The currency of “notes”

IMG_7895Hand written notes. Traded in hallways, shop rooms, after school sport busses and bathrooms. They might be passed directly, slipped thru a hole in your locker or passed from one friend to another for final delivery. Solid Gold. One would wait all day in anticipation of a shared class with your note writer – heart broken if there was none delivered – the opening gambit of my expectations of communications with loved ones. Telephone plans, milk break thoughts, stories of past weekends and thoughts on future ones. Plenty of page filler as well. The texting of the times.

Milk Break

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In HS we has such a thing called Milk Break twice a day. One little half pint of milk and 15 minutes of note passing, sometimes typed in the graphic design department. I was probably reading this note during the milk break referenced, meta.

A box of letters

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I’ve had this box of notes and letters for 25+ years. It has moved from my house to my grandmother’s house to my apartment to my studio and finally to my storage space. Their final resting place will be the black bags of trash that line my building on tuesday and thursday mornings, a sad completion to all they contain. I want to reveal their benign beauty, examine their insights to initial loves in my adolescent mind and provide them with an honorable release. It’s beautiful house cleaning, not a Kiss and Tell show.

Red Type, My Feelings are So Strong.

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Lionel Richie. A reference point in most of her letters and notes. Quoting song lyrics and titles to express feelings. “Everything he says in it is exactly how I feel.” It’s something I still do today, without the reflection upon the efforts of Lionel.

Friends never met, found in a classroom

IMG_7989 I found an address on the floor once in school, in the room that had a bank of windows facing the front courtyard of the building. In the slowest possible trolling for friends I wrote to that address to find out who was at the end of that paper on the floor. Kim, with a heart over her “i”. It’s hard to imagine taking the time today to write to a found address, but at that time i couldn’t have been more curious about the world outside of central massachusetts. This is Kim’s reply to that note. We traded correspondence for a few years, true pen pal style. Never to meet, only to crack open our perceptions of what was out there. Curiosity at a safe distance from reality, a chance to wander off without leaving – hallmarks of this exchange. Tom Ryan where did you go?

Attention, Awareness, Impression, Nostalgia

IMG_8119Why have I held on to these notes and letters for 25 years? Trying to uncover the fear that kept these things close, kept that box traveling with me from place to place – Cherished as objects made for me, by people whom i shared love with. It’s always seemed like you can’t destroy those things. Are all the letters I’ve written still in existence?, tucked into boxes in the attic? Have their fears been released while I’ve held on to mine?

Forever, or at least until the end of the year

IMG_8068I’m sure my feelings will never end. As long as forever lasts until next year. Proclamations, surely I said the same thing to her. Nothing catastrophic happened – i went to college and she found another forever love. for another year. I believe it when i write it but it has never been true, forever.

3 Bucks Only. No Booze.

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Sometimes she would just include random rad things in her letters. 3 Bucks Only. In a dry Mormon town. Where Minor Threat Played. I had no idea who Minor Threat was. She did and that’s why I liked her. She had a full mystery script running behind the curtain. Music, often binds me to Loves.

My First Text, Made of Paper

IMG_8067The first time I fell in love. The first time my heart was split in two. rinse, repeat. First time I met someone equalling in love with music as I was. Pet Shop Boys, OMD, Trio and Error, The Smiths – all that good morbid shit you can dance to. First girl to turn me one to music I’d never heard of. A Mormon rebel hell bent on escape, fleeting at that. Met in October the basement of a church dance, by Christmas she was in Utah and wasn’t coming back. I begged my mom to allow my 16 year old self to board a plane for the first time to see her. Denied, I cried.

Sometimes they were complex and sad.

IMG_8106One summer I worked at Howard Johnsons on the Mass Pike with a girl named Gayle. I was oblivious to everything beyond how attractive she was. She was a little bit broken and haven’t I always been attached to that?

her note reads:
“….I’m just a very confused person at this moment. I’ve been staying with Robin because of my parents. There are just so many things that I wouldn’t even know where to begin to explain. Saturday January 24th I went to your house, but no one was home. Did you get the note I stuck in the door? (your house is the one with the purple shutter and it’s white?) I hope so because if not, those people think I’m an idiot. It took me and my friend Lisa forever to find your house. I was really looking forward to seeing you I really wanted to talk, actually i really need a hug.

she lived an hour away. drove to my house in the woods for a hug. no google maps. no texting. 2 hours of effort, hoping for a hug.

Can it Last?

IMG_8059She often proclaimed to be in love forever. I likely did the same. Seventeen years old and contemplating the infinite of love. Didn’t last more than 12 months past this point, as I moved to college and a good friend stepped in to fill my role of forever boyfriend.

Question 2 of the collage reads “Love Makes You Feel” and the choices are:
a. ecstatic! joyful! exuberant!
b. miserable
c. generally happy but sometimes a little confused.

in this document the (a.) is circled as the correct answer, (c.) has always been more true.

600mg Motrin

IMG_8075She always put together great letters. from her stationary to her handwriting everything was always unusual. This letter included at 600mg Motrin pain killer to better illustrate her displeasure with having to take these enormous pills. Her intimate and frequent letters helped heal my first crushed heart.

Always Be Thinking

IMG_8052 Always Be Thinking. Composing communication can open doors to unsuspected creativity. She almost always typed her letters and they were often richer between the lines then in plain sight. The back of a letter, a word puzzle that spells out – “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year – Always Be Thinking.” Effort will always be endearing.

Your Parent’s Car Was The Best

IMG_8019 (1)Consistently inventive she was. Old world style she loved to send clippings of stories while she was away at college and i was finishing HS, an older lover by two years. At that time it was a world of difference. It was an entanglement. Destined for pain and it completely fulfilled it’s path. Never been very good at knowing better when the time comes for it. Not at 17 certainly.

I do everything I am supposed to do.

IMG_7999Of all the letters in this box this is one of the most touching and most relative. She would write often with calligraphy taking her well written words to another level. Memories of experiences with loves will stop me in my tracks, bringing a smile or a tear.

Letters in the aluminum mailbox.

IMG_8097A great note writing joy in my life was/is receiving mail from the hands of someone you are curious about. In those days, if one happened to arrive in that little aluminum box at the end of the driveway it would be on the kitchen table when i got off the bus. I’d scurry away to my desk in my room and devour them line by line. Reading between the lines for hidden meanings and obtuse agendas. Always trying to translate them into what I wanted them to mean. Joy in the mailbox still follows me today.

Beautiful Handwriting

IMG_8178Does anyone write in cursive anymore? This might be the most beautiful handwriting in the box of letters. The combination of the official “REQUEST FOR LOOKUP” document paper and the long swooping letter forms make this letter feel like its from another time. A modern ancient relic from my own life.

Honestly & Sadly I have no recollection of the author, the recent visit to her, my friend David she mentions or the phone call just before she wrote this note. It is signed KuKu, how could I possibly not remember that name? Doesn’t make me feel great to forget people, in this case two.