6. A process of discovery
by, 07-28-2012 at 05:40 PM (331 Views)
“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” ~William Wordsworth
Three weeks. Here’s what it takes to get my first reply out of my mail box. First thought: “here we are!” First look: “who has replied?” First surprise: It comes from B.-whom wish was not to correspond overseas- see chapter 5.
In a glimpse I forgot all I was ready to do this morning, just being focused on that rectangle piece of paper. I know it sounds weird, but at that particular time I was kinda feel like I won some badge of honor. Am I such in need of recognition, acceptance? Because I also thought of my new virtual friends here on WAP: At last I can tell them the big news. I still am a newbie, but at least one with a PP now… Isn’t that silly?
I can’t wait to open it. But I want to remember this particular moment; the one I can call “between dog and wolf”; between “I don’t know yet” and “I will know soon”.
For those whom already gone through this, I think you can easily imagine the thrill of discovering a PP’s first letter. I won’t enter details about B’s letter, but I can tell it is a classic presentation letter with the usual likes and dislikes, but well turned. She asked me questions as well, told me how hard was her life behind bars, the studies she was following, she asked me for pictures not only about me but about my hometown too…and she answered about the rules concerning mail in her facility I asked for.
B. Is incarcerated since she’s 19; She’s 26 now and won’t be released until 2028. Apparently she seems to have very little support from outside (moral, intellectual as well as financial). One thing I was expecting is the fact that she tells me the cost of stamp for writing to me was more expensive that sending a letter within the U.S. For that reason she couldn’t write me more than once or twice a month. Less expected so soon she ask me if I would like, in order to maintain correspondence, to help her a little. She closed her letter by hoping me to write real soon and includes a little smiley with her signature. Two pages letter I read twice.
Before receiving a letter, I was concerned about the grammar and orthographic mistakes I could make. And I remember the first advice I received here on WAP- It came from Xray-48(thanks to him) quote: “…However, you do have to be prepared to run into some who are very poorly educated. So they may not be able to even write English…” end quote.
I noticed some mistakes in B’s letter- nothing much to cry about- (your instead of you’re/ wear instead of where) but the whole letter was clear and understandable.
One other thing I noticed is the use of expression I didn’t know like “writing every blue moon”, in France we use to say to express the same idea “Doing something every time a bishop dies” – I have to make a post on that subject in order to learn such expressions-
By the end of the letter I was content and not disappointed at all. I logged in here and take the first post opportunity to spread the news!!
Then I grab a pen and a piece of paper and began my reply to B.
I told her more about me, my life here in France, my job, ask her a lot of question in kind of treasure hunt game which reward could be our upcoming friendship. I made a point on the fact that I was aware of her situation concerning the charge she had to assume on stamps and mail material and told her that if I was willing to help her, I will consider knowing her better before to do so. That my wish was her to write me because she feels to want to or need to, not because she could have the feeling that she could owe me on any matter.
I include some pictures of me and ask her for a picture of her. My reply was sent this morning.
One last thing, I have to spot the fact of the totally incompetence of French postal services. I know that most of the time stamps are removed from letters before being distributed to inmates. But for a personal satisfaction and -maybe because some warden could be a stamp collector-(ah ah) I asked for beautiful stamps. Here is the conversation I had (I swear it’s all true)
-I would like some stamps please
-You got an automatic stamp delivery machine right there
- I don’t want stickers’ stamps from the machine, I want beautiful stamps
- Why do you need them?
- Why do I have to justify myself in wanting beautiful stamps instead of impersonal stickers?
(Another employee arriving they’re now two)
-what do you want?
- I want some beautiful stamps to send a letter to a friend in U.S
-You want them to send the letter or to include them in it. Is your friend collecting stamps?
-what the F… are you asking me that for? Just sell me those F…. stamps!
- But you are going to pay extra charge for beautiful stamps
- I don’t give a F…! just give me those stamps you dirty B….s! (I didn’t use those actual words), My friend is in jail and I want her to see something beautiful.
- Why is she in jail for? I don’t know if you’re allowed to write to people in jail… (sic)
-And I’m sure you’re the one to decide! Forget about that! I’m going to ask that friendly machine after all.
To be continued…