Dear Mel–can I use your full name? Semper Ad Meliora,
Always onwards towards better things!
That’s what my life has become since we started writing.
Did I tell you that my sister is a folklorist? Not just by training and profession, but naturally. She taught me how to listen to a story to hear it true.
It’s with half an ear and a whole heart, that’s what Meadow says.
That’s how I read your story.
Meadow always told me, “Truth comes through. Trust the story.”
I know she’s right because your story hit me that way. I see the difference in my life since I began receiving your letters.
Do you remember how lonely I was when I filled out my profile?
I wonder if that’s why you chose to write me.
It was after you wrote that my life started always onward towards getting better.
That’s when I met Ira. She’s my best friend, and more. She lives here now, with her daughter Aaradhya.
Yesterday, at homework time, Aari griped, “Why do I gotta do algebra again?”
“Always strive for improvement!” Ira replied, half-hearted with tongue firmly in cheek.
But Aari laughed. “OK, Mom!”
“No, she’s right!” I said. “That’s it! Always getting better! That’s life!”
I thought of you, though, Mel.
I don’t even consider your sister–I mean, why? When the other force is this–this movement towards improvement–why even give an ounce of attention to the other possibility?
I am not a lonely guy, anymore. I guess that’s what I’m trying to say.
And my best friend Ira has a home now.
And so does Aari.
Do you know what sounds my house used to be full of? Crickets.
Now, my home is full of laughter.
I’ve never been religious. Are you religious? Are you made of faith or based on faith?
I’ve never had much truck with faith.
I had science. I had business. I had the bottom line.
But now, I’ve got gratitude. And it makes everything else feel like a pale substitute for life.
The funny thing: I don’t feel like I did anything to deserve this.
I filled out the pen pal profile. You wrote me. I wrote back. My life changed.
It’s like I’ve been playing a video game. (Well, actually, I have. Ira and I play all the time.) But it’s like I have actually been playing my life like a video game. One move. The next. It starts coming at you quick, quicker, you just respond–level up.
Always level up, that’s what it’s like, Mel.
Always leveling up.
P.S. When are Zee and Gari’s birthdays? I can see if I can find you llamacorns–or maybe even something better! Aari’s got these sweet rubber ducks made of natural rubber and to squeeze one! I know it sounds weird, but truly. You haven’t lived until you’ve squeezed one of the eco-friendly, fair-trade, Spanish-natural-rubber ducks.