Drop an email; we'll see where it goes.

Nine years, I do believe, it has been since a letter from M.E. last appeared in my mailbox. Nine years, or so, I think it was since I did much paper correspondence. He was British, I the crass American teenager. We shared musical tastes; how much else I do not know.

This past week, my mother phoned me. As an aside, she mentioned, "A letter from a [M.E.] arrived today; I've put it with my things and I'll bring it with us when we come visit this weekend."

My response was of sheer astonishment. He was someone I hadn't thought about in quite some time. But, in the classic "don't think about a white elephant!" sense, I spent the next few days wondering how his life has changed over nine years.

Life changes are always more mundane and less adventuresome than one expects them to be; I envisioned massive changes and upheavals and radical stories of change and growth. I am, after all, a writer at heart. Even my story, which comes as close to one of those novel-worthy stories as you'll find anywhere around here, is probably pretty tame in comparison to what I'd imagined.

Tonight, after my parents went to bed, I opened the letter. What a secret and tactile pleasure the act of opening a letter is; the feel of the envelope as you slide a finger under the flap, the careful pressure as you delicately rip it open. The resistance of pressed, folded paper as you unfold it—and then, the contents.

No surprise: his life, like mine, went in ways he didn't expect. Jobs didn't always work out, relationships worked and then didn't. He's having problems with his longtime girlfriend (who he has dated for longer than my husband and I have known each other), and the job market's been a bit scarce.

Thus leading to free time, and housecleaning, and leading to the discovery of a packet of long-unread letters, some of which contained my parents' (and, thus, my old) address.

A lesson for me in how time changes things: for the first year of my marriage, I felt strange being called by my full (and recently wedding-modified) surname. The second year, I didn't think about it much at all. In the third year, my un-hyphenated birth surname falls strangely uncomplete, unfinished, on my ears.

It's been quite some time since I received mail addressed to my birth name. The name is a symbol, a reminder of someone I once was, but am no more.

I'm curious to hear what changes nine years have wrought on him, as well. I suspect they are similar.

"Drop an email; we'll see where it goes," I said.

We'll see.

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