Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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09/01/2005: "Letter's from Myself...Part I"

Today was the first day of classes on my campus and I found out one of our students died in a car crash that happened on Brotherhood Bridge last night at around 6:20pm. I go over that bridge every night about that time on my way home, I must have missed it by 5 or 10 minutes. A van swerved into her lane and hit her head on. My first (self-centered) thought was that it could have just as easily been me…if I’d stayed at work to reply to one more email, or if I’d gone to the restroom before I headed home. We have a very small campus too, and this was a long-time student who worked in the bookstore and everyone knew and liked her a lot; all day it was kind of surreal.

Then I got home tonight and found a package from one of my closest friends in high school. It was every letter I had written her spanning from 1988-1994 or so. It’s weird to relive 6 years of your life in the space of an hour and a half. I had so many strange flashes, sometimes happy or nostalgic but often very depressed.

Here’s a sample of nostalgic:

“Happy Valentines Day,
…I was thinking a lot the other day about our summer in the country. That was such an incredible time: reciting “Hockey Night”, walking through fields of flowers and down lonely country roads, lying naked in the sun, playing wonderful music, painting wonderful paintings, our salads with raisins and you cutting my hair….I still have the stole you made me, it’s hanging on my bedroom wall. What peace I felt back then, it seems so long ago when my only dreams were to do everything, yet I never seem to finish knitting that damn sweater or planning our trip to Canada…”

Here’s a sample of depressed:

This is the hour of lead
Remembered, if outlived
As freezing persons recollect the snow
First chill, then stupor, then the letting go
-Emily Dickinson

“I can’t seem to shake those words from my mind where they’ve been etched. Every once in awhile someone re-inks the plate- maybe in a different color because its meaning changes with my mood.

…I stand for nothing, by nothing, gutless and empty.
Who will I be tomorrow?
I decide by the colors in my closet
and the paint beneath my mirror.“

(Hey, I can write depressing poetry too)

Tomorrow I may add some excerpts from "all the boys I've loved before". What a disaster. It's no wonder I'm celibate these days. Still, reading these letters on the same day as the death of a young woman who thought she had her entire life in front of makes me re-evaluate some of the decisions I've made...that I continue to make.

Replies: 7 Comments

on Friday, September 2nd, holly said

LOL! My, you're brave to post this! I hide my old journals away shamefully. All my hideous, flowery prose and "I'm-so-misunderstood" angst! Oh, and all the guys were just cruel... well, I'll leave that where it stands... ;-)

on Friday, September 2nd, Jim L said

I think it's great having those blasts from the pasts remind you of who you were back then. Still, we always live life like we won't ever meet that van in the middle of the bridge.

The funny thing was that in my studio this morning I heard Willie Nelson's and Julio Iglesias' "All The Girls I've Loved Before". I really listened to it and realized I never really understood how awful the song is in so many ways - the singing, the music, the words, the sentiment - yuck, yuck, yuck! I felt I needed to wash my ears out afterwards, so I put on Bob Dylan.

on Friday, September 2nd, Kasia said

Such situations help us realize how fragile everything is..... One van and it's all gone. The rest of try to "retidy" our lives. For some time at least. But still it a lesson learnt. A very difficult lesson.

on Friday, September 2nd, Elise said

Not *that* brave Holly, I hid the worst (believe me!). Some of it was downright humiliating. I wonder if my friend went through them before she sent them...I'd be mortified...and at the end of each letter was a desperate plea for her to WRITE ME BACK!!! ack!

But seriously, now that you've alluded to the fact that you have journals full of really must SHARE!!!

Oh, and I agree about that song Jim, totally disgusting. And YEAH Bob Dylan! Charolett Church, that angel singer chick from Cardiff called Dylan a freak recently. Oh no you dinit!

on Friday, September 2nd, Elise said

Hey Kasia, you must have posted while I was writing my response to Holly and Jim.

I hope it doesn't seem I'm making light of this tragedy. Really everyone deals with sadness differently, I tend to deal with things with humor.

I think it's good for all of us to be reminded (as Jim so eloquently put it) of the "van in the middle of the bridge" can come that fast, at any moment, so I hope you're doing everything that's really important to you, as much as possible.

on Friday, September 2nd, Jim L said

Re Charlotte Church: I would submit that the little Welsh girl's career is a freakish fluke, while somehow that Dylan freak has been making music for, oh, over 40 years!

But she is right though, Dylan is a freak...

BTW: I am *so* glad I didn't write any embarrassing journals/letters when I was growing up.

on Friday, September 2nd, Elise said

yah, but freaky in a good way. I don't think that's what she meant:

"I can't stand Bob Dylan. He sounds like a freak. And that Chris Martin isn't any good either. I don't mind Coldplay and know that conversational singing style is very modern but it's a bit wimpy."

How dare she!