Letters from my past

My parents gave me a very interesting gift today. It's nearly my 40th birthday and they wanted to give me something special, so they put a stack of pieces of paper in a box, tied a ribbon around it and put it in my hands.

A little back story first.

I grew up in Pakistan, where our family spent 13 years, the majority of my childhood. In those days (yes, I sound old) there was no email, no skype, no texting, no phone calls. We wrote letters. My mum wrote to her mum every week and her mum wrote back to her. Getting blue overseas mail forms was cause for celebration and joy.

When I was 11 I went to boarding school. We had 19 week terms away from our parents, cut in half by a short four or five day 'long weekend'. Once again, there was no email, no skype, no texting, no phone calls. We wrote letters. My mum wrote to each of her three children three or four times a week. Getting a small white envelope with her handwriting on it was a pleasure unmatched by anything else while I was at school.

And of course, being a person who likes pen on paper, I wrote back, much more frequently than the one required epistle per week. I'm sure that our letters home gave my parents as much joy as theirs did to us.

My mum did something with my letters that for her was very out of character.

She actually kept them. There are few things my mother is sentimental about, and she excels at decluttering. She's been doing it for years, a long time before I even knew there was a word for it.

But she allowed these small, hand-scrawled pieces of paper to stay. Each one was a treasure for her, but she also knew that in years to come, they would become treasures for me. 

And this was her gift. Her collection of my letters from boarding school. 

When I opened the box, I did a heart flutter.

I could hardly look at the letters, let alone read them but I was so delighted to hold them in my hands. These are letters that I will have to read in tiny, emotional bursts.

Will I be able to go back to that terrible-awful-wonderful-awkward-joyous time of life? Will I be able to own my teenage self, now that I finally feel I've moved beyond it? It will be a wonderful, scary challenge.