Dear Unit 1,

5 Unit 1
Image by A Letter Per Person. Image Description: A black and white photo of several house blueprints overlaid each other with the world “Welcome” written on top in cursive and a seed sprouting below the word.

Dear Unit 1,

I miss you guys so much already. You guys are the perfect example of “our lives crossing for a reason”.

Our paths crossed right when I was struggling to get out of an abusive relationship. When I moved in, I was still in it and that’s why I wasn’t around a lot in the first few months or so. But I was eventually able to end that relationship and start the life I wanted for me in Sydney. And you guys let it happen.

You guys gave me a home and a family when I was so far away from mine. For me to have a physical space to call my own was such a huge help, something anyone going through abuse needs. The sound of one of you singing while cooking made this more than just a place I was renting. The joys of a couple of you gaming in the living room made me feel less alone. Getting to meet your partners made everything more fun because they were such fun and good-hearted people too!

I never went through a heartbroken phase because I knew I did the right thing by escaping my relationship but I did fear no longer having a social circle. But that soon disappeared because of all your differently cheerful and kind personalities! It was so fun to live with you guys, to get to know you all, especially because we’re all pretty different and lead very different lives. Just trying to schedule a get together for a movie was a task! Plus, slowly forming our friendships gave me the confidence to start reaching out to my university friends again.

I know it’s not easy to welcome a stranger into your living space, for some of you it was your childhood and family home. But I am so thankful that you not only did that for me but you all opened your hearts as well! I am so thankful because that kind gesture really saved me from what could’ve easily been me being stuck with that toxic partner or becoming a shut-in or anything in between, any of which would’ve ultimately been a life I’d hate and regret.

I understand if some of you are surprised because I’ve never really talked about these things before. But trust me, I felt every bit of gratitude that I could not voice. I love you guys so much for being the best housemates I’ve ever had. We all know how rare it is to have good housemates so for you guys to be that and more was the absolute best. I will always have love and friendship for you all and that will never change no matter where or who we live with. Stay in touch because we definitely will cross paths again!

Sincerely,

A Letter Per Person

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Dear Green Dream Team,

GG
Image by A Letter Per Person. Image Description: A green silhouette of a tree with many leaves coming out. There is a shopping cart stuck in the top of the tree and a black silhouette of a cat ready to climb the tree.

Dear Green Dream Team,

I could sit here and try to figure out every possible combination of the English language that would equate to me thanking all of you. While that would be an amazing feat, it still wouldn’t be enough to capture just how grateful and in debt I am to each and every single one of you. I think that that’s because there are only a finite string of words I could put together but my feelings are infinite.

This was the first time I had been put in a supervisor role, a role I initially didn’t even apply for. But for all of you to trust and challenge me with such an important position in the store, I knew I couldn’t let any of you down. And of course, everyone made sure I rose to the challenge: from small gestures like clueing me in on our sales reports, to showing me the art behind simultaneously saying what you mean and what customer want to hear, and teaching me the politics of business of working as colleagues while still maintaining the love within our work family.

I know there was a lot of drama with customers and even within the staff but I can honestly say that all of it was a treasured experience and one I very much needed. There were days when I was extremely agitated by customers or annoyed by one of you, but that’s work. That’s what being in a team is. We all have different personalities and we occasionally butt heads because what we believe is best for the store and how we pursuit it can differ. But at the end of the day, that’s all we want: the best for the store, our work place, and our team. That’s why I can wholeheartedly say that despite those days I went home exhausted and passed out by 7pm, those days I just need some cat therapy at the end of my shift and avoided talking to anyone, despite all the nitty gritty drama, I loved working here and with all of you.

I had never worked with so many people who were older than me outside of an office setting as well. I only bring up age because all of you carry such incredibly vast journeys and wisdom with you wherever you go. I can see it in the way each of you work, talk, carry yourself, and because you wear your hearts on your sleeves and are never afraid to be true to yourself. That is by far the best lesson I could’ve been taught: to never stop being true to yourself whether that means being a little vulnerable in front of your sons sometimes, or leaving a job you loved so much because you were treated unfairly, to putting yourself at risk to protect what and who you love, to never lashing out in emotional retaliation when someone, even a co-worker, is yelling at you, and so much more.

The way all of you, regardless how many years of experience you have or what your position was at the store or our age difference, all of you treated me so genuinely and honestly, without dumbing down or sugar-coating anything, and I am so eternally thankful for that. It showed you believed in me, what I had to offer as a worker and person, and my potential to grow. This was monumental for me because there were many days where I couldn’t even do those things for myself. To be loved in that way by good-hearted people who I have grown to look up to gave me confidence in who I am and guidance in the kind of person I want to be without losing myself. I know all of you must have come across many, many interesting people throughout your life and I am truly honoured that you have seen me as one of the good ones.

