DEAR ALLY

Dear Al,

Not that there’s much premeditation to my letters but, when I start to think about my opening sentence, I’m always reminded of that line from You’ve Got Mail: “I like to start my notes to you as if we’re already in the middle of a conversation.”

That’s how I write my letters, diving right into the middle of a conversation. That’s the great thing about modern technology: I can bypass the pleasantries because, as best as I can tell from Facebook and your Instagram feed and our Snapchat streak (I’ve never had one go this long and I swear if you break it, I’ll never write you another letter as long as we both live) to assume that you still have all your limbs, you’re settling in well to Arizona, you’re secretly miserable without me but hiding it well, etc, etc, and just dive right into the conversation.

I find that I jump around a lot: in letters, in conversations, with hobbies and interests, with life goals and crushes, moving from thought to thought and topic to topic and eventually trying to tie it all back together. I think I inherited this from my mother; you’ll hardly ever get a straight answer from her but you will know what your sister’s ex-boyfriend’s step-sister’s uncle is up to. Perhaps it’s endearing or perhaps you’re grateful that you’re now on the other side of the country. At the very least, it’s definitely informative.

I’m sorry I yelled at you when you were crying in front of the boathouse. That wasn’t very nice. I get that it was probably a very emotional moment for you. Five years is a long time to do anything, to be anywhere. I’d say that I’m working on getting better at being in touch with my feelings, at handling my sadness in an appropriate, adult manner, and the next time we say goodbye and you make me want to cry I promise I won’t walk away or yell at you, but we both know that’s a bold-faced lie.

Writing the first two letters was easy. This third one is trickier. Where do I go from here? How do I set the tone? Is this a blog post, a de facto journal, or a real live letter? (It is an actual letter; you’ll be getting your physical version in 3-5 business days but it won’t have the $20 you requested because I know you’re not going to use it to buy vegetables like you said you would) If you were here in DC, we’d meet for a paddle after work, I’d ask you all these questions, and you’d tell me what to do like it’s the most obvious thing in the world and then we’d go to Pinstripes and eat a pizza.

The beginning is the easy part, but the beginning of anything is easy, right? There’s even a certain naturalness to the inevitability of an ending. It’s the middle that’s the tricky part, the staying-in-one-place of it all, making it count. Despite the fact that I’m a stereotypical middle child, I’ve never really been good at that.

I know I’m only three letters in, but I’ve been working towards something like Good Letters for so long that what seems like the beginning to the outside world is the middle for me. I’ve only just begun and already twice this week I’ve panicked, convinced I’m in over my head, trying to figure out if anyone would notice if I just pulled the plug on this whole thing.

Really, this is all your fault. I never would’ve seriously considered selling cards if it hadn’t been for you and your downright aggressive optimism. And I never would’ve had so much time and pent-up emotion to pour into this endeavor if you hadn’t left. You’ve been a boon to the stationary industry; post offices everywhere thank you.

I miss your stupid face. I hope you’re miserable without me. I can’t wait to see you in October.

Hugs n kisses,

Mads

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