Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Letters Home


I was looking though some papers in my basement the other day and found my old letters from college...letters I had written about once a week...or once every two weeks...when I was in college in the 70s...odd to think that there was no internet then...no emails...no cellphones...oh...how did I exist...I actually wrote letters...there were all kinds of letters...each one more anxious than the next...each one with a sense of urgency to them..."you must read this," I would say to my mom, " I miss you."

I didn't really like myself in college...I was 20 pounds heavier than I am today...I had a tight perm and wore Qiana shirts (how did I let myself go out like that...were clingy Qiana shirts really stylish...so glad the styles have changed...no more Qiana for me)...my college days were not filled with excitement...they were filled with work...hard work...I think about half the letters I read said "I'm leaving...I really wasn't meant to be at Cornell...I'm homesick...I want to go home...I'm lonely"...but my mother was right...I was a strong person...I stuck it out...I passed the test...and then it was 1979 and I was graduating.

There were letters on Snoopy stationery...and letters with Betsy Clark stationery...those were the Hallmark days...I was a big supporter of Hallmark...now I'm more sophisticated...at 49 I've become a member of the Papyrus card club.

Back in the 70s my letters home talked about my Wrangler jeans (did I really wear Wranglers?)...and my Dr. Scholl's clogs (I remember those hard wood clogs with the leather strap and adjustable buckle across the top of my foot...they were all the rage in the 70s)...and I wore Donnekenny tops and Aileen sportswear...I even wrote about those brands in my letters home...I was so devoted to my branded attire...just like my kids are to their Abercrombie and Fitch...I always wanted to be like Annie Hall...she was my American Idol.

February '76..."I like economics...we are learning a lot about consumer issues, such as boycotting meats and how to be a better consumer" (Didn't even remember I was an activist in my college days...didn't even remember that I took economics...but I'm glad I did.)

March '77..."Last weekend I finally had a date. I think I made history, thought that dates didn't exist anymore." (Guess there wasn't much of a dating scene in college...we didn't have Facebook to check our dates out in advance...not like today...not that any of my dates were memorable...glad I have these letters to help me remember.)

January '78..."Well, I got up to school okay, but I tell you it looks like I'm never going to get out until June when all the snow melts. It's been snowing non-stop since I got back. The streets and sidewalks can't be seen. I've never seen it this bad, you can't even see the mailbox, that's an example of how deep the snow is!"(No wonder I didn't like college...why didn't I pick a school in Florida...I should encourage my son to read these letters before he selects his college of choice.)

February '79..."I checked my transcripts and found my cum to be better than I thought. Overall, my average is a B- and my average in my major is a B...I was really happy...aren't you happy for me?...I start my disco dancing and clown workshop this week. I'm looking forward to it..."(And I thought I wasn't going to graduate...I did okay in college...and I even took disco dancing and learned to be a clown...glad I started to enjoy myself in my senior year...it took four years to lighten me up...but I did it.)

Oh the lessons I learned in my college years...they've helped me through the past 25+ years...and will likely be with me the rest of my life...I learned to be self-sufficient...to be strong...to be able to count on myself and to never give up when the going gets tough...to stick it out.

Glad my mom saved my letters home...glad there weren't any cellphones...or I wouldn't have the memories from those letters home to read..with the Snoopy stationery...and the 13 cent stamps...and the saying on one of my handmade stationery papers that read "Remember --this is the first day of the rest of your life."

Judi

2 comments:

sognatrice said...

What a treasure you've come across! I was in college in the mid to late 90s, and I wrote a lot of letters too--although not to home, I don't think, mostly to friends (I used email as it was just becoming really popular, but still hung on to the letter tradition). Would be interesting to see those letters....

About those Dr. Scholl's clogs? The weirdest thing is that they're actually kind of popular here in southern Italy in the summer--for men. Very odd to me, but what do I know about fashion anyway?

Laura said...

What a wonderful snapshot of life! You probably did learn to be self-reliant in college. It's something I never learned until much later because I lived at home and always had Daddy to take care of me. How life can change, huh? We are both strong women after all these years, challenging years. Glad you had time to reminisce. PS I never could wear Dr. Scholl's!