Sunday is my favorite day of the week.
My past few Sundays have been hectic – I usually work doubles at the restaurant. I spend the day making derpy voices with my co-worker Michelle.
I dance around with Caitlin or Maggie as we set up the bar for brunch, blaring Beyonce over the speakers. People start coming in around 11 or so, and I engage in small talk, wash glasses, and pour piping hot cups of coffee to under caffeinated Durhamites.
This Sunday is different.
I’m sitting on a plush, cushy bed surrounded by pillows. I’m drinking a mocha, writing, as my friend Katie also writes on her laptop. She’s softly playing St. Paul & The Broken Bones, a realization I make after about twenty minutes. In a weekend full of discovered shared interests and experiences, it’s no surprise.
Katie and I are similar in a lot of ways – yes, there’s the travel, and the same geographical birth place. There’s a vast appreciation for Bloody Mary’s (which we were delighted to discover during our layover at the San Francisco airport). There’s the same birth day (the 14th) on J months (January for her, July for me). There’s a similar taste in books and music, and also, the same sense of humor.
“It’s so weird that we decided to go on this trip together,” I called from the tiny bathroom that morning, after spitting out my toothpaste.
“It’s so weird that I know you,” she replied, in a tone that makes me burst out laughing.
It is weird. Before this trip, I had spoken only spoken to Katie a handful of times. One night, we met up for drinks in Durham, and on another occasion, we had breakfast at Joule. I only know her because years prior, Katie had contacted me about a room I was subletting on Craigslist.
She didn’t come see the place, but one of us added the other on Facebook. Then, and I will never recall when, I realized she was from Philadelphia. And that she had gone to the same small Catholic high school as my mother.
And we kind of became friends.
When I finally met her, I felt like I had always been friends with her. It was as if we had just not spoken in awhile – the vibe of reconnecting with a long lost childhood friend.
I saw Katie post about her trip to come see Rob Bell and Elizabeth Gilbert, and of course, I wanted in. In addition to making the trip together, we also decided to do something kind of hippie-dippie. We wanted to write our future selves letters.
So last night, after a day that Katie coined “orientation”, we sat across from each other on the cushy bed, holding the same letters in our hands.
Katie’s was neatly tucked in a pretty purple envelope. Mine was on my phone – as somewhere in my rushing out of my house yesterday morning, I neglected to pull the cream colored envelope from within the cigar box it was hidden in. Luckily Shana (who is watching Morrie) agreed to open it, and took pictures, front and back, of the long letter written in fine black ink.
I read Katie’s first. I won’t disclose what she said, but I smiled as I read through it. I occasionally paused and made comments such as “this is amazing,” or “that is so true.”
Then Katie read mine.
And I was immediately transported back to when I wrote it.
It was a cold night in February. I was curled up in my bed at my former place, an oversized house on Duke’s East Campus. My roommate Tess and her boyfriend Matt had just shared their chili with me.
It had been a rough couple of weeks. I finally called it quits with my ex. I had just returned from Europe, and already missed the feeling of the open road.
But I was still calm and happy. I was listening to a live performance of The Avett Brothers. My sheets smelled of the lavender linen spray I bought from Whole Foods. I had ripped out two pages from my Moleskin journal, and I remember, felt a little awkward as I started to write.
Still, I finished, and was somewhat satisfied with what I wrote.
Now, at the end of May, three months later, my eyes well up, and I laugh, as Katie reads aloud.
“Did Tess get that job in Asheville? Told you so.” and “Did you ever get that side job at a coffee shop or something?”
The answer was yes to both.
I made requests, such as “Tell John, Meagan and Annabel I said hello.” I expressed concerns about still engaging in prayer and going to The Summit. I politely reminded myself to return to it, if it was being neglected.
I made sweeping, mind-boggling statements about how I was feeling, such as:
“You’re feeling a bit raw, but also feel the ice cracking.”
“You feel flowers growing in the desert.”
“Opportunity from scorched Earth.”
But the most surprising thing, something I had forgotten about, was the apology I made to myself. A long overdue one, that until this night, didn’t realize that I needed.
It’s a funny thing, to have to tell ourselves that we’re sorry. But in a world where we apologize for everything, and to everyone else – why not ourselves?
“Melissa, I want to tell you that I’m sorry I haven’t always treated you well,” I started, likely after a spoonful of chili.
“Hopefully I know better now, or at the very least, that this letter reminds me. I want you to be in a far better place than you’ve been.”
“No more scraps,” I instructed.
“No more forcing it. No more hating what we don’t and can’t have. No more questioning why we don’t have it.”
“I will treat the three months between us with the upmost respect,” I promised. “I will listen and respond with grace and unfailing faith.”
“I love you, sweetheart,” I said. “You are vibrant, wonderful, and brave. You’ve always known what you’ve wanted.”
“Don’t ever give that up — it’s a beautiful thing about you that will never change. Take this letter as me handing the baton. You’re next, kid. Keep making it happen. I believe in you so much. Take care.”
I had simply signed it, Melissa.
I feel a momentary connection with her. In some way that defines time and space, and for a few seconds, we’re side by side.
She sits in yoga pants and a tank top I have likely given away to Goodwill by now. Her hair is newly blonde, and longer. She doesn’t have tattoos on her arms, and she’s a bit softer then me.
I’m in jeans, and my favorite “Comme ci, comme ca” Madewell tee. My nails are painted charcoal, and my little bird peeks up from my forearm as I type, my mountains from beneath my bicep.
I love the things that Melissa knew. The things she was willing to admit. I’m so thankful for everything she endured to get me here. And she envies where I am. She is somewhat resentful of all the sacrifices, all the heartache she had to feel for me. But she understands, and the letter reflects that – that she needed to change for me.
So she did.
Like Katie, that Melissa feels kindred to me – a girl who was willing to put faith in intuition, opportunity and magic. We’re not the same, but we’re both, as Melissa wrote:
“Full, safe, and happy.”