I always open mail from Carleton first, so many cards and letters, so many get wells and wish you were heres. They're comforting. They help to keep my eye on the prize, on getting better, quickly, so I only end up missing one term.
The manilla envelope is light. The hand writing is most definitely Gates.
Finals are wrapping up. If they haven't already, everybody's left campus for spring break. I don't expect anybody to call or write these days, either too busy studying, or too busy partying, so the thick envelope comes as a surprise. You know it would suck if it was cookies or something. If Gates and KQ had decided to stay up one night, walking down the hall from their dorm room (the two of them had landed a nice double in Sevy for their senior year) to bake cookies in the lounge. I'd try to eat them. If they'd made some cookies for me, I honestly would have tried to get them down.
Fortunately, it's not cookies.
It's a video tape. The spine reads We Miss You, Robert! Each letter is a different color. There's also a blank piece of paper with the same message spelled out in large letters (all blue this time), signed by Aaron, Gates, and KQ. Little hearts and cute smily faces and everything.
I am so excited. Cards are great. Letters are fantastic. Aaron and Brady have also put together a few mix tapes for me, which are also most outstanding, popping them into my Walkman, eyes closed, trying to pretend like I'm back on campus and we're deejaying a party in Evans, dancing on coffee tables, couches, wherever. These things are all good, all wonderful.
But nobody has ever made a video tape for me before. I don't have any idea what's on it. I can't wait to watch it. We pop it into the VCR.
There's no introduction, no fancy titles or soundtracks, just the tape popping and hissing to life, then a jarring hand-held view of friendly, familiar faces. Tor and Brady and Aaron are all in Gates and KQ's room. Melissa is there, too, my smiling, black haired, black-leather-jacket-wearing future wife. They're talking directly to the camera. They're talking to me, filling me in on important things (like the fact that Tor and Gates have been *gasp* dating), and not-so-important things (like the strange kung fu noises Brady made the night before last while walking back from a party at Hill House).
It's twenty, twenty-five minutes long. Karen and Linda share camera duties. They start in their room, and give me a virtual tour of campus. They walk outside in the rain, stopping at the Library, and Laird, moving to Nourse, then Evans. They stop people I know -- and sometimes complete strangers, asking if they know me -- demanding that they mug for the camera.
I'm crying and I'm laughing and I'm holding my breath, waiting to see who they might happen to bump into across campus. Gates and KQ do a goofy skit in Nourse Little Theatre where they both profess their undying love for me. Periodically they will break into a variation of Paula Abdul's hit song -- We take two steps forward, we take two steps back. We miss you, Robert. We really want you back.
It is the best kind of medicine.
It is instant healing.