I've decided that one of my biweekly goals is to sit down and actually make an attempt to hand-write letters and cards. I have oodles of time during the day during which to respond to e-mails and I do a decent job of returning those in a fairly timely fashion. But, I haven't written a letter since who knows when. I always thought I would be the kind of person who would always remember birthdays and anniversaries and celebrate them with beautiful letterpress cards filled with heartfelt sentiments and posted with vintage stamps. I know how excited I get when there are little surprises in the mail for me and I like the idea of doing that for someone else.
I was obsessed with having pen pals in high school (way back in those pre-e-mail days). I wrote to friends in Bangladesh, Austria, Zimbabwe, Iceland, and Russia. There are more that I'm forgetting. Going to the post office was a total thrill because I never knew what news I'd be getting from some far away land. All of those pen pals have fallen by the wayside, save one. I kept writing to my friend Susanne in the Netherlands even after we made the Great Shift to E-mail. She even came and stayed with me for a week while she was doing her Grand Tour of the United States. She invited me to stay with her in Amsterdam any time and I would totally feel comfortable taking her up on it, even though long periods of time have lapsed between our communications and we've only met in person once. There's just something about the time invested in writing to someone over such a long period of time that makes us feel that we know each other better than we probably do.
I like the slowness of written communication. The thought process behind it is so completely different from that of writing e-mails. When I write electronically, I just let it all flow out, knowing that I can go back and edit to my heart's content. When writing something by hand, however, I spend a lot more time composing in my mind. Trying out sentences and discarding the ones that don't sound quite right. Searching for the word or phrase that best captures what I'm trying to say. It's a far more internal process. And a more poetic one. I think that both of these manners of communication are valuable, but I think that one really is at risk of extinction and I would hate to see that happen. So, to do my part I am returning to my letter-writing roots! I picked up some awesome monogrammed note cards at the thrift store this past weekend for 50 cents and I think they're a great place to start.