It’s still too hot

The storms blew the infernal humidity away, for now, but the temperature is still in the upper 80s and it’s too hot to work in the garden or even sit out on the front porch to read. And the heat seems to turn my brain to mush, so much so that I can’t come up with a coherent thought. Oh well…it’s as convenient an excuse as any for writer’s block.

Perhaps it’s the heat and the accompanying inertia that hot weather instills in me, but I feel a desperate longing to get away. A mere week, or even a long weekend…someplace that isn’t here…would do me a world of good. Nearly everyone I know is either on vacation or in the midst of planning one. The girls are in Myrtle Beach with their friends, and they’re having the time of their lives. I am so happy for them; they really needed this getaway. I hope and pray that they are getting some serious sisterly bonding under their belts. But the house is so still and quiet without them here. God knows how much I need, and so often crave, solitude and serenity. And yet…I’m beginning to wonder if an Empty Nest, when it finally comes, will be lonely rather than liberating?

Maggie is in France doing her semester abroad; Bryn has started her internship in London; Lisa and her family are in Orlando.

With so many of my dearest ones being away from home and out of reach, I find myself wishing that someone would write me a letter—or even a postcard—detailing the events and adventures that inhabit their days.  I came across a quote recently about letter-writing, and it filled me with longing for the pre-Internet, pre-Email days when people communicated via letters. I don’t recall anything more delightful, in my youth, than discovering a letter in our mailbox. Especially if it was a letter from Lisa. She and I were such faithful correspondents, and I saved each and every letter that she sent me.

For several years during grade school I was penpals with a girl my age who lived in England. Her name was Geraldine, and I kept all of her letters, as well. I also saved the letters from my “summer boyfriend” from Beaverdale, Phil, with whom I corresponded during his entire first year of college. He wrote beautiful letters; I can still see his neat and compact handwriting in my mind. All of these missives, and others, I preserved, separating them into small bundles bound carefully in satin ribbon of the palest blue (probably assuming, in my overtly romantic young self’s imagination, that this was how people back in Jane Austen’s day tied up their letters) and then filing them in tight rows in old shoeboxes.

I have no idea what happened to those letters. I never took them with me when I married and moved from home. My old bedroom was kept pretty much as I left it until about fifteen years ago when my dad gave the house to my brother, who eventually converted my old room into his master bedroom. I’ve never asked him what he’d done with those letters. I’m not sure why. Perhaps I don’t really want to know what I have long feared: that he’s simply thrown them away. Sometimes I like to fantasize that he is cleaning out the basement and happens upon the shoeboxes and calls me up to ask me if I still want those old letters. In my fantasy I delight in sorting through those boxes, bundle by bundle, and rekindle the pleasures of a literary childhood.

“Please write again soon. Though my own life is filled with activity, letters encourage momentary escape into others lives and I come back to my own with greater contentment.”
 –Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey, ‘A Woman of Independent Means’

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