Imagine my surprise when I opened my mailbox a couple weeks ago and was greeted by a letter from Brooke, a friend of ours from the Peace Corps. Brooke was the youngest of the volunteers in our Peace Corps group. She lived with a family near ours, so we were subsequently placed in the same language training group, which meant we spent more time with Brooke and the two other people in our training group than other volunteers with whom we served.
Brooke was a sweet girl—innocent and wide-eyed—but she didn’t last long in the Peace Corps. In fact, she chose to leave before our eight weeks of training were even over. But “Bibi Brooke” (as she was called by our language trainer) became a good friend of ours in that short period of time, and I’ve never forgotten about her. We exchanged a few letters once she returned back to the United States and we were still living in Kenya, but after we returned home, we lost track of her. I’ve looked for across a variety of social networks to find her without any luck, so I sort of thought our friendship was just another one of those that simply floats away on the breeze when there’s no way that you know of to get back in touch.
Fast forward eight years after Brooke left the Peace Corps. My husband had stopped by my mailbox one day when he was out running errands, and when he walked into the house, he said, “You’ll never believe who you got a letter from! Bibi Brooke!” He was right. It was a total and complete surprise! It turns out that Brooke actually found me through The 52 Letters Project as she was looking for photos of letters (as in alphabet letters) and some of the photos of my handwritten letters appeared in her search. After a crazy and serendipitous occurrence, how could she not write?
Brooke’s letter was awesome, and I found myself grinning the whole time I read it. Since we saw her last, Brooke’s gotten her Ph.D. in psychology and is teaching at a university. She’s married and frequently travels with her husband. Most importantly, she sounds genuinely happy, and that’s what makes me happiest.
I wrote a long letter back to Brooke, giving her the rundown of what my husband and I have been up to since we parted ways. I told her about our jobs, our pets and our travels. It’s fun to write a letter like this because it gets me thinking about my life and what’s been occupying my time. Is it interesting? Is it fun? Do I enjoy it? The answer to all those questions is yes.
This is what I love about snail mail—the chance to reconnect with old friends I’ve otherwise not been able to contact. Brooke is the second person I’ve managed to get back in touch with as a result of The 52 Letters Project (Stacey was the first), and I love knowing that I’ve been able to find important people in my life who’d all but disappeared simply by doing something I love.
Letter writing is a powerful and very exciting thing.