I watched an old movie by Wes Anderson. Two 12-year-old campers fell for each other, and one wrote: "Write to me," and gave an actual street address. The setting was 1965, when I would have been 12 years old! And I remember going to the mailbox back in those days, hoping for a letter.
Sometimes a letter came from my Aunt Evelyn who lived in Kentucky. She didn't have any little girls, and she was just about my only aunt. How I loved seeing the return address, in her handwriting, "615 Maple Ave." She had taught me her address, in case I ever got lost, the summer I spent a week at her house when I was 7. Back then, a long-distance phone call was a big deal, where sometimes two of us would horn in on the extension phone, and we had to make everything count when we took up those expensive minutes that showed up on the bill a month later. But a letter you could hold and read, re-read, and keep in a drawer.
Letters from my brother in Viet Nam were welcomed in the late 60s. His handwriting was distinctively his own, and my mom couldn't wait to hear from him so far away and in danger daily. Once, he even wrote just to ME, his little sister. I treasured that letter.
When I had a boyfriend, we'd send letters back and forth, and I always used special paper. I remember using a light blue with torn edges. It was exciting to get home, check the mailbox, and read the sweet words, carefully selected, and then write a reply.
What is it about getting a personal handwritten note that means so much? Today we don't do it enough. Even though we still have "snail mail," and cards and letter are not totally forgotten, it's not the norm. I know that checking the inbox can be a thrill. Texts are INSTANT, and they usually go through without fail. But it's not the same as when we had to wait DAYS for a letter, saw your own name in familiar handwriting, and recognized the return address. I don't want to ever forget how much that meant and how it felt.
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5 years ago