Last weekend I traveled to phoenix to attend a friend's wedding. I had never met the bride or groom until two days before the wedding. Intrigued? Here's the story.
When I was about 12 or 13, I wrote to a pen pal organization. Remember those? You'd find the addresses in the back of magazines. Probably Tiger Beat or Archie comics. I requested a pen pal from another country who spoke English. I got Karyn, from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. We wrote weekly for many years, and now we exchange about a letter a year. We've updated each other on our college years, marriages, kids. I knew Karyn had a son my age, another two years younger, and divorced over 10 years ago. I was thrilled for her when I received her wedding invitation. Then, much to my surprise, I saw that she was getting married in Phoenix. I could go there! To travel to Edmonton from Florida would take about three flights. But Phoenix was doable. I decided to go by myself, leaving my husband to stay home with the kids.
I arrived Thursday afternoon, and she had told me that the girls were going out to dinner Thursday night. We all met in the hotel lobby at 7. The other ladies asked me my name, where I was from. A few of them said, "Oh, you're the pen pal! I've heard about you!" We joked that I had probably known her longer than most of them, but I had never met her. I was beside myself with excitement waiting for her to arrive.
I was not disappointed. She made me feel so welcomed, including me in the family dinner Friday night, and seating me at the head table on Saturday. I had such a fun time, hanging out with all the Canadians, who couldn't have been nicer. What a great woman, and a great group of friends. Here she is with her new husband, Ravi.
I know the kids today don't even know what a pen pal is. I can keep up with Karyn's life via Facebook, and she mine, but I will still write her a letter, in longhand, and tuck it into an envelope to mail to her where ever she is, every year.