If you knew me during my high school years, you would’ve been so intimidated. I mean, walking down the hallways with my baggy jeans (that time period predates skinnies) ICC t-shirt, and either my brown or green cardigan (both were frumpy, so it didn’t really matter), covered by my long, curly, exceedingly frizzy reddish hair? Forget about it. Add in my mouth-bling (that’s braces for all you uncool, naturally-straight-toothed people) and I was basically a rock star.
Ok. So, I was fairly average and awkward and thoroughly unnoticeable… except for the aforementioned wild mane on my head. (Hey, if Brave had been around at that time, my hair would’ve been awesome… But as I’ve said to people before, I was going for Eowyn hair, but really just ended up with Gimli hair most of the time.)
But my awkwardness notwithstanding, that time in my life is particularly dear to me. And that is due in large part to an equally quirky group of kindred spirits called “The E’s.”
The group was so named because we all had- wait for it- “E” names. Names which initially began with the first two- founding members- we will call them, who decided one day that they wanted fancier names than their own. Something more storybookish and romantic. (I’m reminded of Anne asking to be called Cordelia for the same reason…) And after perusing a baby name book, they selected names which both happened to begin with “e.” (Shock and amazement, right?)
Ella and Effie began calling each other such, and they were soon joined by Elly and me- Emma. And what bound this great fellowship together, you might ask? Only the highest and deepest and most beautiful forms of story. Namely, The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, Anne of Green Gables, Peter Pan, Little Women, Robin Hood, King Arthur and other classic tales of that variety.
Ok- we were nerds. But not just nerdy nerds. We lived in our own heightened reality, which we believed ought to be more beautiful than the current one (i.e. mouth-bling and frumpy cardigans and anything mundane and ordinary).
When we were together, it was like we disappeared through the wardrobe, or into Diagon Alley, and everyone else was just a poor, ignorant muggle.
You should’ve seen us at Ren fairs…
But I’ve got to say, one of my favourite (and it must be with a “u”) things I treasure from The Age of the E’s is a stack of letters. Mostly letters from Ella, but I actually realized I have a handful from Elly and Effie too.
I remember I began the letter-writing because of my family’s semi-bi-annual-ish trip to Florida to visit my grandma. Of course, we loved writing letters because it seemed old-fashioned and fabulous and reminded us of letters sent to and from various characters in all our books. But these weren’t just any letters… Each one I decided to embellish- usually with a picture, or at the very least a lot of swirls- and often, if the situation permitted, I wrote them on straight up parchment with a quill and ink. And I made the envelopes too, y’all.
These are some of my first letters to her:
And Ella decided to follow suit.
(Sometimes Ella didn’t get to mail them before I got back, and often she just ended up giving them to me in person… but who cares? Look how awesome they are!!!)
Of course, the ones scribbled on notebook paper or on a random bit of stationary our mothers gave us are just as dear, but if possible, we tried to spiffy them up.
Addresses changed and we changed a little- insomuch as we just became more awesome, obviously. But there are few things more delightful to me than receiving one of these letters in the mail. I always tell Ryan that if I’m was ever in house on fire, those letters would be one of the main things I’d grab.
And sometimes we tend towards similar themes…
It is a surprisingly difficult topic to share about with you, because for one thing, I feel like I revert back to being 14 even thinking about it, therefore divesting myself of all ability to articulate thoughts… For another, it challenges me to depict in a written thumbnail a period that filled itself so fully of joy. But I guess that’s how it is when you find a kindred spirit or two or even three; after all, a kindred spirit is someone who connects with you in a unique part of your heart. A heart can be a hard thing to explain.
However, this attempt at explaining is relevant to what we talk about here at Long Live Beauty, because The E’s were some of the first proof to me (that I recognized at least) that the ache burning inside me for something more, for someplace more, some One more, was not exclusive to myself. We longed for new names- better names, and you know, someday we’ll all actually be given those.
Maybe when that day comes, we will all be kindred spirits, because we’ll be bound by the utter and eternally increasing joy of being in the presence of our good Father, who tells the best story. It’s the one that hovers like fierce light beneath the shadows of the worlds we love.
And getting letters from Ella is like holding a beautiful reminder in my hands that that Greater Story is being told even now. Plus, it’s just fun. I hope you remember that today- on a Tuesday- when much of the mundane begs your tired attention. I hope you catch a glimpse of that light behind the shadowy world.
If you need to go by an “e” name for awhile, I will totally get that.
I linked up at the House of Hipsters linky party- here!