Thursday, January 28, 2010

Forever, stamps.

When I was in college and went home for summers or winter breaks, my friends and I wrote each other letters. Letters on actual paper, in actual envelopes. I went to a small Midwestern liberal arts college in a small town about six hours from my hometown. My friends also came from different parts of the country and scattered accordingly on breaks. We wrote each other about trying to adjust back to parent's rules and high school friendships. We pined for crushes back on campus. We were bored; we missed one another and the cozy nest of our small campus.

It seems terribly quaint and old-fashioned now looking back on our chosen form of communication. Email was pretty much in its infancy for much of my college years, and texting had yet to be invented, I think. No one I knew even had a cell phone during college. This wasn't during the dark ages, this was a mere 10-15 years ago.

I miss letters. I'm the one at my house who gets excited when the mail comes. It's mostly bills and solicitations from charities. I have more address labels with my name on them than I'll ever use.

Yesterday I got a little thrill over a small note card-sized envelope addressed to me. I didn't recognize the handwriting, but couldn't help wonder which of my friends had been thoughtful enough to write me an actual note.

It was a card from my hairdresser, telling me she'd switched salons.

Surely I'm not the only one who longs for real mail? I confess: I don't send texts. I'm a Luddite compared to most of my friends. My cell phone is basically for emergencies and I don't even have Internet at home. This level of technological backwardness in someone my age is a little embarrassing.

Once in a while I send a letter to a friend, a snapshot of my state of mind and what's been happening in my life lately. Usually I never hear anything back. I do hear from far-flung friends - on Facebook. Sometimes I think, did I really mail that note card? Is it lost in the mail?

I can't get angry or hold grudges about the lack of paper flowing my way. People get busy. Partners (and babies) need attention. People have stressful, time-consuming jobs (I don't, but others do.) I understand.

There's a letter I've been meaning to write for months now. A friend moved, we don't talk, I didn't come to see her on her brief last visit to town. It's an old familiar story, I'm sure. I feel badly about dropping my end of the thread of our friendship.

Maybe this wish of mine to return to the age of letter-writing is more about wanting to return to deeper, richer connections with friends. It really does get harder and harder to stay current in one another's lives.

This weekend, with the forecast threatening snow, I'm going to sit with pen in hand, get out my pretty little notecards, and try again.

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