A mysterious letter arrived at my mom’s house a few weeks ago. It was, she said, addressed to me, in my own handwriting. But the return address was of someone named Linda in Maine.
I told her it couldn’t possibly actually be from me, because I had no recollection of writing myself a letter and have lived in Des Moines for the past five years. My mom insisted the handwriting was my own, so I asked her to open it.
She was right. I wrote this letter to myself eight years ago, the summer after I graduated from high school, as a freshly minted 18-year old abroad on a European Adventure. I’d embarked on a transformative three week trip with Girl Scouts (when you’re 18, scouting becomes cool again) and our leader had held onto the letters until this summer. It was exciting and funny to see my advice to myself:
I posted about the letter on Facebook and tagged my best friends from the trip. Julia and Jenna. They’d also received letters and, to my surprise, Jenna wrote back to let me know she was traveling through Des Moines the following week on her way to Colorado. Eight years later, inspired by this letter, she was on my doorstep! We stayed up late crafting cards to send to Linda thanking her for the blast from the past and updating her on our lives.
Jenna is a traveling minstrel of sorts, living her dream as a singer/songwriter. Her optimism, enthusiasm and sense of adventure have only intensified in the years since we sat on the side of a mountain, me teaching her how to knit and sailed in the North sea, her leading us in singing sea shanties.
The whole experience was a lovely reminder to me of what remains important in this world.
I couldn’t help scanning in a page from my scrapbook of the trip.
This experience has such a special place in my heart that when Joe and I went on our honeymoon hike, we accidentally re-created it by visiting many of the same stops!