I participated in the AFREADA Pen Pal Project and I’m sharing the letter I submitted half because I feel guilty about the cobwebs on the blog (forgive me) and half because I can.
I’m infatuated with the thought/act of receiving notes and letters – mostly handwritten ones but I guess emails don’t hurt. I have a small stack of all the letters, notes and cards I’ve received from my friends as an adult (can’t believe I’ve gotten to a point where I’m ready to admit that I’m an adult) right by my bed.
My pen pal seems really awesome and we’ve exchanged a bunch of emails over the past week. I find that no matter how tired I am from work, I always muster the energy to respond to her latest email. Her letters have been a source of joy I’m super grateful for considering how depressing and exhausting everything’s been lately.
I can’t say if this is the start of a solid friendship or if the whole thing will fizzle out after a while, but I’m just going to go with the flow on this one.
I wrote the letter in a rush/in between work and it shows. I was tempted to tweak a few sentences but I decided against it.
Here’s the letter:
I’m sitting in front of my computer internally berating myself for waiting this long to write to you.
Today is the deadline for this project and I don’t know why I waited till the last day – which isn’t uncommon with me (I need to change) – to write this. I had agreed to do this, and even roped a couple of friends in, with the hope of practising vulnerability and making a new friend out of it.
So here I am scrambling to put words together while also working on my deliverables for the day for my full-time job in Lagos, Nigeria.
Part of the problem is I am a writer (allegedly) and I’ve been struggling with my writing so much this year that I’ve cowered at every attempt – except this one – to write even a simple, honest letter like this.
Ha. Two things about me already – I work and live in Lagos, and I write (allegedly).
How are you, really?
The world has become such a dark, heavy and painful place. If you ask me, I’d say it always has been but what we’re living through will always seem so much worse because it is our now. The pain, the confusion and the despair; all of it is present and palpable.
I know you did not need me to remind you of it and I apologise. It’s just so hard to ignore or downplay.
So, how are you, really?
I don’t know who you are (yet) but I hope you’re finding a way to soldier on through everything. I hope you stay fighting for the things that bring you peace in the midst of what might be your personal chaos and the much larger agents of darkness that roam the world and visit each of us in unique ways.
I can’t even say how I get through it all, but I do know that I take each day as it comes and live it out as best as I can.
I just completed a work task that infuriated me – I knew it would and tried to steel myself beforehand but sometimes you’re never prepared enough. I’m listening to a song by one of my favourite bands to calm myself down – Pure Gold by Earth, Wind & Fire (I’m an old woman, I know).
Music is very important to me. My favourite genres are Soul, Funk and Hip-Hop. I consider music to be spiritual. I know there are feel-good songs suitable for things like entertainment, routine work or chores, but there are some that commune with the soul in ways that are difficult to explain with words.
It’s like a constant and uncompromising friend always there by your side ready to give you exactly what you need; soothing, strengthening, uplifting, inspiring you with beautiful words and sounds.
Which reminds me; I want an electric guitar. Or a piano. People who make great music have a special kind of power and I want some of that.
Lol. It just occurred to me that I haven’t exactly followed the prescribed get-to-know-me format for this project so far.
I’m genuinely awful at introducing myself to people or summarising my interests, passions, likes, dislikes and all that jazz. I just find that I’m unable to firmly categorise myself because I have this thing where I try to measure the amount of information I should give to a person, or I try to predict the parts of me that will be warmly received by another person and only offer those.
Regardless, I am constantly evolving and taking new things in and letting go of some; inventing and reinventing myself as I go and grow through life.
If it isn’t already obvious, I’m a deeply introspective person. I’m constantly assessing my thoughts, words and actions before and after I take them. This might seem extremely mentally exhausting – and believe me, it is – but I find it rewarding when it helps me right a wrong, practice empathy or it forces me to correct an ignorant or rotten self-centred opinion (I have many of those but I promise I’m learning to do better lol).
Please forgive my rambling. How about I try to answer two typical get-to-know-mes?
What am I reading?
I just finished Gather in My Name by Maya Angelou – one of my favourite authors/writers and I’m currently reading Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng and On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zinsser.
What am I watching?
Netflix and YouTube are my go-tos for audio-visual entertainment these days.
I’ve been binge-watching Modern Family on Netflix and I have a documentary I plan to start this weekend – Abstract: The Art of Design.
I also spend a fair amount of time watching hyper-realistic drawing/painting processes on YouTube. I don’t know what it is but they’re just so satisfying to watch.
Now that I’ve gotten this far, I wonder why I thought I wouldn’t be able to do this all the times I tried before.
All in all, I’m glad I’ve been able to get to this point.
I can’t wait to hear from you, and I hope you enjoy reading this letter.
“I wanna see your face in a morning sun, ignite my energy, the cause and effect of you has brought new meaning in my life to me; gonna tell the story of morning glory all about the serpentine fire”
– Lyrics from Serpentine Fire by Earth, Wind & Fire (1977 – we both love Earth, Wind & Fire and this is one of her favourite EWF songs)
Peace and much love to you,
PS. The featured image was taken and edited by the writer.