PrevNextTop85-02-19* Letter to Elin from France

February 19, 1985

Dear Elin,

I'm feeling the need for an intimate conversation with you, my lifelong friend. If I were in California I would visit or call and say, “It's been a long time since we talked. How are you?.” But I'm not. I'm a very expensive phone call away and so this will have to be a one way letter.

It doesn't matter exactly where I am, nor what wonderful, amazing, uplifting, intriguing, magnificent, exotic, curious sights I've seen. What does matter is that I thought fondly of you yesterday. I would like to share every little detail. Sometimes the whole is contained in the littlest part.

Remember the green Outdoor Products-brand day backpack you and your family gave me about 5 years ago? For birthday or Christmas. It is serving me well still. It is still serving me well. I remember using it the times I walked to Amdahl from Birchwood apartments when I was working full time. I used it every day when I was in school at Santa Cruz. Chemistry and biology books are heavy.

You can forward this letter to the Outdoor Products company if you wish but that's not why I'm writing. I've used the pack every day on my trip so far.

About 2 weeks ago the pack started to fall apart in 2 places. Where the shoulder straps join the top of the pack one of the straps was pulling loose. The stitches had reached the limit of their strength and endurance and gave way. Also, for about an inch along the zipper the stitches holding the zipper to the pack were deteriorating.

Time to buy a new pack? Out with the old, in with the new? Time to say goodbye and thanks for serving me well? Not quite yet. I got out the little scissors with the orange handles that I bought in Iceland (I remember the young fellow who helped me in the store. He spoke very good English and I asked him where I could wash my clothes) and the needle and black thread that I bought in Italy (actually I stole the needle - I only needed one and they came in packages of 25 assorted sizes - it will never be missed). I keep the needle in a piece of thin cardboard and the thread and cardboard in a little cloth pencil case covered with flowers that I bought in W. Germany. (I left my wallet with money, credit card, etc. in the store and was glad to see that the sales lady had it for me when I returned - Ja! Danke sehr.)

I was waiting for a train in a French train station waiting room yesterday and I mended the loose strap. The length of thread I keep kept pulling through and through was rather too long and I could hear Mom saying telling me to make it shorter. I'm sure the people waiting with me enjoyed having something to watch to pass the time. At least one old fellow watched me with interest.

Mending that loose strap yesterday and the zipper today was a real pleasure. When one is traveling and always on the move, domestic pleasures are rare. To sit in one place, to concentrate, to do a simple task that improves your little corner of the world. It was a treat. Plus it reminded me of you.

Next I have a button to sew on my pajamas and some pants I bought in Italy need hemming - Ah! Bliss!

A few days ago I was speaking with a German and a Brazilian and a Canadian and in the course of the conversation I said that I was “on vacation.” On second thought, I'm not on vacation any longer. I'm on the move. Now, to return home would be a vacation. I've been gone about 5 months and my plans are to be gone 4 months more.

I speak of the bliss of domestic duties (to be able to boil some potatoes and wash the pan!) and in the next paragraph say I'll be gone for 4 more months. A contradiction? Well, traveling has its compensations. I'm learning some things I never could have by staying at home. A certain detachment. Making friends from all over the world and so becoming a more aware world citizen. How to make friends. Languages - the importance of language, the importance of history (today I visited a 6th century chapel). I'm learning about home, what home means, the wisdom of staying at home - all these things. Plus, it's just a real kick to see something different every day. It gets tiring after a while - “oh yes - there's another ancient wonder, beautiful, amazing, magnificent. Ho hum. Let's go sew on a button!”

This is my weekly letter home. I also need to write to Anne Olafson and Jim and Karuna and Manohar, and postcards to many friends old and new, plus I've got to get to England to meet Alan and I've got to wash my clothes somehow somewhere.

Goodnight my beloved sister,

PrevNextTop85-02-19* Letter to Elin from France