OK, time for part 2 of my blog series, A Life of Love. It seems like a lot of people enjoyed part 1, so that made me happy, and encouraged me to get going with part 2!
When Feyma and I first started writing letters to each other, that was in 1990. There really was not an internet yet, at least not something that the “average Joe” was using. In those days it was snail mail. Letters would take at least a couple weeks in each direction, so communication was slow.
In some ways, I feel that the slower communication was better, because it gave both Feyma and I time to reflect about what our feelings were, how we should continue with the communication and such. Additionally, in these days with computers and the Internet there is so much temptation. Even if you are thousands of miles apart, those wires between your computers make all kinds of things possible. I hear from people these days who are involved in “steamy” chat sessions and such. I think the fact that communication between Feyma and I was more “level headed” and no “monkey business” going on, things were easier and more sincere.
When I started writing to Feyma, I really knew nothing about the Philippines. I had always had an interest in geography, so I certainly knew where the Philippines was, what kind of climate it had and such, but nothing really about life in the Philippines. You can bet, though, that I started learning as much about the country as I could. Over the years since 1990, though, I have learned so much. I can’t even imagine how uninformed I was back so many years.
Feyma and I would write to each other on a fairly regular basis. It would take a couple weeks for a letter to arrive after it was mailed. At first, I would write her a letter and then wait for her reply before writing again. That was taking so long, though, that I just could not imagine ever really knowing her well, so I knew that I needed to step things up a bit. I started writing her several letters before getting her response.
I would just her about myself, how my life was. What kind of work I was doing. I would tell her about my family and friends, anything that would help her to know me better.
After a few months, I decided that I liked Feyma a lot. I liked the pictures she would send me, but I just thought she seemed like a very nice person, and I knew that I had an interest that could go beyond friendship. But, communication was still slow. I had asked Feyma in one of my letters if she could give me her phone number. Phone calls were very expensive back then, a couple of dollars per minute. Unfortunately, she did not have a phone, though, so she said she could not give me her number. There were no cellphones back in those days.
Because of the slow communications and inability to communicate over the phone, I wanted to do something to take our relationship to the next level. I decided that I was going to write Feyma a letter every single day. I wrote to her 7 days per week! I could always come up with things to write about, I just hope that she was enjoying my letters.
Problem was that I was not getting much mail back from Feyma. I could not figure out why. Later, I did find out why, though. Apparently, the Post Office workers were on strike in Cebu where Feyma lived. She had been getting daily letters from me for a few weeks. She did not really like that I was being so “forceful” in writing to her, I think she was confused about everything. Feyma was young, just 21 years old and had not been in a serious relationship. She had not started doing a penpal relationship with intentions of marriage or anything, she just wanted to practice English through the process. So, my daily letters made her worry that I was taking it more seriously than she was.
Suddenly, with the postal strike, the letters that had been coming every day came to a stop. After a few days, Feyma realized that she was missing the letters. It was at that point that she realized that she had feelings for me, similar to the way that I was already feeling about her.
After the post office got back to work, Feyma sent me a letter and included a phone number. She did not have a phone, but the neighbors did, and she gave me their phone number, and they could run and get her if I called. I guess she wanted to talk to me! I was really happy.
So, we started talking on the phone at that point, while still trading letters. I could not call her too often, because she did not want to burden her neighbors. So it was like once a week or maybe every two weeks. A lot of times Feyma would be too shy to talk, she would let her sister, Sally, talk to me instead! I was not really calling to talk to Sally, but I did anyway, and Feyma liked that.
In my next article, I will start telling you about my first trip to the Philippines. I came to meet Feyma and it was really a great trip, really a highlight of my life. Tune in again next week!