I was the kid at summer camp who always came home with a stack of addresses and managed to write a dozen pen pal letters in the first week, chronicling life in suburban Arizona as though it was dramatically different from the other WASPY childhoods of my new friends. No surprise my fondness for this form of communication carried forward into adulthood, although my Hello Kitty stickerbook has been updated a bit. I typically start the new year with a fresh address book, making edits to the year’s changes in addresses with a stack of Christmas card envelopes in hand, and adding birthdays for new babies, etc. I keep a running list of birthdays in some attempt to remember as many as possible.
I’ve got plenty of people who think I’m crazy for operating on a pencil/paper system these days, even though my Blackberry is permanently attached to my otherwise technologically savvy self. I like an agenda where I can doodle, make lists, paperclip notes and not worry if I spill my morning coffee. Ink runs, but it doesn’t spark. Same goes for my address book. It’s a scratchy mess by the end of the year — it seems this is a time of life when most friends hop from rentals to mortgages — but it is my mess and it doesn’t ever need to be in binary code.
And so, every few months, I find stationery and stamps and create a stack of notes to be posted. In part, I enjoy writing letters because it forces a thoughtful selection of word choice and flow. There are things I’ll discuss at length when writing with pen that I’d never consider sending via gmail. Plus, with email how often do you have a greeting, a point and a kind valediction? And in part, I write letters selfishly because the sense of opening the mailbox to find something handwritten and personal is the bee’s knees.
I’m adding this to my “list of descriptive words I need to create,” along with the feeling of finding an unexpected love letter. My mom used to tuck notes of love in our lunches on occasion. My dad slipped a letter into my luggage once when I left for a long trip. My grandma regularly sends me letters of love. I’ve even found one or two romantic, sappy and completely exhilirating notes from ghosts of boyfriends past. It isn’t just the words, but the paper and the ability to tuck such sentiment away to be cherished again and again.
I’m in the mood to spend extra time writing letters and connecting with friends. A correspondence month admist an otherwise busy technological world is old fashioned or vintage, quaint or lame, thoughtful or a waste of time. Like everything else in life, it depends on your perspective. I’m venturing to bet on I’m not the only one who appreciates kindness signed, sealed and delivered.