There’s nothing like getting a letter in the mail…

E-mail is fine.  I like seeing e-mails appear magically in my inbox, especially if they don’t inform me that I’ve inherited a vast amount of money from a member of Nigerian royalty who, of all the people in the world, decided to bestow it on me.  I believe we are all related (even if through the most tenuous of links, tracing all the way back to the first people who walked the face of this planet), but I don’t think any of my Nigerian ancestors would’ve kept track of me…

Letters, however, are a different story.

I don’t know if you’ve ever received bona fide correspondence.  You know the kind I mean: a letter written on paper with ink, the shapes of the words as much a picture of the person who’s written them as the meaning the chain of loops and curves and dips and zags conveys.  I mean a letter in an envelope with a stamp glued to it…not a postcard from the Hallmark store with a sentiment or a picture already printed.  I mean a letter.

I used to keep a shoe box in which I stored all my letters.  I was young then.  The letters were often re-read and, thirty years later, some of them are committed to memory…if I close my eyes, I can read their pages.  Some were happy letters and some, well, some were not happy at all.  This was before the days of spell-check, of fonts you could change or words you could delete simply by backspacing…there was no immediate answer.  If you were angry, you stewed as you wrote…you realized you felt like editing…you slowly calmed down…or you got more incensed.  By the time the letter got to the other side, you had time to go through a whole spectrum of feeling.

I have, imbedded in my brain, the most hurtful letter I ever received; it was hurtful because it broke my heart and because it was brief and seemed completely lacking in feeling.

Even that letter is special to me.

Thirteen years ago yesterday I mailed a greeting card that changed my life.  I know…I said that a letter and a greeting card are not the same thing, but I needed the cushion of a card, the comfort of heavier stock paper…of a sunflower and a bee…  I mailed this card to the author of the contents of that shoe box…  After walking to the mailbox and raising the little flag to let the mail carrier know that there was an outgoing letter, I stood at the window and waited.  The little mail truck drove up, grabbed the outgoing mail, dropped the incoming mail and puttered down the street to the next mailbox…and I gave chase, still afraid of fate.

The story is long and convoluted, and you wouldn’t be interested in it anyway so I will skip it, but be assured that I love letters.

I owe a lot to letters…and you won’t get one back unless you send one out.

I guess people don’t do that anymore, but you should try it…

Anyway…to get to where I am today, I had to write and receive a lot of letters…

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