Thank you for letting me be a part of your team, for saying that I will always have a place there, for the countless lessons, for all the work laughs and drama, for all the kind words at my farewell, for the send-off, for all the love since day one and so much more. It has truly been and always will be an honour and a pleasure to have been able to work and be in the lives of such great people.

Wherever I go from here, I will always be in debt to the GG team and I will never forget any of you, the group of people who have given me one of the best work and life experiences I’ve ever had. I miss you all very, very much but I’ll be dropping in sooner than you think so take care until then!

Sincerely,

A Letter Per Person

Dear Mister “No Bag, Thanks”,

Minster No-Bag.jpg
Image by A Letter Per Person. Image Description: A grey silhouette of a man wearing a bucket hat hugging colourful silhouettes of his groceries.

Dear Mister “No Bag, Thanks”,

I noticed the many, many scares on your arms immediately. It was the first thing I noticed: one, because I don’t really look up to make eye contact with customers like I should be so I was already looking down at your shopping items, and two, I’ve seen scars like that multiple times before on multiple people.

I’m so sorry I didn’t say anything to you then. I couldn’t pull my gaze from your arms fast enough and I think you noticed me looking but please don’t think I was judging you. I wasn’t. I was just in shock. Even though I’ve had some training in this area, even though I’ve helped some of my best friends go through depression, I was caught completely off guard.

I so desperately wanted to tell you that you could reach out to me if you ever wanted. I wanted to tell you that I work there at least 5 days a week and if I’m not out front, I’m in the back. I wanted to tell you my name in case you didn’t see my name badge. But I couldn’t because I had never offered support like that to a stranger in person before. I had done it through phone calls and online conversations working at a helpline but never in person. I was so ashamed of my lack of strength, when you were showing yours.

I thought about you for days after that encounter. I hoped you would come back to the store so I knew you were okay. I feared I would never see you again and thought of the worst possible reasons as to why that would be. I felt guilt for not reaching out. I felt weak despite having all the experience and training to be the strong pillar of support. I felt like I failed another human being.

But you came back! I can’t tell you how happy I was. I specifically made a point to make eye contact so if you were creeped out I don’t blame you. I was so happy you were alive, that you were here in front of me! And this time I was able to tell you to “Take care” and “Have a nice day!” I know that those words may seem empty to you, words that may seem like I throw around to every customer as part of my service. Maybe the latter phrase, sure, but I still meant it. And I definitely have never said “Take care” to any other customer before and since. I really, really meant it. I really want you to take care of yourself.

Then I saw you a couple more times and each time I was so relieved and happy. Sometimes you’re in your work uniform. Sometimes you talk to my co-worker because you guys are apparently on familiar terms. And always, you’ll say some variant of “No bag, thanks” because you’re parked right across the street and proceed to hug all your items before going about the rest of your day. It makes me so happy to see you just living your life.

I know that there is a slight chance that those scars weren’t self-inflicted. Maybe it was an accident at a job. But I also know that more likely than not, those scars meant you went through a rough time, and that maybe perhaps you still are. Maybe you are over that dark chapter of your life. Maybe some scars were recent. I’ll never know and that’s okay. Regardless of what the situation is, I just want you to know that I care about you. I care about your wellbeing. And I definitely think about you when I haven’t seen you around for a couple of days.

After a few more exchanges since our first, I’ve made it clear I remember you and I know you remember me. But I’m going to try to make more small talk with you and hopefully turn that into conversation. I suck at conversing with strangers but I’m going to try. I just want you to know that if you ever feel shitty, ever feel tired, ever feel like leaving another scar, there is a person at the store you frequent who cares very deeply about you.

And if a stranger can care about you this much from one seemingly mundane interaction, imagine just how much your close friends and family care about you.

Sincerely,

A Letter Per Person

Dear Grandpa Portobello,

Grandpa Portobello
Image by A Letter Per Person. Image Description: Three upside-down Portobello mushrooms used as fruit bowls containing nectarines, black muscatels, and peaches placed over a background of finely chopped mushrooms.

Dear Grandpa Portobello,

I’ve literally never called you that but that’s the name I’ve assigned you and our funny relationship. It always makes me feel a little happy when you come into the store to buy your nectarines, mushrooms, and all kinds of produce.

Do you remember why we started to remember who the other was? It was when I was processing your Swiss brown mushrooms and because I was relatively new to the job and you didn’t want me to process your groceries wrong, you told me they were Portobello mushrooms. Even when I thought they looked like Swiss brown mushrooms and I asked you which part of the store you got them from by pointing out the Portobello and Swiss brown aisles, you insisted they were Portobello mushrooms. So I processed them as Portobello mushrooms and you pulled out a small, square Ziploc bag from your breast pocket that had your money in to pay.

Then when you paid, you went and complained to the owner of the store that I overcharged you with the Portobello price. So when I asked why you told me those were Portobello mushrooms in front of the owner, you just stayed silent and demanded a refund. I realised you weren’t going to admit anything so I gave you the refund and we all went about our day.

