Dear Becky

When I got married, lo some dozen years ago, my dear friend Rebecca gave me a unique and significant gift: a scrapbook full of the notes that I had written to her throughout the years we'd been friends - ninth grade through college. Even though I loved it, I didn't bring it with me when we moved to California; when you have to fit everything you own into a small pickup truck, you make some hard decisions.

At some point the scrapbook got misplaced at my parents' house, but my mom found it along with some of my other keepsakes and gave it to me this morning. It's a bit overwhelming to read through the notes. There are so many of them, for one thing. I was a prolific note writer.

(Question: why did I flounder in math classes? Answer: because I was surreptitiously composing notes in the back row. [And because I'm terrible at math.])

I trusted Rebecca - or Becky, as I called her back then - so much that I wrote to her as one might write to a private diary. Some of the notes are incredibly cringe-worthy. I threw myself into the project of adolescence. I was self-absorbed and boy crazy. But I was also invested in questions of ultimate concern. I wrote a lot about God, and whether or not I believed in him.

I want to be gentle to this younger version of myself. I want to commend her for making some good decisions: yes, you should definitely break up with that boyfriend; no, you should not go back to Bowling Green State University after that spectacularly terrible freshman year; yes, you should keep in touch with wonderful friends like Becky even if you mostly just blather on about your latest identity crisis.

I want to whisper in her ear, when she starts to think that maybe she's supposed to be a pastor despite the apparent ridiculousness of the notion: yes, really.

I also want to write a letter to Rebecca, who has been my friend for twenty years. I wish I had her half of the correspondence; it's got to be in my parents' basement somewhere. I have no doubt that her side of the story reveals her gentle yet fierce spirit. (Perhaps her patience upon receiving my pages-long fits of angst was a sign and/or preparation for her own clear vocation as a licensed clinical social worker!)

Here's one of my favorites. I can't date it exactly, but based on the references and the handwriting, I think it was from our sophomore year. 

In the words of my fifteen-year-old self: well, enough of this.

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