Dear Pen Pal,
I feel I have a confession to make. Today, I have an appointment with one of my best friends. I’m going out to eat with her and her dad. I have known her since the sixth grade. I love her to pieces, and our friendship is quite mutual. I get along with her family very well, though I have only known them since high school. I’m a sophomore in college now.
Recently, since last year, I have become uncomfortable with her father. He’s an old partially blind man who is very sick. Something about his kidneys. He is…very affectionate.
At first I thought it was a cultural difference. My family is not normally so affectionate with one another in terms of “skin-ship.” So I thought I just wasn’t used to it. I ignored how uncomfortable he made me feel. But then, the hugs and kisses on the cheek became a little too affectionate. The first time I felt something was wrong was when he hugged me from behind, and kissed my temple. Nothing too strange, but then his kiss strayed to my ear. That was the red flag that made me wary of him from then on. That happened during the summer before college.
In the winter break that year, I came to visit again. By that time I thought I was being paranoid. This is my best friend’s dad. He wouldn’t do anything to me. He isn’t a sexual harasser. He’s treated me very kindly, telling me I was a nice and beautiful girl. At that time I thought he was simply trying to boost my self esteem. At that time that’s what I had believed. Then when I came to visit, he took things to the next level.
The three of us had gone to the mall, my friend left me with her dad because she was going to get food. We sat in the food court. Again, he told me I was “such a nice girl, so beautiful.” He also told me “I’m so crazy about you. I can’t stop thinking about you.” I brushed it off. But I was getting pretty freaked. When my friend came back, I was already ready to go home.
We stopped by her apartment first. It’s a small apartment, so there are only two rooms. When we got back, the phone rang and my friend picked it up. She went to the other room to talk, leaving me alone with her dad. The only place to sit was on the bed that served as a couch and that was where her dad and I were sitting.
When my friend left, her dad immediately turned to me, absolutely invading my personal space. I tried to get up, but he stopped me, telling me to sit. He leaned in close like he wanted to kiss me. I instantly covered my mouth. The first thing I thought was this cannot be happening. How could he? Like hell I’m giving my first kiss away to this sick bastard. He had the nerve to ask me why I would do that, “Why you do that for? Why you do that for? Come on.” He made it look like I was doing something wrong.
When I wouldn’t take my hand away, he pushed me onto the bed. He groped me. He touched my chest, my thighs, and pecked my cheek repeatedly. I told him to stop. I moved to get away. Thankfully my friend came back, but she hadn’t seen a thing. By then I was ready to leave. I needed to leave. When I got home, I immediately took a shower. I felt so dirty, so sullied. I was so angry. It wasn’t just that he touched me, but that he had betrayed my trust. Since then, I have made excuses to not see him, but my friend is attached to him by the hip. I can’t hang out with her without him coming along. Apparently he can’t be left alone because he’s so sick. This was destroying our friendship. I could already tell these excuses could only last so long.
There’s something else too. The most recent winter break, my friend called me crying. She told me her dad was arrested for sexual harassment of her brother’s friend. She wanted me to come and support her at his court trial. I confided in my roommate about what had happened to me and her dad. My roommate came with me to support my best friend. In a way, she was my support. We all knew each other so it was a welcomed addition to the party.
In the car ride to the court house, I asked my friend what she thought about the girl who (probably rightfully) accused her father of sexually harassing her. I was sitting next to her in the front, my best friend’s mother and my roommate sat in the back. I should say I adore her mother and her father doesn’t deserve this saint.
Anyways, my friend shook her head and told me the girl is stupid. The accusation is ridiculous. Her father is partially blind, it was a mistake. He probably touched her by accident and the girl was overreacting. She would never forgive that girl. That’s the gist of what she said.
I could see in the rear view mirror my roommate was worried about me. I pulled my sunglasses on to hide my expression and I turned to look out the window. I changed the subject.
