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?"
"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.