I’m as nervous as a 14-year old on his first date. Tomorrow I’m going to meet my pen-pal. For exactly one year, I’ve been sending postcards to a 19-year old in Madrid. A friend who does music therapy in a a cancer ward told me about this young patient with a a remarkable spirit who has a passion for postcards. She thought with all my traveling that I’d be willing to send her some.
At that point, I had just come back from several trips, but had my own little postcard collection in a drawer and started to send them. You can’t write much on a postcard— mostly I talked about whatever image was on the card. The writing and looking for postcards became a habit not unlike this blog, but somehow more satisfying knowing there was a person on the other end who I might come to know. On every subsequent trip, I bought and sent postcards and when home in San Francisco, I exhausted the supply of all our local images.
I never really expected a response, but some three months later, I got a lovely postcard thanking me and introducing herself and making funny comments like how bad my handwriting is sometimes. In the course of a year, I got two more postcards, each one a prized jewel and sent a hundred or more, each one a pleasure. It was odd that in these days of e-mail and Facebook and the like, I never once saw a photo of my friend, but I kind of liked it that way. This was a real old-fashioned pen-pal, built on the strong foundation of the imagination, a mutual fun project and two strangers passing in the night sharing little stories.
Knowing I was coming to Madrid to teach, meeting her was a big priority and tonight, we arranged it. I talked to her on the phone! So now I have a voice to go with some image in my mind and tomorrow, she may come to my jazz course and sit in.
And so here I am, that nervous 14-year old. What if she doesn’t like me? What will we say to each other? Should I buy a few more postcards? Meanwhile, I hope I don't wake up with pimples.