Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The arcane alchemy of letter-writing

Whenever I have a friend go abroad or the semester starts up again and I have to say a few all-too-routine goodbyes, I always rediscover my love of writing, and especially receiving, letters. I can't explain what draws me to it exactly, but there's not another medium like it--email is speedy, SMS is mobile and handy for when you're lost downtown.

I just treasure something that seems almost intimate after using those other forms of communication so much; a letter is a physical thing that someone's written and touched and mailed away. Its length and the fact that you usually can't write as fast as you type makes you express yourself differently in them, I think. Also, emoticons are no substitute for little doodles in the margins or stickers. (Yes, I'm almost 22 but I still have some stickers stashed away.)

My friend Kat is teaching English in Japan at the moment and she sends me notes on the most lush stationary--brightly colored and finely textured. Alas there seem to be a shortage of stationary shops in flatland Tulsa, so I've been mulling over DIY options that are still inexpensive. I've considered cutting scrap booking papers into appropriate rectangles, of getting a stamp and ink pad. None of it quite quells my paper-y jealousy but it's better than nothing, eh?

When I'm lucky enough to have someone I want to write living close by me, I cheat the system and leave them notes instead. No stamp required.

I don't want to launch into a nostalgic episode about how letters were better, or about how we should all get email in our brains, because I don't think either of those things are true. However, I think it's refreshing to mix up the way we communicate with each other sometimes and give someone a reason to make a walk to their mailbox in this nice weather.

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