Letters From Japan

I just opened my mail.

A large brown manila envelope from Fort Collins, Colorado, postmarked April 19th, 2012. Inside the manila envelope were letters that I had written to Margaret in  Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, when I lived at  Haramachi 2-58, Fuji-so, Shinjuku-ku, Japan  from 1983 until I moved to California in 1990, after my wedding to Officer Hodges.

I  met Margaret when I had classes with her daughter Barbara, at the Alberta College of Art in Calgary in 1979. Barbara and I were best friends in our first year of Art College. We took several drawing classes together. We talked about our life goals and dreams. We ate popcorn and drank grapefruit juice. We travelled to New York together to watch the ball drop on December 31st 1979. Barbara moved back to Edmonton the summer of 1980. I continued attending the Alberta College of Art. We both helped support the Greyhound Bus Company with frequent visits  to each others home. Barbara came to my apartment in Calgary and I went to her family’s home on 69 A Avenue when I took the three-hour bus to Edmonton to see her.

Barbara’s  mother Margaret taught me how to make gingerbread cookies, and to handwash delicate clothes. I still use her recipe, but I do toss everything into the washing machine.  When I moved to Japan in the fall of 1983 I wrote to  Margaret. She had kept my letters for over 30 years and recently mailed them to her daughter in Fort Collins to forward to me. Barbara included this note with the letters.


My Mom thought you’d enjoy having these letters and cards you sent to her and Dad, mostly from the time you were in Japan. I know she really enjoyed corresponding with you and sending you books — Enjoy.

Tonight during my youngest daughters acting class I enjoyed reading the letters, a taste of my life, a window into a world of details that I had forgotten.  They were written over a period of seven years;  my first day as a freelance photographer, when I joined the The Tokyo International Players theatre group, moving to my own apartment, a postcard from a photographic exhibit I was in,  photographs of me teaching English in 1984, and two from my wedding in 1990. The last letter in the envelope was postmarked December 4th 1990.

Included in the letters was a list of the books Margaret had sent me while I lived in Japan.

Fifth Business, Foreign Affairs, Options, Handmaiden’s Yale, Thornbirds, A Bird In The House, The Diviners, Progress Of Love, Lives of Girls and Women, Spanish Doctor, Samurai, The Eagle and the Raven, A Man, The Ivory Swing, Obason, The Way of The Bull, Three Woman At Water’s Edge.

I don’t remember reading all of the books. I remember enjoying opening my mail and finding a letter and a book from Margaret. I remember thinking the letters were like cold water to a weary soul, a drink of water in the desert, good news from a distant land.  I am grateful she did not throw away the letters. I am grateful she mailed them to me through her daughter.

I will write to Margaret and to Barbara. I will pick up the threads of friendship that I dropped when I got married. I could send Barbara an e-mail to tell her I received the parcel. I could send an e-mail to Margaret and thank her for saving my letters and mailing them to me. But not tonight. Tonight I will find a blank card and an envelope. I will practice my cursive handwriting and write two letters. Tomorrow I will put the letters in the mailbox in my front yard. I will flip-up the little red flag to tell the postman when he drives by that I have a letter to send.

In about a week, or maybe longer, one of the letters with the handwritten note will arrive in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and Margaret will know that I am thinking of her, and that I miss her. The other letter will stay in America and go to Fort Collins, Colorado, and my friend Barbara will know that I miss her and that I am thinking of her.

Picking up threads.


2 responses to “Letters From Japan

  1. This morning you made me cry..again..as I traveled down your life path with you..thank you for that!!

  2. How very cool! Your writing is so descriptive. I can “see” your descriptions so clearly. You paint such beautiful pictures with your words.

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