On letter writing:
Earlier tonight I saw something that made me cringe. It was the following sentence: “snail mail is still appreciated.” The word "still" really got under my skin, as if it implied that getting an actual letter in the mail doesn’t hold any value unless someone tweets, blogs, or does something in an electronic form about it. My oldest and dearest friend, Amanda, and I have been writing each other letters for the better part of fifteen years. And we still do. Sure, we text frequently, but we write. Sometimes it’s quick and silly, sometimes it’s long and spill-your-guts-y. Sometimes it takes us longer to write back because we’re growing up, and time gets eaten away. We do it because we have always done it, but we also did it because we love it. There are few things that happen in my average day that make me happier than opening the mailbox and finding something addressed to me from a friend or penpal.
Whenever I hear someone tell me “mail is dead” or “who writes letters anymore, anyway?” it crushes this part of me that the general public would claim to be dorky or old fashioned. Last time I checked, there was nothing old fashioned about taking time away from our precious electronically driven lives to think about someone who isn’t near us, someone we care about enough to communicate with that isn’t instantaneous. There is so much beauty and love that goes into a letter - it cannot be hurried, no matter how quick your scribbles can hit the page. I’ve tried, it doesn’t work. It cannot be deleted, causing us to be thoughtful, and removes us from the part of ourselves that western culture has turned into “me me me me now now now now now” creatures of immediate habit. It forces us to look into our hearts, into our honest sides that more often than not we don’t express, into what we love most and want to share the excitement of (and sometimes it’s the sadness of). I recently learned that most US school systems are no longer teaching children how to write in cursive because it takes too long and their focuses are taking a new step in the direction of technology. When I worked in an elementary school a few years ago, there were five year olds who could type faster than some of my adult friends. This worries me. Why? Why not?! Technology has a place and time, it has offered us advances, I wouldn’t be posting a blog about this if technology weren’t a part of most people’s lives. But we don’t need it for everything. Penmanship is a great gift, an art form often underappreciated that deserves applause and value. Sure, cursive isn’t for everyone, but when was the last time you looked at a person’s beautiful script and thought “boy I wish I couldn’t write like that.” We should be encouraging our friends to sit down and write letters to each other, even if we live in the same town. Even if we live 7000 miles apart. Write jokes, sonnets, love letters, stories, pictures, clues… anything. Just write, and send. It’s so beautiful, write and send. I am lucky to receive letters from multiple states, from England, Philippines, New Zealand, Finland, Canada, and all over the world. I have deliberately forged these friendships because they are important, and not everything in my life needs to come whenever I want it to, on the dot, on a screen.
If anyone locally is interested, I’m going to be starting a Portland based letter writing group that is what some could call a “support group” for anyone interested in getting back into snail mail. I have many typewriters and about a zillion pieces of stationery that will be available to use. Even if you’re not “a letter writer”, there is never a bad time to start. You don’t have to write, maybe you feel better drawing. Maybe you want a way to journal but hate the rigid confines of a blank book. Mail your journal entries away. Confide in someone. Let yourself spill it. Let yourself be lofty and dreamy with flowery words if you like. Just know that people all over the world don’t just want letters, some people need letters. Maybe they’re your grandparents, your mom or dad, your best friend from high school, or a long lost crush. Maybe they’re a stranger who wants someone to talk to. Letters bring people together. Letters show appreciation and love in a form that will never, ever, ever be compared to a Facebook like or comment or whatever the hell they’re being called now. I highly suggest if you read my blog that you write to someone soon. Make it your “resolution”. (And the post office has dozens of cool stamps to pick from, trust me, I spend a fortune on them. I also sell vintage postage packs if you want something super special and pretty.) If you don’t have anyone to write, you can write me. I’ll respond. I’m nice. I love the mail and send long, rambling things in return. I promise the excitement of receiving a letter in return to whomever you write will feel like you won the lottery.
LONG LIVE LETTER WRITING <3