In my opinion mail is possibly one of the best things in the world…Granted there are other wonderful, probably much better things. But as those who know me can attest, opening, touching, and getting mail is something that I fell in love with a long time ago. I remember my mother telling me one day, after I had whined no one ever wrote me any letters.
“Sweetie, You have to write a letter to receive a letter.”
It was so simple. Why had I not thought of it? And so I started writing letters. Long letters. Short, chicken scratch letters with little or no distinguishable content. Anything to increase my chances of getting that crisp “someone is thinking of you” ting that comes with seeing your name hand written on an envelope. It’s a rare feeling in this day and age of computers, cell phones, and email communication. Besides, it’s like a breath of fresh air amongst all your bills, and credit card offers. There are so many wonderful things about a handwritten letter, that I decided to write a post, not only expressing my love of mail, but in an attempt to encourage others to start putting pen to paper.
I work a 2 month on, 2 month off schedule and when I first started this job my boat was stationed 6 hours outside of port. This meant that we got mail on Wednesdays, not Thursday, never Tuesday…just Wednesday. One day a week. The anxiety I felt at those hours before knowing if I was going to be opening a letter, breathlessly hopeful that someone had cared enough to write me were painful…And that’s what it boils down to. Anyone can send an email, anyone can shoot you a text, or a tweet, or drop you a line on the old FB…But someone who takes the time to send you snail mail truly loves you.
I’ll remind you of what that entails, for those of us who have forgotten the way it used to be.
- Search your office for a clean piece of paper. Get distracted by the huge pile of bills you snuck under the stack of books, and then settle for rifling through them half heartedly before remembering your boyfriend put your printer paper in the bottom drawer. You don’t have a printer, and you thought it was ridiculous to keep so much white paper at the time, but you smile now as you wrench one free, slightly wrinkled, but no worse for wear.
- Draw circles on five different pieces of scratch paper until you find a pen that actually works. What is the point of having a pen cup if 95% of them no longer write? Forget it! Your focused, you must write this letter!
- Start out with Dearest, cross it out, then write dear…only to realize there is a big squiggle mark on the page and you are only one word in. Back to bottom drawer for more paper. This time you grab a couple sheets…Just in case.
- Start writing, tell them how much you miss them and the new things in your life..blah blah blah. You have nothing left to say. But now there is only have a page filled and your going through all this work, so you feel obligated to make it longer….Insert thoughtful silence here as you scrounge for something, anything that seems remotely entertaining.
- You open up. You tell the recipient things you might not have thought of via email, because you want this letter to be perfect…perfect and at least one page long. You start exploring your surroundings via pen, explaining the scenery in detail, giving them minute updates so they are no sucked into your little world. You might be outside basking in the Arizona sun with your St. Bernard and drinking out of your water bottle. A water bottle that your mother put fresh mint leaves in. So refreshing. You feel loose, and ready for anything. It’s refreshing, so you continue to write, and soon there are not one but four pages, numbered and catalogued in front of you.
- You have so much more to say, but now it seems as if you are rambling, so you quickly express your love and sign off. You don’t want them to think your a weirdo. Or at least you want to ease them into the knowledge.
- You fold the pages careful, tri-fold style so they fit like a glove, and then lick the glue at the lip of the envelope. Your tongue is a little numb, but with the weight of all your words in the palm of your hand, it seems worth it.
- You spend the next 25 minutes trying to remember where you put their address and just as your about to give up, they respond to your text with their address, curious as to why you want it. You don’t tell them. It’s a surprise, and now that most of the work is done, you can’t wait until they read it.
- Her address looks a little crooked, but you decide to just go with it and head to the post office. You knew starting out you didn’t have any stamps, but you figured you could buy one when you get there.
- After waiting in line behind the yappy lady that knows your mother, you finally stand in front of the postal lady. She seems a little snooty, but you forgive her, because you just had to listen to the same lady for the last 15 minutes. The stamps are so adorable, and even though you planned on just paying to have the letter sent, you end up buying two books worth for some outrageously large sum.
- The letter sent, your tongue beginning to recover you head home and eagerly await a response.
This is letter writing for me.. A whirlwind adventure from start to finish, frustration, hand cramps, and above all effort. An effort put forth for someone you care for…Who else would you write to? It is the same effort and caring that someone else puts into your letters when you receive them in the mail, and it is with that knowledge that I open each letter. This is why I love snail mail. Sure it takes days to get information passed, and there is the possibility that all that work will get lost in the postal system. A mostly man run operation…But isn’t that what life is about? Taking a little risk every now and again? I have a wonderful pen pal whose writing voice is entirely different from her speaking voice, her texting voice, and her emailing voice. I get to be apart of her life through these letters, and as I sit on this boat wondering if I have been forgotten, it is those paper creations that I turn to for affirmation. I am loved. Snail mail gives this to us…it gives us a ting that email, text, tweet, and Facebook just can’t measure up to.
I hope that you enjoy writing letters…or at least receiving them as much as I do!
Question(s): When was the last time you wrote a snail mail letter? Is the experience of getting a hand written letter exciting for you?