When I was 18 years old I moved from the Jersey shore to Stowe, Vermont. The year was 1975. There were no computers or cell phones in my life. Landlines were attached to walls or they sat on end tables. Businesses, public buildings, train stations and airports all had payphones. I miss those days. I’m thank-full that I got to live during those times. It was fun to talk on the phone then. Now it feels like an inconvenience.
I would call my mother when I was finished with work in the evenings to tell her about my new life in the Green Mountains. My mother was an alcoholic so it was hard to catch her when she wasn’t drinking or already drunk. On evenings that she managed to answer the phone, she wouldn’t remember any of the conversations we had on my previous phone calls from the Green Mountains.
So, I tried calling in the mornings if I had a break. But that was her sleeping time. I tried calling in the afternoons but that is when she went to work.
So I started to write her letters.
The letters allowed me to tell her about my new life and how pretty the Vermont landscape was. I told her about horseback riding through the woods and how fun it was to cross the rivers on a horse. I told her about my most recent boyfriend or the new girlfriends I was hanging out with. In some letters, I told tell her what I needed in case she wanted to send me something. I told her about the cold. “Some days the hairs inside my nose would freeze and cars can’t start because their batteries are so cold,” I told her how I had learned how to dress to stay warm and my new appreciation for wool.
My mother died in 1990. All of her possessions were left at my cousin, Therese’s house when she went in the nursing home. I remember sitting in a big closet, “What were we going to do with all her shoes?” I found a shoebox full of all the letters I had written to her. She had saved them all, even the envelopes. The dates and the towns they were mailed from were all there. While reading through my past lives, I realized I never told her about the hard times. Just the good stuff was there. I guess I didn’t want to give her more reasons to drink.
My daughter will never find a shoebox full of letters. Darcie never writes letters. I suppose I could print out emails and put them in a shoebox somewhere but Darcie hardly emails me anymore. Phone calls are almost obsolete. I do get texts, facebook updates, and snap-chats. The latest is a Marco Polo app where we can send videos to each other. I’ve been tempted to get rid of my cell phone. I could have a landline for half the cost, but I’m afraid I would never hear from Darcie.
I recently found my old cell phone. It gave me an idea. I put it in a shoebox with its charger. From now on I’ll save all my old phones so she can look at our texts and pictures when I’m gone.