That girl would have been me if I had gone to the police. But she was different. She was braver than me for one. She also wasn’t best friends with her sexual harasser’s daughter. She couldn’t be afraid of losing a friendship she cherished. She only knew my friend’s brother since high school. I was more selfish. I placed our friendship higher than her father’s behavior. I placed our friendship higher than the safety of other girls like me. It was my fault this girl had to go through the same thing as me. If I had gone to the police, she wouldn’t have had to. If I had come forward, maybe he would still be in jail. In the end, her father was released from arrest. His sickness and the lack of evidence got him off. By that time I received the news, I was already back at college. Safe, but what about other girls back home?
It’s spring break now. Today I am going out with my friend again, with her father. I’m so afraid. I don’t know what to do. I can’t tell my friend. She loves him and looks up to him. He’s her father and her hero. She’s in a good place right now in college and work. I can’t do that to her. I can’t ruin her life like that. But I’m afraid he might do it again, to me and other girls. What am I supposed to do? I’m sorry for unloading this on you, pen pal of mine. I know it’s a pretty heavy confession. You must think I’m a total wimp. Ever since her father tried to kiss me I’ve been afraid. It’s hard for me to confide in people because it’s hard to trust somebody I don’t know. Even people I thought I could trust, I am having second thoughts. I told you I was learning martial arts remember? I started because of this.
Hopefully I won’t have to use it today.
Dear Pen Pal,
It’s Finals Week and I’m dying, but that hasn’t stopped me from gathering inspiration to learn how to rap. The back story?
I was reading a chapter of sociology about young black Americans immersing themselves in rap culture which ended up helping them stay out of gangs. Well after I read that story, I started writing a song about my most latest worry: my irregular menstrual cycle. I wrote it in fifteen minutes. I’m very proud of my work, though it’s certainly not for everyone. Hahaha….
Here it is:
I’m sitting ‘round the house
wondering how long it’s been
since the last time I got my fuckin’ period.
Well I’m counting up the days
and guess what I see;
I find it’s been a coupla months
since my very last stain.
That’s fine for me,
Mother Nature can just leave me be.
Yet there’s this little naggin’ jane
yellin’ up at my brain:
"Yo’ stupid girl you know what this mean?
You might be pregnant,
even though you lean.”
But that can’t be true,
cause I haven’t done the do;
so either I’m late
or I’m the God’s new mate.
Then one day, when I’m studyin’ for a test
I get a sinkin’ feeling, like my pants are a mess.
I go to the restroom just for a check,
I’m sittin’ in the stall
And I’m like oh shit.
Cause Mother Nature gave me a present
that I can’t just re-gift.
P.S: Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! The only reason I remembered was because somebody pinched me.
Dear Pen Pal,
So much has happened to me in this past week. I don’t know where to begin. In the past week, I’ve taken up a challenge to meet new people and make new friends. I’ve gone to San Diego for a retreat to learn about my culture with a group of strangers. I’ve come back to Los Angeles ready to get down to business and finish my homework. I’ve taken the courage pill and asked for somebody’s number at work. I received his number, and I’ve had my heart broken. Right now I’m all kinds of fragile glass.
I suppose I’ll tell you briefly that San Diego was a wonderful experience. I’ve grown from it and learned a lot about my heritage as well as resolve to do better for my family and myself. I met many kind people, who have reached out to me, taking the time to chip away at my walls. I also learned about regret there. I lost the chance to tell them how much I appreciate them for allowing a stranger to join their group for a short while. It’s disappointing that I let that moment pass by, but now I know I won’t let it happen again. I don’t want any more regrets; and this ties in with how I gathered the courage to ask for a person’s number.
I was working up front with a friend at my university’s cafe. A customer had come up to her and she took his order. After he left, she turned to me (and her face is always stoic) and said “Eve, I need that guy’s number. I’m in love.” The funny thing was she didn’t look in love, yet she was entirely serious.
She begged me to get his number, writing “Can I have your number?” on a receipt to hand to him. I was much too shy, but our other coworker got it for her. It was so cute how he agreed and came up to my friend and wrote down his number for her. They were so quiet and shy. I was feeling excited for her; I was already so invested in this pre-relationship.
I told her she was so brave to even dare ask for his number, saying if my crush came in I could never ask for his number. I described him to her and sighed. He was a dreamboat carrying a cello. I have a thing for people that play instruments. Especially his musical instrument.
