You and I have exchanged hand-written letters for close to 16 years now.
I suppose it mostly started because neither of us enjoys talking on the phone and it was only recently that you began to use email, but I suspect we have kept it up because hand-written letters are just better.
Seeing your handwriting is like having a piece of you come to visit me. It makes me feel safe and loved and cared about.
I like the excitement of considering what to tell you, how to shape the scenes in my head, and sending the letters, knowing you’ll enjoy it. I like the anticipation of waiting for your reaction and how you’ll comment or what advice you might give.
There are other perks too, I can now confidently say that I am one of three people (you, me and mom) who can accurately read your handwriting. I sometimes like to imagine it as a safety precaution so that any “sensitive” information being passed to me won’t be intercepted by the authorities.
You write when you have news and lots to tell me. You write about the weather, how your drum lessons are going and the latest character you ran into at the grocery store or a meeting. You write to tell me you’re upset about losing a close friend or your excitement after a great weekend of fishing up north.
Other times you write when you have nothing to say at all. Those letters are always a surprise, like the toy at the bottom of a Cracker Jack’s box. They are filled with stories, some real some made-up.
Remember the Halloween you wrote me a story about a murder mystery? That one was made-up…I think. A year later you described with much enthusiasm your plans to scare the neighborhood trick-or-treaters by hiding on the porch disguised as a scarecrow.
You’ve written from remote places and hospitals when your health and habits needed attending. You wrote even when your pride was hurt and you were feeling down.
Your letters are filled with anecdotes, quotes from famous writers you really like (well, let’s be honest they are mostly from Bukowski), jokes, comic strips, or newspaper clippings of unusual things.
Sometimes they are simply the product of free association prompted by random words you’ve taken a liking to.
Over the years I have shared some of my most difficult, most inspiring and most mundane days with you, through letters of my own.
This was how I explained the sadness of losing my best friend too soon. About the pain and guilt I felt about living so far away that coming home to grieve for her was out of the question.
This is how I’ve shared with you my love for the mountains and for climbing. And how this piece of my life has brought me so much joy and peace. How it has shaped my travels and my bank account.
It’s how I first told you about my soon-to-be husband and my new job and my life in Japan and how we rescued a kitten. It’s how I count down the days to my next visit home.
I have saved every letter you have ever written me. They are like old friends that I can take out and talk to whenever I’m missing you, or if I need a quick laugh because I remember a joke you had written. Each letter is a tiny piece of you, your voice and your presence.
I imagine you consciously taking time to sit down to craft and shape each letter, visualizing how I might react to a crazy story or new book recommendation.
Of course, I look forward to the new content that comes with each letter, but like you, their most important quality is the unwavering consistency as part of my life.
I have lived across many states and oceans but your letters always find me.
Thank you for being there, thank you for writing.
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Editor: Travis May
Photo Credit: Aurelian N./Pixoto
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