My cousin Melissa has always been one of my most cherished relatives, and we were incredibly close growing up. Every year for many years, our families followed the same routine: For Thanksgiving, my family went to her family’s house. For Easter, her family and my family both went to my grandparents’ house. For the Fourth of July, her family drove up to our house. And, for two weeks sometime in the summer, she would stay with us and then my sister and I would stay with her.
Together, our families visited much of the United States via road trips. Just a few years apart in age, Melissa, my sister and I discovered Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, Lake of the Ozarks and Wisconsin Dells. We went white water rafting, hung out around the campfire and entertained ourselves with goofy yet harmless childish humor for hours on end.
Melissa is exceptionally creative and smart, and she is a gifted athlete as well. I remember her creating beautiful pieces of art as she went through school, but she was also bringing home straight As and winning cross country meets. She was friendly to everyone, inquisitive and incredibly sweet. I loved everything about Melissa when we were kids, and I still do, even though we haven’t seen each other in a number of years.
We now live two time zones apart, and we both have careers and families. Though my family is made up of cats and dogs, she has gone on to have one son and is pregnant with her second child. As far as I know, she’s happy and busy, but she somehow makes time to scribble a note my way every once in a while when she can squeeze in a moment.
My letter to Melissa was more detailed than most I’ve written lately, mainly because we’re way beyond formalities. We know each other well and we’ve been in touch with each other on some level for several years. The most exciting thing to me about my letter to her was that it was my first real attempt at mail art. I’ve collected scraps from magazines for a long time because I like to create personalized birthday and greeting cards when I have the time. I dug into this collection to create a rainbow and cloud on the front of the envelope and a huge sunshine on the back. I had fun experimenting with my envelope space, and I’m looking forward to playing with more mail art on future letters to Melissa and others in the future.