My longest-lasting friendship is with a woman who lives in another time zone. In another country. On another continent.
Aya and I became pen pals during the fall of my senior year of high school. Which means that this September will mark the twenty-third anniversary of our friendship.
We began writing letters back and forth. We wrote about school, our hobbies and interests, our families, boys we dated. Over the years, the topics of our letters have changed. We’re each married now, each the mother of a child. (Aya’s daughter is now 16).
But as much as is possible, we’ve been there for each other. I remember sitting on the floor of my apartment, speaking into a tape recorder, recording a message of good wishes and congratulations that Aya would play at her wedding. I remember coming home from Laguna Beach to find a message on our answering machine from Aya’s husband — Aya had the baby! And I remember Paul emailing Aya with the news of our son’s birth.
When people find out I have a pen pal they’re usually surprised by two things. The fact that we’ve been writing for as long as we have. And the fact that we primarily correspond through letters. There is the occasional email, but for the most part, we send letters and photos back and forth across the ocean.
Luckily, we have met several times. Aya has traveled much more than I have, and her travels have taken her to Los Angeles on more than one occasion. She saw me pregnant with Ryan, and she met Ryan a few years later.
And I take it as a sign that we share some important similarities — we were both teachers (Aya continues to teach). Our birthdays are each on the 7th (of different months). And our children’s names both start with the letter “R” (Ryan and Reina).
Tomorrow is Aya’s birthday. And along with the gift that I have mailed out, I offer this blog. My way of saying, “Thank you for replying to my first letter, and every letter after that. Thank you for always caring. Thank you for your friendship.”