Sad memories in a box

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Bittersweet Memories.”

On Saturday, July 19, I decided to open my two storage boxes that had been in my sister’s storage unit and to pare back any material.  One box had mostly books that I either later donated or sold for about $13.

The other box had a small brown box.  The smaller box wasn’t packed to the brim.  It had a few books that my friend Julie had published many years ago.  She allowed me to design the book cover.  I kept the books as part of my design portfolio.  There was a coffee mug from the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in the original box.  There were blank postcards of Cooperstown and New York.  The box had a stack of letters.  Most of them were from Julie as she was recovering in the hospital.  One of them was my letter to her that was returned by the hospital

One simple postcard can bring plenty of sad memories.
One simple postcard can bring plenty of sad memories.

But two things caught my attention: a postcard and a returned letter.  The postcard was from the French Quarter.  It had a warm note of greeting to me from Amy.

I sighed.

She was my first online pen pal that I met in 1997.  The Internet was simple then.  It still glowed with the potential with meeting friendly people.  A shy teenager like me jumped at the opportunity.  Phishing and other scams hadn’t yet plagued the Internet.  AOL was the primary browser on my sister’s computer with a telephone modem of 52 kilobytes per second.  Talk about ancient technology.

Amy, her husband and her baby son lived in Alabama.  She was pleasant in our instant-messaging conversations.  I can’t remember if I had sent her family a card or a letter.  But she did send a postcard from the French Quarter in June 1998.  But that was the beginning of the end of our friendship.

By then, I was dejected after a girl I had a huge crush had dumped me in April 1998.  My coping mechanism was to stick closer to the friends I have.  But I also would pry into other people’s affairs and ask too many questions.  Amy rightly cut off contact with me.  My last letter to her was returned me after her post office box was closed.

That was a friendship that could’ve lasted for a long time.  But I messed up.  I needed to learn those hard lessons so I could become a better friend to the people I would meet in Georgia, Texas and California.  Thank you, Amy, for knocking me down so I could learn my lesson.

Julie and I would keep in touch for many years.  I even visited her during my first trip to Boston.  But over the years, the emails between us dwindled.  Now, I occasionally see her Facebook posts.  Time moves too fast.

I hope Julie and Amy are happy wherever they are.   May God watch over them and bless them.

Later that Saturday, I packed the brown box with more stuff.  I pulled out the mug and the postcards.  I had broken a mug at the seminary and this would be a good replacement.  A few friends would appreciate postcards from me.  More memories were stowed away.  Maybe another time will come to reminisce.

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