library books and a desk and long nights

The other day, I was going to write about how magical my life is these days, but then I found out that an old friend of mine died. I don’t have time to make this eloquent because I only found out recently and I want to share my stories of her immediately. I had been wondering what she was up to lately since I hadn’t heard from her in quite a while, and then I received a package in the mail from her mom, who sent me some of her poems, a photo, and her zine collection. There were many old issues of Telegram (Ma’am), zines by my sister, and a few of my friends zines, among others. There were notes in some of the zines, including a short letter I had written to my friend back in Summer 2008.

I still remember when I met her. We met on Hole.com, back in the days when the internet was still pretty new to me, and, until I got my own computer, I would go to the library to post on the official Hole messageboard, and update my Diaryland (and later, my LiveJournal). So we met through a mutual adoration of Courtney Love, writing, and zines, and talked online quite a bit, along with mailing each other letters and mix tapes and stuff.

I’ve always known that at some point, with all these long-distance friendships and whatnot, someday, somebody would die. And their parents, or their friends, or someone, would either find a way to contact their long-distance friends and let them know, or not. There’ve been many times when I’ve realized that it is very possible that the people I’ve met through zines or the internet or whatever could die and I would never know. Especially when I am writing about mental health, depression, etc., and talking to people who are experiencing similar things, I have always been aware that, yes, indeed, we don’t all survive, and people I know, whether through one letter or one hundred letters, are going to kill themselves. This is inevitable. I try to be positive and encouraging, but I know that we are not all going to make it. I’ve survived, thus far.

My friend died of a heroin overdose. She was a writer and a dreamer and had a tendency to romanticize her days in New York City, the place she called her home, after she escaped her small town.

Here is a letter I mailed her, still tucked inside the pages of a zine:

July 29, 2008

Thank you for your letter and for reading my zines. Enclosed is Little Acorns #2. I tried to make it happier than my more recent zines, but my sadness always creeps in.

You don’t know how happy your letter made me. It was very encouraging. Everyone always tells me they love the honesty of my zines, but I feel like such a liar in real life, so I’m trying hard to change it. I think I’m very different in my writing than I am just hanging out in person, and I know that’s inevitable, but still, I need to change, so I’m working on it. Honesty is an admirable quality, and I’d love if it could be one of mine.

On February 23rd, I’ll be taking a Megabus to New York City with my sister. It’s not that far away, yet I’ve never been. I feel like it’s The City, and I’ve never seen it with my own eyes. Amber and I will be tabling at the NYC Feminist Zinefest, returning on February 27th, and then leaving the country again, this time for the Chicago Zinefest. Places where I’ll be hanging out with pen pals and zine pals and new & old friends, writing, taking pictures, having good conversations, reading so much, trying to keep up with it all. Maybe I’ll see something my friend saw and live to tell.

Here is something she wrote:

before when i would think of the city it was always a fantasy, a theory, an ideology; something about library books and a desk and long nights and working in manhattan and living in brooklyn and reading poems on stages and having interesting people for lovers and friends and drinking a lot of coffee and writing a book that i knew could be something, studying philosophy and women and men and humanity in some tiny little room all my own… and it’s amazing, really, when your fantasies become totally and completely REAL…

…and if i die in new york at least i will die free

Mourningly Yours,

P.S.: If you’ve benefited from my writing in any way – if my words have inspired you, helped you feel less alone, or sparked some weird feeling within you; if you’ve felt encouraged, or curious, or comforted – please consider compensating me by offering a donation of any amount. Whether you’ve been reading my writing for years, or just stumbled into me this afternoon, I invite you to help me sustain the process!

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