As usual, today I got a load of mail. Mail has become a dinosaur of irritation. Bills and adverts if you are lucky. Or, if not, that dratted speeding ticket or the letter stating your son is in danger of failing. I never get good stuff.
I used to love the mail as a kid. I never had to worry about negative stuff because whatever came in was a GIFT. A card from Nana, a letter from a friend or pen pal. The thought occurred to me that my kids would never love the mail as I did. Then the thought occurred to me that they would never know the anticipation of a letter.
A REAL Letter
With paper and beautifully written cursive in pen. Well, ok, messy handwriting. But still, cursive. Something else they don’t know about. The joy of writing in curlicues. Soon it will take on the interest of hieroglyphics. Signatures are taking on a new terminology. I don’t even know if they are learning “their” letters. And if it is just “their” letters, what will the girls do if/when they change their name after marriage/ divorce/ divorce/ divorce? Heck, for some women they just need the full class.
Typing a letter used to be considered “rude and impersonal”. Everyone wanted a written letter. Most kids now would look at a handwritten letter and say, 1) “How do it read it?” and 2) “How do I reply?”
Ok, I’m really dating myself here.
Couples today get to Skype and text and email. They don’t know how to wait, how to feel the surge of anticipation every time the mail is delivered. The longing when THE LETTER is missing. The heart-catching glance when THE LETTER is first spotted. I have poignant bittersweet memories of letters from my college boyfriend during our summers and holidays spent away from each other. The whole experience of getting a letter made me love him all the more. In letter writing days, “absence really DID make the heart grow fonder”. Perhaps we wouldn’t have broken up if we had better ways to stay connected during the long months we stayed apart, and the last year when he was in Cambridge. Our relationship broke over the strain of months on end of not seeing each other. Now young couples don’t learn about missing the other person unless they go live in the wilderness, or have all their electronics taken from them.
I have a pile of letters from college. My time capsule. I made Scott give me all my letters when we broke up. I read them a few years ago. Letters from my mom and friends from high school. Letters from my college friends and boyfriends. Letters had a different role back then. You wanted to tell them your story. It wasn’t phrased chitchat. Reading them allowed memories long forgotten to re-surface. Despite some of their silliness, they are a treasury of the best time of my life.