Well, not even a minute later, Cello Guy comes in and walks up to my register. At that moment, I knew this was a chance I could not let pass by me because I had promised myself I would not have anymore regrets.
We had talked before. This time we recognized each other again, saying “I always see you around.” I took this chance to say “I think this means you need to give me your number.” He laughed before saying, “Wait, really?” In the end, he gave me his number. Yet I never caught his name.
Night falls that day and I was wide awake. I couldn’t even sleep because I was so excited and flustered. I can’t believe I did that. I can’t believe it! Those were the thoughts running around in my head. I hoped he didn’t have a girlfriend, and even so, I hoped he would want to be my friend at the very least.
The next day I texted him a short message. I thanked him for his number, told him my name, and said we should hang out whenever he wasn’t busy. And alas, I have yet to receive a text back.
Heartbroken, I write to you to tell you my tales of woe. I sent my heart out and received none in return. I’d like to say I’m glad I took the chance, but my heart feels so heavy that I can’t say I have no regrets. That was the first time I asked for anybody’s number. That was the first time I ever actually went after a little crush. And that was the first time I’ve had my heart broken. Forgive me for being so dramatic, but it seems to be one of my fatal flaws.
Now I lay in bed writing to you, wishing I had chocolate and ice cream. Sadly, I have neither. My dear friend, I hope you are well and good. I hope your love life is blossoming. It seems mine never will.
Dear Pen Pal,
I’ve got a funny story for you.
So I was working coffee station at my university’s cafe, calling out numbers and giving out pastries. I was shouting, “Pastries, pastries! Four-twenty, cafe mocha!” And so on.
Then this guy comes up to me looking confused. He said, “Excuse me, but I don’t think you called my number.” And he handed me a paper napkin- not a receipt- that had his cell number and a ‘Call me! <3’
I was so shocked I had no idea what to do. I stood for an eternity with a gaping mouth, and proceeded to do the most awkwardest thing. I slowly handed it back, with a ha-ha are you joking face. I didn’t even say anything. That was how much he caught me off guard.
Let’s just say he walked away and I felt my face burn. It made my night though, and now I have a funny story to tell.
Go ahead, I know you want to laugh. I admit, not very smooth Eve haha.
What would you have done pen pal of mine? I was clueless.
P.S: He was cute. Sigh.
Dear Pen Pal,
Sometimes, I really love life. I love it all: the big, the small, the strange, and the normal. I love it. I admire it. I worship it.
Which is weird, because normally I curse at it.
I hate how hard, how tiresome, and how cruel life can be. I hate it. I despise it. I condemn it.
Yet there are moments when I feel or see something. Times when an experience resonates deep inside me and I think, “Wow. This is amazing. I’m so glad I’m here.”
So yes, maybe life is bad. Life is terrible in fact. The biggest and longest thing I will ever have to do, yet the small things that I come across help me stick it out ‘til the end. Which is, to be honest, something I look forward to because then I can finally get some damn rest. That’s a secret. But while I’m here I figure I might as well enjoy myself. Fuck everything that sets my anxiety off. Fuck everything that makes me feel helpless, because this is my life. This is MY life and I decide what I can or cannot do.
I have decided college, and everything that comes with it, is something I can do.
Screw you life. You confuse me. I hate you. I love you. You fucking scumbag.
Dear Pen Pal,
Today I have skipped my Jeet Kune Do club, again. It’s not that I’m afraid (though let’s be honest I’m often a scaredy cat) but rather I am just too darned lazy to walk down that hill to get to the gym. It’s too bad, because they are working with weapons today. I was really looking forward to that. Alas, my bed is much too comfy. Here you see me in my natural habitat.
Oh, in case you didn’t know, Jeet Kune Do is a form of martial arts created by Bruce Lee with the principle of “intercepting fist.” JKD is a pretty interesting concept, I would really encourage you to look into it. I’m not an expert so I can’t tell you everything about it. Only that I really like how it focuses on efficiency, directness, and simplicity. It gathers from many styles so I practice a lot of different forms. Last quarter we did a lot of Wing Chun, Western Boxing, and Jiu Jitsu.
