Friday, January 03, 2014

Teenage Filipina Letter Writing / Daly City / Circa 1982

I'm in thinking-and-jotting-down mode for an essay that I hope to start writing soon.

A new image pops into my head every day, usually during the morning. The hours pass, and this initial picture grows bigger and bigger just like a Bubble Yum bubblegum bubble. Yesterday's image: a zoom in on the loopy, extraordinarily ornamental penmanship of my high school girlfriends—Pinays, all.

As the bubble grew, the image morphed into a densely packed missive written on college rule binder paper with the florid sign-off of "love forever and ever and always..." Then I saw brown hands with tapered fingers, maroon-colored nail polish, and the initials "LM" written in black ink on the web of skin between thumb and firefinger. The hands folded the letter in on itself until it became a self-contained envelope. Then it was pressed against the sender's mouth, sealed with a kiss from cherries-in-the-snow lips.

These letters were transmitted hand-to-hand, or furtively tossed into a locker during passing periods, or sometimes sent via a third party, which was especially thrilling when the third party was a boy. In a black derby jacket. Smelling of Jovan Musk.

Receiving letters and writing them cemented friendships, certainly, but they were also the perfect fodder for betrayal, manipulation, or out-and-out war. The modern-day equivalent is a text conversation, I suppose, but texts don't have the charm of doodles in the margins, or an inked wreath of flowers crowning your name, and they don't arrive intricately folded into origami ninja stars or hearts to discourage tampering. The old days RULE!

I wish I had known how large these letters would loom in my old-lady memory because I would have saved some, and there would be a picture here for your viewing enjoyment. As it is, I'll have to make do with a random internet photo that kind of gives you the idea, but not quite.

That's it for my first, stilted post of 2014. May all that follow be more fluent, more amusing, more...something. 

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