June 27, 1980
I got to see my grandmother everyday this week. It was really cool, about an hour every morning, mostly meeting up at Dunkin Donuts.
But the big thing is that Destiny called me. She has never called me before, in fact, I had never thought to send her my phone number, but she had apparently hunted me down through the operator. It didn’t matter, but it surprised me.
“Hi Darren?” The voice sounded different, so I wasn’t sure who it was. It had none of the rasp of cigarettes that she had when I last saw her. She sounded youthful, and more hopeful than I remembered.
“Um… Yes, this is Darren.” I had just woken up this morning when the phone rang.
“It’s Judy—erm—I mean Destiny. Judy’s my real name, but you can call me whichever you prefer.” There was a calm, and knowing quality in her voice. She was a different woman than I had met.
“Hey, um… Judy, how’re you doing? Are you all settled?”
“I’m staying with an Aunt in Scranton Pennsylvania, not sure where I want to head to, or what I will do. She’s cool though, didn’t judge me when I told her I was pregnant. Unlike my mother…”
“Oh that’s great!”
“Yeah!” We both lingered silently for a moment. “I’m starting to show, so I’m not sure I could have worked even if I had wanted to.”
“Well, yeah, but it’s best if you’re not working, for the baby.” Another pause.
“You know, I was thinking about you the other day, and I was thinking about how funny it is that we both met with pseudonyms. It made me feel exciting, like we’re both clandestine agents who met on separate missions.” She didn’t laugh as she said it, but I gave a polite laugh.
“That’s true. So now I know your real name is Judy, you should know my real name is Michael but if you keep writing me, please stick with Darren.”
“Well Michael, it was really nice meeting you, and I’m glad to have made such a good friendship with you. When my brother was like twelve, he had a penpal, some school program where you could get a penpal from a school some where across the country, and he would write him once a week for years. My mom and dad never let me have one. They said it wasn’t for girls. So, now you’re my penpal.” I was pretty sure she was crying based on the soft breathing sounds I could hear, they sounded wet.
“You’ve been a great penpal, and I will keep writing you, and not to ruin the surprise, but I bought you and the baby some books, so you’ve gotta give me your mailing address.”
She gave me her full name, Judy Thomas, and her mailing address, and we finished up the phone call promising that we would definitely stay in touch.
As soon as I hung up, I collected the box I had filled with her books, and wrote the address on it. I’ll get it stamped at the post office before work today.