Why is it that you can sometimes feel the reality of people more keenly through a letter than face to face?

Anne Morrow Linbergh, Bring Me a Unicorn (1971)

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Dear Mama –

Hi!  I’m writing from the tiki bar at a Caribbean resort, where a cool ocean breeze is blowing gently over the crystal-clear water and pure white sand to kiss my suntanned brow, as tropical island boys in tiny loincloths serve me fresh shellfish and coconut milk.  I can’t wait for tonight’s disco, followed by the bonfire, when I’ll stroll beneath the shining stars hand-in-hand with Pierre, my exotic new French lover of Swedish/Jamaican/Japanese/Brazilian descent.  Tomorrow we’ll take Pierre’s yacht out to scuba-dive by the coral reef and swim with the dolphins, after which the private helicopter will fly us over a dormant volcano.  I only hope I don’t miss my calypso and wine-tasting lessons back at the five-star hotel!

Just kidding.  I’m in my dorm room in New York, wearing boxers and a bra because it’s about 95 degrees in here with no air conditioning, and I’m mainlining soda so I can read a three-hundred page book and write an intelligent paper on it.  My glasses keep slipping down my nose from the sweat, my back is killing me from hunching over on the floor because I don’t have a desk, and I think there’s fur growing on my tongue.  Also, the overhead light blinks on and off in a weird way and I keep thinking I’m hallucinating from fatigue, but I’m pretty sure it’s really happening.  But it’s all worth it, because I’m getting the best liberal arts education that $120,000 can buy.

I miss you and daddy like crazy.  I hope everything’s okay there, and that the animals are behaving.  I can’t wait to get Home.

Love and Kisses – Tailfeather

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Dear Audrey-

Don’t totally despise me because I didn’t write you back, I’m so sorry!  I’m a bitch and a neglectful friend and you probably won’t believe me when I say that I miss you so much and I can actually explain my terrible behavior and therefore you must call me or send me your number so that I can call you and tell you again how much I miss you and that I have a plan for getting you out of Boston!

I’ve been thinking about it, and I want you to come visit me at Home this summer.  We’ll drink lots of coffee and smoke cigarettes and meet boys and discuss our misunderstood geniuses and it will be excellent for both of us (this is my thinking).  Then, we can take a mini road trip to the beach or go camping (ha ha, city girls in the wilderness!) and get in touch with ourselves as we drink vodka under the stars and read Simone de Beauvoir aloud.

What do you say?  I miss you and love you, so here’s my cell phone number, which you can call anytime.  Yes, I broke down and bought a cell, which is disgusting, but it saves magnificently on long-distance bills:  (555) 555-5555.

Can’t Wait to Hear From You – TF

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Hey, J –

Where are you?  It’s 10:00 now.  I thought you might call, but I guess you went to bed.  To make up for your absence, I just had six packs of cigarettes delivered.  I will smoke contemplatively and be solitary.  I am surprisingly sad that our conversation was cut short, and I now hold you entirely responsible for my apparent inability to accomplish anything remotely productive.  I shall have to tear apart my medicine cabinet until I locate some methamphetamines.  Well, I hope you’re satisfied with yourself – doubtless, you are – and that you’re having soothing dreams.  Be well, and I’ll talk to you soon.

Later – Feather

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