Breakfast of champions.

I spent my subway ride this morning reading two hand-written letters. When Sima moved to California and Fanny moved to London this summer, I proposed writing letters to each of them. We've found a steady rhythm and a steady format: each letter starts with some responses to the last letter or news about what's going on where we are. Then the person answers the 5 questions I sent in the previous letter. And finally, they pose 5 questions to me for the next letter. Does that sound complicated? It isn't.

Dear X,

  • Paragraphs about life.
  • Hey! Let me respond to your 5 questions.
  • Here are 5 questions for YOU!

Love, X

Sima and Fanny don't know each other, but I loved reading their letters back to back this morning. On the one hand, you have someone who continues to work remotely for the same company in sunny California, who left New York after living here her whole life. On the other, you have someone who is starting a Master's program in London, who left New York after living here for a good chunk of her 20s. More different they could not be. And yet I find some of their thoughts about being in a new place or anxieties about finding their way very, very similar.

Can I also mention that writing these letters has kept me close to them in a way that email or calling or blog posting could never do? The act of sitting down to write, to put pen to paper and mull over words and thoughts, is something so quiet that you just feel the superficiality of some friendships (hey! how are you? fine, and you? great!) melt away. I've had more in-depth thinking via letters with these two ladies since the summer than I've had with some of my best New York friends in the past year.

I cherish the days I have a letter waiting for me, but I adore the subway rides the next morning. I open the letters before leaving my apartment and force myself not to read them until I'm in the subway car. I love spending my relatively short commute lost in the sun-filled days of Sima's life or in a Starbucks with Fanny in chilly London as she completes her homework and writes to me.

It's this that I need, when my life centers around work. These short moments during a morning commute to connect with the heart and soul of a good friend. No better way to start the day.

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