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Back in high school, some friends and I "broke into" an old abandoned house out in the country. I hesitate to use the term "broke into" because the house really had been abandoned for some time, and the door was disintegrated enough that getting in didn't require breaking anything. The contents of the house were diverse.... it looked like it had been abandoned for at least 10 years, and the woman who had lived there (we believe her name was Josephine) was quite elderly, and probably suffering from Alzheimer's disease, judging from the level of organization.

The visit was really unspectacular, but it's always stuck in my mind as being rather otherworldly... strangely quiet and disjointed from the world. For some reason, I picked up a letter from the kitchen table that was still folded nicely in its envelope. I don't remember reading it at the time (it's quite long), and I must have set it aside after I got home that evening.

Anyway, I found it this summer when cleaning out my old bedroom for the last time. You can see some of the other treasures I found in earlier posts....

This one is really special, though, which is one reason I waited until now to post it. First of all, the return address has a house number and city, but no name. The letter itself is signed only "Sis". So I have no ideal who this is from. It's postmarked January, 1974 atop an 8-cent stamp that reads "LOVE" in bright red letters.

The contents of the letter are remarkably dramatic. Although "Sis" opens the letter with "I wish I had [...] news to write [...] but my life just isn't that exciting," she manages to describe in seven riveting pages her plans to coax a man named "Corky" into marrying her, her recent dabbling in architecture, her acquisition of an injured falcon (and a falconer's license), and her return to college. Sounds pretty exciting for a nameless women writing to her friend in rural Coldwater, MI.

The contents of the letter seem almost hilarious at first, but after one realizes that they are really and truly serious, they are actually pretty profound. It's really a testament to the mystery of life, and the beauty of individuality. I don't know this woman, and I probably never will. For all I know she could be dead. Or made up. But the letter is amazing. If you have a few minutes, read it. It's worth your time.