Thursday, November 15, 2007

PJ and the miracle of modern technology

I used to have a best bud called PJ. He was an English backpacker I met on a camping tour from Adelaide to Ayers Rock, and we clicked from the moment we met. After hanging out for a couple of weeks in Alice Springs, our paths diverged, but we stayed in touch in the most old-fashioned and charming of ways. We wrote letters. On paper. With envelopes. And stamps.

I loved those letters. Reading them, I would laugh till I cried. Every afternoon I would get off the bus, and immediately start anticipating the possibility that a letter from PJ would be waiting for me in the mailbox when I got home. This idea so distracted me on the walk from the bus stop to my house that I forgot to keep an eye out for the nextdoor neighbour's dog. So many heart-attacks, as the dog would pounce, bark and growl at me through the fence.

He met and fell in love with an Australian girl (MG) on his travels, and together they moved back to the UK. Our letter-writing relationship continued, as that was what it was, a deep friendship based on brightly coloured paper and sparkly pens.

A few years later, I went to live in the UK, and I called PJ up. "Guess where I am!" I said.
PJ said, "Didn't you get my letter?"
"What letter?"
"Oh. Well, I can't really talk right now. Wait until you get the letter."

So the letter followed me back to the UK from Australia, and eventually I received it. It started as a typical gorgeous PJ letter, with a funny story about how he accidently wore a pair of pants to work that his mother was half-way through mending, and which were covered in giant pink stitches. 3 pages later, and "By the way, this is the last letter you will be receiving from me. I can't be your friend anymore. Every time I get a letter from you, MG and I have a huge fight. In fact, whenever we have a fight, it's about you. So it will be much easier if I just don't contact you anymore, and save all the stress and arguments. I'm sorry."

That was that. I was devastated. I lost my best friend. I missed him and his letters like crazy. Every couple of years I tried to ring him to see if we could ever be in contact again. I wasn't ever ringing to see if he'd broken up with her, I only wanted to see if the waters had calmed over time. But the 2 or 3 times I got hold of him on the phone, he was with MG and understandably couldn't really speak to me, but it was quite apparent that the situation was as volatile as ever.

So this year, I got the timely itch to try and contact PJ again. 10 years on now, and I still miss him. Only now, there is the miracle of modern technology. Namely..... google!

I googled him. Found an email address, and sent a tentative email. Joy of joys, he responded! And we are tentatively back in touch. It's wonderful. He's not really supposed to, but every so often he shoots me a electronic snippet. The emails are a bit easier to read than his handwriting, and every bit as full of humour and warmth as the old letters.

And I laugh till I cry.


Menchuvian Candidate said...

This post is the last thing I am reading before bed, and it is such a happy thing (minus the middle bits). I'm glad for you:) Yay! for PJ, and Yay! for you.

Anika said...

Cheers to google! And although letters are so fabulously Romantic in a Jane Austen kind of way, e-mail is so much faster.

PJ said...

PJ is deeply flattered that he remains in your consciousness. The internet is a wonderful thing. Long may it continue to make oceans as easy to cross as puddles.

Radioactive Jam said...

Even though email is immediate and the inbox can "be" wherever you are, there's still a sense of anticipation and delight, and this is good. Just make sure you don't get blind-sided by pouncing dogs.

Kari said...

I found your site through Radioactive Jam and enjoying it immensely. I will be lurking (possibly commenting) often. :-)

I'm so glad you have reconnected with an old friend. Technology can be a wonderful thing.


I hate to be a sourpuss in all this, but I don't think the new email relationship is a good thing. I understand you miss your friend and are thrilled to be back in touch with him and that he's flattered to have been googled and found - BUT, any relationship with you is on the list of "deal-breakers" as far as his wife's concerned and he should either respect that; tell her she's being unreasonable and take the consequences OR get out of the marriage. The fact that the wife is being unreasonable about this still doesn't negate the fact that you are involved in his lying to her and having this illicit relationship. Be a man PJ - "sneaky" is not an endearing quality.

Nerevised said...

Menchuvian candidate - thanks, you made me smile.

Anika, RaJ and Kari - it is a little sad that Romance has been replaced by Convenience. But thus is the world in which we live.

Urban Pedestrian - I understand what you are saying. And, to be fair to PJ, he did fight for our friendship for years.
However, I think that "illicit relationship" is too strong a term, as he is not cheating on his Missus by emailing me. I would compare it more to a man who is married to a vegetarian secretly eating a hamburger every couple of weeks. The wife, upon finding out about the hamburger, wouldn't leave the husband, but it would lead to a unpleasant and unnecssary argument.
Anyway, I appreciate dissent as much as compliments, so feel free to continue to discuss this topic.

Linda said...

Oy, you've touched my heart. There is, in this electronic world, another romantic soul who only wants to reconnect with someone who was, at one time, a friend. As long as there has been Google, I've been trying to reconnect with the guy who was like the brother I never had. My husband is cool with it, but unfortunately, his wife sent him to his room when they got married and as far as anyone else knows, that's where he is today. Yay for the emails that get through!

Ann said...

You made me miss having a pen pal! I love actual paper letters too and rarely receive one.

Great story, your intentions sound sincerely innocent to me. Hope MG can see the light.