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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Hope & My ePal

"At first we hope too much; later on, not enough."
~ Joesph Roux

I've always been a fan of hope. And pen pals. Or at least the idea of pen pals. I am reminded of a Jamaican man I met while on a family vacation in the Caribbean when I was sixteen. His name was Wayne Shakespeare and he was the charismatic tour guide at a plantation that we visited. Let's just say he could climb a mean coconut tree, and as you're well aware, that kind of raw skill will win over the heart of any teenage girl. We decided to become pen pals, although I think he really just wanted me to fall in love with him so that I would invite him to live with me in America. I sensed his secret plan and I wasn't going to be anyone's sugar momma, especially at age sixteen because I didn't even have a job or any income to my name (so technically my dad would have ended up being Wayne Shakespeare's sugar daddy and that would have gotten pretty complicated, and not to mention, pretty bizarre). Nonetheless, we wrote letters a few times but the distance was just too much, and to be honest, I never even thought of him again..that is, until today. Shout out to Mista Shakespeare mon.

So now, instead of a Jamaican man with an obviously fake name, I have an eight-year old pen pal. (On second thought, our correspondence does not include pens or ink of any kind but instead a computer keyboard- so would the correct term be 'email pal'? Or should I try to be cool by dropping the 'mail' and just refer to her as my 'ePal'? Is that the hip new term the kids are using? Wow, I'm sounding like an elderly person. This just rubs in the fact that I turned twenty-six a few months back and am apparently already losing touch with the youth. I don't know how this all works anymore- I suppose this is yet another fun perk that comes with aging. Yep, even more glorious than bifocals or canes. If things continue going downhill this quickly and if I take after my grandpa at all, then very soon I will have five television remote controls and I won't understand how to use a single one of them, causing me to miss all my favorite shows. Now I'm really stressed.)

But back to my ePal- she is the daughter of my cousin and we were sitting next to each other at a wedding reception recently (oh yesss- give it up for the kids table ya'll!) and she told me she'd "love more than anything to become pen pals," and that's how it all began. (So don't worry, I didn't just randomly visit an elementary school playground and force a child to become pen pals with me. That was my backup plan, but luckily it didn’t come to that.) My little friend is also a mini fashionista and the real life Dakota Fanning character from every movie you always thought was extremely far-fetched because no eight year old ever talks like that. But it's true, she's so precocious and more insightful than the great majority of adults that I've met. (Which reminds me, have I mentioned that I hope to have an extremely precocious and feisty daughter one day? Friends tell me I'm jinxing myself by saying it aloud, but I know I'm up for the challenge, so bring it on- but just to clarify, don't bring it on right now, thankyouverymuch. Definitely don't want to jinx myself on that one. Besides, I already have an extremely precocious and feisty dog to raise and that is going great...sure he may be residing with his foster grandparents in the suburbs at the moment but that has absolutely nothing at all to do with my parenting skills. Or my nonexistent sense of authority. Nothing at all, I tell you.)

In the spirit of being young again (twenty-six has been stinging a bit, can you tell? It's closer to thirty than twenty, which is closer to having to look like you've got it all figured out, when really, no one ever figures it out completely, they just pretend to know what's up. Ah I'll save that rant for another time yo.), I recently had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, possibly for the first time in a decade. It was made with love by my mom, minus the highly overrated crust of course, and cut diagonally to enhance the flavor. Sometimes you just want to be eight again and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is a good start. (Can I get witness? Or at least a "Hell yeah!"? Your choice.)

Really though, my ePal has reminded me of all the goodness that comes with being eight years old. I sometimes get nostalgic and wish there was a way to recapture even an ounce of the hope and honesty of childhood. Just for a minute or two, clear my mind and preconceived notions and enhance possibility. I wish I could go back to a time where I truly thought anything was possible and I still believed that things could be simply and exactly as they seemed.

Time passes and the inevitable 'real world' sets in, ready or not, but maybe everything's not lost. Maybe a slice of that unjaded hopefulness of an eight year old is still inside us somewhere. There's a good chance that it just quietly retreated through the passing years and no one ever bothered sending out a search party. I know that I've waved the white flag of surrender to cynicism more than I'd like to admit, so now, as much as it's up to me, I want to hunt hope down, tackle it (like the amazing athlete I never was), and not let it slip so far away next time. Let's be honest, we could all use a little more of it.

The last time I talked to my ePal, she said to me absolutely out of the blue, "You know what Jessie, I hope that the next time I see you you'll have someone to hold hands with." So sweet and perceptive. Yeah, if only things were just that simple (great, I'm already becoming cynical again- I guess that whole "hope" talk only lasted 1 paragraph), and no pressure or anything! I suppose I'd better get on it though because I'm getting closer to thirty (have I mentioned that yet?!), but more than that, I can't bear to let my eight year old friend down.

So in closing, here are a few friendly reminders for you: 1) Ladies love coconut tree climbers 2) You can learn a lot from an eight year old pen pal 3) Hunt down some hope and tackle it, and if you happen to be as uncoordinated as me, be sure to wear a helmet.