Once upon a time there was a little blonde girl who looks a bit like me, who ran the whole way home from her first day in 1st grade. All because it was her birthday and they were going to Aunt Karen's the minute she got home. Mom met her at the corner, every bit as excited as this little girl. Mom and Dad and Little Sister and Little Brother and Blondie all loaded up and headed south. They drove for seven hours straight into the Nevada desert. That little girl got to sit up front and stayed awake and stared at the stars and waited. She thought she even saw a mustang. The family five arrived at half past midnight and let themselves into a quiet little farmhouse, set on the side of a dusty hill. There was a minature cake waiting for Blondie and squashy couch on the front porch for her to sleep on. She drifted off smiling.
But things only got better when she woke up to another little blonde girl who'd begged to help make the cake because it was her birthday too: Salem. The two were inseparable for the rest of that week and from then on as all long lost twins should be. Blondie cried herself to sleep on the drive home and once they got there Mom suggested that Blondie write Salem a letter. And so she painstakinly did. Month after month, year after year, infrequent visit after visit, they stayed inseparable through crayons and butcher paper; through scented markers and elementary school cursive paper; through gel pens and notebook paper; through birthday cards and lady-like stationery they filched from their mothers; gave up writing to live together their freshman year at college; started again and went straight on through to wedding announcements.
Salem's married now and expecting her second baby. She turned out to be one of those rare ones who's actually meant to be married before twenty. We tend to emails now thanks to the stress of our individual lives a state apart, but we will always be letter writers. I read them sometimes still and laugh at the inane things we came up with as little girls and gasp at the forgotten loves we chronicled for each other. I read them because I stop missing her and it's almost as good as talking to her. I read them because I hope we have kids who can be cousins and friends and writers like we are. Emails give information, but those letters, we give ourselves.