Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Catching Up

Plunged into the college freshman grind, I did not write Lady Darley until sometime in February 1991.

Not that she didn't notice. A Christmas card from her showed a snowman in a sauna on the front, backed with "Are you o.k. -- you never have replied to my last letter."

At that time, I was o.k., if o.k. is defined as "overly kinetic." I had a crush of reading for History. I had a Psychology course with the challenge of an original research project. I had an Honors course on City Government with its own project. And I had an composition course with a finicky teacher and gobs of writing.

I had a roommate I didn't exactly gel with. We didn't seem like a good fit for each other. Andy had a wall full of alternative rock from bands I'd never heard of, a shelf full of Ayn Rand books, and a strange mop-top haircut. And when the Gulf War began in January, political divides intensified throughout campus, right up to the political cartoons we posted on our doors, along with self-styled commentary. I thought the war was over oil, at least in part. He disagreed.

Into this Lady Darley ventured another epistle, dated the 22nd of March, when winter was turning to spring in Missouri.
Dear Chris,

Hi, I hope you're fine.

I told you about my A-levels in English language and English Literature with Sociology.

This Andy guy your roommate, he seems a nice enough guy. I don't agree with you about the idea that the Gulf War was partially an oil war. America could get their oil from some other country. I agree with him about the fact that international law, human rights, free market economies. Oil was being fought for, but the things this guy Andy mentioned were more prominent than oil. Why couldn't you just talk to each other rather than putting the cartoons on the door -- a little childish, don't you think? I honestly would have done the same if someone challenged my point of view, I guess. If what you said is true, then he just can't stand self-criticism.

Do you know of any U.S. boys who would like to write to an English girl? I know of three girls who would like to write to American guys. There's [Abby] who's 17, and [Molly] who's 17 also. There's two nice girls. And I would like to write to someone. It's not as though I'm bored with the people I write to, I just like the feeling of having a lot of penfriends. Could you ask maybe Rich, Matt and Don. You could try and find us someone.
Those three guys she mentioned were three of my floormates whom I got on with well. But I didn't think they were right for Lady Darley, their age and their focus being just too much of a chasm.

In the months between our letters, on top of all the college work, I had accidentally wrecked the front end of my Royal Father's Nissan Maxima by rear-ending somebody on the way home from work. I was okay. The car wasn't, but miraculously, they were able to save it.
I'm sorry to hear that you had an accident with your car. [Your Raytown friend] had an accident in October of last year. Smashed up the whole car just about and cut all her lip, up and cut her face really bad. But she's o.k. now, thank goodness.

I plan to have a really good summer next year. My A-level exams will finish in the middle of June. If I had the money I plan to fly out to Kansas City on say July 1st and come back on August 10th with [your friend] so that I can show her around. We can go to my college, I should think we'd have a really good time together taking her to London, Liverpool, hiking, ice skating, youth hostels. We plan to have a really good summer together doing all the things that we really want to do together.

I apologise for putting that piece in my letter about what [your friend] said if it upsets you, and it did really it? Don't you value [her] friendship really bad? I think that sometimes she is hard to figure out. [She] has some really difficult times in her life, and sometimes she just gets a different idea of her relationship with others. But she is one of the nicest people that I have ever met, and one if not the best friends I ever have had. We told each other honestly that we told each other many things we have never told anyone else. And I value her!
It's nice to be valued. It's nice to value someone, especially when they are alive to see it. Just months earlier I had lost my Grandfather Lawson and my first pet dog in the same week.
I'm sorry to hear about your grandfather. It is hard to cope with people dying -- in my lifetime my uncle, grandma, and granddad have died. But I never really saw them and I was only about eight at the time.

I'm a little overworked at the moment with the schoolwork, but other than that, I'm o.k. My family is o.k.

I don't think Dances With Wolves has been released in Great Britain yet. Have you ever seen Stepfather II? It's amazing.

It's Easter really soon, we have chocolate Easter eggs and three weeks of school.

Doesn't your computer get stolen leaving it in Uni rooms? Do you have it secretly coded or something? I would be warned if I took mine, for security reasons of course.
I told Lady Darley I would be in England this summer. I didn't know if I might see her, even though I wanted to.
Are you going to Europe with your family? I'm away for five weeks of my five weeks, five days touring France, Germany, and Italy with some friends from school. Should be fun! I like the summer when all I do is travel, or work which is boring! I wouldn't have minded working at Worlds of Fun if I lived in K.C. (if only)!!!

See you,
[Lady Darley]
The lady gets around. Meanwhile, I would be toiling and spieling once again at Six Flags before heading to England. I had to be at least a little jealous.

I can see here we're drifting apart. College has a way of maturing people in a hurry. And at this point, I get the feeling I'm writing to a teenager who really has no useful purpose for me in her life other than to add me to her security blanket of penfriends.

Does she really care if I write her? Does she really need me?

For now, our letters will continue...

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