresee
because we are still young. Know that I love you and always will, for long ago, when we chose each other as friends, I believe we chose for life.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003
11:55:00 PM PST

Commentary on “Old Friends”

My old friend came to Oregon for a visit in October of 1997, and I haven’t seen or heard from her since.

The remarkable thing about that letter is, I believe I actually gave it to her. I was so much more willing to be generous with myself back then. I wanted to tell other people how much they meant to me. I was determined not to be afraid to expose my deepest feelings for the people I loved the most.

You know, I can’t do that anymore. I think that was the thing that struck me about this letter…the reason I had to put it in this journal. To show how life changes you. How the sheer weight of the years, and the tears, just flatten you. When you’re young and innocent, you can throw your emotions around like that. After you’ve had them thrown back at you a hundred million times, you start to keep things to yourself. You get older, you get tired, you don’t want to take those chances anymore. The chance that the gift of your love…will not be looked upon as such a great gift after all.

Ah, what a downer of a journal entry! But it was an upper, too. It was good to remember that once I had a friend I loved so much. And that I let her know.