Write to me sometime

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Photo: Megan Loreto

Write to me sometime

By Megan Loreto 

As anyone with main character syndrome would know, there’s nothing quite like the experience of receiving an unexpected letter in the mail. These days I spend most of my time on the computer. Between typing papers, hours metaphorically trapped in Zoom rooms and the unending stream of texts between me and my friends as we struggle to stay connected from afar: almost every waking hour involves screen time. In the midst of this, walking to the mailbox to find a hand-addressed envelope from someone I love is an experience I can only compare to culture shock. 

Emotionally, receiving something touched and turned over by a friend’s hand, in this age of disconnection, might just be what we all need to get through the rest of this prolonged social isolation. There is something so sentimental about the effort that it takes to write and mail a letter. Obviously, a letter demonstrates care and consideration that is above and beyond a text, email or even a phone call. Yet there is a practical element of letter writing too: the ability to form a complete thought. My ideas aren’t broken up into blue text bubbles and they don’t need to be sent with any urgency. I feel like I can express myself fully when given the freedom to speak in paragraph form without feeling guilty for taking up too much space. 

Texting is a skill. I can honestly say that I am, at best, a mediocre texter. Sometimes I forget to answer messages, sometimes I let conversations die. Other times, with some of my best friends, I am able to hold onto the flow of a normal conversation and on rare occasions, I am able to get deep with people. Yet the effort this takes on both sides of an exchange is immense. You need deep prior knowledge of other people and a strong ability to pick up on nuance. In short: texting is exhausting. Or boring. Or frustrating. These days, I would rather just give you a call. 

But, still, there is something about the written word. There is something about the long-form exchange of written thought that I can’t let go. This is what letters have the ability to offer: space for your thoughts and an invitation for the thoughts of another person. Not just a photograph of their day, but their true, deep innermost thoughts. With the cathartic merits of journal writing, letters offer a destination for your thoughts, feelings, and ideas beyond the void or the back of your bedroom closet. Right now there is nothing more comforting to me than that. 

Letters also give us time. There is no pressure to immediately respond to a letter. If we are busy or tired or at capacity, we can wait to answer our friends. We can write them back when it’s convenient to us. There’s no pressing need to write quickly, in fact the time it takes is part of the satisfying process. In a world of instant gratification—or constant craving—there is more to be said for the role of delay in fulfillment than ever. 

For me, sitting down with a piece of paper that I can fold into a square and mail off across the continent is more like talking to a friend over a cup of coffee than a Zoom meeting could ever be. All you need is pen and paper, but if you need inspiration, I’ve come up with a list for you. No excuses, think of someone you miss and write.

What To Put Inside A Letter 

  • polaroids or photographs

  • pressed flower 

  • tea bag 

  • instant coffee packet 

  • drawing 

  • poem 

  • a playlist

  • postcard 

  • recipe

  • necklace 

  • friendship bracelet 

  • ribbon 

  • confetti 

  • washi tape 

  • stickers

  • stamped papers

  • clips

  • buttons 

  • enamel pins

  • a few dollars for a treat 

  • a return stamp

  • origami 

  • hard candies 

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