My junior year in college I studied for a term in London.  The year before, I had started dating the prettiest girl you’d ever seen.  She was as smart as she was beautiful.  If I wasn’t in class, I was spending every waking moment with her.  And so, though I was excited to be traveling halfway across the world to another country, I also realized in horror that she would be halfway across the world from me, in another country.  I worried that she’d forget me.  I worried that some other boy would take advantage of my absence and crowd in.  Mostly, I simply yearned to be near her.  This was before the age of email, and during my months away we wrote letters to one another on those robin’s egg blue, fold-over “aerograms.”  Even though a letter was ten days old by the time I received it, I awaited the mail each day eagerly.  And occasionally the English postman would bring more than a letter.  Occasionally there’d be a package, a small box full of dime store trinkets, novelties really, and none worth more than a dollar or two.  But to me, those small gifts from Jill Benson—now Jill Thompson—were precious.

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