Then the next day you came back and of course we remembered each other! You accidentally almost got me in trouble and you had embarrassed yourself in front of me. This time you only bought your usual nectarines and peaches, and I said something along the lines of “Hello! The Portobello man from yesterday!” and you didn’t reply but you had a sheepish smile.

Since then we talked a lot about the nectarines you buy, how you used to eat a lot of white muscatels when you were a little boy but we only sell black muscatels, and tell me to have a good day. Each time you pull out your Ziploc wallet, I smile because I know you’re going to refuse any help I offer to count out the change.

I really enjoy your company, Grandpa Portobello. You add a light, fun moment to my sometimes very monotone job. What’s the secret ingredient to an enjoyable day at work? It’s customers like you, Grandpa Portobello!

Sincerely,

A Letter Per Person

Dear Diamonds,

2 high school class
Image by A Letter Per Person. Image Description: 2013 written on a black and pink stripped wall with a Phoenix bird rising up behind it.

Dear Diamonds,

Well, shit. It’s been half a decade since we used to wake up for 7am assemblies and saw each other every single damn weekday for four years straight and now it’s a once-a-year occurrence at best. But it’s crazier to think that though the previous craziness stands true, our loyalty for each other stands truer and truer than ever.

While we navigate our “adult” lives and make do with what we have for what we want, I see that it doesn’t matter how far we navigate from our years back then. Even without seeing all of you, our love runs deep and unscathed, not unlike a certain gem. I see it in the celebratory cheers on graduation photos. I see it in long list of congratulatory calls on any one of our engagement posts, a new job, a big move. I see it in the compassionate condolences when any one of us loses a much-loved soul. I see it everywhere and it’s a bright sight.

I say time and time again that it is the people in my life that make my life worth living and indubitably, my High School Class of Diamonds are those people. It is such a blessing for anyone to have a home, whether that’s in a place, a person or a group of people, or anything in particular; and Diamonds, all of you are my home and somehow you continue to give me a home in so many ways.

I could go to England, Korea, America or any corner of the world and somehow without ever having been there, I’d feel the familiarity of home with you lot. As I go through some of life’s hardest times and lose faith in what grounded me, I turn to a few of you and immediately I remember the gleaming faces of unconditional friends. When I need to get a tourist visa to go back to my own home country, you lot turn Thailand back into the nostalgic place where we grew up and where are memories are ingrained. Home is many things with you crazy kids; and that’s a priceless piece of truthful treasure most people dig around forever for. We are so lucky. I am so lucky.

Thank you, from the bottom of my ever-learning heart for teaching me what friendship can and should be. I hope, I trust, all of you stay true to our Class logo and shine in whatever way you desire. Music, engineering, art, aeronautics, sports, writing, medicine, culinary arts, biology whatever the hell it may me, never forget that Diamonds make it out as the renowned and adored stone under pressure; and that’s just as true as it is cliché.

My love for you all may fall out of sight every now and then but it will always rise up, not unlike a certain bird. I love you, Diamonds. Stay classy.

 

Sincerely,

A Letter Per Person

Dear Birthday Well-wishers,

19 Birthday Well-wishers
Image by A Letter Per Person. Image Description: Birthday candles that read “Happy Birthday” are lit below red, blue, green, and yellow banners with the shapes of Australia, Thailand, Japan, and the globe on them.

Dear Birthday Well-wishers,

It’s crazy to think that I’m another year older. Every time this day rolls around, without fail, I think about the people in my life. It’s safe to say the best part of my life is the people – past, present, and future.

The most interesting aspects of my birthday this year is that I was wished for three days. Considering I live in one of the earliest time zones, I’m usually the first to wish others on their birthday. But this time around, I had friends living a day behind me wish me a day early, if that wonky string of words makes sense to you. So in their time, they were wishing me two day before my actual birthday. Now I don’t know if that was on purpose or a miscalculation but it made for a prolonged birthday so I’m very thankful! Not to mention, they remembered my birth date without Facebook reminding them! What a true gift!

On my actual birthday, I had an influx of messages on my Facebook wall, in my inbox, and even a few photo posts. How endearing. One of the things I love most about birthday wishes is that you can see the personality behind the person who wrote them and who I am to them. It really doesn’t matter if it’s a one-line wish or a paragraph detailing our childhood shenanigans, they warm my heart because it shows they care.

The day after my birthday all of my friends who live a day behind wished me well! Again, nothing but love. And it showed me just how blessed I am to have so many people who think about me to some capacity, even if it’s just once a year, all across the world. I have a friend to visit in every continent, a place to stay on any trip, and new memories to make wherever and with whomever. It is a blessed feeling.

So my birthday well-wishers, if you’re reading this, thank you so much for reminding me, year after year, how well-loved I am. Without you, growing old wouldn’t be so fun.

Sincerely,

A Letter Per Person