Happy Birthday, Sarah!

Mars Girl and Sarah in the Space Needle (Seattle)
circa Sept. 2006

Today is my pen pal Sarah’s birthday. And when I say pen pal, I literally mean the pen. In the days when Sarah and I began corresponding–at the tumultuous age of 12–owning a computer was still a luxury and the only thing I knew about the nebulous concept of a community online board was what I saw in the movie War Games (Joshua: Shall we play a game?). All I had for typing was a word processor (remember those things, anyone?). We had one abiding passion: John Lennon and the Beatles. We addressed each other with handles, which was the pen-palling fad of the day. I was Sexy Sadie; she, Paperback Writer.

Unlike the many pen pals I had at that time (over twenty, believe it or not), my relationship with Sarah has withstood the test of time. Her letters were always my favorite. As geeks on the fringe throughout our school years, I think we shared a common bond and we were able to cope with the difficulties of being unpopular by pouring our hearts out on paper. It was safe because we never saw each other face-to-face. It was like writing in a diary, but knowing that someone else was reading who couldn’t use the information against you. We always seemed to have a lot to talk about–our letters were often twenty hand-written pages long!

In middle school, I wrote Sarah the following poem which was named simply after her. (Please remember that I was in like eighth grade when I wrote this!)

Every day I wait for the mail,
Hoping for a letter from my pal,
And if it arrives, I’m filled with delight,
But if it doesn’t, I’m sad and blight.

She’s interesting, kind, and sweet,
The type of person one would love to meet.
Her letters are long and very deep
Her insights are much like mine. [<–hey, where did the rhyme go?]

And in conclusion I’d like to say
That a letter from my pal brightens my day.

In fact, throughout the years, her letters have brightened my day. Even in this age of e-mail, Sarah and I have continued to communicate the “old fashioned” way because we relish the personal experience of having a physical letter to touch and feel. We do communicate by e-mail, but usually just for quick messages. In fact, you may have seen her comments posted on this blog, for she’s one of my regular readers.

Twenty years is a long time for people to maintain a relationship of any kind. Somehow we’ve done it, through marriages, divorce, widowhood, and one slight tiff. In all these years, we’ve never run out of things to talk about. Even though we’ve changed a lot, it still seems we have a lot of common interests — books, movies, skiing, our tree-hugging liberal tendencies.

In 2007, Sarah and her husband Shawn became the proud parents to a son they named Max. Though I know “nothing about raising no babies,” I’m excited reading about Sarah’s enthusiasm for her new life. It’s wonderful that we can now share the diversity of each other’s experiences, appreciating in each other the things that make us unique individuals. I think that both of us have leveled off from our many turbulent years and are finally finding a comfort within our own skins.

Sarah, Paperback Writer, I count you as one of my good friends and I’m so glad that I found your name in that friendship book so many years ago. Happy Birthday! Our idol, John Lennon, sang that life begins at 40; for you, I hope it begins that way at 33 (oops — hope you aren’t offended that I blasted your age to the world! =). So, here’s to the next twenty years which will probably be a lot different than the first twenty…

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2 thoughts on “Happy Birthday, Sarah!

  1. Hi Heidi! Wow, what a nice surprise to read this as I was having my morning coffee and feeding Max applesauce (our morning routine). This is the best birthday present, thank you! It was great to read that poem again, and to take a few minutes to reflect on the history of our relationship. 33 feels good, I don’t mind who knows how old I am. I feel like I’ve earned my age in a way, by putting up with myself and sorting out all the stuff from my teens and twenties (thanks for listening all these years!). I am looking forward to my day, I’m going downtown to shop by myself (a luxury!) for some new clothes, and tonight our cousin and her husband are babysitting Max and Shawn is taking me out to a nice dinner.We’d love to see you if you have time in Sacramento. I’m thinking our Ireland trip is going to take up most of Shawn’s vacation, so Max and I could easily fly into Sacramento and stay a day or two with Shawn’s mom in Modesto (pretty close to sacramento). She’d be thrilled. I’m sure she’d watch Max too :). I’d love to take you to the Pyramid brewery in downtown Sacramento and introduce you to their awesome apricot ale, it’s really amazing on tap, freshly brewed.Thanks for such a nice birthday gift :)!

  2. Your welcome. I wrote this last night and had to keep myself from posting it until this morning (I was so excited to surprise you this way). The first thing I did when I got up this morning was stumble blindly to the computer to post it. ;) I briefly wondered if you had gone to Portland as you sometimes do for your birthday, so I was wondering if you’d even see it today… ;)Anyway, I am going to be going out to Sacramento May 28 (Wednesday) and staying until June 2 (Monday). I havent bought the plane tickets yet because I’m cruising for a good deal, but that’s definitely the time frame I was aiming for. The best time for us to get together… I am sure I can steal away some time from wedding festivities to meet up. I’d love to meet Max too!Anyway, Happy Birthday! Sounds like you have a fun day planned!!

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