In early 2008, I was sitting in a bar called Vicious Circle. I was alone like I was a lot in bars back then. I also used to carry a messenger bag with me that had a notebook, pens, and a book in it. I never left home without that bag. Some people had blankets when they were children, I have a notebook and pen when I was in adulthood.
Serving me was a waitress who had served me several times before. She had red hair and freckles. She was petite. Her name was Ariel.
After a few drinks, as I was accustomed to doing, I pulled out my notebook and a pen and started writing. That night, I wrote her a letter.
Maybe because of the alcohol or maybe because it’s been over a decade, I can’t remember what I wrote to her. I remember slipping the letter in the billfold after signing my receipt.
A few days or a week later, I went back to Vicious Circle. I sat down, the same as I always did when I was in bars back then. Before taking my order – it never changed – Ariel had a good few words for me. She wasn’t all too impressed.
I was at a bar, so I started drinking.
Instead of writing that night, I came up with an idea: a website where people submit anonymous letters.
A few weeks later, on a Friday, I got a call from a friend of mine, late at night. I think it was just after midnight. He called to tell me that a friend of ours, who’d been in the hospital for several weeks, had died.
Last call was at 2:00 am. It would only take me 20 minutes to get to The Well, another bar I used to sit down in. I used to drink a lot of dirty gin martinis.
At work the next week, I shared the idea about the website with a friend. He liked it. I came up with a name and purchased my first domain. All that was left to do was learn some code, put together a website, and then watch it grow.
It didn’t take off but it became something that helped me grow. It was my corner of the internet. It helped me consolidate a piece of my identity.
Since then, all those years ago, I’ve been thinking about starting up something with Letters’ Lounge. It always comes up in the lists I make about the things I want to achieve in my life. Keeping one list of life goals should be one.
A few weeks ago, I called my dad to check-in. It’d been a bit since I’d talked to him and I was going through a bit of a hard time. During the conversation, he told me that I should start up Letters’ Lounge again. He’d thought of it in the fall but hadn’t mentioned it until now.
I wrote the idea down in a notebook I carry in my front-left pants pocket.
Last week, I was talking with a student about life. It was one of those conversations you’d see Cory and Mr. Feeny having on Boy Meets World. I was telling her that she needs to find a creative, public outlet for her thoughts; she’s a pretty good writer and illustrator. I told her that she can help others by giving them a voice and vocabulary through her art. Topanga would’ve been taking notes.
Teenagers are difficult people to rationalise with.
“No, just no.”
The idea of Letters’ Lounge crept up again.
This morning, I did something with the idea. I installed WordPress on the site and played around with a few settings. It’s really not much right now, but it’s no worse than it was when I left it behind.
The first letter ever published on Letters’ Lounge was written by me to a friend I could never speak to again. His voice went silent. I had something to say to someone I couldn’t mail a letter to.
I’m looking forward to writing and reading letters again.