December 1995, Greece. As I looked out my kitchen window at the green groves of olive trees, I had an aching homesickness for a different picture of winter. I wanted to be in the Vermont Life calendar photo on my wall, breathing in the cold air outside a tiny wooden post office, its roof covered in fresh, deep snow and a red ribboned wreath on the wall frozen with icicles. Above the door was a small sign:
POST OFFICE. PLYMOUTH. Vt. 05056.
On an impulse I decided to write a Christmas card to the people who worked there. It lifted my spirits to do so, might lift theirs too and made my Greek surroundings more bearable.
In mid-January a postcard arrived of giant, snow laden pine trees in a winter storm. The handwriting was unknown, fine and delicately penciled, the message kindred and poetic. It was signed by a woman “assistant postmaster, Plymouth.” I sensed immediately she was someone worth writing back to. And so I did.
That’s how our friendship and 22-year correspondence unfolded. Letter writing, like our relationship, was unhurried. There was the physical process of composing, stamping and mailing letters and then waiting for them to arrive across the ocean. But there was also sacredness in how we chose to reveal ourselves to each other. There were no direct questions, but ones that encouraged natural dialogue and the opening of our hearts. Although I tended to share my personal thoughts more readily, I honored her reluctance to and never pried. It was months before I knew we were about the same age, that she was childless too, in a rocky marriage and searching for a meaningful path in her life as was I. We embraced time and thrived on the unknown. Where mystery loves company, enchantment follows.
Story by Deborah Curtis