At thirteen years old I started a keepsake box, these are excerpts from some of the letters I’ve received over the years.

“I have never met anyone who is anything like me. I used to think I was the only person who cared so much about writing, about pain, about boys, about losing people. Until I started talking to you. You showed me it’s okay to get lost in your emotions, because you can always find a brand new way to escape. You were the first person I ever did drugs with. The first person I ever left campus with and the only person I have ever let into my life this much. I wanted to say thank you for introducing new ways to escape my nightmares. And you need to know that you were wrong, that people are medicine, but not the kind that cure your sickness. The kind that is dangerous, that messes with your brain and makes you forget where you are. You were my medicine, and you were the best high I’ve ever had.” –Zoie Gasch, 2015.

She handed me this note, folded into four little squares, as she walked out the double doors of our high school, on the day that we knew would be our last day ever seeing each other. She moved to a different state with her mom, had no phone and her parents wouldn’t allow us to have contact because they thought I was a bad influence. I watch her life through snapchat stories now.

“This is the one and only card with this design & color scheme because you are the one and only Helen Forbes. No one could take your place in my life you are the best sister & friend I could imagine. I love you and hope you have an absolute Jolly Christmas. P.S I absolutely wrecked my blue marker for this.” -Corinne Forbes, 2021.

Christmas of 2021 my little sister bought a set of blank cards & stencils to make her own Christmas cards. She actually let me use her supplies & we spent a whole day baking Christmas treats and making custom cards for every family member.

“Basically yesterday we were little kids running around grandmas house, plotting and scheming, avoiding the rest of the family at grandmas classic parties. We were spending the night at your house; walking through the streets at night with uncle Trent, going to Walmart at 2am, staying up forever watching ridiculous horror movies. We were running around Kroger, acting stupid, messing with employees and customers, and laughing our ass off. We were barefoot, walking through the sand by the beach with our family. We were laughing and dancing and not giving a shit what anyone else thought. We were spending the night at my house, staying up late or in the alley, or lying in the grass in the front lawn staring up at the stars. We would dance across Walmart and act stupid and nobody could judge us because nobody else mattered – We were together and we were having a blast and that’s all that mattered. But today we’re apart. You’re starting your freshman year and you’re smart and cute and beautiful and nothing is holding you back. I’m in this goddamn rehab and I’ll be here for while. But I love you. And I miss you and I can’t just not talk to you, so I’m writing you a letter. Some of my best memories of you were at the beach. That’s where I want to be right now. On the beach with you, David and the rest of the family.” –John Prestenberg, 2014.

In 2013 John & his twin brother David were sent to a behavioral correction ranch after they both came out as gay to their extremely religious parents. John stayed at the ranch until 2017, he’s been heavily into drug addiction ever since.

“All of Alexis’s relationship problems remind me of Alex & I already think about him enough this just about makes my day complete. I don’t want to be mean she is like one of my best friends too (You’re better because your there for me and I don’t feel used, but I still care about her.) But like I have my own problems to worry about, a bunch in fact and it’s physically hurting me like for the past week I keep having sharp pains in my mid stomach and chest are engulfed in pain, an awful pain and every time it happens is when I think of Alex but it’s always when I’m alone. And when I hangout with you all the thoughts go away and I’m back to reality. But like sometimes it’s just really bad where even you can’t make me happy.” -Baylee Dalton, 2016

Baylee wrote me this letter in what I’m assuming was her attempt at apologizing for cancelling on me last minute. At the end of the letter she signs off with “I Love You!” Baylee is still my best friend to this day.

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