I’m a total beginner in martial arts, but everyone has been really nice in the club. There are a lot of newbies like me so its much easier to practice. And now I am disappointed in myself for skipping. Next time I will definitely go!
Dear Pen Pal,
I have all these feelings inside me, and I don’t know what to do with them. I suppose that’s why I’m writing to you and I’m sorry in advance for troubling you with my petty life.
I don’t know what I’m feeling. I’m all confused. Sometimes I think I’m happy, and sometimes I think I’m sad, but mostly I feel anxious. Like there’s something I should be doing. Almost like there’s something just out of reach and I should be trying my darnedest to grab at it. It’s a feeling like… I’m not good enough. As if no matter what I do, it will be futile. I guess that’s why I’m always at a standstill.
Have you ever read the poem “I stood tip-toe” by John Keats? I feel sort of like that- as if I have always been on my tip-toes, undecided, in limbo. Like I am on the verge of doing something astonishing or wonderful, yet my inhibitions are keeping me from taking action.
I hate that I never feel something long enough to enjoy it. Everything is so fleeting. I’m happy one second, long enough to think, “Ah, so this is happiness.” And just as suddenly, I’m sad again. Then scared. Then neutral. And- there’s quite obviously something wrong with me.
I wish life would leave me alone so I can just write. That’s all I ever want really. I just want to write and write and write all these fanciful stories I have in my head but the necessities of life won’t leave me alone long enough for me to push out a paragraph. I’m so tired of this.
I wonder how people do it. Everyone functions so normally and so naturally. I’m not conceited enough to think I’m the only weird one out, but still, I wonder what all these people are thinking. What predominates their mind? What do they worry about all the time? How do they go about life without feeling as if time was running out? Mortality is a terrible curse, as terrible as the hold that Time has on us all. Our lives revolve around the clock. We’re a slave to our own watches, and with this thought in mind I am forced to part from you now. I have a job to trudge off to unfortunately.
P.S. I think I’m bipolar.
Dear Pen Pal,
Come stai, il mio amico?
I just asked you how you were doing in Italian. I am doing fine- Io sto bene. As you can see, I am learning the wonderful language of Italy. It’s been an enjoyable experience and I am having a lot of fun romancing my friends in Italian. Though to be honest I’m just repeating the same words over and over again, “Come stai, amico? Come stai? Io sto benissimo! Sto bene! Grazie. Grazie!” I’ve simply been asking them how they are doing while calling this activity ‘romancing.’
Recently, I have been trying to become more active in my social life. As a result, I have joined a volunteering club! I’m very proud of myself. I’m absolutely terrified, but these people seem friendly and open so I think I will be just fine. The club I joined has a mentoring program as well as ‘families’ that everyone is placed into. I just received word of which family I joined today. I have butterflies in my stomach. I hope I don’t make a fool out of myself when I meet them. It would be just my luck. I tend to be Bad Luck Brian when it comes to social events. Actually I think Awkward Penguin is the more correct meme for me.
Anyways, the reason I joined this club wasn’t only because I wanted to make friends, but also to volunteer. I realized I can only ever be in a good mood when I am making other people happy. A give and take situation. An eye for an eye. A tooth for a tooth. A smile for a smile. I had forgotten that I had another fuel source besides sleeping, eating, and reading. I got so used to being secluded that I forgot helping people made me happy and gave me energy too. Do you get what I mean? I guess I’m not making much sense. Sometimes my train of thought derails and I start talking about something entirely unrelated. For instance, when I was talking to my academic counselor about classes, I suddenly pointed out a man in yellow who I had thought was a walking banana. Then I told her I thought he might break out into a dance while screaming ‘PEANUT BUTTER JELLY TIME!” Of course I was simply being absurd, but I only told her what was on my mind at the moment. Did I ever mention I hate bananas? I despise them. I haven’t eaten a single banana since my childhood days. Potassium? Pssh, who needs them?
Well now, do you see what I mean by derailing thoughts? I’m sure I’m not the only one inflicted with terrible thought processes.
Anyways, I’ve got to go do my essay. I’ve been procrastinating, which isn’t anything new unfortunately. Arriverderci!
— Vincent van Gogh