Friday, July 6, 2012

from clara to frances: a letter

when i read my first lines of neruda poetry, i thought i'd found the reflection of my truest self. i would lie awake in the middle of midnight and write lines in my old leather journal. so pretty were the words and so deep their sentiment that i even named my sweet puppy after the poet.

but then i came across this letter last week. from a woman named clara to my grandmother, frances. written at the height of their womanhood, when they both worked at the u.s. postal service and were living on their on in washington, d.c. truth be told, the letter is a bit gossipy, in the most polite way possible. there are spatterings of "i'm not sure what she told you" and "i think it only fair that you hear this from my side of the fence too."

but a few paragraphs down, clara begins describing her dream life. what truly makes her happy. and though time and space and seventy years separate us, i felt my heart sink to my stomach when i read her thoughts that so mirror my own.

that's the funny thing about being a woman, i suppose. the fashions change (or do they?) and hairstyles go from big to feathered to flat to big again, and technology finds its way, every decade, to sneak into our homes and lives and rearrange the way we do dishes, fold laundry and relax in the afternoons. we are different colors and shapes and personalities. but every so often, we find that in some ways, we are so very similar. perhaps we don't all love living in the country. i know some very fabulous women who make entire cities light up. but that need to communicate--whether by telegraph, typewritten letter, phone call, e-mail or facebook chat, remains.

i'm just glad my grandma had the wherewithal to save such a treasure. little did she know i would unearth it from an old album whose plastic pages had long decayed. and i hope clara, wherever she is, is sitting on a rocking chair looking up at the birds, her head thrown back laughing, her drama resolved.


Kira said...

What a fun find!

Blondie's Journal said...

I love old letters! Thanks for sharing this one and your thoughts!


kate said...

wow this was fantastic. thank you so much for sharing this part of your families history with all of us. its amazing how women, of all ages throughout history, are all the same in some way. that our hearts yearn for something that is simply beautiful.

thank you for this.

Ana Magdalena said...

Wow your grandmother sure knew how to save her treasures! What a lovely find, thank you for sharing this jewel with us :)

Confessions of A Confused City Girl said...

Wow... so nice... I just love your writing!
And you are so right, seasons change but the basics of human needs/wants remain the same. "We all want love!"

Stop by and say HI!
Confessions Of A City Girl

Paula said...

Courtney, it's been too long. How fabulous for a writing talent such as yourself to find this letter. I can only imagine what it must mean to you. Yes, you kinda forget how some things are echoed through the ages. That some feelings, basic human needs and desires never really change x

chambanachik said...

So sweet. I have a treasured letter, too:

Tiffany said...

Oh my gosh, Courtney! This is beautiful. What a great gift your grandmother saved for you. And I, too, felt the same, "this woman is talking about me" when reading what she wrote about happiness. I love that things don't change so much after all!


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